A passenger with the initials KB


Mar 9, 2008
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Does anyone know of a passenger who was on the Titanic with these initials? Only I have a poem Entitled `Journey Into The Unknown` which may have been written by a passenger. Whether it is genuine or not I don`t know. Fell out of an old book my late father bought at a book sale,probably before the 2nd WW.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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One that comes to mind is Kate Buss in 2nd Class. But you'd really need to go through all the passenger lists to find every possibility. And I imagine that a lot of amateur poets would have found the Titanic disaster to be an inspiring subject, but more often than not those who actually lived through it didn't want to dwell on it.
 
Mar 9, 2008
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Thanks Bob you are probably right however this sounds as if it may have been written before the ship sailed or was underway. One theory I have is that the poem could have been left at Southampton or even more dramatic, thrown overboard in a bottle?? Maybe that is stretching the imagination a little too far..?
 
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Holly Peterson

Guest
Richard,
Hello, and welcome to the board! I love your theory about the poem thrown overboard in a bottle, although it does seem a bit far-fetched. I went through the passenger lists and found some more K.B.'s aboard the Titanic:

Karl Behr (1st class, survived)
Karolina Bystrom (2nd class, survived)
Kurt Bryhl (2nd class, lost)
Karl Backstrom (3rd, lost)
Karl Berglund (3rd, lost)
Karl Brobeck (3rd, lost)
Katherine Buckley (3rd, lost)

I included the lost passengers as well because it's possible they could have written this poem before they set sail on the Titanic. However, it's rather unlikely anyone will ever find out which KB wrote that poem.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Oooo, how fascinating--a Titanic mystery!

Please keep us up on your findings as you do your research into who wrote it, Richard. We'd really very much like to know the story behind it.
 
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Jeff Kelley

Guest
Some of those names look like they could be German (or Austrian). It might be beneficial to check on their nationalities. A native of a non-English speaking country would have been unlikely to write a poem in English.

Also, the if the paper has a watermark that might provide a clue as to age, as would the ink and method of writing (handwritten? typed?). These might help to date the item.
 
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Holly Peterson

Guest
Most of the names I found were from Swedish people; Katherine Buckley was Irish. I can't remember Karl Behr's nationality but I'm almost sure he could speak English. You bring up a fair point there, Jeff. Personally I think the poem's author was likely to be Kate Buss.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Except that Kate Bus was travelling to the US to be married, so very shortly after arriving on the Carpathia her initials became KW. The only survivor I can think of who actually did write a poem about the Titanic was Roberta Maioni (maid to the Countess of Rothes), who seems to have had literary aspirations. She also wrote an account of the voyage as an entry into a short story contest.

Karl Behr, by the way, was American born and bred.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Karl Behr was indeed a born-and-bred American; but his father Herman (a very wealthy industrialist) was of either German or Swiss extraction - I can't, from the top of my head, recall which. The Behr mansion in Brooklyn, an impressive pile, recently went on the market with an asking price of around $12,000,000.

Karl, celebrated for his prowess on the tennis court, was educated at Yale, one of the top American universities, so we can be sure that he was very highly literate. Whether he wrote poetry is open to question. As somebody quite rightly pointed out above, the memory of that night was not one which many survivors cared to dwell upon. However, there WAS one first-class passenger who put down her impressions in verse - Mahala Douglas, a talented (albeit amateur) writer, who lost her husband Walter in the sinking. You can read her poem on-line, on the excellent website of the Douglas family estate, Brucemore. I can't remember the precise web address but a cursory Google ought to bring it up. In my opinion, Mahala's effort is very good; both evocative and chilling.
 
Feb 4, 2007
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Denver, Colorado, United States
Ah yes, Brucemore. Home of George Douglas (Walter's brother and business partner, Mahala's brother-in-law) ~ Iowa's celebrated Quaker Oats first family. The mansion and grounds are well worth a tour, and hold many unexpected and pleasant surprises in the land of eternal cornfields.

For those who love the music of Richard Wagner, as the George Douglas's did, there is a magnificent frieze, painted sometime in the 1920's, that runs throughout the interior of the main house and depicts scenes from the entire Der Ring des Nibelungen or Ring Cycle opera in Early Deco style. The opera itself is so long that it takes 4 days to perform in its entirety, and the frieze is no less impressive. It's fun (if you're into Wagner) to find the beginning of the story in the frieze and follow it, in order, through the house to its completion.

Also in the late 1920's, Mr. George Douglas had an enormous organ installed, which delighted Mrs. Douglas and family friends no end ~ especially during Christmas time.

Here is the link to the Brucemore website:

http://www.brucemore.org/index.asp

And more specifically, to its Titanic connection:

http://www.brucemore.org/scripts/history_titanic.asp
 
Jun 12, 2004
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quote:

Except that Kate Bus was travelling to the US to be married, so very shortly after arriving on the Carpathia her initials became KW.

