DUFFGORDON GROUP SHOT


Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Good evening. Concerning the notorious Duff-Gordon group shot, taken aboard the Carpathia: I know that the picture was taken BY Dr. McGee, but was it taken with HIS camera, or with a camera the Duff-Gordons (or someone else from #1) carried off The Titanic? I keep hoping that other "on board" shots from the Titanic will turn up, however unlikely.
 
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Daniel Rosenshine

Guest
As far as I know, the camera was from Carpathia's barber's shop. There were three of the Duff Gordon group shots, and it seems that some of them were in slightly different positions every time. I think there were other cameras involved, but I'm not 100% sure.

Daniel.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Thank you, Mr. Rosenshine. I never noticed that there were multiple shots. Also, thanks for the barbershop information. Jim
 
Mar 20, 2000
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James,

To my knowledge the photographs of the Boat 1/Duff Gordon party - there were a total of 4 - were all taken NOT by Carpathia surgeon Dr. McGee but by Carpathia passenger Dr. Blackmarr (see elsewhere on ET re: his collection of memorabilia, discovered posthumously).

I don't know how the confusion arose but I suspect it had its innings in Lady Duff Gordon's having mistaken Blackmarr as the ship's doctor; she doesn't mention either by name in her memoirs but she does say "the ship's doctor" took them.

As all 4 poses turned up in Blackmarr's scrapbook it is obvious it was he and not McGee who took the pictures. Blackmarr looked after Lady DG on Carpathia and she rewarded him later with an autographed portrait of herself, inscribed "To Dr. Blackmore (sic), in grateful remembrance of 15 April 1912, Lucy Duff Gordon."

I own one of the Blackmarr photos though it is sadly out of focus. However, unlike the cropped version which first appeared in the London Sphere & thereafter reprinted in other magazines & newspapers, mine at least shows all 12 occupants. All are identifiable accept for 3 of the crew I believe.

I may as well add that though some feel otherwise, I cannot understand why such a fuss has been made over the fact that these photos were taken. Other survivors had there pictures taken on Carpathia. I admit that perhaps the crewmen in lifejackets was not the best idea in retrospect. Still I do not believe it was Lady Duff Gordon's idea to have the pictures taken as Walter Lord alleges in A Night to Remember. I believe it was Blackmarr's. I think it may have been he who decided on the lifebelts touch as well.

Neither Lady Duff Gordon's side of the family nor Sir Cosmo's has a single copy of the Carpathia group shots. I don't know that they ever had one. Lady Duff Gordon did keep her lifebelt (and Cosmo too) but its whereabouts are uncertain at present. Luckily it was photographed and published in the press in the 1930s. Hopefully some day the lifebelts will turn up.

I happen to have in my temporary possession the lavender kimono/dressing gown believed to be the one Lady Duff Gordon wore off the ship. It is quite beautiful, though faded and torn, printed in an interesting silver and mauve floral motif (cherry trees?)

I showed this lovely though rather sad little garment to Phil Gowan recently and have sent a photo to Phil Hind who will be posting it to Lady Duff Gordon's bio here on ET.

Randy
 
Mar 20, 2000
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James,

To my knowledge the photographs of the Boat 1/Duff Gordon party - there were a total of 4 - were all taken NOT by Carpathia surgeon Dr. McGee but by Carpathia passenger Dr. Blackmarr (see elsewhere on ET re: his collection of memorabilia, discovered posthumously).

I don't know how the confusion arose but I suspect it had its innings in Lady Duff Gordon's having mistaken Blackmarr as the ship's doctor; she doesn't mention either by name in her memoirs but she does say "the ship's doctor" took them.

As all 4 poses turned up in Blackmarr's scrapbook it is obvious it was he and not McGee who took the pictures. Blackmarr looked after Lady DG on Carpathia and she rewarded him later with an autographed portrait of herself, inscribed "To Dr. Blackmore (sic), in grateful remembrance of 15 April 1912, Lucy Duff Gordon."

