There is that Leviathan

Happy Friday the 13th. Casey Wyatt here.

As many of us know, this weekend marks that 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  One hundred years ago today, it was a Saturday. I found this out at a cool website – timeanddate.com.

Of course, I could have looked the information up in one of the many Titanic books in my library. The sinking of the Titanic has long been one of my many historical obsessions (other “favorites” include: the Black Death, Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, Hartford Circus Fire, the Spanish Flu pandemic). My interest in the ship began long before the movie (which I’ll get to in a moment).

I’m not sure when I first learned about the Titanic. Like all “great” or tragic moments in history, I’d probably learned it in school. When I was a kid, all history was new to me. I didn’t know how the story ended and just had to know. (I don’t know why more people don’t love history!).

The story about the “unsinkable” ship that foundered on its maiden voyage struck a chord. And I wondered, where was the ship? Would I be alive when they found it?

I remember being so astonished when I saw my mother’s copy of National Geographic in 1986 proclaiming the ship had been found. How could I have missed that moment? I was in my sophomore year in college and didn’t know! (I have that issue, by the way!)

No internet back then, folks (oh the horror!). In any case, the ship had been located. No longer was it among history’s unsolved mysteries like what happened to Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa.

When I first heard that James Cameron was making a movie about the Titanic, I remember looking at Hubby and saying -“it’s either going to be a huge success or the biggest flop of all time.”  My opinion was only reinforced by the trailers of the ship, vertical and ready to sink. I was terrified to go see it. Come on. I knew it didn’t end well!

The horror those people must have suffered through. Too much to bear. I avoided the movie until March 1998. I went alone to a Sunday matinée. The theater was packed. Packed! The movie had been out since December 1997. Remember – I used to work in a movie theater. This type of steady attendance – unheard of.

I managed to keep my dread at bay, until the early stages of the ship’s sinking. When Captain Smith shut himself into the wheelhouse, the people around me began to sniff. Then openly weep.  Other than E.T., I’ve never been so emotionally distraught at a movie. The ending – an arrow to my heart – nearly undid me.

Love story aside. My interest in Titanic reached new heights. I had to know everything!! I’m lucky enough to live very close to The Titanic Historical Society Museum in Massachusetts. So I went (several times). It’s still there in the back of Henry’s jewelry store.

So what does all this mean? Why are so many of us fascinated by this story? I can’t answer that for anyone but me.

For me, it’s always been about the people. The human element. Those could have been my relatives. Or yours. In 1918, my grandmother came to America at 18 months old on a steamship from Italy. I have that handwritten ticket tucked away. My mother gave it to me thinking it was a birth certificate, but I took one look at it and recognized the shipping company letterhead.

Back on Saturday night, April 13, 1912, none of the passengers or crew knew that they were about to become part of the most infamous maritime disaster of all time. They were biding their time, looking forward to the rest of their lives. No different from us.

There are many, many, many lessons to be taken from the Titanic tragedy. But this is the one that sticks with me the most – you never know when life as you know it will end. There is no preparation. No advance warning. We can only live in the moment.

Like, I’m living in this one unique moment right now, typing this blog. So whether you’re moved by historical events or not, unless someone discovers the

secret to time travel, we can only go in one direction – forward!

What say you? Are you moved by history? Is there a tragedy that speaks to you?

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19 thoughts on “There is that Leviathan”

  1. Totally fascinating blog. I found myself nodding at every word, every sentence. I agree, it’s all about the people. This morning I stumbled upon some Victorian post mortem photographs of babies and I still can’t take that image out of my head. My heart broke when I saw them, and it’s still bleeding. Great post!

  2. Very interesting post, Casey. I’m a sucker for anything World War 2 related. My grandfather proudly served and was tormented by nightmares after he was discharged. He earned three Purple Hearts.

    1. My younger son is fascinated by World War II also. One of these days, I will write my book about the WASPs (when I’m sure I won’t slip in any paranormal elements). Thanks to your grandfather and other selfless men and women’s sacrifices, we get to have our wonderful today.

  3. Hi Casey,
    I actually did a blog yesterday about the Titanic. I’m facinated by history, which is why I write historical romance. Some of my favorite times are when knights fought for honor and the Civil War. Although we are facinated by Titanic and the romance shown in the movie, if we were aboard that ship we would probably have been in Third Class and probably would not have made it off. I can only imagine the terror. The sad history of that voyage is very interesting and something about it does draw us. Nice post.

