2012 The Titanic Olympics in San Francisco


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JHPravatiner

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Well, thinking of anglers, most of us know about Lightoller's little propensity for fishing with explosives (dynamite, depth charges, what have you). He'd be a nice headache these days for PETA and Greenpeace. ;-)

Thinking again of Lights and fish, I reread the passage Lights describes in "TaoS" wherein he catches a small fish with "hands and feet" in the Sargasso Sea and then loses it to a crab's rumbling stomach. Chapter called "Derelicts", page 116.

Does anyone care to take a shot at the identity of our digit-gifted friend? Perhaps a gurnard/sea robin?

As to Lowe competing in shooting, wasn't it that seagoing duties sort of prevented him from doing so?

Also heard that Thomas Andrews played hockey as a boy.
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Seem to recall something about a squash court on Titanic- seems an odd name for a game- and nothing to do with the American veggie which the Brits want to call courgettes which sounds awfully French-nor any relation to lemon or orange beverages either.The Naval Academy in Annapolis still is big on squash. I went to see a match- 2 men in a hot, tall room beating the daylights out of a little ball against a wall and sweating a lot whilst dressed in skimpy silk shorts. I was exhausted just watching it. Gracie comes off as quite the athelete in his Truth About the Titanic. Am also wondering if a marrow is a squash? See what we learn here. WAS there a Titanic squash court after all?
 

Inger Sheil

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Mike, you might have heard of the annual National Rifle Association Imperial Meeting (still held annually at Bisley Camp in Surrey)? One of the largest events of its type in the world, now over 130 years old As I mentioned above, Lowe was invited to compete - for the King's Prize, in fact, but, as his son explained to us in an interview and in also in a Commutator article, his father's seagoing commitments were such that he could not attend. One of my favourite WWI photos of Lowe shows him with a rifle slung over his knees.

Angling was v. popular among seafarers - Bissett refers to colleagues that were keen on it, and one of Lowe's earliest skippers when he was still sailing in schooners was a noted angler. Lowe himself enjoyed the sport thoroughly, and upon his retirement made the declaration that he intended to enjoy ten years of fishing and shooting before he was too old. There are some wonderful photos of him line fishing with his son, and I've spoken to both Harold Jnr and a family friend who used to accompany him on his fishing expeditions. He also enjoyed wildfowling.

I forgot to mention above a specific Olympic connection. Lowe counted among his closest friends a v. remarkable Sydney Olympic athlete - speaking to my father about it, he remembers from his own youth when this particular chap was a well known Sydney identity. Lowe and this individual exchanged gifts, at least one of which I've seen had a delightful inscription.

Moody makes reference to the crew shooting and fishing during his days in sail, but the targets make one wince nowadays...sharks and albatrosses. Not that he was a keen shooter - when a family sent a gun out to him, he resolved to off-load it as soon as possible as he had 'no earthly use' for it.

There are some brilliant photos of him in cricket gear, however. One in particular ranks among my favourites - a full length shot, unconsciously graceful, bat in hand and dazzling whites on some long gone Summer day...the quintessential Edwardian youth. One can almost hear the thwack of the ball hitting the willow in the background, the clink of tall classes with cool drinks...polite applause, the murmer of the crowd...cheers...

He could have stepped out of 'A Shropshire Lad'...

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place
Man and boy stood cheering by,
As home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early thought the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night have shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears.

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.
 

Adam McGuirk

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I know Basketball hadn't been invented to long, but does anyone know if basketball would have been something that anyone would have played? I know there wasn't a basketball court on Titanic but I wonder if any crew member played basketball when they weren't at sea.

Adam
 

Dave Gittins

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Shelley, it was called squash because a soft ball was used and it squashed against the wall. Racquets used a harder ball. From what I've seen on the Internet, the games of squash and racquets were in a state of flux at the time and the US and Britain had very different games. The US used a very large court. The court on Titanic was about the size recommended in Britain. Charles Williams styled himself World Professional Racquets Champion, but it doubtful that his title was recognised by any world body.

As to basketball, the crewmen was almost all English. I doubt if any knew basketball.
 
