Fred Pelka


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fred pelka

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Hello all,

I joined the site only this past week and posted two questions before realizing there was an "introduce yourself" category. I'm thinking now that perhaps I should have introduced myself before imposing on your hospitality. Sorry about that!

I have been interested in history practically as long as I can remember, growing up in a household where history was ever-present. I've done some research and writing, having mostly to do with the history of the American disability rights movement, as well as some (slight) original material (many years ago) on the Salem witch trials. I have no particular knowledge of the Titanic aside from what most everyone has read or seen, but was attracted to this website by the meticulous research and the obvious care for detail and accuracy. I've clicked on it quite a bit in the last few months, and finally decided, what the hell, I may as well join in.

I'm curious to know what it was about the Titanic tragedy that first attracted people to the saga. I'll tell you my story by way of getting the ball rolling. As a kid (maybe eleven or twelve) I read a series of short stories by Jacques Futrelle in a book called "The Thinking Machine." I remember buying it because from the title I thought it was science fiction (about battling robots, perhaps) and at first being disappointed because they were instead very ingeniously crafted detective stories, what I'd now describe as Gilded Age John Le Carre. I very quickly got over my disappointment and was absolutely absorbed by the stories. My favorite was "The Problem of Cell 13." Anyway, at the end of this collection (which I lost long ago, alas) there was a blurb on the author giving his birth date and various particulars, and ending with the sad note that he was among those lost on the Titanic. I know I'd heard of the Titanic before, but had never felt it as a tragedy, only as a name out of the dim past. Having read this wonderful book, the linking of the author with the Titanic made quite a profound impression on me.

So -- how did others become involved? Was it a particular incident, as with me, or something more general? Seems to me there might be a great article/study in there somewhere-- something along the lines of "The Titanic in the Popular Imagination." But then, I imagine it's already been done (and I'm counting on Michael to tell me when and by whom!)

Thanking you all in advance,

Fred Pelka

PS -- using smaller case letters in my previous posts was not an e.e. cummings affectation. Sometimes I just forget to shift, is all.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
My own interest started with reading Walter Lord's "A Night To Remember" when I was in the second grade. The bug bit and I've been hookedever since. I'm a bit of a history buff myself in regards maritime and avaition history, though if you've seen some of my postings in the Off Topic folder, I've been taking a profound interest in current events.

But then a lot of people have and for good reasons. We live in "interesting" times.

Welcome aboard!
 
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Natalie Gleason

Guest
Welcome aboard. I am pretty new here myself and everyone has been really nice to me. I am sure that you will enjoy your stay here as much as I am.

Natalie
 

Jason D. Tiller

Moderator
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Aug 20, 2000
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Hi Fred,

Welcome aboard! You've come to the best place for all things Titanic. I became interested when I received a great book on the Titanic and her sister ships. That was sixteen years ago, and I have been hooked ever since.

Hope you enjoy it here!

Best regards,

Jason
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fred pelka

Guest
Hi all,

Just taking a (long) break here from the work I'm supposed to be doing. This website is a great way to procrastinate, let me tell you! Jason, which book do you mean?

I read A Night to Remember a long time ago, I should go back and re-read because I think I'd get a lot more out of it today. Ditto for the movie. And I read The Last Voyage of the Lusitania when I was in sixth grade. I remember being on the edge of my chair at the end of the first chapter, when the great ship is there in the U-boat periscope.

Also, even before then, I remember my grandmother coming over to visit us from Europe. She sailed on the Bremen, and I had a blast running around on the decks, visiting her cabin as she got ready to leave for her return trip. I would absolutely love to sail across the Atlantic in a nice big boat with a definite surplus of lifeboats. For one thing, you never see the stars on a jet airplane, certainly not like you can on a boat. The closest I ever got was a cruise into the Atlantic to see Haley's Comet, many years ago. A tiny boat, and lots of people puking. Hmm, maybe I should reconsider this fantasy.

I did see some icebergs out my airliner window once, on a flight to Iceland. They looked like tiny gems, floating in the green sea.

Great meeting you all.

Fred
 

Lee Gilliland

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Feb 14, 2003
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Hi Fred, welcome aboard the best Titanic site on the web! This is the most wonderful place I've ever been, and with people who are really knowledgeable about all kinds of things, Titanic, and non-, but they're all friendly (even if they've no problem whacking you down to size when you're off). I first got involved because of a song we sang in Girl Scout Camp called "It Was Sad When The Great Ship Went Down", and have been interested ever since.
 
