Friday, February 20, 2009
The Turning Point...A Lost Era
Passenger in the gym
The Titanic sailed through the North Atlantic Ocean on a dark moonless night. Her lookouts scanned the ocean fifty feet above the ships decks. The officers on the bridge kept the four city block long ocean liner steady and on course. The first class smoking room was full of millionaires gambling for more money. Second and third class passengers were asleep in there cabins.
In the crows nest the lookouts spotted a dark object that loomed out of the ocean. Suddenly, they realized that the Titanic was quickly approaching an iceberg. As one rang the bell, the other phoned the bridge. Quickly he gave the warning. First officer Murdoch ordered the engines reverse and hard starboard. Just as it looked as if they were going to clear the mountian of ice, the floor beneath them began to vibrate. The unsinkable ship was sinking.
Amazed, first class passengers watched the enormous berg slide past. The millionaire’s suites on the upper decks of the ship were still as quiet as before. However, the third class passengers were jarred awake as the sound of grinding metal echoed through the corridors. In the forward boiler rooms, engineers raced for their lives against the raging sea.
Mr. Andrews was aroused and asked to come to the bridge. Captain Smith knew the ship had been damaged but he would like to know how badly. After he told Mr. Andrews what to do, he gave orders for all the ships passengers to be awakened. Some crew members were told to unlock all exits out of third class.
In first class, most passengers were reluctant to leave there warm cabins and go out on deck. But nevertheless, the crew succeeded. In third class however, a lot of passengers could not speak English so very few knew how to get to safety. At the far end of the third class corridor on H deck, water came up through the stairwell. On the boat deck, passengers looked around curiously as the floors began to list. Some first class women were still in the evening gowns they wore to dinner that night.
On the bridge, Mr. Andrews came back with devastating news. In one hour or so, the unsinkable Titanic would be at the bottom of the ocean. Captain Smith was reluctant to believe this could happen, but he remembered there were over 2,000 people in his care. Quickly he ordered women and children in the boats. As the first boat was being loaded, very few woman wanted to leave the Titanic and get into a rickety little boat. After all, there is nothing this ship cannot handle, why worry about her sinking. This thought entered many passenger's minds. Little did they realize one deck below the first class dining room was already beginning to flood.
The Grand Staircase was full of passengers staying in from the cold. The list of the ship, which had grown worse, did not seem to bother anyone nor did the water which was rapidly filling the first class reception room just six decks below it. With one foot in a port hole and the other on the side of a boat, second officer Lightoller helped the woman and children into the off the slanting decks.
The ships band played music as the work was being done. It drifted onto the bridge where Captain Smith stood looking out over the ship's bow which was about to go under water. He placed one hand on the ships wheel and looked around the quiet bridge. The water began climbing onto the bow. The realization of the danger began to firmly penetrate the passengers hearts.
The last of the forward lifeboats were being loaded when officer Lightoller looked up and saw the bow of the great ship swallowed up by the frigid Atlantic. He knew the ship was slipping away to a watery grave and fear gripped his heart as he realized how many souls would join the beautiful ship in death. The water had risen to the second landing of the Grand Staircase in a matter of minutes. Lightoller blindly gazed around in dismay at all of the passengers still left on board. Most of them had gone toward the stern where the last few lifeboats remained. The Grand Staircase had been abandon and the smell and sound of the ocean lingered inside.
A Lady's Shoe
The band stopped playing for a few seconds but started up once more to play the famous hymn, Nearer My God to Thee. Many women in the boats looked at the ship in disbelief. Her bow was nine feet under water, the promenade deck was rapidly filling, and the propellers were slowly rising out of the ocean. The thought of their fathers and husbands on board the sinking vessel nearly killed them. The passengers who stayed toward the front of the ship in order to swim away were quickly sucked into the promenade deck or one of the saloons on the boat deck as the bow sunk lower and lower. The few who survived swam desperately to the boats.
The water was now surging through the B deck landing of the Grand Staircase. Furniture from the first class dinning room swished around the room. The screams of passengers echoed through the ship. The angel which stood guarding the foot of the staircase was ripped from its place as the sea slammed through the windows. Some passengers escaped by running through the doors that led out to the boat deck. Others were lost in the the chaos of the sinking ship. Suddenly, with a defining roar, the water crashed through the beautiful ornate glass and iron dome that crowned the Grand Staircase.
The Final Moments
As the forward part of the boat deck disappeared, the first funnel crashed into the sea with an eerie moan. While the stern rose higher into the air, some passengers looked at the ocean for any signs of the rescue ship. They began to lose hope and jumped into the sea. Just after the second funnel sank, the ship stopped moving, but the shouts and cries for help did not.
The sound of furniture crashing towards the bow drifted across the water to the boats. Second officer Ligholler was at the very edge of the stern clinging to the rails. He looked back to get a final glimpse of the ship. It was hard to believe that he had been asleep in his bed, which was now under water, only an hour before.
The ship was completely diagonal, her bow pointing down to the ocean floor and her propellers pointing to the stars. Suddenly the lights flickered out and came on again for a split second then, went out all together. Moans from the ship's straining hull filled the air. Sounds of cracking metal echoed through the night. Suddenly the screams became horrific as the hull split in half and the stern plummeted to the ocean surface.
The passengers on the ship could not see what was happening, but the people in the boats could hardly believe their eyes.
Just as the passengers were catching there balance, the ship lurched foreword and the stern began to rise once again out of the ocean. Second officer Lightoller pulled himself over the railings, then began helping other passengers over as well. The ship sat completely vertical for almost fifteen seconds. Some passengers began to think it would stay afloat, but all at once she gave a final moan then past from the British Register into a great darkness.
The unsinkable Titanic was gone forever.