Thursday, July 8, 2010

Meet Me At The Muny

Last Monday my family and I were able to go to the Muny to see “Titanic the Musical“. The play was one that wasn't based off of a movie, so it delivered a plot line that could give the audience a new perspective. I would give it four out of five stars due to slight language.

I especially enjoyed how it showed each class and its key characters, yet, it didn’t focus on the more famous passengers of the Titanic (i.e. Molly Brown was not even mentioned). They portrayed first class as the slightly scandalous but still, ever-so-fabulous millionaires, second class as the average person, wanting to be like the class above them, and third class as the ones just hoping for a better life. They even gave the audience a look at the crew, stokers, and one of the wireless officers.

I loved how it showed how reluctant and casual the passengers were when they were told to be ready to board the lifeboats and how the stewards had to restrain them when they realized the Titanic was really in danger. The Strausses were even given more than just a famous quote (a couple that I will discuss in another post).

Despite the historical inaccuracies, it was very neat to get to see. In fact, one of the first plays based on the Titanic was a musical.
I loved it!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Morse Code

The only known photo of the Titanic's Marconi Room where the telegrams were sent and received.

In 1836, Samuel Morse invented the telegraph with the help of Alfred Vail. But because of the technology available at that time, the messages received couldn’t be printed readably.

In 1844 the telegraph was first put into operation. To make the messages readable the first initial telegraph made indentations on a paper tape when an electrical current was transmitted.

The actual “Morse code” was developed so that the operators could translate the indentions made on the paper into an actual text message. With the first code, Samuel Morse had planned it to only send numerals and the receiver would have to look up in a “dictionary” what each word was according to the numbers. Then, Alfred Vail expanded the code to include the letters and special characters so it could be used in an easier way. This was how the dots and dashes came along (the most used English letters were given the shortest combinations).

In the original Morse telegraphs, it would make clicking noises as it made indentions onto the paper tape, the operators soon picked up on them and learned how to translate the clicks into the dots and dashes making the need of the paper unnecessary. When the code was adapted for radio use, the dots and dashes were then put as short and long pulses and later it was even found out that the people were more skillful with it after it was changed. To contemplate the sound of Morse code, the operators started to vocalize a dot as “dit”, and a dash as “dah”.

The bad thing about using Morse code is that an operator had to be available at all times to be able to hear the incoming codes. The radio operator had to sit in a room which was the size of a closet for hours writing down the messages he heard.

That was one of the reason ships and boats usually didn’t leave their radios on all the time, so Morse code was not a reliable way of communication. After the Titanic disaster though, laws were changed so that radios had to be left on with someone listening at all times.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Captain

“When anyone asks me how I can best describe my experience in nearly forty years at sea, I merely say, uneventful. Of course there have been winter gales, and storms and fog and the like. But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident…or any sort worth speaking about. I have but one vessel in distress in all my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort.”
Edward J. Smith, Captain of the Titanic (1907)

The Titanic’s captain was nicknamed the millionaires’ captain because so many people of the upper class enjoyed traveling on the ships that were under his command. After his many years with the White Star Line, he planned on retiring after the Titanic’s maiden voyage. It is believed that he tried to make it a record breaking trip to end his career on a high note so to say.

The night of the disaster, Smith was resting in his cabin, leaving his second officer in charge. Sadly, none of them knew that by changing their course slightly to the south only put the Titanic’s route directly into the iceberg.

Some believe that the Captain was brave and gallant even to the end, while others view him as the complete opposite--almost as a cowardly figure--not even carrying out his orders like he should have (such as telling the officers to prepare the lifeboats), they describe him as being in shock of it all.

I believe that he probably was stunned with the fact the Titanic was sinking. It was supposed to be an unsinkable ship. Plus he knew that because of the lack of lifeboats, less than half of his passengers would have a chance of rescue.

We do know that Smith stressed ‘the law of the seas’ and shouted into his megaphone “Women and children first!” repeatedly.

There are also diverse stories about his death. One survivor claimed seeing him swimming (after the Titanic disappeared into the ocean) carrying a little girl to a lifeboat. Some have said he went to his cabin and took his own life. While others believe that he went down with his ship after telling his crew they had done their duty.