Jun 4, 2000
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quote:

PS -- using smaller case letters in my previous posts was not an e.e. cummings affectation. Sometimes I just forget to shift, is all.

Heh. I didn't think e.e cummings, I was thinking more along the lines of 'programmer'.

For me my first interest in Titanic was through reading ANTR in primary school. My mum was a big fan of Upstairs/Downstairs too, and Lady Marjorie dies in Titanic's sinking - although I'd quite forgotten this until fairly recently. A renewed interest in teenage years was through a sideways link from an interest in the British merchant navy of the time through comments from Sir Ernest Shackleton via an interest in Roald Amundsen, via an interest in Antarctica... I think you get the picture.
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BTW, welcome.

Fiona​
 
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fred pelka

Guest
Hi all,

Fiona, that's an interesting journey you describe. I've got something of a fascination with Antarctica myself. You might be interested in checking out the video archives at the San Francisco Exploratorium. They sent a film crew down to McMurdo Station a couple of years back and did some really cool (no pun intended) interviews. What I like are the ones that focus on day to day life down there, talking to folks such as the barber and the guy who runs the station's cable TV station. The address is http.//exploratorium.edu/origins/antartica/live/index.html.

Enjoy your cuppa.

Fred
 
Jun 4, 2000
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Thanks for the link Fred, I'll definitely check it out even if I never make it to San Francisco itself.

I'm a great believer in the restorative and curative effects of a good cuppa.
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Cheers,
F
 
May 9, 2000
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Dear Fred,
and thanks for leaving your message in this thread. This time we are very very busy with changing from our small flat (four people sharing three rooms) into a bigger one. Three rooms were ok for my wife and me, but now...I hardly can await it.

Last week I helped the police by accident to capture a bank robber. I saw this man passing the street and delivering a so called "security pack" (bundle of money that is suddenly spreading red color) in a waste basket. I was convinced that this man must have robbed a bank and followed him in a distance. While walking behind him I called the police with my cellular. They just have got the alarm of the robbery. All the time I told them were the robber is going, then hiding, then changing the clothes and continues walking among the mass. When police arrived they just had to "collect" the robber from the street. In one pocket he still had a weapon. For me as a criminal reporter it was a very special experience. The medias reported it and one newspaper chosed the headline "Criminal Reporter captured Bank Robber".

I think the "thread of war" was stopped too early. Otherwise another one (like "Iraq today") should be started. More US and other soldiers were killed since Bush had declared the "victory" than during the invasion. I am anxious what will happen after the rule is in the hands of the Iraq again. I don't believe that our western patterns of democracy can be transferred within a few weeks into a country that is deeply islamic. I am sure that extremistic religious leaders like Sadre (and others) will not accept the new government. Basically I am an optimistic thinking person. As you Fred, I wrote against the war and we both were attacked. But we were not far away from reality if we look has happened since the "Thread of War" in here was closed.

Did you note that many internet sites reporting that the beheading of Nicholas Berg was perhaps a fraud? I am very sceptical concerning the seriosity of the majority of these sites. But some of the arguments are scaring. Here is one of the links:
http://inn.globalfreepress.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=218
But finally I am not convinced - yet. It could be an act of islamistic terrorists - but I would not exclude that this video is a fraud either. The western mass medias did not report this.

I hope you are well and would be glad to keep in touch. I see that your profile does not exist any more?

Best regards
Henning
 

rob scott

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May 4, 2004
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Interesting seeing how others first got to know or became interested
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I first heard of the Titanic when tiny and my parents took me to some retread movie in some dying drive-in called The Unsinkable Molly Brown; I fell asleep and didn't even remember the parts I 'saw' and mom told me about this Debbie Reynolds lady, the real Molly one, rough-spun who came from gold fields and acted better than the rich stiff-collars.
When a bit older but still really young I then saw David Janssen, because I liked him, in some Titanic movie wherein he played Astor or some other rich dude in the lounge with everything sliding; but again I really don't remember it much. I am also probably the only person reading here who never read A Night to Remember *ducks*