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JHPravatiner>>Well, thinking of anglers, most of us know about Lightoller's little propensity for fishing with explosives (dynamite, depth charges, what have you). He'd be a nice headache these days for PETA and Greenpeace. ;-)<<

Hmmmmm...You may be right. Lights...from what little I know of him...struck me as a very practical person who didn't suffer fools gladly. And I'd certainly be reluctant to muck around with some bloke who used explosives to go fishing with. Me thinks PETA and Greenpeace would be dealing with Exedrin Headache # 666.
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Inger said >>Mike, you might have heard of the annual National Rifle Association Imperial Meeting (still held annually at Bisley Camp in Surrey)? <<

Yep, I've heard of it in passing, though on my side of the Western Ocean, I'm more familier with the Camp Perry matches. Lowe being invited to compete with the King's Prize? That's no small potatos. He must have been one helluva shot! I'm no slouch with a pistol, but I'm not even close to being able to compete in that league.
 

JHPravatiner

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Well, Lights might hypothetically be Greenpeace's and PETA's headache, but many state DNRs would certainly take the wind out of his sails, as a number of states apparently expressly prohibit dynamite fishing and have lovely fines and criminal prosecution to nail offenders with.

I reckon seines and their ilk were a tad too prosaic for Lights! :-D (And no, somebody that fond of things that go "BOOM" is probably not the sort you want to tangle with overmuch...)

I rather like the idea of taking time for ten years of enjoyment before you're too old: fine philosophy, that!

Was Lights that was the tennis man as I recall...the incident of a cold bath after a match inducing a sort of catatonic state from memories of April 14th.

Ice skating was a rather popular thing in those days. Have to wonder, did any of them engage in that? Andrews obviously did for hockey, but as for the rest...

Wouldn't know squash from gourds m'self...it all looks and tastes largely the same when cooked anyhow. Particularly when it's the gastronomic delight du jour from the university cafeteria!
 

Inger Sheil

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Reading the memoirs of Lightoller and his contemporaries, one cannot help but wonder what he would think of our changing perceptions of sharks and rays. He seems to have been largely of the same view as Hermann Oelrichs, American director of Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen. In 1891, in order to prove his contention that sharks were 'cowards' and not man eaters, he jumped into the sea from the Hildegard 100 miles off shore and swam in among some unidentified sharks. Echoes of the feats of some of Lightoller and his young cronies. Of course, Lightoller might have revised his opinion when a colleage on a later voyage had a near miss.

Moody certainly wasn't taking risks - he opted not to go swimming again off one of his ships after five sharks showed up as soon as he left the water after one dip. I've been circled once - while I was on the surface after a dive and had to wait a while to be picked up a couple of requiem sharks (couldn't identify them) were doing the rounds about five metres below. I've also been scouted out very closely while solo diving by a territorial gray whaler, but they're such drama queens with their body language I would have known if he'd been feeling aggro. I did have some trouble persuading my sister of the remote chances of shark attack when we did our open water dive course - statistics are one thing, but she had helped organise the wedding reception for a young local couple, one of whom was taken by a white pointer on their honeymoon (the name of the location, 'Seal Rocks', is a bit of a giveaway as to why...). The man who was taken used to dive with the same organisation I did most of my diving with, although I'd never met him. Seven degrees of seperation - my father knew the last woman killed in Sydney Harbour (loss of blood, mainly - she was bitten by a bronze whaler, but the two ambulances sent to pick her up broke down), and we found out years later this same woman taught the next door neighbour music.

Don't know what they'd think of the popularity of sharks today - I know I'm not alone when it comes to organising dive trips around the specific liklihood of seeing sharks. I still regard it as one of the great disappointments of my life that I was in the water with an oceanic white tip and didn't see it...!

My favourite Lightoller example of changing attitudes towards elasmobranches is his scathing view of mantas - which he viewed as far more hazzardous than sharks. Of course, by sheer virtue of size, they can pose a few risks (although I rather doubt Lightoller's pouncing scenario - they certainly leap, but not to belly flop on unsuspecting humans). I have heard the odd probably apocyphal tale about divers who found themselves in difficulties when a particularly large manta decided to wallow in the diver's bubbles and blocked access to the surface (and if you'd seen one at 21 ft across you could believe this could be a hairy situation...!). They're gorgeously curious and some do like to hover above and get tickled by bubbles - I've seen them do it. Regretably, some sport lesions on their undersides because over-enthusiastic divers have given them a 'tummy rub' with unfortunate results. But far from Lightoller's malevolent devil fish, they're the most beautiful, graceful, and curious of animals - my favourites in the world, and I once travelled to Yap specifically to dive with them.

