Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Titanic and Eva Hart

This week marks the 100th year anniversary of the tragic sinking of the RMS Titanic. The “unsinkable ship” sank to a watery grave on April 15, 1912. And while a hundred years has passed, her story is very much alive, but why? Houston, it looks like we’ve found another MUSE!

2228 passengers were aboard during the Titanic’s maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. Tragically, the ship never made it to New York, and only 705 people were rescued from the sinking – mostly women and children.

Titanic survivor Eva Heart was seven years old at the time, and her recollection portrays a haunting story of those last hours amidst the North Atlantic.

“My mother had this dreadful premonition. She’d never had one before, and she never had one after, but she said ‘No, we can’t do this (board the Titanic)… something dreadful is going to happen.”

Eva’s mother was quite sure that the “unsinkable ship” was sinkable, so she slept during the day, and stayed awake, fully clothed, at night.

“My mother said that at ten minutes to twelve, she felt a slight bump,” Eva Hart recalled. “She said it felt just like a train pulling into a station… but she knew it was this dreadful something. She wakened my father and wakened me.”

Eva’s father went to the deck to see what had happened, and he quickly came back to get his family. The family learned that the ship had hit an iceberg. Since Eva’s mother had not fallen asleep, she and Eva were one of the first people on deck. This gave them a spot on one of the few lifeboats. Her father told her, “Hold mummy’s hand and be a good girl.” That would be the last time she saw her father.

The officer on lifeboat #14 rowed the boat as far away as possible from the Titanic so that the enormous ship would not pull the lifeboat underwater when it sank. Eva could still hear the commotion on board.

“There wasn’t any panic until the lifeboats left, and then there was panic galore,” Eva Hart recalled. “We were down on the ocean. We could hear them running about the deck. They were screaming. You could imagine people coming up from their cabin and finding no lifeboats, then tearing around to the other side.”

As the Titanic continued to sink, Eva watched. She couldn’t close her eyes. She watched the Titanic snap in half and listened to the helpless people drowning. She said that the most dreadful sound of all is the sound of people drowning – the screams.

“And then the whole world stood still that night,” Eva Hart recalled. “Once the lights had gone and the ship was gone… the silence was dreadful.”

The lifeboats eventually pulled together and evened out the number of passengers in each. At this point Eva was separated from her mother, which she recalled as a terrifying experience. They would not find each other until they had been rescued by the Carpathia later that morning.

The crew of the Carpathia dropped down rope ladders for the adults to climb toward the hatch on the side of the ship. Children were placed in sacks and lifted with cargo nets – quite successfully but still terrifying, Eva Hart recalled.  

But the most pathetic experience Eva Hart remembered was watching the women looking for their husbands on the Carpathia, realizing very quickly that they had gone down with the ill fated ship.

So, why are people still fascinated with the sinking of the Titanic? Probably because it was an accident that should not have claimed a single life. It took over two hours for the ship to sink. If there were enough lifeboats, no one would have died. 

Today, the Titanic rests nearly 13,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Eva Hart and all other survivors have now died, but the legacy of the RMS Titanic will live on for quite some time.

With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these “what if” questions will help you get started.

What if your main character was an alligator who had boarded the Titanic unbeknownst?

What if the Titanic was ghost ship that could be seen crossing its route from England to New York?

What if your main character took a submarine down to the wreckage of the Titanic. What mysterious object would they uncover?

The possibilities are endless! And please leave your own “what if” questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

Grab a cup of hot cocoa, a piece of paper and a pencil, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere! I look forward to seeing where you take us!

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

P.S. The word of the day is “Carpathia.” Here is the definition: the transatlantic passenger steamship who made her maiden voyage in 1903 and became famous for rescuing 705 passengers from the ill fated Titanic.