I own one of the Blackmarr photos though it is sadly out of focus. However, unlike the cropped version which first appeared in the London Sphere & thereafter reprinted in other magazines & newspapers, mine at least shows all 12 occupants. All are identifiable accept for 3 of the crew I believe.

I may as well add that though some feel otherwise, I cannot understand why such a fuss has been made over the fact that these photos were taken. Other survivors had there pictures taken on Carpathia. I admit that perhaps the crewmen in lifejackets was not the best idea in retrospect. Still I do not believe it was Lady Duff Gordon's idea to have the pictures taken as Walter Lord alleges in A Night to Remember. I believe it was Blackmarr's. I think it may have been he who decided on the lifebelts touch as well.

Neither Lady Duff Gordon's side of the family nor Sir Cosmo's has a single copy of the Carpathia group shots. I don't know that they ever had one. Lady Duff Gordon did keep her lifebelt (and Cosmo too) but its whereabouts are uncertain at present. Luckily it was photographed and published in the press in the 1930s. Hopefully some day the lifebelts will turn up.

I happen to have in my temporary possession the lavender kimono/dressing gown believed to be the one Lady Duff Gordon wore off the ship. It is quite beautiful, though faded and torn, printed in an interesting silver and mauve floral motif (cherry trees?)

I showed this lovely though rather sad little garment to Phil Gowan recently and have sent a photo to Phil Hind who will be posting it to Lady Duff Gordon's bio here on ET.

Randy
 
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Edmund Turner

Guest
I agree with Randy:I think its terrific that from a historical point of view that these pictures were taken . It's such an intresting photo the fact that it was taken on the Carpathia, and its the only picture that exists were all the survivors of one lifeboat had a group shot taken all together.
 

Jim Kalafus

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RANDY: Thanks for the reply! Thanks for the reply! I agree with you, I never DID see what the fuss was over that group shot and, expanding on that, the rest of the "Duff Gordon incident" either. THEY didn't order the boat lowered, and 'though they didn't go back after the sinking NO ONE ELSE DID EITHER except for Mr. Lowe, so why the calumny? Perhaps class antagonism is at the root. That is interesting about your having Lucille's robe in your possession. What a remarkable woman she was. I know that this might be beating a dead horse, but in Cameron's movie it DID seem a bit sexist to have Lucille dismissed offhand as a "designer of racy underthings" by the annoying Patty Hearst-like heroine. (Thanks, Jason B, for that line) Why the continuing antagonism towards her? JIM
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Thanks Edmund, Jim, etc

I just wish my copy of the Carpathia picture was more clear. Still, that it was one of the original prints Blackmarr made makes it special to me. Of course, I absolutely agree with Jim's feelings about the larger issue of the "Duff Gordon incident" (sounds like an episode of the X-Files, huh?).

That isn't to say I think the DGs were entirely truthful. They DID oppose going back but lied about it in court. Still, I see this as "damage control" by their attorneys whose objective was to clear their names. I DON'T believe there was an actual bribe. But I DO believe they opposed a rescue. It's just that I don't see this as such a cold-hearted action. It's not heroic - and it wasn't their finest moment - but the DGs were no more cowardly or selfish than other people in other boats who decided against going back.

We have to always consider the fear factor in a circumstance like that. I think all the lifeboats COULD and probably SHOULD have gone back to help those poor people in the water but if we're going to be censorious let's not single out one group. Jim is right that reverse class prejudice is responsible for the feeling of revulsion which the Duff Gordons still inspire among some Titanic enthusiasts to this day. If Boat 1 had held 12 steerage passengers & crew, and didn't return to aid the drowning, the situation wouldn't have been focused on with anywhere near the same vigor (and venom) as it was. That two of the occupants were of the English nobility and one in particular was a well-known personality has everything to do with the issue being of any interest then or today. Everybody loves a scandal.

