Albert Caldwell 1965 They said that the Titanic could not Sink

Pat Cook

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Apr 27, 2000
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If you DO find this, I would appreciate hearing about it, O M. I am of the opinion that Albert is the baby in lifeboat #13 Lawrence Beesley mentions in his book as being taken care of by a lady (Hilda Slayter) and himself.

Best regards,
Cook
 
Jun 4, 2004
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Since my grandfather was about 27 at the time, I doubt that he was the "crying baby". However, my uncle Alden at 10 months is a likely candidate. Furthermore, since Hilda Slayter is listed as possibly being on lifeboat #13 and my grandmother was certainly aboard lifeboat #13, I think it is more likely that she was the woman taking care of her son. My grandfather mentioned that Alden and my grandmother were initially separated when the lifebout was loaded, but she quickly found him because of his crying. Were there any other babies on this lifeboat?
 

Pat Cook

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Yikes! I DO apologize. It was indeed Alden I meant. Next time I'll check my notes before posting.

From what I've found out so far, Alden is the most likely candidate for this unidentified child. While in several instances Millvina Dean has said she was in lifeboat #13, earlier accounts have her (and family) in another lifeboat entirely. (A friend recently, at my request, asked her about this and she said she USED to believe #13 but has been told otherwise since.) Of course, the lifeboat occupant lists are forever changing due to new 'finds' of accounts and newspaper articles.

From the Beesley family I've heard that this identification was one Lawrence himself never cleared up, although several came forth later (both men and women) wondering whether or not they might have been the baby.

It is from this very story of your grandmother and uncle that I draw my 'calculation', albeit by no means definite. I DO very much appreciate your input on the matter, sir, and further corroboration.

Best regards,
Cook
 
Jun 4, 2004
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I have a question or two for Pat Cook.

Being new at this, I now realize that many of the discussion group participants tend to specialize in specific aspects of the Titanic, ie. lifeboats, passengers, crew, etc. In fact, I may have already pestered Mr. Gowan, a documents specialist(?), with too many questions and useless trivia. Based on your discussion group contributions, am I correct in assuming that you are interested in the events associated with the lifeboats, particularly #13? If so I would value your opinion about this account by Washington Dodge (May 11,1912: http://www.lodelink.com/titanic/)in which he quotes from an article by my grandfather in the April 26 issue of the Roseville, Illinois Times-Citizen. I am confused that Washington Dodge specifically states that no sailors were aboard #13 when it appears from the ET lists that #13 contained a number of White Star employees. Furthermore, he makes no mention of #15 almost crushing #13, an event which should heve been quite memorable. Perhaps I have the number mixed up. I realize that many of the accounts by male survivors were probably somewhat self-serving, justifying their survival when women died.

Since the Illinois Historical Library does not have copies of my grandfather's April 26 account, could you or other ET contributors suggest options? I hope to receive shortly a May, 1912 account by my grandfather and may have located some new audio tapes by my uncle, describing his parent's stories. If interested, I will pass these onto you.

Finally, I want to qualify my comment about the crying baby episode. It has become apparent that both my grandparents tended to elaborate upon their Titanic adventures. I suspect they were trying to impress their grandson.

Thank you in advance for any help you may provide. One of these days, I may ask about an episode I vaguely recall from Walter Lord's book about the Caldwell family being trapped somewhere on the Titanic before their departure. Perhaps this story has already been addressed or my recollections are incorrect.
 
Apr 16, 2001
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Dear Mr. Caldwell,

It is a pleasure to be writing to you. I recently received your e-mail in care of our webmaster at the Titanic International Society.

I corresponded with your uncle back in 1985, and kept up contact with him until his death. His letters are very interesting and I will be very glad to share them with you. On a number of occasions, I spoke to him by telephone at his home in Florida and in Wisconsin.

Alden freely admitted that the subject of the Titanic held no interest for him. He stated that his parents spoke about it so often that the story became very repetitive for him. He had no memory of the sinking, and therefore felt his survival was an accomplishment he had no control over. He believed he could add nothing to what his parents already said.

In his letters and during my conversations with him, he mentioned that his mother told him that lifeboat #13 was just about to lower when a man cried out, "My God, here is another woman!" Other accounts seem to confirm the belief that the Caldwells were the last ones to enter the boat, although I believe a few crewmen tumbled in afterward. The letters are filled with little nuggets of information that I have found very interesting.

