if you had one hour...

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In his book, "The Night Lives On" Walter Lord raises an interesting hypothetical question: If you could be anywhere for one hour on the night of April 14-15, 1912, where and when would you pick, and why?

I'll assume that the question contains the assumption that you can only observe, so no answers like, "I would want to be on the Titanic's bridge at 11:38 PM so I could warn them to turn sooner."

Lord gives his answer in the book; I would be curious to know reactions from people on this group.

-- Thomas Shoebotham (cathytom@ix.netcom.com), March 02, 1998


Dinner in the A La Carte Restaurant in First Class.

Selfish I know, but to have seen Titanic in her glory to be part of that era among the most brilliant people of the age. To live in such utter, blind assuredness of my place in the world and be blissfully unaware of all that was to come both on the Titanic and in the world, that would be an hour to experience.


-- Crystal Smithwick (Crystal@9v.com), March 02, 1998.

Ok, Thomas, where is that in the book? I can't remember his answer!

Thanks, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), March 02, 1998.

Lord's answer basically is that he would like to be on the bridge of the Californian just as dawn broke on the 15th. What were the conversations, what was said, as they began to realize what had just happened during the night while they looked on from 10 miles away?

If you want to comment on Lord's answer that's fine too, but I'm most interested in other people's answers to the basic question above: where, when, and why?

-- Thomas Shoebotham (cathytom@ix.netcom.com), March 02, 1998.

Tom, I think I'd spend part of that hour by sticking close to First Officer William Murdoch. For 86 years, this unfortunate man has been accused of having shot one or more passengers, then shooting himself. I'd like to watch him so that that mystery could be resolved, and perhaps Mr. Murdoch could finally rest in peace.

The other place I'd like to spend part of that hour is with Wallace Hartley and the musicians. What ***did*** they play at the end?

As for the Californian, her officers admitted seeing eight rockets fired into the sky at the time Titanic was firing eight rockets. Whether there was a third ship in between or not (and I highly doubt there was), the rockets put her close enough to have rendered some assistance. I wouldn't waste that hour on them.


-- Kip Henry (kip-henry@ouhsc.edu), March 03, 1998.

My hour would be spent right next to J. Bruce Ismay. I want to know what kind of a man he was, and how he conducted himself. I think I would find him no different than I have thought of him all these years but would want to see it for myself. I hate to condemn someone that I didn't know, but this guy certainly would have much to prove to me!

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), March 03, 1998.

Kip, my answer exactly! Great minds must think alike! (HEEHEE!!) The other think I would want to see is if the steerage passengers were really locked below decks. Laura

-- Laura (lrc@usit.net), March 03, 1998.

It's hard to express how much this response means to me, but...

I would spend the time with the band. If you have studied Titanic history you would know there were actually TWO separate bands on the ship and they didn't associate until this awful incident.

I can only hope that all my years of musical training, and now my time in the symphony, would prove to myself something that I believe I would do- I would stay there with my fellow musicians. My passion for music was so plainly expressed on "Wallace Hartley's" face in the movie that I automatically start crying as he starts "Nearer My God to Thee." I have NEVER cried at a movie before.

I dream of someday having a noble cause to my music other than playing for half-bored audiences. These men HAD this chance. Maybe I will too , without the tragic end of course. Or maybe, I already have and I just dont know it.

-- Jennifer from Pittsburgh (RozeT1tan@AOL.com), March 03, 1998.

Thanks for a provocative question, Thomas! I'd probably want to spend that hour hovering over the lifeboat (#1?) containing Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon and those crew members, just to find out what *really* went on in that little craft. (Although I must admit that Crystal's idea of seeing what the first-class experience would have been like runs a close second!)


-- Mary Lynne Nielsen (m.nielsen@ieee.org), March 04, 1998.

On the Californian, lighting a fire under Lords arse.

-- Lianne (liannegraham@one.net.au), March 05, 1998.


I said in the rules: observing only; no changing history. So, as much as we might like it, no fires on S. Lord's arse.

-- Thomas Shoebotham (cathytom@ix.netcom.com), March 05, 1998.

oops, sorry Thomas. I'll just do it psychically then, it's give me great pleasure!

