Desperate Hours


J

Jon Meadows

Guest
Has anyone else read "Desperate Hours"? I just finished it and found it to be very in-depth, although I haven't read another AD book for comparison.

Thoughts?
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
17
298
It is, along with Alvin Moscow's book, the best of the Doria books so far. Pierette Simpson's new book is generating a lot of good advance buzz, but I've not read it yet. Gary Gentile's Andrea Doria: A Dive to an Era is the best book about A.D's afterlife.

A.D. represents a potential goldmine to any researcher with good phone and letter skills. She is the last chance for a latter-day A Night to Remember. Even if only 1/5 of the 1700 odd survivors are still alive at this point, that represents a HUGE amount of primary research material waiting to be tapped, and the vast majority have never been interviewed.
 
Apr 27, 2005
316
0
111
Interesting points, Jim. I am a "Doria" hound, going back to the date of the sinking, which I listened to live on the radio. My interests loom largely over what was physically happening aboard the ship, the filling, the interior, and the gradual transition from luxury liner to living reef. I would love to hear more from those who went below decks to inspect and determine what was happening to their ship. "A Night to Remember" tells us all kinds of things about flooding, attempts to control it, and the struggle to keep "Titanic" afloat. I have yet to read a solid account of how similar things transpired aboard the "Andrea Doria".
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
17
298
I'd love to read the depositions passengers gave~ Desperate Hours mentions the dollar amounts a few passengers in the text received in settlement, but did not expand upon the individual legal cases. Presumably, these documents survive somewhere, to give voice to the passengers who are no longer alive to be interviewed.

Desperate Hours' strong point was it went beyond the 'usual suspects' (to be irreverent) and brought forth a lot of passenger accounts not contained in the other books and articles. You've noticed, I trust, that since 1956 the overwhelming emphasis has been on the occupants of the cabins in the impact are of Upper Deck. Interesting stories, but there are only so many times one can read another reworking of the 1956 Colliers account of the Peterson/Cianfarra ordeal before one begins to long for something fresh. His Linda Morgan angle WAS fresh (BTW did you know that she is now the First Lady of San Antonio, TX?) and, as for the rest, it was a pleasure to read accounts where I wasn't moving my lips mock-reading-out-loud what I KNEW the next line would be.

>I have yet to read a solid account of how similar things transpired aboard the "Andrea Doria".

Makes you wish that someone had been ambitious and bi-lingual ca 1970, doesn't it! A researcher wanting to tell that story is now facing the handicaps of A) Loss by attrition (most of those involved are dead) B) language barrier and C) subject resistance (the crew has not, to put it mildly, been dealt with favorably over the years, which tends to cause prospective interview subjects to either clam up or go to the other extreme and tell tales of epic heroism that have to be taken with a grain of salt). Again, there must be depositions stored somewhere that can illuminate this aspect of the story.

Would also like to see a book containing as many passenger photos as possible. It was a good 20 years beyond the point I first read Saved before I knew what Jane and Joan Cianfarra looked like, and only recently did I find a picture of Jeanette Carlin. Many of the other principal players remain entirely unrepresented in the photo sections, and I'd like to see that rectified.
 
Sep 29, 2005
44
0
86
Hello Jim,

Pierette Simpson's new book on the Andrea Doria entitled "Alive on the Andrea Doria" will be available at the end of this month (June). The book has been highly recommended by Sea Classics Magazine in their July 2006 review called it "the ultimate page turner". The TI Voyage magazine will have a summary of the book by Pierette Simpson in their next edition. Overseas the book will be published in July in Italy by Sperling and Kupfer and over in the UK by Warsash Publishing.

David Bright
Nautical Research Group, Inc.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
17
298
Hello, Mr. Bright: Thanks for the information. I am looking forward to the release of the book, having already read Ms. Simpson's shorter account. Best of luck to her with this endeavor, and I hope that it spurs other survivors to do the same!
 
Sep 29, 2005
44
0
86
Hello Jim,

Actually, two survivors have written about their accounts in two very obscure books that deal with psychological trauma of surviving the Andrea Doria tragedy and how they deal with their lives. The first book was written by Canadian Doria survivor Eugene Gladstone and was printed in the mid-1960's entitled "In the Wake of the Andrea Doria" and the second book was printed in the late 1960's by Doria survivor Barbara Boggs Benzinger entitled "The Prison of my Mind". In both books, the authors try to deal with their lives following the psychological impact of this tragedy. I can tell you that there were only 46 deaths on the Andrea Doria but uncounted hundreds of survivors that experienced post-traumatic stress syndrome following this tragedy. Please note that I have captured over 75 testimonials from survivors on tape and over 30 testimonials on video that tell their detailed stories. For many of these survivors, the Andrea Doria Survivors Reunion provides psychological closure even after 50 years.

