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I Was Born The Night The Titanic Sank

Updated on September 10, 2012
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Jules Corriere is a playwright and theater director, having written over 40 plays, one of them performing at the Kennedy Center in D.C.

A Story From Lavonia, Georgia

I had the opportunity to go to a nursing home in Lavonia, Georgia, to gather stories from the residents, for a play that I was writing for that community that year. One woman I spoke with was telling me about her time as a nurse in the 30's. Her roommate, also sitting with us in our story circle, was nearing her 100th birthday. My great joy came as the roommate continued to interject herself into the other's story, each time stating, "You know, I was born the night theTitanic sank". She must have reminded us about 14 times during that interview-- no less! It was such fun, that I decided to tell the story of BOTH women in the play that I scripted that year-- and I wrote it as it happened- with all of the fun, wonderful interjections. Did I mention she was born the night the Titanic sank? Here is that scene from the play. Read on and enjoy.

I was born the night the Titanic Sank....

Scene Setting: Two older women, in their nursing home recreation room, sitting in wheel chairs.

MARY

I was 102 years old when May the 2nd passed. And don't tell nobody.

ANNIE

I was born on April 14, 1912. The night the Titanic sank.

MARY

From horse and buggies to cars. I was laying in bed last night and I heard an airplane. I thought, Lord, I'm walking to flying. I got all these school trained nurses around here. Grandma trained me after I graduated 7th grade. You don't see that no more.

ANNIE

I got my nurses training with Mrs. Helen Thomas- it was home demonstration then. She came to my house and gave me nursing lessons for a week, and I'd go to her house for a week. Don't see that anymore. I was born the night the Titanic sank. Nursing's changed, but it's the most important things the same. Listen and be there.

MARY

It's a calling more than a job.

ANNIE

It's gotta be, cause there's no way you'd put up with rough patients and hard work if you weren't called for it. I'll never forget when a strong man reached up and hit my face. With administration, the patient is always right. You were never right. I remember that still. I tried to give him a bath. He didn't want one.

I worked a while in New York, and it wasn't segregated. 80 years ago. You didn't see that around here. But, even in New York, some of that stuff still happened. I got called names but When you're a nurse, you put your feelings away. People say things they don't mean when they're hurting.

MARY

That's what my grandma said. She trained me in nursing.

ANNIE

You already said that. Anyway, Lord, Lord. I was born the night the Titanic went down. April 14, 1912. I gone from Jim Crow to Barack Obama.

MARY

Hundred years. I remember the good old days when kerosene and turpentine cured anything. And Castor oil. Cure you or kill you.

ANNIE

My grandma smoked an old long pipe. She said, come here gal, open your mouth. She put some alum in that reed so she could blow through the pipe. A remedy for sore throat. That was in 1918. I remember it still. I was born the Night the Titanic Sank.

MARY

Assiphidity was for a sore throat. Get rid of all the diseases.

ANNIE

Assiphidity didn't get rid of the diseases, it smelled so bad it kept people and their germs from coming near you, so you didn't get sick.

MARY

Cut your foot- put soot on it to stop the bleeding. Everybody wore little soot.

Lord the things we used to do. Now, you see the doctor when you stub your toe. Why did you say they were the good old days? What was so good about them?

ANNIE

You're the one who said they were the good old days. Don't you remember anything? That's what happens when you turn 100. I got a couple more years to go. I'm not 100 yet. I was born the night the Titanic went down.

NURSE ADRIENNE

Time for your bath.

ANNIE

Listen here. I was born the night the Titanic sank. I'm 100 years old. Now I'm the patient. I'm gonna read and I'll let you know when I want my bath. It's my turn now, and the patient is always right.

NURSE ADRIENNE

And that part has never changed. A good nurse knows that the patient's needs always come before a check list. I'll be back later, Annie.

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Delightful lens and quizzes!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      I've listened to a few conversations that sound very much like the one you chose to use in your play. Heart warming are the only words to describe the conversation with the constant reminder that "I was born the night the titanic sank".

    • Tracie-Fisher profile image

      Tracie-Fisher 5 years ago

      Delightful! Thanks for sharing this conversation. I expect my best friend and I will be sounding exactly like that.

    • profile image

      sheezie77 5 years ago

      Nice lens, well done!

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 5 years ago

      I was born the same date the Titanic sank too, only different year. What a great story!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Fabulous! I imagine that elderly woman as a little girl telling everyone "I was born the night the Titanic sank." It must have been part of her story her entire life. Love it!

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Lovely story - those two could be my great aunts (RIP) they keep us on our toes! :>)

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      Ha, trick question about the stacks! I love this snippet of history - thank you for sharing it.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      What a wonderful story! I laughed at the assiphidity comment--making them smell so bad that people with germs didn't come near. Absolutely charming story. I especially appreciate how your respect for the women and their lives shines through.

    • thesuccess2 profile image

      thesuccess2 5 years ago

      I remember hearing about an old lady who had been a nurse, and that when she started her career she was caring for an old nurse who in her youth had cared for veterans of the Battle of Waterloo 1815. These are direct links with the past and should be recorded, so well done for recording your Titanic lady.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 5 years ago from Vermont

      Must have been a horrific experience for everyone aboard the Titanic.

    • profile image

      JGracey 5 years ago

      Actually, the titanic "sank" on April 15th, since it was after midnight when she finally went down.

      But I loved the story, and the play must have been wonderful.