I must say that it has been difficult to accurately relate just what happened to your family on the night of the sinking. Carolyn Elwess, a member of our society who works at Park College (where your grandparents graduated from) has authored a very interesting article on their lives. It will be published in the next issue of our quarterly journal. Strangely, Albert Caldwell changed his story through the years - seemingly to justify his rescue from the sinking liner. This was a common practice for most of the men who survived. In 1912, Albert Caldwell claimed that his wife screamed for him to enter the boat and he followed. Two months later, he quoted that he was holding his son in his arms and this action enabled him to get into the boat. A few years later, Albert Caldwell told a newspaper reporter that he was ordered into boat #13 to help row. In 1972, he told a Virginia newspaper that he was standing near boat #13, and as there was no rush to get into the boat, quietly stepped into it. "I was on the 13th boat so I was in no rush," the article reported. Albert told his son Alden that he handed him to a lady in the lifeboat (not your grandmother) and then proceeded to climb in. Fellow Titanic survivor Frank Aks heard the tale that Sylvia Caldwell pulled her husband into the boat, and the baby fell out of his arms and into the care of another survivor.

I must say that I found your uncle to be very kind to my requests through the years. He often spoke about how difficult it was for him to prove his U.S. citizenship since all of his birth records went down on the Titanic. As he approached retirement in the 1970s, he had to file for U.S. citizenship since he could not produce any documentation that he was a U.S. resident. Your grandfather and other relatives, as well as school and church officials, wrote letters to substantiate his claims.

When Alden passed away in 1992, his attorney in Florida mailed me "his Titanic collection." It consisted of just a few newspaper articles about his parents and clippings of the Titanic's discovery from 1985. It was evident that he truly had no interest in the subject but he didn't shy away from it.

I would be most happy to share my files on your family with you. I have about seven or eight other pictures that may be new to you of your family. I would also like to put you in touch with Harry Gonner from Richmond, VA. He knew your grandfather very well. Please contact me at Retailers17@aol.com}.

Sincerely,

Michael Findlay
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 27, 2000
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To Charles.

I'll try to answer you with what I know, which changes from day to day.

In regards to Washington Dodge's account (at least the Commonwealth Club speech of which I have a copy) it, like so many other accounts, is riddled with misinformation. However, no one, least of all me, would hold this against him. Beesley himself, in his book, stated there were no first class passengers in lifeboat #13 - Dodge himself was one (the only one in the boat, in fact.) Why he does not go into the near collision with #15 is anybodys guess.

I would be MOST interested in any information you get from those audio tapes - you really know how to get somebody's attention!

Like Phil, I DO hope somebody finds a copy of Albert's article.

Hope this has been of some help.

Best regards,
Cook
 
Jun 4, 2004
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I would like to thank Pat and Michael for their postings. I have e-mailed you both in the past hour with some more information and, of course, more questions. I have already contacted the archivists/historians at both Park University and State Farm Insurance and they have agreed to mail me information on the pre- and post-Titanic activities of the Caldwell/Harbaugh family. As to avoid swamping them with inquiries, I will copy all materials and send them on to any interested parties. I pointed out that there is likely to be another flurry of interest in the Titanic in about 11 years and they might as well start now. Phil, as I hadn't heard from you for a while, I thought I had sent too much trivia and speculation. After reading your article on ET, you seemed the type that might say "Just the facts Chuck". I hope the information from SF may fill in some of the blanks about the Caldwells from 1912 to about 1925.
 

Jan C. Nielsen

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Dec 12, 1999
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Charles,

You indicated "information from SF may fill in some blanks," - - were the Caldwells out here in San Francisco for a time? If so, could you let me know the address (residence and/or place of business)? I've been collecting information on San Francisco passengers, and posting pictures of residences and places of business on the "San Francisco Titanica" website:


http://communities.msn.com/jshomispictures


or go to "Links" and look under "General" on this site.

If you want to communicate privately, my email is:

jshomi@hotmail.com

nielsenjanc@aol.com

Also, if you don't mind me asking, one of the subjects that I've been studying among the passengers was the residual effect of the trauma that many of them suffered (there are several conversations on this message board about it under "Survivors' Suicides"). More than one survivor became a recluse, often, survivors didn't want to hear anything about the Titanic, some ended up in mental institutions, attempted or committed suicide, drank, refused to go near the ocean, went into shock when taking a bath in cold water, etc. I would be interested to know if you heard any stories of unusual behavior that could possibly be attributable to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder about the Caldwells. These behavioral disorders often occurred many years after the disaster. For example, Johan Svennson, many years later while he was in his 80s, was haunted by the screams of the people in the water, and couldn't understand why it was that he survived, while others did not. I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Thanks for your consideration.
 
Apr 16, 2001
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Dear Charles,

I thought I would share my first letter from Alden Caldwell with you and others who may be interested. I will be sending you a copy of this as well as copies of the others I received from 1986 through 1992 as well since they contain more information about your family's Titanic experience.