-- Lianne (liannegraham@one.net.au), March 07, 1998.

I would have to agree, the First class setting would be the best. I'd like to come in at about dessert and then have time to just socialize and wonder around the ship. Go out on the deck, enjoy the pictures in the lounges, walk up the grand staircase, see the Astors, and the Strausses and walk the halways of the ship.

The second best thing would be to be there as the ship was going down. I'd love to hear Mrs. Straus refusing to get on the lifeboat, and hear the frenchman tell his son's to tell their mother that he loved her and always would, to see Benjamin Gugenhiem dressed in his best prepared to go down like a gentleman. These are the places I'd want to be if I had an hour to observe the Titanic.

-- Miranda Swearingen (Kylen1@hotmail.com), April 06, 1998.

I was surprised to see a new answer here a few days ago. It reminded me that when other people had had a while to post answers I had intended to post my own.

Like many people, I am split. Part of the time I would like to spend on the sinking ship, particularly with Thomas Andrews near the end. I would like to say something to comfort him (or would that violate my stated rules of not changing history?) and tell him that he would be remembered well by future generations. It might ease a little of the pain he must have felt as he stared sadly at the clock in the first class lounge. Like Kip, I'd also like to know what the band played at the end.

The other part of the time I would want to be on the Californian, but not for the reasons Walter Lord describes. I have no doubt that the Californian was there and I don't really care too much what was said by the crew at 4:45 AM as they came to know the full extent of what had happened earlier. What I would like to know is just what Titanic looked like from the Californian. How far away did it look? What did the rockets look like at that range? And also, what did the Californian really look like from the decks of Titanic?

I live in the SF Bay Area, where we have several bridges across the bay. The San Mateo bridge cuts across the middle of the bay, and is about 10 miles long, from the shore of the East Bay to where it joins the peninsula south of SF. It doesn't run too far above the water, so it's almost like being on a ship. At night, just as I start on to one side or the other, I sometimes look out across the water and see the lights on the other side shining. Often, there are small cargo ships docked at either side, about the size of the Californian, as well as the occasional oil tanker which is closer to Titanic scale. I sometimes imagine that it is ***the*** night in 1912, and try to picture one of those ships going down, firing rockets, and sinking lower and lower with the lights still blazing. I try to get a sense of what it must have looked like. It never seems very far at all; it can be rather poignant if I let the thoughts run on too long.

-- Thomas Shoebotham (cathytom@ix.netcom.com), April 06, 1998.

I think if I could be on the ship that night I would spend part of it with Thomas Andrews. I think he is an amazing man and I would want to say something comforting to him. The other half I would want to be with the band and see what they actually did play. There are so many places I would want to be it I could be on the ship that night. Because I also want to see the Strausses and Ben Guggenheim.

-- Joanna (joannac@netins.net), April 11, 1998.

This is an old thread, but I wanted to contribute. I'm a huge fan of Walter Lord, read both books, and have thought about this a lot. I would want to be below decks, on the starboard side, and find out **exactly** where the iceberg struck and whether the rivets popped. I know, conventional wisdom is that this is what happened. Still, I would want to see where the Titanic took her mortal blow.

-- David Shows (dshows@cblink.com), December 02, 1998.

I would like to be with the Captain. There are so many stories of how he died, but no certain one. I would want to set it straight. That's where I would be if I had one hour on the Titanic.

-- Elise L. (andyl13@msn.com), May 26, 2002.

Because I love him so much. I too, would want to stick like glue to Will Murdoch. When it came time for him to ask me to get into the last lifeboat, I would no doubt say to him, "Not with out you, I won't. If you don't get into that boat, I won't either. Take it or leave it!"

-- Tammy Saphiloff (regan_brown@yahoo.com), March 19, 2003.

It is a fact that RMS Titanic was doomed by the time lookout Fleet gave his warning. Titanic had sailed 750 yards too far already. Still I would like to be in the crow's nest, just to see the berg for myself; even as Fleet did.

-- Bill McAllister (Dawghousebass@hotmail.com), July 01, 2003.

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