Friday, April 13, 2012

White Star Line

On April 11, 1912, 78 out of 120 people in Queenstown, Ireland collected the previously purchased tickets which ended their lives. The monetary value they paid for their own deaths being between US $795 - $1,364... depending on how lavish their last three days of life were.

Less than a month shy of a century later, I walked into the same ticketing office in a town now called Cobh (pronounced Cove). Unlike the 112 persons who had to turn back around and wait on a dock after their lower valued ticket was claimed, I continued further inward with a ticket purchased for a fraction of the price. It's possible they didn't mind as there must have been a more jubilant vibe by the waterside than inside where the 7 other ticket holders waited.

Because I didn't get out to sea to take a picture as great as this

Cobh is as picturesque a town as one gets, and a town in which I wouldn't mind living.  That is, if the single lane roads didn't allow traffic to go in both directions.  Like San Francisco's Painted Ladies, Cobh has it's own rendition of row houses called the Deck of Cards. The town is built on a hill, with a cathedral placed on top as its crowning glory. Brightly colored buildings stand in rows at varying levels, allowing every tenant a seaside view. Although, I'd rather be housed on the sea with a view looking landward.

I wondered if anyone on that fateful day in 1912, whether waiting inside or outside, took the time to absorb the sites, forever ingraining the beauty of Queenstown to memory before they departed.  But somehow I seem to think that excitement over the titanic vessel that floated before them was too intriguing to rip their eyes away from.

There were 7 second class passengers from Queenstown, only 2 of whom survived.  40 third class passengers were lucky enough to be saved, although the odds were still against them as 112 third class passengers boarded the Titanic at Queenstown. At the "Titanic Experience" (a museum now located at the former White Star Line ticketing office), each person entering is handed a boarding card with the name of a real passenger. At the end of the museum, a computer provides information of the person who's name is on the card received. 

I received the name of Jane Carr. She was a 45 year old woman born in Castlerock, County Sligo, Ireland. She emigrated to Springfield, Massachusetts in 1890 to serve as a domestic and a cook. She later moved to Hartford, Connecticut to work for a doctor's family as a housekeeper and cook. Her final job was as a cook in a hotel.  She returned home to Ireland in 1909. Three years later she was informed by a friend in Winsor Locks, Connecticut that the bank where she kept her savings was folding due to embezzlement and was encouraged to collect her money before it disappeared.  Jane bought a third class ticket on the Titanic with the intent to settle her financial affairs before returning to Ireland to spend the rest of her days with her siblings and their families. That intent was never fulfilled. She went down with the ship, her body never recovered.

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