Jack Thayer's Bio


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Walter Karmazyn

Guest
Hi All,

I just signed up on the board last week, and in my post under "Introduce Yourself" I mentioned I had come across what I believed to be a mistake in one of the passenger bios, asking how to go about confirming if I'm right and perhaps getting it updated. One suggestion was to post it here which seemed like a good idea, in case there is more to the story than I've found.

As my subject header says, the passenger in question is Jack Thayer. I came across his bio when I typed the name "Joughin" into the search engine on the main page. Chief Baker Charles Joughin has been my favorite shipboard person since I read ANTR in my teens, and I thought I'd see what new info I could find on him here. I was intrigued because I hadn't heard of any Thayer account mentioning Mr. Joughin. The Bio, which is really good, gives this mention:

. Another man Jack saw lurched by drinking from a bottle of Gordons gin, he said "If I ever get out of this there is one man I'll never see again" in fact Charles Joughin was one of the first survivors that Thayer did meet!

I had always thought the only info on Joughin's drinking came from his own testimony at the British Inquiry. I have also read Thayer's account in Logan Marshall's 1912 book and a newspaper interview from the 30's, neither of which mention this episode. I didn't dismiss it as out of hand, just something new to digest. It wasn't until a few weeks back when I (finally) came across a copy of Thayer's memoir "The Sinking of the SS Titanic", originally published in 1940, in a used book store that I found reason for doubt. This btw, is a 1998 copy published by Academy Chicago Publishers, in a volume also containing Archibald Gracie's "Titanic: A Survivors Story (now I have 3 copies of that one on the shelf)

Thayer's account can be found on p 341. While he doesn't identify the person by name, he clearly leaves the impression that this individual was a passenger rather than crew, American rather than British, probably traveling first class. Thayer's description: "Someone told me afterwards that he was a State Senator or Congressman from Virginia or West Virginia." Hardly sounds like a description of Joughin, imo.

So my question is if anyone knows of any other version of this story Thayer told that would lead one to believe Joughin was the person in question, or perhaps I am on to something here?

Thanks

W
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Hi, Walter:

I've entertained similar thoughts myself. Jack (whose birthday is tomorrow, incidentally) has always been of special interest to me; and I've also wondered how ultimately conclusive this "Joughin" identification (for the original drinker, at least) really was.

That connection doesn't *seem* at all guaranteed, since Joughin certainly wasn't *unique* in whatever state of "fortification" he exhibited. Moreover, I've always thought Joughin's actual degree of "inebriation" was massively exaggerated in the film version of "A Night to Remember". (It doesn't fit his testimony, that's for sure; plus, Joughin's bottle, according to him, was always left in his room.)

I suspect that the original specification may derive from Walter Lord, in the book version of ANTR. But whether it has other documented basis ...?

Anyway, I'll also be curious to see if someone can document the tale further.

Cheers,
John
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Walter:

Bill Wormstedt's excellent "Shots in the Dark" web page --http://home.attbi.com/~bwormst/titanic/shots/shots.htm -- also features a complete transcription of yet another memoir published by Jack Thayer, on the 20th anniversary of the disaster. I've checked that one, but didn't notice any reference to this particular episode.

(And thanks kindly to Bill for hosting that little bit of history!)

Cheers,
John
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Hmmm...

(Good memory, Johnny!) Walter, I located that passage, almost verbatim but with a significant difference, in "A Night to Remember". On page 106 of the *illustrated* editon (2nd to last page of Chapter 5, "I Believe She's Gone Now, Hardy", in others), Lord writes:

Jack Thayer saw a man lurch by with a full bottle of Gordon's Gin. He put it to his mouth and drained it. 'If I ever get out of this,' Thayer said to himself, 'there is one man I'll never see again.' (Actually, he was one of the first survivors Thayer met.)

The major difference, of course, is that Walter Lord never actually *names* the mystery man. So was this a later bit of "artistic license" on someone's part?

Cheers,
John
 
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Walter Karmazyn

Guest
Hi, George

I was curious who Thayer might've been referring to, and did a bit of a search. Had anyone asked, Robert Daniel would've been my likely suspect also.

