Monday, April 16, 2012

Titanic 2012

There have been a swirl of Titanic events here in the last few days. They honor the poor souls who lost their lives and the heroes who deserve acknowledgement again, one hundred years later. I went to a fascinating fashion show at the Martime Museum the other night, it was the final project for graduating Costume Studies students at Dalhousie University. They had to pick a passenger on the Titanic, research them, write a 20 page paper using primary sources and then design and create an outfit from the undergarments outward.  Historically accurate materials and methods were used. Stunning. As they modeled the clothes, the story of the person was read. My daughter is in this program and was a bit daunted at the work ahead of her.
Yesterday I attended a Spiritual ceremony at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery where 121 of the victims are buried.  It was a perfect April day with clear skies and mild temperatures. There were very moving musical performances and some touching speeches. Relatives of some victims were present. I usually visit this spot once a year or so, it is near my home. A few years ago, high in the trees, someone thoughtfully hung a set of windchimes above the Titanic graves. It is lovely to visit and hear the melodies when the place is quiet and empty.
This is one of the most photographed placemarkers, thanks to James Cameron's movie.
The real J Dawson was Joseph, grave 227. He was a 23 year old Irishman. A trimmer, one of the hardest jobs on the ship. Delivering coal to the  fireman at the furnaces. He was off-duty when the impact occurred, but rooted through his dunnage bag to equip himself with his National Sailors and Firemen's Union card  before finally being allowed topside with the rest of the black gang when all the boats were gone.  He was found barefoot because many firemen pulled off their heavy workboots on the deck of the Titanic before the stern inverted, hoping to save themselves by swimming. Such sad stories. Here are some artifacts people have left at his grave.
There were Sea Cadets and other youth groups each standing vigil holding flowers to set on the many graves.
EVERY grave there holds a story.  Most we don't know. The story of John Law Hume is one of great courage and inspiration. Grave 193. He was  Scottish violinist aged 21 who every one knew as Jock and was a member of the Titanic orchestra. A very cheery chap who everyone loved.
 Here's a bit from the Worcestor Gazette....
"New York, April 19.-Of all the heroes who went to their death when the Titanic dived to its ocean grave, none, in the opinion of Miss. Hilda Slater, a passenger in the last boat to pull off, deserved greater credit than the members of the vessel's orchestra. According to Miss. Slater, the orchestra played until the last. When the vessel took its final plunge the strains of a lively air, mingled gruesomely with the cries of those who realized that they were face to face with death.

"It was terrible," said Miss. Slater, who had come from her home in England to visit a brother, an architect in this city. "From the moment the vessel struck, or as soon as the members of the orchestra could be collected, there was a steady round of lively airs. It did much to keep up the spirits of everyone and probably served as much as the efforts of the officers trying to prevent panic." 
The last song the orchestra played was "Nearer My God to Thee". Young Jock perished unaware that his fiancĂ© was pregnant with his child.  This was an extraordinary wreath, complete with full sized violin. The little note attached read, "Forever my hero", left by his great niece, Yvonne Hume.
It is remarkable how after all these years, the story and events still have a profound impact on people. There were visitors paying their respects from all over the world.

This is the grave of tiny Sidney Leslie Goodwin, "the unknown child", who thanks to DNA testing is unknown no longer. The story is FASCINATING and you can read about it here. His grave has come to represent all the children that died that night.
Simple graves, each one with  the same date. April 15, 1912.


Alice said...

A lovely post, Shelagh. So lovely to read about some of the people behind the names. x

Donna Laprade said...

As nice as it is to read about the stories behind the's all those graves with just dates on them that gets me.

Kelly said...

Thanks for sharing! Great words and photos. I want to visit here someday for sure.

Noelle the dreamer said...

Beautiful and very thoughtful post! The Titanic has captivate people around the globe but your comments were the nicest we heard! Thank you for sharing!
I loved to see the Sea Cadets! Dad was an instructor and took his cadets on a well known tall for training. The uniform brought many memories!

aliceinparis said...

Thanks~ It really was a lovely tribute to all of those who perished.

Joanne Kennedy said...


I found your blog from reading the comments over at Pat's blog about Molly Brown.

I loved this post. I went to Halifax in 2009 and went to the graveyard.

I wrote about it on my blog. While I knew the unknown child was no longer unknown, I was happy to be able to see his name on his grave now as it wasn't when I was there.

I love your city and hope to one day get to see more of it.


Renee said...

Lovely post. Made my eyes water. The boquet for the member of the orchestra...oh my. Loved the Dal. costume design project, that would have been so neat to attend.

nycstylelittlecannoli said...
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Jackie McGuinness said...

What a fantastic post, I really enjoyed reading this.