Jim, as to Lucile's being mentioned in the dialogue of the Cameron film, I must say there's nothing dismissive (in my opinion) about the lingerie connection. Lucile was a pioneer in emancipating fashionable women from heavy underwear; it was her greatest contribution to fashion history. She more than any other designer lead the way from the Victorian penchant for cumbersome linen corsets and sensible flannel underdrawers. Her object was to make women desirable (even in bed; a radical notion to 19th century prudes), offering her clients silk and chiffon "frillies" (as she called them) instead, all in a variety of colors.

For myself I was grateful that Cameron mentioned her lingerie designs. She would have been proud of that. Also I think the character of Rose in the movie was not meaning her remark as derisive. I thought she was being racy on purpose in a kind of a come-on to Jack. In real life I wonder what well-brought young lady would have dared mention underwear in the presence of a beau?

Still I like that you call Rose a Patty Hearst type heroine!!! I never thought of it that way!

As to the antagonism toward Lucile. I wish I knew the root of it. Even in fashion history circles she's often ignored. I think it's because she's kind of an anomaly (being British and female in the traditionally French male-dominated world of fashion).

As for those who dislike her over the Titanic affair, I'd say that if they could get past that, they'd see her for what she really was - an ambitious Canadian farm girl who fought her way to the top of, even then, one of the fiercest professions in the world.

People I imagine also don't realize that Lucile was not aristocratic (except by distant ancestry and her second marriage to Cosmo); though of an upper middle class and well-connected family, Lucile was initially shunned by the highest society because of her early divorce and her business career.

So in many ways, though revered as one of the foremost designers to the rich & famous (which made her rich & famous), Lucile was socially an outsider. She did not care for the personal company of the many high-born ladies she dressed - instead her friends were artists, actors, musicians, writers, as she put it - "people who did things." If she was snobbish, it was the snobbishness of a discriminating artist, NOT a society lady. She despised the class system of England, though she was savvy in realizing her title would eventually prove a good monicer for business (especially in the US where we love titles).

Well, I think I've said more than enough. Excuse the rambling!

Randy

PS) And Jim, where in the heck is Turkey, Texas? I knew we had a Paris, Texas, and an Italy, Texas (which is near me here in Ennis) but I was unaware our great state had a Turkey, Texas! So greetings to yet another Lone Store Titanic pal!
 

Tracy Smith

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Randy, a little off the subject, but I have a question you might be able to answer. Was Lucile DG acquainted with Molly Brown, and, if so, were they friends? It seems as if they would have had a bit in common.

I agree with you about Rose's comment to Jack about Lucile. It wasn't really about Lucile, per se, but about Rose being modern and daring, in the same way she spoke of Madeleine Astor's pregnancy.
 

Jim Kalafus

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RANDY: Turkey Texas: Well, start in Downtown Amarillo, head Southeast on 287 (95 miles) to Estelline, hang a right on 86 and we're about 30 miles away. Right now I'm stuck in NY however, as I failed to change my voter registration, got called for Jury Duty and having used up all of my exemptions had to serve! So, here I sit. Now, about that Titanic Movie and its approach to Lucille. Let's agree to disagree on certain aspects of it. If you're ever in my neck of the woods (or Panhandle, actually) we can fight it out Texan Style. Just kidding, of course. I TOTALLY agree with your insights on the actual Lucille and the ongoing antagonism towards her. I guess we could say that perhaps Lucille served as the whipping girl because she was so convenient a symbol of both Edwardian Excess and the class system, and she happenned to have her "moment of destiny" at a time where people were beginning to get fed up, and as an outsider to the ACTUAL aristocracy she wasn't afforded the protection that one of their own would have been given. Or maybe there was just something about her that annoyed people, you just don't know in these cases. I actually kind of admired her apparent "I don't care " attitude and think she handled herself with more dignity than many. Take it easy. JIM. PS Where are you at in Texas? I've not visited Ennis, but isn't that on the way to Corsicana as you head down from Dallas? Was it you who researched the Risiens of Groesbeck? I planned on doing that one day, but ya beat me to it if, in fact, it was you! And I will say that Cameron's portrayal of Lucille was considerably better than that in A Night To Remember, in which she was essentially accused of everything other than locking the gates to third class and laughingly pocketing the key. "We're crowded enough as it tis!" indeed.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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"Lady" Tracy,