After the inquiries, the Captain was found innocent of the disaster and of any wrongdoings that could have prevented the fate of the Titanic.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


After debating the matter for a while, I finally decided that my first topic to write about (on the actual history) could only be one thing: why the Titanic was called unsinkable.

The White Star Line didn’t advertise it themselves that the Titanic was unsinkable, though it’s obvious that they supported the idea.

"There is no danger that Titanic will sink. The boat is unsinkable and nothing but inconvenience will be suffered by the passengers."
-Phillip Franklin, White Star Line Vice President

"I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern ship building has gone beyond that."
-Captain Smith, Commander of the Titanic

Ship Builders magazine stated that the Titanic was practically unsinkable because of the unique construction of the sixteen watertight compartments. If the ship began to take on any water, the bulkhead doors could be closed from the bridge or in the engine room (where they were located) and up to four of the compartments could be filled with water and they would be able to stay afloat. Also, the Titanic had a double bottom so that if anything was to scrape it from below, it would have to rip through two layers of thick steel. They said she was a lifeboat within herself. Some went as far as saying not even God could sink her.

Not everyone agreed to the fact that the Titanic was being called unsinkable; well they were testing God.

"My mother had a premonition from the very word 'GO.' She knew there was something to be afraid of and the only thing that she felt strongly about was that to say a ship was unsinkable was flying in the face of God. Those were her words."
-Eva Hart, Titanic Survivor

Even if people really did believe that the Titanic couldn’t sink, we now know that there were many problems with the design of certain things such as the watertight compartments (a subject that I will address in another post).

I imagine, as a little time went on, and more word-of-mouth publicity spread, people left off the “practically” when they talked about how safe the ship was. They were lulled into a false sense of security. After all, if you were going to cross the Atlantic ocean, wouldn’t you want to believe you were safe from any possible dangers?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Titanic Project

Yesterday we had a home school family night. In my opinion, it was almost like a talent show, some of the families in the area (who, of course, home school) brought display boards or projects that they have done throughout the school year and some sang and others played the piano.

I really wanted to speak about the Titanic but was told I would have to have a time limit. If I started talking about it…I wouldn’t be able to stop, so I decided to sing and play my guitar and just set out a display. Here’s how it turned out:

I got all the pictures off the internet and made copies of a few things from my personal collection; as for the rest (i.e. the ticket book and passenger biographies), I used templates from the Hands of a Child lapbook CDs.

I tried to cram as much information I could on that board and I think that my work paid off. Last night I was told I should write a book about the Titanic. That was probably the best compliment I could have received.

Friday, May 21, 2010


It’s hard think that there was a time that all I knew about Titanic was that it was a ship that sunk and there was a really big movie about it (one that I wasn’t even allowed to watch). So one year at the Science Center, a Titanic exhibit came for a limited time and that’s how I discovered the “unsinkable” ship. It was what sparked my interest, but it didn’t happen in a “WOW!” moment right then and there.

After a little bit of time had passed, I had read maybe one or two books on the subject and my best friend asked if I wanted to write a book together. I had always wanted to write a book before but always got bored after the first couple pages--not enough motivation I guess--so of course my answer was yes. After probably about a month of brainstorming what the subject should be I threw out the idea: Titanic. She took to the idea and it was settled. Neither of us knew much about the ship but we decided to write about it anyway. So I started researching (and I’m sure she did too), read a couple books and Googled a couple things. That was how the “WOW!” moment happened, and before I knew it, Titanic was my favorite thing to study. The many acts of courage and love, all the untold stories and mysteries, and just the fact that the ship was supposed to be unsinkable and it sank on its maiden voyage; I found all of it to be interesting.

I’ve been asked on more than one occasion why I like Titanic so much, but when you start doing research on something, it’s amazing how engrossed you become with it. If someone doesn’t know why the Titanic appeals to me so much, I simply can’t understand why it doesn’t to them.

So, I’m writing this blog to record all of my research and discoveries for other people to read. Even if you’re not a huge fan on the subject, I hope that you’ll keep checking in and reading my new posts and maybe you can learn something new and have your own “WOW!” moment.