Thursday, April 19, 2012

Remembering the Titanic

One day before the 100th anniversary of the R.M.S. Titanic's sinking, The Colonel and I attended a living history presentation at a regional library.

As we entered the library doors and looked to our right we were welcomed by a line-up of some of the characters who would be telling us about their experiences on the Titanic 100 years ago.

The "unsinkable" Molly Brown, played by our friend, Jackie Brown (no relation to Molly) was the first to welcome us as we walked down the gangplank, er,uh, the hallway. At the end of the hallway was a table. We were stopped at the table and I was asked to pick out a boarding pass from a big glass fishbowl. The lady at the table then match my boarding pass and gave it to The Colonel.

With boarding passes in hand, we made our way into the room where the event would take place. We were met by a maid, who upon looking at our boarding passes, informed us that we would be in Second Class. First Class chairs had gold ribbons around them, Second Class, silver and Third Class, no ribbons.

We chose our silver-ribboned seats and waited for the presentation to begin.

The living history character-actors stood before us in costume and told us their stories. There was the captain of the ship (the character-actor resembled the real captain).

Lady Duff-Gordon constantly sang the praises of First Class and did not let us forget that she and the others of First Class were infinitely far more superior than those of us in Second and especially Third Class.

The gentleman in the gray suit played the part of the Titanic's designer. In the background you can see a man in a chef's hat. He portrayed the ship's head baker. The story he told was interesting. When the Titanic began to sink, he and his fellow bakers carried several pounds of bread up to the ship's deck so that those in the lifeboats could have something to eat while they waited for rescue. Once he had taken all of the bread up, he went back down to his kitchen and began to drink until he was drunk. Once drunk, he made his way back up to the ship's deck just as the rails began to meet the water. He stepped onto the rails and into the icy waters. He was able to cling to some flotsam from the Titanic and was eventually rescued. Those who rescued him said his drunken state played a pivotal role in his surviving the frigid water.

Another character told us about her fiancee. He was one of the band members who played on while the ship sank. The band members were not members of the Titanic's crew. They were musical agents out of Liverpool. They had to sign the ship's articles agreeing to the authority of the captain and officers just like the ship's crew but they were treated as 2nd class passengers. No band members survived the Titanic's sinking.

One character told us about her harrowing story. She was a First Class passenger travelling with her husband and two children. When it came time to enter the lifeboats she did not want to go without her husband. She wanted her family to stay together. In all of the confusion the family was separated. The baby and his nurse were missing. The woman did not know where her baby was and they were never rejoined before the ship sank. She, her husband and their daughter perished. Later it was learned that the nurse and baby made it to a lifeboat as survived.

There were more stories told. The character-actors did a very good job in portraying those from the Titanic's past. The object of this living history presentation was to give the Titanic stories a very personal feel and to tell stories we may not have heard before.

When all of the stories were told, we were asked to look on the back of our boarding passes. If the county seal on your pass was black you were to stand up. Once standing, you were informed that you were one of the unfortunate ones that did not survive the Titanic's sinking.

The Colonel and I were among the survivors. There was a man with his two little girls sitting in front of us. The man did not survive but the girls did.

There were refreshments offered after the presentation. The refreshments were segregated into the classes. Those in First Class had dainty, fluted glasses in which to drink their punch. Their cookies were seated upon elevated, glass, cake tiers. The mints were chocolate filled and a vase of roses was on the table. (How do I know the mints were filled with chocolate? I snuck over to First Class and nicked one).

The Second Class refreshment (The Colonel's and my class) glasses were simple wine glasses. The cookies were placed on a ceramic plate and our mints had no chocolate within. The vase contained pretty blue flowers.

Third class refreshment glasses were not glasses at all but paper cups. The cookies were on plastic plates and no chocolate in their mints either. In the bud vase were a couple of yellow daisies. (I nicked one of their mints too).

The Colonel and I liked the attention to detail in all aspects of the presentation: the stories, the costumes, the boarding passes, the segregation of classes/seating, the differences in the refreshment presentation and the fact-filled program hand-out.

What a memorable way to mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting and sounded like fun.