Titanic-No More Survivors
The last survivor of the ill-fated Titanic has passed away on May 31, 2009. Her name was Elizabeth Gladys "Millvina" Dean and she passed away in a nursing home near Ashurst in southern England at the age of 97. She was the youngest passenger on the Titanic at only 9 weeks old.
She was able to survive the sinking of the Titanic on the night of April 14, 1912, that killed some 1,500 people by being bundled up in a sack and carried to safety. Her mother Georgetta Eva and her brother Bertram also survived. Her father, Bertram Frank was among those that did not survive.
Her family had boarded the Titanic at Southampton and were heading to the United States to relocate to Kansas where her father had hoped to open a tobacco shop. They went back to Southampton after the disaster and she did not know she had been on board the Titanic until she was eight years old when her mother planned to remarry.
She said it wasn't until the wreckage of the Titanic was found in 1985 that she suddenly became a celebrity. She was invited to take part in documentaries to give media interviews. She was also invited to the United States in 1997. She accepted that offer, but turned down an offer to attend the premier of the movie, feeling that it would be too upsetting.
In 2006, she moved into a nursing home and was struggling to pay bills and began to sell off some of her memorabilia. She was able to raise approximately $54,000 in October 2008 by selling off some rare prints that were signed by the artist as well as compensation letters sent to her mother by the Titanic Relief Fund. She also sold a 100-year-old suitcase filled with clothes donated to her family by the people of New York when they arrived after being rescued.
Once members of the British Titanic Society and the Belfast Titanic Society heard of her selling off items because of her financial situation they launched a campaign to secure her future. Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, and director James Cameron, reportedly donated $30,000 in total to her fund.
The last remaining US survivor, Lillian Asplund, died in her home in May 2006 at the age of 99. She was just five years old when the Titanic went down.
My Fascination with Titanic
I put off watching the 1997 James Cameron film "Titanic" until it was in its last weeks at the dollar discount theater. Finally, I took my two kids to the theater and sat close to the front, which is something I normally do not do. I'm more of a middle of the room kind of person when it comes to watching movies.
I don't quite know what to attribute my fascination to, but from the moment the movie started I was riveted to my seat. I could feel every sound pulsating through my body. For that brief time, I was living and breathing aboard the TItanic. It is so rare to get that sucked in to a movie. I, in some small way, connected with the people on board Titanic. No, I'm not talking about Jack Dawson and Rose Dewitt Bukater, or Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet. I'm talking about the real people of Titanic, like Millvina Dean. I wanted to know more about them.
I guess my curiosity was contagious because my son, Kevin was hooked as well. With the success of the film, we readily found reading materials about Titanic and we bought quite a few of them. I still own many of them.
I wish I could remember the year, but it would have been between 1997 and 2001, the Titanic Exhibition was being featured in Dallas. My husband and I took the kids after I heard a Dallas radio station mentioned there being a portion of the hull that you touch. I wanted that experience.
The exhibition was amazing. There were so many artifacts and reconstructions on display it really gave you a good feel for things. There was such an eerie sadness in looking at a stained life-jacket or a broken pair of glasses. They had recreated the grand staircase and some of the cabin areas. For current locations of this exhibit, click here.
There it was, the looming piece of hull I had come to see. It was black with large rivets that begged me to touch them. Although it was not corded off, there was a bit of sand on the floor beneath the hull. As I stepped onto the sand and ran my fingers across the rivets I was quickly advised by a young girl at the doorway that that was not allowed. Oops, I quickly made my apologies and explained that I was given the impression that I could by a local radio station and since I saw no signs saying that I couldn't do it, I did it. I know people will say, "what do you think would happen if a zillion people did that?", but I'm sorry, I doubt a zillion people were as compelled to do it as I was. I'm grateful for the experience.
That experience has stayed with me for the rest of my life. I think it's also quite fitting that my second husband came to America to be with me by boarding a luxury liner in Southampton.
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