David A. Bright
Nautical Research Group, Inc.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
17
298
>Actually, two survivors have written about their accounts in two very obscure books that deal with psychological trauma of surviving the Andrea Doria tragedy and how they deal with their lives.

Am familiar with the former. Have not read the latter. I HAVE read that book -title now forgotten- by the woman whose psychologically abusive mother used to torment her and her (destined to vanish) sister by producing the cancelled reservations for their cabins on the fatal voyage (those later occupied by the Cianfarra party) and telling the children that had the reservations been honored they doubtlessly would have died...etc. I've wondered, more than once, whether or not that was true.
 
Sep 29, 2005
44
0
86
Hello Jim,

Barbara Boggs Benzinger's book "The Prison on my Mind" is a fascinating read. The book was written from her coming to terms with her own mental illness that she became aware of following the trauma caused by the Andrea Doria tragedy. The book branches out into her own phobias and how she tried to overcome her demons. Although you might not learn much more about the tragedy itself, you will finally gain an understanding of the hidden scars that the Andrea Doria tragedy produced in many survivors. No book about the Andrea Doria has captured this element and I have found that it was one of the most devastating emotion that many survivors carry even to this day.

Your story about an abusive lady is one that I have not heard about and is very troubling. The cabin the Cianfarra's occupied were Cabin 52 where their daughters Linda and Joan stayed and Cabin 54 where Camille and Jane Cianfarra stayed. Cabin 56 was originally given to the premiere Hungarian ballet dance couple Istvan Rabovski and his wife Nora Kovach, who decided that a cabin more amidship would be better for their potential seasickness and requested a last minute change to a first class port-side middle cabin. They credit this change as saving their lives. Cabin 56 was eventually given to Dr. Thure Peterson and his wife. Following the collision, Mrs. Cianfarra was hurled through her cabin and ended up temporarily pinned in Cabin 56. She could still hear the moans from her husband coming from Cabin 54. Additionally, Thure's wife eventually succumbed to her injuries while trapped under debris in Cabin 56. His valiant attempts to save her are gut-wrenching.

David A. Bright
Nautical Research Group, Inc.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
17
298
The cabins MAY originally have been booked by Ray and Veronica Flook, of Delaware, and their daughters Karen (6) and Maria (4).

In her book My Sister Life: The Story of My Sister's Disappearance (Karen drifted into prostitution and vanished at age 14) Maria Flook wrote about how her mother kept the cancelled vouchers in an end table drawer, and would display them while saying "You girls would have died. We couldn't have saved you. Ray and I would have been dancing in the Belvedere Lounge. There is always a party on the last night. Little girls would have been in bed."

Maria Flook recalled that the reservation was cancelled for an earlier booking on the Giulio Cesare. That raised a question mark~ I wasn't sure if, as of June 1956, the Giulio Cesare was doing North Atlantic crossings. Have not been ambitious enough to dig out the 1956 Italia Transat. rates brochure to check.
 
Sep 29, 2005
44
0
86
Hello Jim,

Thank you for this information about the book. It was highly doubtful that the Guilio Cesare was running to North America in the summer of 1956 as the Italian Line already had the Andrea Doria, Cristoforo Colombo, Conte Biancamano, Saturnia and the Vulcania plying the North Atlantic. In my 1956 brochure, the Guilio Cesare was still running exclusively to South America and there was no mention of this ship on the North Atlantic route to New York. I will pick up a copy of this book and further check out her story but I am highly skeptical of its claims.

In my twenty-five years of doing research on the Andrea Doria, I have found many people who claimed that they were on the ship during this tragedy but never were. It is not surprising to find people who claimed that they were supposed to be on the ship during this fateful voyage but changed their plans and left on another ship. It is so hard to verify any of these claims but from my vantage point, I could not care. They were not there and that is the most important fact.

On another note, Barbara Benzinger's son is planning on coming to the Andrea Doria Survivors Reunion next month. His mom passed away many years ago but it will be great to meet him. Her book is out of print but can be found through the Abebooks web site for a few dollars.

David Bright
Nautical Research Group, Inc.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
17
298
>I will pick up a copy of this book and further check out her story but I am highly skeptical of its claims.

Well...when I was reading the book I was struck by the fact that it somewhat resembled Maybe I'll Come Home In The Spring, the 1970 Sally Field movie in which she plays a runaway who returns home to her stereotypical upper middle class parents, after being missing for a year, only to discover that nothing has changed and that her younger sister is heading down the same path. As I read it, I kept thinking "this is like a sexually graphic-VERY graphic- Maybe I'll Come Home In The Spring....with overtones of Go Ask Alice thrown in." Some find the book compelling, some find it an enfuriating example of "blame others for all your own bad choices" literature.

