BY ROSEMARY MOSSIEN
Vivid memories of the horror of the sinking of the "unsinkable" ocean liner Titanic 50 years ago April 15 are recalled by Mrs. John Black, 11 Kay Terrace, only Rochesterian who is a survivor of the tragedy.
Mrs. Black told an interviewer, just as she did 20 years ago, of the ordeal she endured as a girl of 17. No detail seemed to have escaped the shy, gentle lady.
She was one of a happy party of 11 who had spent most of the early months of 1912 in England visiting relatives. In the group was her godfather, William Douton of Holley, to whose care she was entrusted by her widowed mother.
"There are 84 of us survivors alive today, of the 705 who arrived in New York aboard the Carpathia after the sinking," Mrs. Black' said. "The young woman who shared my stateroom, and escaped with me, died only two years ago, she visited us frequently."
Mrs. Black, born Lillian Bentham in Holley, had to be pushed into the last of the Titanic's 12 lifeboats by her godfather. "We all felt safer on the 11-story-high ship than on the cold ocean in a tiny eggshell," she declared. "It was just as our boat was being
The writer of this interview was a Times-Union reporter in 1942 when she interviewed Mrs. Black on the 30th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Last week, on the eve of the 50th anniversary, she talked to her again. Mrs. Mossien, the former Rosemary Hallenbeck, the wife of Herbert J. Mossien, a Bausch &
Lomb executive. They live at 319 Wilmot Road, Brighton
lowered that the awful realization seemed to hit everyone: The impossible was happening, the Titanic was going down."
Only three of her party survived the black night of April 14 and 15 when 1,513 perished in the icy seas. Mrs. Black credits her survival to Bert Denbouy, a friend, who ran down eight flights to
bring her on deck.
"If it weren't for my fur coat, 1 believe I would not be alive today, nor would the young steward. Mr. Fitzpatrick," she reminisces. "I had. on a hooded steamer coat over my, nightclothes, and
Bert grabbed my, fur one from a chair as we left, the stateroom. That 'extra' I wrapped around Mr. Fitzpatrick when we had rescued
him from an overturned boat."
In, gratitude, the steward gave her the tiny Scout whistle from his belt. He had blown it all night in an effort to call some other boat to their aid. Mrs. Black's lifeboat, No. 12, picked up about
20 men who had been for hours on the half-submerged hulk. One of them was dead.
"I have that whistle, some coins from the dead. man's pocket, and a White Star Line button from the coat of an of an officer who later died in our boat," Mrs. Black reveals. But I do not need them to remember; I will never, never forget any part of that nightmare."
The Grantham family had moved to Rochester while daughter Lillian was abroad. Her brother had contracted typhoid fever, so neither he, nor her mother could meet the Carpathia in New York. From various parts of the state eight friends did come
to meet her.
"The first person saw on the dock was my godmother, Mrs. Douton; and her first words were, 'Where's William?'" Mrs. Black remembers. "And the chill strikes me today that struck me that midnight, when I had to reply, 'He's gone.'"