Ancient History

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I touched the Titanic. I saw a postage stamp which had been salvaged from the wreck. I saw a men’s pinstripped suit, delicate vases, tea cups, a ceramic toothpaste jar, a ten dollar bill—all were plunged 12,000 feet to the bottom of the ocean, where they rested for nearly a century along with the remains of 1500 people. I didn’t see any of the people. But they were there.

Throughout the Titanic exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the stories of the victims and survivors are highlighted. We learned their names, why they were sailing, where they hoped to end up once in the United States. We learned about Molly Brown and the Guggenheims, but we also learned about second and third class passengers. A family of eight was on the ship. Of course I drew comparisons. They were third class because that is what they could afford. Most likely they were split up, once on the ship. And when it was evident the ship was going down, they waited to try to escape until every one was accounted for.

They did not escape.

Another story was of a young mother, travelling with her baby boy as third class passengers. She called him Filly.

Filly was torn from her arms and put on a lifeboat. She watched it lowered into the icy dark, without her. Was Filly screaming for his mama as loud as she screamed for him? I imagine their arms outstretched to each other. Somehow, she made it on to a separate lifeboat. All night long they rowed and rowed, looking for survivors in the wreckage. She thought of her baby boy on another lifeboat, held in someone else’s arms. When the Carpathia pulled them from the freezing water, mother and baby were finally reunited.

I am grateful for this story.

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