Posted by: Jina Bacarr | December 6, 2012

What if you were a first class lady on the Titanic when it hit the iceberg…

Titanic_sinking_iceberg_lady

As Walter Lord so aptly put it, April 14, 1912, was A Night to Remember

I spent many hours laboring over the events of that night, checking the names of the passengers in each lifeboat…what time each boat was lowered…whether it was from the port or starboard side. Intense research so I could know exactly where my heroine, Katie O’Reilly, and her handsome gentleman gambler, Captain Lord Jack Blackthorn, are at every moment in my romance, TITANIC RHAPSODY.

To give you a feeling of what happened during those last hours after the Titanic hit the iceberg, we’ll go through what a first cabin lady experienced, then a second class gentleman, and finally, a family in steerage.

If you’re a first cabin lady, you’re most likely asleep in your cabin where it’s cozy and warm with the electric heater going, the lights dim, when suddenly something jolts you awake.

Strange, you think, but nothing to be alarmed about. You try to go back to sleep until you realize the engines have stopped.

Here, in the middle of the Atlantic?

You’re curious, but not worried since everyone says the ship is unsinkable. You throw a heavy coat over your nightdress and peek outside, running down the corridor in your soft satin slippers. Others are about, gossiping, yawning, until the bedroom steward in a very nice manner tells you to put on your lifebelt and go up on deck.

In this cold? you ask him.

Yes, he tells you, though he assures you it’s merely a matter of precaution. Begrudgingly, you tell your lady’s maid to help you put on your corset, then fasten on the lifebelt made of six squares of cork. All the while the girl frets about, saying you’re all doomed. At the last moment, you grab your gloves and hat and scarf and join the other ladies and gents on the Boat deck.

Ah, there’s nothing to worry about, you decide, relieved. The ship’s musicians are playing a lively ragtime tune and everyone is chatting about the chunks of ice on the forward well deck—then a ship’s officer orders you into a lifeboat. Yes, orders you, like you’re a common servant. Why, the nerve of the man.

Women and children first, he says. What about the gentlemen? You hear someone whisper men are being allowed into the boats on the starboard side, but not here. Why get into the boats at all? you wonder, believing you’re safer on the ship than in that small boat.

Then someone says the Titanic is sinking

Titanic hit the iceberg

It can’t be that serious, can it? you wonder, not believing it possible You wait with your maid on the port side of the ship, watching the ladies being separated from their husbands and put into the lifeboats. Boats not even half-filled. No need to hurry. You hear someone say they’ll be laughing about this over breakfast.

Really? You start to shiver from the bitter cold…frosty puffs of air come out of your mouth when you speak. Unbelievable noise fills your ears.

From the boilers, someone says.

Ladies screaming as they’re pulled from their husbands’ arms. Then you notice the ship is listing heavily to one side.

Well, what are you waiting for? Get into the damn lifeboat!

You don’t protest when a seaman tosses you into a boat.

Then your maid.

After all, you’re the lucky ones, you realize as the boat is lowered over the side and hits the water. The lifeboat pulls away from the ship so as not to be pulled down by the suction when the ship sinks…yes, it is true. The Titanic is going down.

You put your shoulder to the oar and row…listening to the whispers that a rescue ship is on the way…the Carpathia. Will it arrive in time?

Will it?

Not if you’re a gentleman in second class…

——–

Next time, what happened if you were a gentleman in second class after the Titanic hit the iceberg.

And a special thanks to my grand Irish family in the old photos I’m using for this three-part series. They were a wonderful lot…hard-working and filled with the gift of the gab and storytelling.

And for that, I am forever thankful…

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