austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Remember how the stars stole the night away

One of the gimmicks of the Titanic exhibit was passing out sheets to everyone on entrance. Each card contained a bit of information about a real actual Titanic passenger, with data like what class they were sailing in and what biographical information was available. In a wall at the end we could search for our passengers and find out whether ours had lived. bunny_hugger's father got a name he recognized, an engineer of some manner whose fate was well-known to him. His passenger died.

bunny_hugger supposed that her passenger lived, because she got a woman who'd booked not just a first-class cabin but one of the two most expensive suites, and brought along a retinue of over 250 assistants and attendants and hoplites and minions and not to get all class warrior on you but no way was that woman being left in the water. We were correct. (Also, it turned out, despite paying an obscene amount for passage, she still had to pay a surcharge to use the Turkish spa.)

My guy --- Edward Ryan, I think was the name --- was listed as third class and would superficially seem to be deadmeat. But his biographical notes mentioned that he charmed one of the crew into giving him a tour of the engines. To me, this indicated he had to have survived; if he didn't, who would ever know? This is not iron-clad, of course, but the wall revealed that I was right. (An odd biographical footnote in the exhibit showed the effects of a guy who was saved at the last minute from the Titanic by being shanghaied and sold into slavery, and who worked his way back to the free world, which is the sort of thing that would get a book kicked across the room if it tried to pull.)

Trivia: One of Reuters's early telegram dispatches regarding the Titanic disaster (printed in the Times of London, 16 April) reported, ``The Titanic sank at 2.20 this morning. No lives were lost.'' Another Reuters telegram report that issue contained the White Star Line's admission that ``many'' lives were lost. Source: The Power Of News: The History Of Reuters, Donald Read.

Currently Reading: The Air Show At Brescia, 1909, Peter Demetz. Interestingly, it covers the events of the air show in the first half of the book. The second half is much more about the biographies of key figures there, although once you get past Bleriot and Curtiss (who flew) and Kafka (who wrote a newspaper article about it) and D'Annunzio (who nagged his way into being a passenger) the names start getting a little obscure to my beefwitted tastes.


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