Dated September 27, 1985, Alden writes:

Dear Michael,

Please excuse my delay in answering your letter. It arrived as I was preparing to leave the lake for the long trip home.

A reporter at the St. Petersburg Times called me in Wisconsin. Apparently, she got my location from you. Her article appeared in a neighborhood edition of the paper. Fortunately, it was not distributed in my neighborhood as it was badly written and erroneous.

It stated that I was 2 years old (actually I was 10-months old). The story that we "rushed" to the port side of the ship was a product of the writer's desire to write a good story. My parents, believing the ship was unsinkable, took their time and eventually wandered to an area that had been mostly evacuated. According to my mother, the officer said when he saw us 'My God, here's another woman!' My parents were reluctant to get into the lifeboat but were ordered to do so - fortunately as it turned out.

I am very interested in your detective work. How on earth did you trace me to my hideout in Wisconsin? I was astonished when earlier in the summer, I received a call from the Kansas City Star. When I asked how they found me, the caller said something about an item in the paper in 1912 microfilm records, and my father's attorney in Richmond, Virginia, to whom I had apparently given my Wisconsin address. At the time of my father's death, I lived in Allentown, PA - but you probably know that. You no doubt know that for awhile I lived on Morgan Lane in Austin, Texas.

I used to know a Roger Findlay - played golf with him in Allentown about 1940. He came to Allentown from Pittsburg. Probably no relative but I wondered.

I also wonder where you live in New Jersey. I used to go trout fishing in northwestern Jersey.

I would be glad to sign your postcards. I look forward to receiving them.

Yours truly,

Alden Caldwell
1424 Donegan Road
Largo, FL 33541


His later letters talk about his health and other interests. He also describes meeting fellow Titanic survivor, Frank Aks, at his father's funeral in 1977. Aside from his parents, Mr. Aks was the only other survivor Alden would ever meet after 1912. He talks about how they jokingly believed they were the youngest survivors since their birthdays were only three days apart. Alden was the younger of the two but Millvina Dean from Southampton still holds the record as the youngest survivor at nine weeks of age. When I told Alden about Millvina being the youngest survivor, he jokingly commented, "Oh well, I guess she has no memory of the sinking either."

Regards,

Michael Findlay
 
Apr 16, 2001
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Dear Pat,

I was interested in your comments about Dr. Dodge's address before the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on 11 May 1912.

Have you noticed that much of what Dr. Dodge describes is a direct contradiction to what Ruth Dodge mentions in her accounts? This is particularly true in the first twenty minutes following the collision. It is a very interesting comparison. Both give very detailed descriptions of their experiences but who is correct?

Regards,

Mike Findlay
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 27, 2000
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Hey Mike,

If I had my druthers, I'd go with Ruth. I can go along with someone's account just so long but when i run upon error after error as in Washington's narrative (Ismay in #15, no mention at all of Frederick Ray who got him in #13 and no mention of lifeboat #15, as mentioned earlier) I tend to cast a jaundiced eye on the whole account. In fact, his is a rare (if not the only) account of the steerage passengers being armed. In fact, if it were not for Frederick Ray's U S testimony I would wonder a bit if Dodge was even IN #13.

That being said, I have yet to find anyone's account that didn't have some errors. As you well know, corroboration is the name of the game.

Still he does have several enticing tidbits - conversation with QM 'Kitchens' who detailed the events on the bridge, including the reversing of the engines. I know of several discussions where this is a point of controversy.

For my purposes, I have not used his account at all but have made use of Ruth's. But, as I said before, things change.

Best regards,
Cook
 
Jun 4, 2004
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Although I realize some of what I am about to write might better be sent as emails, this post may save me some time. First, I would like to thank Michael for posting Alden's letter. I now realize that I may have been asking for copies of things without giving you my mailing address. This applies to Pat as well. I will rectify this shortly.

Jan, I probably should be more careful. The SF stands for State Farm. Alhtough I have some material from the Panama-Pacific Exposition (1916?). I suspect it is from one of Sylvia's relatives. Both Albert and Sylvia starting working for State Farm in the 1920s, Sylvia being the hired as the 11th employee of the company in 1925, Albert a few years later. About 1933 she became the private secretary to the president and founder, George J. Mecherle, who she married in the early 1940s. The archivist at State Farm is sending me employment information and the Titanic-related materials in the State Farm archives. Since some of this information may be relevant to the second part of your posting, ie. post-Titanic behavior of the survivors, I can send this along if you are interested.