Re: Molly Brown & Lucile

Oh, I wish I knew! Molly would have certainly known OF Lucile and I would imagine Lucile knew OF Molly but I "ha' me doubts" that they knew each other personally. When I read Iversens' fantastic book on Molly & found Lucile's name in the index I had high expectations of some new info on those lines but no such luck.

I think that, though they were both feisty gals and so had a gutsy spirit in common, they would have been very different in other ways.

Molly was very political and a women's rights advocate. She was also not overly chic, which would have irritated the heck out of Lucile!

Lucile was bored by politics and did not move in the same activist-type circles that Molly did. Lucile was an artist and moved in the bohemian millieu of New York & Paris. Lucile was also a late bloomer on the suffrage question though she knew the radical Pankhurst sisters and their mother. Unlike Molly, Lucile never took any really public stand on the issue of women's rights or the vote but did often speak in her columns & interviews about modern women taking a more active role which she was in support of. She just never went so far as to picket or parade. I know of only one suffrage rally she attended and it was a very stilted affair, held at Dun Echt Castle in 1906, at which she met Emmeline Pankhurst. She came away bored stiff but said she actually liked Mrs. Pankhurst who wasn't the mannish old harpy she'd thought she'd be.

Also Molly Brown, as revealed in almost any photo I've seen of her, was an eccentric dresser, in the way that her heroine Sarah Bernhardt was, though with considerably less taste. So I doubt very seriously that Molly was a regular Lucile client. Lucile was very particular over who dressed and to be honest, I bet Molly would not have inspired her artistic sensibilities. Molly probably went to the old-guard houses of Worth or Doucet who were less discriminating as to youth and fine figures among their clientele, dressing as they did many a full-bosomed and ample-hipped dowager.

Just my observations. I wish there was some connection though between Lucile and old Molly. It would be fun to read about.

All the best,

Randy
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Jim,

First off, let me correct you very quickly so as not to infringe on the territory of my friend Phil Gowan, who is yet another transplanted Texan. He is the one who did research on the Risiens. I have visited the grave of the Risien's son in Corsicana (which is indeed only a few miles down Hwy 45 towards Houston)but that would be the extent of my knowledge of them apart from what Phil has found (and he knows much more than he tells; he's a sly one!).

Phil grew up in Corsicana and still has family there and here in Ennis. He actually knew the wife of the Risien's son, as she was a best friend of Phil's grandmother I believe.

Not that Phil requires any bragging from me, but he has researched about everyone on the Titanic to varying extents and has so much documented material that it is really staggering. I got to see a very small part of this man's research and was thoroughly amazed. He has talked to me about many other Texas connections which, if he's still agreeable, will wind it's way into an upcoming article I'm doing on Phil for the Dallas Morning News which will be syndicated no doubt to affiliate southern papers (in Atlanta, Florida, etc.)

As to your comments on Lucile, I was very much entertained and agree with your take on her and her Titanic legacy.

I'll be more than happy to talk further and to show you my collection of memorabilia some day in the future. (Actually this Texas tie-in to Titanic is too much. Yuri Singleton lives near Dallas, Pat Cook's in Houston, Phil WAS from just down the road - basically - from me, and now you.)

Everybody else has my email so feel free to drop a line at [email protected]

Hope you get your situation fixed up there in the Big Apple.