Walter
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Interesting, George. And I can see your reasoning; it makes a great deal of sense.

Although Daniel only became involved in Virginia politics many years later (1935?), Jack *did* merely write, 'Someone told me afterwards that he was a State Senator or Congressman from Virginia or West Virginia." Though I initially took that to imply a man 'in office' at the time of the disaster, I'm persuaded at this point that perhaps it was just a poor choice of words by Thayer, actually intending to impart, 'Someone told me that afterwards he became a State Senator or Congressman ...'.

Taken in that context, the explanation wouldn't be hard to imagine, since Daniel actually made his mark (as a financier) in Philadelphia -- Jack's home town. Thus, news of Robert's subsequent election in his home state of Virginia would likely have traveled through Jack's Philadelphia social circle.

So, "By George, I think you've got it!" :^)

On the other hand, we may need TWO corrections: *Daniel's* biography refers to his years spent in Phil-i-delphia ;^)

Cheers,
John
 
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Walter Karmazyn

Guest
John M. Feeney wrote:

The major difference, of course, is that Walter Lord never actually *names* the mystery man. So was this a later bit of "artistic license" on
someone's part?

Hi, John:

That's what I suspect. It's been so long since I've read ANTR, I'd forgotten the mention.
When I researched this at home, I had gone through my various books, going to the index and looking up Joughin, figuring any mention by Thayer would come up there. I also did a web search of Joughin with no luck, and of Thayer. That led me to the article I mentioned in my original post and you posted a link to, and downloaded a copy for my files and reference. I just pulled out the printout and noticed a familiar name at the top for credit. I always enjoy coming across a new survivor story. Thanks, John;-)

Joughin freely admitted to having 2 drinks in his room about an hour apart at the British Inquiry, the second described as about a tumbler half-full (how much is a tumbler anyway?). The latter btw was in response to a question by Mr. Cotter, representing the National Union of Stewards, who thought his getting a drink had a lot to do with saving his life. Lord wrote Joughin had 2 drinks and indicated he was feeling them, although not necessarily drunk. ANTR (the movie) went a step further in the way he was portrayed after helping get lifeboat 10 away and Cameron had him drinking out of a flask while hanging onto the stern railing. These kinds of things could lead someone to take a little artistic license in the case of the Thayer story, imo.

Also, when I came to post this, I noticed in your response to George where you said: "I'm persuaded at this point that perhaps it was just a poor choice of words by Thayer, actually intending to impart,'Someone told me that afterwards he became a State Senator or Congressman ...". Given that Daniel was still alive when Thayer wrote that, I thought he perhaps didn't want to go on record as accusing a sitting politician of getting drunk at such a time. imagine the scandal;-)

All the best,

Walter
 

Tad G. Fitch

Member
Dec 13, 1999
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Hello John,
How are you doing? First post in a long while for me here. I agree with George's opinion, Thayer's description would certainly seem to fit Robert Daniel. Of interest, Daniel had a very rough personal life, married several times, and ultimately died due to his heavy drinking. While anyone could have been drinking that night, it is interesting to note that Daniel struggled with that very affliction during his life. I hope that all of you have a great Christmas.
All my best,
Tad
 

Smith Mize

Member
Dec 20, 2002
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In a way, he does relate, but not completely, he did commit suicide after his son's death, but just because he drank doesn't make him an addict, yes Thayer had problems, but doubtfully not as sever as Daniel's.
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Yikes!

Tad, my apologies -- I left you by the wayside in mentioning "Shots in the Dark", and obviously you're equally responsible for that fine piece of research.

I knew, albeit a very little, about some of Daniel's rocky road. But your filling in of the gaps makes it fairly clear that Daniel's problems with alcohol were likely long-running. (And here, I once thought that he and Mary Eloise [Mrs. Lucien P. Smith] were sort of a fairytale marriage.)

Walter: I do believe you may have hit the nail on the head with that bit about Jack's reluctance to identify Daniel or even hint more specifically about him. (Of course, most recently we've had folks like good old "Teddy" set the record straight, elevating inebriation to its proper political context -- a "fine art".) ;^)

Cheers,
John
 

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