I too have become interested in the behavioral aspects of the Titanic disaster. I believe Phil Gowan also asked about this in his first email. I have some opinions about how Albert and Sylvia's Titanic adventures influenced their lives, particularly Sylvia's business life and her treatment of her sons, Alden and my father Raymond. I just talked with a woman who knew Alden well in his final years and she has agreed to send me some material that he gave her. Although I have no idea what this might be, she said she could put me in touch with someone who knew both Alden and Raymond in the 1930s and 1940s. I would like to confirm some of my father and mother's stories about Sylvia and Alden before commenting of this psychological angle.

I mentioned in an earlier posting that there may be 3rd Alden Caldwell tape of his recollections about Sylvia and Albert's Titanic stories. Apparently this is not correct, it is Alden's copy of a tape made in the 1970s by Albert. I assume this is known and would appreciate anyone indicating where I might find a copy. Also, Sylvia apparently wrote a book as Sylvia Caldwell called "The Women of the Titanic". I would appreciate receiving any information about this or any other publications by my grandparents.
 
Jun 4, 2004
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Although this discussion seems to be winding down, I wanted to indicate that I just received a copy of a 13 page pamphlet from the State Farm archives entitled "Women of the Titanic Disaster" by Mrs. A.F. Caldwell. Published by A.W. Themanson Publishing Company, St. Joseph, MO. in 1912. I believe this is the "book" I asked about above. Although I would be happy to send a copy of my copy to anyone interested in this, it is very sentimental and flowery account of my gandmother's experiences and probably with little or no factual basis. It contains what may be a fictional accounts of an 8-year-old girl named Margorie:

'In another life boat sat a mother with her eight year old daughter by her side. There was a great deal of confusion and jumping into the life boats by the men who were steerage passengers. This greatly endangered the lives of the women and children, already in the boats. "Stop it or I'll fire." shouted the officer. The officer shot and the dear child walked up, touched his sleeve and said, "Oh please mister officer don't shoot again." And he didn't. She in her simple plea, probably saved a life. The officer told me later that he would never forget that little plea."

Although there are other Margorie quotes, I believe that gives the sense of this publication. Of course, I could be totally wrong. Pat might e-mail me later with all the details of Margorie on lifeboat #? and the surviving officer, and Phil offer copies of her birth, death and marriage certificates. I hope that they take this poor attempt at humor as genuine admiration of their skills.
 

Phillip Gowan

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Apr 10, 2001
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As a matter of fact, I do think I have all three :)--Marjorie Collyer Dutton died in 1963 and was the wife of Royden Dutton.
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 27, 2000
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Hey Charles. I thought I'd answer you here as it may interest others as well. The story of Marjorie is referring to Marjorie Collyer who, along with her mother Charlotte, escaped in lifeboat #14. Charlotte's article, used many times in many Titanic books and research projects, is right here on Phil's site. Go to 2nd Class Passengers and look up Charlotte Collyer and click on 'The Semi-Monthly Article' (something like that.)

Hope this is of some help.

Best regards,
Cook
 
Jun 4, 2004
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I feel that I should offer an apology to my grandmother. After reading about the Collyer family on their ET bio pages and Mrs. Collyer's published account, I realize much of what my grandmother wrote has a factual basis. However, when you also read words attributed to Marjorie on the lifeboat:

"Do you think that if I pray to Jesus, it would help Daddy"

or a story that on the Carpathia when Majorie's mother was crying Marjorie said:

"Never mind mother dear I am sure he will be waiting for us in New York"

it just seemed a bit much. These quotes and stories about the Collyer family seem to go one forever and one really starts to feel quite sad about their plight. Is there such a thing as suvivor descendent's guilt? After rereading this pamphlet, it actually is rather moving account of various women's reactions to the disaster. As I mentioned in a message to Pat today, I probably should stop posting to discussion groups and read some of the Titanic-related books and articles.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hallo, Charles -

I'd rather you kept on posting than disappeared while you were reading Titanic books and articles :) While some accounts are no doubt very highly coloured - Collyer's among them - they're rarely invented from start to finish. The account cited above - with a reference to a later comment by Lowe about Marjorie's plea - sheds some rather important light on events that happened during the lowering of #14 and provides partial corroboration for Collyer's description of the gunfiring incident. Thanks for bringing it up.

All the best,

Inger
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 27, 2000
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Charles wrote: >I feel that I should offer an apology to my grandmother. After reading about the Collyer family on their ET bio pages and Mrs. Collyer's published account, I realize much of
what my grandmother wrote has a factual basis.<

This is the case with many stories from that night. So many are unbelievable - lifeboats being assigned to ships by the Board of Trade in relation to size of ship rather than number of passengers, Third Class passengers being locked away from the rest because of American Immigration laws, people actually getting back OUT of the lifeboats after getting in them - we still, after all these decades, read their accounts in horror, empathy and, in many cases, disbelief.

Sadly, so many are true.

Best regards,
Cook