Three possibilities come to mind:
A) It did not happen at all.
B) It DID happen and she misremembered the Giulio Cesare bit, being that she was 4 at the time.
C) It SORT OF happenned. Perhaps the cancelled booking was from earlier (or later) in 1956. Perhaps they WERE booked onto that voyage, but not in Cabins 52/54. After all, it is not as if Ms. Flook's 8 year old self would be likely to say "Mom, I don't believe you. Let me read that contract for myself."

Personally, I favor either A) or C)
 
Sep 29, 2005
44
0
86
Hello Jim,

I just bought a copy of this book "My Sister Life: The Story of My Sister's Disappearance" and it will be here in about a week. Since I will be out leading a diving expedition on the Doria the first week in July, if it is so bad then I might send it to the deep. Might as well let the denizens of the deep tear it to pieces!

David A. Bright
Nautical Research Group, Inc.
 
Apr 27, 2005
316
0
111
Mrs Petersen, the Cianfarra's their daughter and numerous Italian immigrants went down with the ship, is that correct? Has anyone ever investigated those collision crushed region of the ship? Sorry to sound ghoulish, but we know they are accessible, at least with Gimbel's technology.
 
Sep 29, 2005
44
0
86
Hello Richard,

It is believed that many of these passengers did indeed go down with the ship. Their bodies have never been seen nor has anyone aspired to find them. The access pathway that Gimbel used to reach the generator room is no longer accessible - and Gimbel's Hole has twisted on itself and rendered this pathway inaccessible.

David A. Bright
Nautical Research Group, Inc.
 

rob scott

Member
May 4, 2004
85
0
86
I wish I still had the book in front o me for this discussion, finished and turned back to library ;) , : I would love to hear more from those who went below decks to inspect and determine what was happening to their ship. "A Night to Remember" tells us all kinds of things about flooding, attempts to control it, and the struggle to keep "Titanic" afloat. I have yet to read a solid account of how similar things transpired aboard the "Andrea Doria".
... so without the details here, I do remember in the Desperate book not seeing things about a below decks fight to keep water out or make bouyancy, but it was way to far gone for that and they knew it right? but I saw the parts where the Doria captain begged and cajoled to get a navy tow to shoals so it may not more than partially sink and could be saved: the admiral or whoever Navy commanding on shore wanted no part of his skipper towing the Doria, too dangerous for his ship, the skipper did ask but turned down, then the Doria captain was begged and dragged off to the lifeboat to be saved and was then off-comm for further beggings and it was over; but an interesting idea and valiant try, what if the Doria could be towed 60 miles to shoals? that was the main try to save the ship, any other type save was just not in the question. But all those ships did save so many victims, incl the Stockholm took like two hundred before leaving for shore; then only the Isle left, anyone to be saved then had to get on the Isle de France, which took something like over six hundred Doria people; and given medals afterward, citations, thanks. :D
 
Sep 29, 2005
44
0
86
Hello Rob,

The captain of the Andrea Doria, Piero Calamai, had a huge decision to make. Should he save the ship by driving it into the Nantucket Shoals or should he save the passengers by staying out in the "Times Square" of shipping and rescue his passengers. If he drove the ship off to the Shoals he would not be able to lower the lifeboats and potential rescue crafts would of been too far away to assist should abandon ship be required. Remember, the list of the boat was at least 20 degrees making the rudder ineffective. If he stayed in the Times Square area, many ships would be in the area and there would be a high percentage of passengers saved; however, the ship would be doomed. Captain Calamai did the heroic thing and saved the passengers over the ship. He was the last Italian Officer to leave the ship and was pretty much resolved to go down with the ship (Second Officer Guido Badano convinced him to leave the ship). Initially Calamai did wait and hold out for a tow but realized by the time he left that any efforts were in vain. His valiant attempts to save the passengers and ship will be formally recognized by the Andrea Doria Survivors Reunion.

David A. Bright
Nautical Research Group, Inc.
 
Apr 27, 2005
316
0
111
Furthermore, Gimbel's last few dives on the ship pretty well confirm that the keel was severed or at least severely impacted by the Stockholm. The Doria was a doomed ship, and with uncontrollable flooding, Calamai made the only decent and correct choice. The ship was his life, but the passengers were his responsibility. Whether under tow or by engaging his turbines, the Doria could never have made any distance toward shoal water. The gamble was whether she'd hold out long enough to get everyone off before she capsized.
 
Sep 29, 2005
44
0
86
Hello Richard,

You will hear more about the damage in about three weeks as I am leading an expedition out to the wreck site to chronicle the morphological changes and decay of the wreck utilizing high-definition photography and videography. Myself and Captain Robert Meurn, professor emeritus at the United States Merchant Marine Academy have submitted a scientific abstract that was peer-reviewed and accepted for publication to the Oceans 2006 conference. We will be providing all our data and results publicly for your perusal.

David A. Bright
Nautical Research Group, Inc.
 

Similar threads