Shelley, you make the game of squash sound positively saucey...! I'll be looking at it with different eyes from now on.
 
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Saucy? Ah well, at my stage of life, observing from the bleachers is quite enough! I am speculating on deck tennis, shuffleboard and "horse racing" as well as the mileage pool betting which must have gone on aboard. Sport of sorts. And what of dancing- every Titanic movie seems to have found a spot to put that in, although off hand I cannot imagine WHERE dancing could have taken place except down in steerage? Am also wondering if BINGO had been invented in 1912- inquiring minds need to know. These gentle pursuits are just about my speed- and perhaps an afternoon concert of "Flight of the Bumblebee" with Mr. Beesley and Miss Goodwin!
 

Dave Gittins

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Shelley, there certainly was betting on the length of the day's run. It's mentioned by Beesley (I think).

Nobody that I know of mentions dancing,but maybe they would have held one eventually. I found an odd note in The New York Times of June 21, 1911. It includes this curious description of activities on the maiden voyage of Olympic.

"Olympic games were held yesterday, and a dance last night, which had a bizarre air from the Moorish decorations."

The report was radioed from the ship, so presumably it's accurate. "Olympic games" were probably improvised fun and games. Perhaps a tug-of-war was among them. As to the dance, did they caper round the Turkish baths?

Like our quest for more tunes for NMGTT, this is deep and meaningful stuff!
 
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Inquiring minds: a game similar to bingo had been around for decades before Titanic, using numbers, usually 3 vertical rows, the first row filled won. Then in Atlanta Georgia in 1929 at a carnival, somebody got the idea of using beans to mark the numbers, calling out "Beano". A certain toy salesman named Edwin Lowe took the game back to Manhattan, a friend , in his excitement yelled BINGO istead of BEANO and the rest is history. Lowe charged $1 for every place using "his" new game. So- no BINGO on Titanic. Living 8 miles from Foxwood Casino- I can tell you those Bingo grannies are Olympic material!
 
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Maxtone-Graham has a few things to say about shipboard games in his Liners to the Sun: in 1910 there were pillow fights, egg and spoon and 3 legged races and something thrilling where a team of men had to thread a needle pitted against a team of women madly puffing a cigarette in an odd sort of who could get the job finished first. Yes, well- for the history of shuffleboard:
http://www.trigger.net/~sandy/history.htm and for a captivating look at how one can spend a thrill-packed day aboard a Celebrity liner today:
http://home.g-net.net/~cbrock/Shipboard.htm
 
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Anyone contemplating a cruise had better be careful of those things on the list in Shelley's link that you can charge to your account. The bill can add up pretty damned fast if you're not careful.

As to the wine and cheese tasting activity, well, sign me up! (Just keep the limburger!)
 

Dave Gittins

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On the ships that once cruised South Australian waters, they had a horse racing game. Little wooden horses were dragged along the deck by people madly winding little winches. I should think this game might go back to Titanic's time.

I once worked with a lady who won the Miss Lovely Legs contest on one of these cruises. Maybe a bit saucy for 1912.
 

Inger Sheil

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I've got a photo somewhere taken during one of Boxhall's voyages in the early 30s on the Calgaric. The Baden-Powells took a mob of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides around Europe, and compiled a book about their experiences. There has to be a name for this particular ship-board game (and probably a naff one at that) - two players are on a pole suspended over water, and have to buffett each other with pillows until one falls into the water? In this particular shot a couple of ship's officers look tremendously amused by the sight of Girl Guides whacking away with pillows, although neither man appears to be JGB.
 

Erik Wood

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Inger said: There has to be a name for this particular ship-board game (and probably a naff one at that) - two players are on a pole suspended over water, and have to buffett each other with pillows until one falls into the water?

I know of the game you are speaking and I can't think of the name for the life of me. I think it has the word Jaust in it somewhere.
 

Inger Sheil

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He doesn't provide a name for it, but John Maxtone-Graham does include the following description of a similar game in 'The Only Way to Cross':

Contestants on the Olympic tried to dislodge their fellow passengers from the after cargo booms with feather pillows.
 
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