I'm pretty sure I'm the only one here who got into the Lusitania before Titanic; when still young I got a paperback of Simpson's Lusitania some years after the 1972 original, and fell under the spell of how awfully terrible that whole event was, and how whole families of children were wiped out because of how quick it was and all the lifeboat chaos too.
Later on I read a book that detailed Titanic survivor diaries and accounts and showed where people were, deck layouts, boat loading, and how many did not get up on deck til the last boat had left, and how so many boats left when 'decently' loaded, about 50% capacity, etc. The Horror. And so many drowned or froze. And then I saw the 1953 Titanic and all the uplifting human moment stuff, the idealized stuff about accepting and not loudly complaining, proper gentleman and lady stuff with the husband and wife, all that... but the Lusitania stuck with me more, and so I read another book on it and now Preston's too.
Titanic was the unsinkable which never really was, just an arrogant way of viewing the modern technology as unbeatable; but the Lusitania was viewed much the same in that 'too fast for a submarine to catch her' way.
This one grabs me more though because of the wartime, the German activities in America, the warnings, the sub warfare without sonar or radar or depth-charges, the families entering warzones, the Admiralty actions involved, much different than an ice-mountain on a calm sea and the sprouting dents for 300 ft Ballard showed us in his show.
Of course the whole California thing was a horrific irony, sitting over there on the horizon on her calm sea.
But I think of the Lusitania families bodies not recovered, down and gone, MIA.........
I'm also the only one on here who liked the ending of Cameron's movie, but that ... is another 'rest of the story' .........
I've enjoyed this thread-
 
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Fred Pelka

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Henning,

That sounds like quite the adventure! I knew you were a reporter of some sort, but didn't know you were a crime reporter. Anyway, now I suppose you have some experience on BOTH sides of the story, which isn't something a lot of people can say.

Yes, I also think the "Threat of War" thread ended too soon, but I imagine that the moderators were getting burned out with having to manage it, heated as the discussion sometimes became. Perhaps if enough people are interested we could do a time-limited (say, one month) discussion on all that's happened since "Mission Accomplished" was the word of the day, but I'm not sure anybody else would be interested.

How is your family, if you don't mind my asking? I hope all are well. The baby must be a year old now, or am I way wrong here?

Fiona -- I just found a web cam that broadcasts from Antarctica. The link is www.antdiv.gov.au/stations/casey/video.html. It's slow moving, but it's Antarctica in real time, and what could be cooler than that?

Rob, what you write about "the idealized stuff about accepting and not loudly complaining..." is very interesting. On another thread there is a discussion going about whether or not Titanica is still worth exploring -- if the topic hasn't been done to death -- and one aspect of the story I think could use a lot more exploration is how WE today, and how the generations since the disaster, have viewed what happened. There certainly has been a lot of idealized depictions of the stoicism and stiff-upper-lip courage of all concerned, and I wonder, how much of that was real, and how much reflects how WE would like to imagine such a tragedy, perhaps as a way to reassure ourselves. There are reasons why myths get started, purposes they serve that are always worth exploring.

Once again, thanks to all for the pleasant and interesting discussion. I'm still interested in hearing how others got started on all this.

Best wishes to all,

Fred
 
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Fred Pelka

Guest
Hello Fiona,

I haven't really been away, it's just that I don't generally have that much to say. I do stop by and keep tabs on the discussions and new articles, and also try to check in from time to time just to say hi.

So hi! And I'm glad you liked the site. Have you checked out the Exploratorium link yet? There are some nice interviews, from a few years back, of folks who live and work at McMurdo. One of my favorites is the interview with the barber/hairstylist there.

Best wishes to all,

Fred
 
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Guest (R17)

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I think it might have been a film and the discovery with me !

I use to make great models of the Titanic out of old shoe boxes (when I was very little then) once the models were finished I'd take them down to the pond and put stones in them to make them sink !!! LOL
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Then after a few days of being at the bottom of the pond I would raise them and have little salvage operations !

I personally think there is a golden time for liking the Titanic and that is when you are a child. During the ages of about 9 or 10! Nothing beats that ! The mystery, excitement and joy you get in that period. Everything is new. And although I never got a Jack post-card in those days I was far happier with simple things - like finally getting the video to a 'Night To Remember'!

Anyway nothing I think beats liking the Titanic as a youngster - at that age it is magic !
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Jun 4, 2000
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G'day again Fred, I'm saving some of the great stuff on that site for lengthy exploration via cable connection. Some of it, alas, almost causes smoke to pour out the back of my modem. Great stuff, though. I'm particularly enjoying info on their coldest days as an antidote to the current weather here (brrrr).
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