  4. Confession time: I’ve never sat through the entire Titanic movie. I know, I know. *dodging airborne rotten eggs and tomatoes* I did, however, see the traveling Titanic exhibit a couple of years ago, and I’ve never been so uncomfortable at a museum exhibit. Whether it was my own imaginings about the horror, or some residual awful energy coming off the objects, I could not stay long and felt a huge sense of relief when I shut those doors behind me. As for historical events that fascinate me, I have a long, long list, which I will not bore everybody with here! But here are a few: Who was Jack the Ripper? (Patricia Cornwell made a circumstantial case for Walter Sickert, but I’m not convinced) What really happened at Roanoke? Did Shakespeare really write his own stuff? Must stop now!

    1. I was not really happy about the salvage of the wreck so I’ve refused to visit any exhibit that puts money in that company’s pocket. And I totally agree on other great historical mysteries – definitely Jack the Ripper and all the ones you mentioned. There are so many unsolved puzzles! It makes me wonder what future generations will think of our time on the planet and the mysteries we leave behind.

      1. I’ve never seen Titanic. I don’t want to see it and I never plan on seeing it. So don’t feel bad Suze. I love history but now instead of thinking about the actual tragedy of the sinking of the ship but Leonardo Dicaprio trying to hook up with Kate Winslet.

  5. My dad was fascinated by the sinking of the Titanic and he got me fascinated. I mean, it’s like tempting fate – the biggest ship ever and it sinks. Apparently the Gods didn’t like that. So very tragic.

    1. Yes, very tragic. Its one of those stories full of “what ifs”. What if they slowed down? What if they had enough life boats? What if they hit the iceberg head on? What if the Californian’s marconi operator kept his radio on longer? So many “what ifs”

  6. Excellent Casey, love your blog today. Thank you. It is beautifully written, and expressive. Your blog is timely and wonderful. With your permission I have posted some memorableTitanic events. Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, CT is having a special dress the era/ black tie event on the evening of the 21st with exhibitions from Mystic Sea Museum’s artifacts and a Titanic survivor, the amazing Renaissance woman from the early 20th century, Helen Churchhill Candee. Her great granddaughter is flying in from England to attend our dinner. On the 26th of April we are having the Titanic Collaboration Art Show from 5-7 P.M. You can check it out at Lockwood’s link: http://www.lockwoodmathewsmansion.com.

  7. Hi Casey– Found your list of other historical obsessions interesting. And that’s really neat that you have the steamship ticket from your grandmother’s first trip to America. Your conclusion about living in the moment is one that really resonates with me. I agree. Personally, I think the most defining scene for Jack’s character in the movie Titanic was the “Making It Count” speech. That was when the audience fell in love with him, which was a necessary step in making the audience truly feel everything that was to come (the fear, the horror, the hope). Great post!

    1. Hi Jill! I know there are people out there who trash the Jack/Rose romance, but it served a purpose – it brought us the human element of the tragedy and made us care about what happened to the passengers. Couldn’t agree with you more. 🙂

  8. Thanks for the timely post, Casey. My daughter and I are Titanic-fanatics, almost as much as we are HP fans. If you ever travel to Orlando, Florida, I’d suggest going to the Titanic museum on International Drive. You can get more info at their website, http://www.titanictheexperience.com/
    We’ve been there twice, once on the anniversary date a few years ago. What a creeepy, but interesting experience. I don’t know about you, but I’ve DRV’d all the recent Titanic documentaries as well.
    I’ve only seen bits of James Cameron’s movie, unable to bear watching the horror that was that ship’s ending. It also took my husband many years to convince me to take a cruise with him (which I loved, btw) because of my irrational fears.
    I think I’m drawn to the story because the ship was touted as the Unsinkable Ship, and nature proved that nothing on Earth is infallible.

    1. Thanks for the tip Jolyse! I have been watching the new documentaries. I’m such a nerd, I’ve seen all the older ones! I did really like the James Cameron Nat Geo program. It really gave me better understanding of the scale and size of the disaster (and just how deep 2.5 miles under the ocean really is). I laughed bitterly this morning at a report on the news this morning about their being dead bodies at the wreck site (because of the shoes). Where have these people been all the these years? Where did they think the shoes came from? Honestly!

  9. well, I am behind in reading your blog. I have been very interested in watching on the specials on the Titanic. I remember you talking about the museum in Indian Orchard – I have not been there, but there was just an article in the Vernon Patch which made me think that I have to get there.

    1. I was surprised to learn that the museum is still in the back of his jewelry store. I had read somewhere that they were in the process of finding a new building – guess that fell through. It’s worth a peek if you are in the area. They have some cool artifacts – including a styrofoam cup that one of the deep sea dive teams brought back. On a dive, they put it outside the sub and the pressure from the water shrunk the cup to doll size!

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