All best wishes,

Randy
 

Tracy Smith

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Nov 5, 2000
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I know I would have irritated Lucile to no end as I don't give a flip about clothes and I'm kind of built like Molly Brown as well
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Mar 10, 1998
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Jim,
Whenever I come across something about the Risiens, it is sort of like watching an old movie and saying "This is the part where I come in."

There was a day--it must have been a holiday of some sort--when I was a pre-schooler in Corsicana, Texas. My mother had prepared her usual banquet of food and I remember my sister had a little blue jewelry box on the floor that was filled with cheap or glass jewelry--but all very colorful. She kept showing off her "diamonds." My mother's good friends Daisy and Earl Bostick were there to have lunch with us and had brought Earl's mother, Rosa Bostick Risien with them. When the "diamonds" were being shown, she looked at me and asked me if I wanted to find some real diamonds--and even as a 4 or 5 year old I knew that meant something of great value. Then she said something to the effect that when I grew up I'd have to find the Titanic, a big boat that sank a long time ago and get the diamonds that "Old Sammy Risien" was bringing back from Africa. This was the first time that I had ever heard of the big boat that sank.

Rosa was a very entertaining old lady and I was around her sporadically up until her death in 1984 at the age of 95. Her husband Charlie, who died in 1948, was the son of Sam Risien who died on Titanic and the nephew (and step-son) of Sam's wife Emma, who also died in the sinking. (Charlie's mother Mary was the sister of Emma--who married Old Sam after her sister died. Confused? :)--

Rosa Risien had no idea what she was instigating with that little boy playing on the floor! Now, if I could only get my hands on those diamonds!
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Tracy,

I've checked your picture and you DO NOT have the Molly Body - though you've got the stance and attitude down! As Martha Stewart says, "It's a good thing."

And there's nothing wrong with the Molly Body, btw, for those full-figured gals cringing at the key boards about now!

Randy
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Phil,

In the event that you don't actually find the Risien diamonds, you can rest assured that all the research you've done will someday be seen as a treasure of equal value!

So in that way you've already found the diamonds. It's just a matter of time till the unveiling!

Best of luck,

Randy
 
Mar 20, 1997
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Regarding the discussion on whether the Duff Gordons deserved criticism for their conduct on boat 1: I agree that they may have been unjustifiably scapegoated, however, I find the public reaction an understandable response due to a variety of factors.

First of all, even with several boats woefully under loaded, Boat 1 is still a glaring example. Only 12 in a boat with 40 capacity catches the eye more than even boat 6's 28 in a space for 65. This is compounded by the breakdown of the twelve themselves - five passengers, only two women. While some lifeboats may have had more valid excuses in not going back in that they were more full, there was no case whatsoever that Boat 1 didn't have enough room or would have been swamped.

Also, Noblesse Obligese (anyone can feel free to correct me on my spelling) may have also come into play. With the priveledge of their position came an assumed responsiblity as well, unfair as the burden may have been on them, and they failed to live up to it by not conducting themselves "heroically" enough. If the five passengers had been steerage immigrants, the crew probably would have borne the brunt of the blame, but since Upper Class people were present, responsiblity now rests with them, and the crew are at worst stooges to the whims of their social superiors.

While the Duff Gordon party escaped intact, it was still no doubt a traumatic experience so they probably were not in a frame of mind to consider the ramifications of taking the group photo. While the intent of the photo was surely innocent, the image of a small party of rich people and what would appear to be their crew lackeys, would no doubt stir up some emotions in the eyes of the public viewing this image without knowing all the facts. Then the stories of Sir Cosmo possibly "paying off" crew and their unwillingness to go back proved to be thick icing on the cake.

The Duff Gordons didn't help themselves with their testimony. Also, I uncoverd an interview Charles Stengel gave afterward, (which is included in his bio on ET) where while he clearly wanted to exonerate them, he doesn't exactly help their case much either with his quote of Cosmo "making the crew a present" if they quit loafing and started rowing more.
 

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