No poem about the Titanic's voyage would be written beforehand, so the mysterious poem was likely penned afterward. This would reduce those on the list to survivors. Either Karl Behr or Karolina Bystrom wrote it--or others are still missing.

The thing about Karl Behr is that, since he was a tennis star and proponent of a well-off family, is it likely that any poem he'd written would go unnoticed or lost?

What was Karolina Bystrom's education and aspirations? Anything literary? How well did she know English?

Maybe Kate Buss decided to sign the poem with her maiden initials for some reason. Writers use noms de plume all the time--even of opposite gender.

Anything is possible.​
 
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Jeff Kelley

Guest
Of course, it may not have been written by a passenger at all.

Since we know that it dates well before the ship's discovery, if it was written by someone with an intimate knowledge of the ship then it was either one of the builders or one of the passengers.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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quote:

Of course, it may not have been written by a passenger at all . . . If it was written by someone with an intimate knowledge of the ship then it was either one of the builders or one of the passengers.

Jeff,

I presume you meant one of the officers or crew? I figured it was a typo, but I thought I would bring your attention to it.​
 
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Jeff Kelley

Guest
Yes, you are right, of course. I was using the word "passenger" in an unreasonably broad manner. I am not sure if there is an appropriate all-encompassing term ("occupant" doesn't seem appropriate), so I should have expanded the designation.

So....it was either a builder or someone who was on the voyage.

("Someone on the voyage" could have been a passenger/officer/crewmember. But...what about a company official - would he have been considered a passenger if he was on company business? For that matter, were people such as bandmembers considered part of the crew? I am new to this, but I am sure others have already figured all this out.)
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Jeff,

That's quite all right. We were all "new" here at ET, and even in regards to Titanic, at one point or another. No harm done.

By the way, to answer your question . . .

quote:

were people such as band members considered part of the crew?

The band members were booked as 2C passengers, as were, I think, Andrews' many assistants. Everyone from both groups perished in the disaster.

In any case, welcome to ET. I look forward to getting to know you.

Also: Do not be afraid to ask questions. That is how we learn--through sharing.
wink.gif


As for the point of the thread, whoever wrote the poem in question could have been anyone, but that person must have been on board during her maiden voyage and survived the tragedy. That should limit the list of possibilities under consideration and thus focus the search.

Take care for now.​
 
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Jeff Kelley

Guest
I guess I am just being a bit slow, but I am not understanding this comment exactly:

"As for the point of the thread, whoever wrote the poem in question could have been anyone, but that person must have been on board during her maiden voyage and survived the tragedy. That should limit the list of possibilities under consideration and thus focus the search."

It wasn't clear to me why the person who wrote it must have been on board - the poem in theory could have been written by anyone, including someone who never had anything to do with the Titanic, or am I missing something here?
 
Jun 12, 2004
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quote:

Spot on, Jeff

Not really, Bob. Look above and you'll see where I explained it (albeit loosely).


quote:

It wasn't clear to me why the person who wrote it must have been on board - the poem in theory could have been written by anyone, including someone who never had anything to do with the Titanic, or am I missing something here?

Jeff,

True, someone not on board could have written it after-the-fact, but the chances are likely that the author was on board and survived. Where this isn't a 100% certainty, it does make sense. Even those who started the thread automatically named those who were on board. The poem, by it's title "Journey into the Unknown," suggests that the insights conveyed in the poem were made by someone who had directly experienced the tragedy. In the least, the poem was likely inspired by a survivor's experience.

Then again, I haven't read the poem, so I cannot say for sure, can I? Therefore, I could be wrong.

Let me rephrase it: Based on my interpretation of the poem's title and the discussion here thus far, it is in my opinion that the author was likely someone who was on board. That's logically a good place to start searching for the author's identity, even if that search eventually take's one away from those who were on board.

Does this satisfy your query?

Take care​
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Jeff, you are absolutely right to state that we have no reason at all to believe that this poem (which none of us here apart from Richard has seen) was penned by somebody who had direct experience of the Titanic. Perhaps Richard could scan and post the poem (or at least some part of it) so that we can all see whether it contains anything which suggests an insight into reality.

There are a number of well-known pieces related to the disaster (eg Thomas Hardy's Convergence of the Twain) which were written by people who had no first-hand experience of the event. Likewise Tennyson wasn't present at the Charge of the Light Brigade. And Shakespeare wasn't personally acquainted with Henry V. It's called creative writing, isn't it, Mark?
.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Bob,

Let me repeat: What I said is based on my opinion. I could be wrong; I am not saying that I am right. Nor did I ever infer or imply that the poem couldn't have been written by someone who wasn't on board, only that it had to have been written after the tragedy as opposed to prior to it. I was going on first impression of everything discussed so far.

My only mistake was using the word "must" in reference to the author, which was jumping the gun. For that, I apologize. Therefore, I recede and tip my hat.

By the way, I am a creative writer who has been working on various projects of my own, so I understand the sensibility behind such aspirations. One of those projects, a short story, is based on, among other things, the Titanic.

Take care
 

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