Lest We Forget (The Lusitania)

Jim Kalafus

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Paused briefly at Webb's Shipyard and Academy burial bround, which is the last vestige of what was once a major industry in the area, and then set out for Rye and greener pastures- literally.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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The Rye/Larchmont/Mamaroneck and New Rochelle area are rich in Lusitania links. Among the local "represesentatives" on board were the Witherbees, May Brown, Rose Howley and Thomas Boyce King. I photographed several remaining sites, including the grave of thomas Boyce King, who was among the few recovered bodies shipped back to the United States. He is in the atmospheric Greenwood Union Cemetery, which is everything a Victorian Era cemetery should be. He is buried with his wife, Anna and her second husband, a UK citizen whom she married in 1916 and lost in 1923.
 

Jim Kalafus

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I then drove to Sharon Gardens/Kensico Cemetery, which proved to be the nicest I've yet to visit. The staff at Sharon Gardens, the area's foremost Jewish Cemetery went out of their way to be friendly and helpful, and devised a tour of both burial grounds for me. First stop was a "two for" grave, in that two separate Lusitania survivors were later buried there. The staff pointed out to me that it was right across the street from the Actors' Fund burial plot and could not be missed if I aligned myself with the Actors' memorial.
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Which ended up diverting me for almost an hour. This is apparently a burial ground for retired stage and screen performers, and many familiar names from the 'teens and 'twenties are interred here. As far as I could tell, there were none with any Titanic or Lusitania links.
 

Jim Kalafus

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The Lusitania grave I sought. It does align perfectly with the monument, and is midway (on the left) between the two traffic circles.
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Jim Kalafus

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Sarnoff: I then set out to find the man who was the first in NYC to learn of the Titanic disaster, and who later founded NBC. En route I visited Tommy Dorsey, Danny Kaye and Lou Gehrig (amongst others) but- despite excellent instructions on how to find David Sarnoff, I never did.
 

Jim Kalafus

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....however, what appeared to be the ultimate bizarre souvenier of the 1939 Worlds Fair drew me up the hill I was exploring...
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Jim Kalafus

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....and led me to the graves of Ziegfeld and his wife Billie "Good Witch" Burke, who rest in a fairly dramatic grove of weeping birch.
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Jim Kalafus

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Having found 'Glinda the Good' it seemed only fitting to pay respects to Dorothy as well....
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Not, of course, the pathetic Miss Garland at rest in nearbye Ferncliff, but Dorothy Kilgallen, the ultimate hard hitting crime and showbiz journalist from the 1930s-1960s, buried in Gates of Heaven Cemetery just to the north of Kensico. Her pull-no-punches style earned her a lot of enemies (among them Frank Sinatra, and Patsy Cline who called her a b*tch from onstage in 1962) and remains a hallmark of what investigative journalism should be and seldom is. I wish she had lived long enough to have made the QM2 January Maiden Voyage. Committed suicide in November 1965, although conspiracy theorists opine that her investigation into the Kennedy assasination got her "hit" when she got too close.

The fear of rabies kept me from lingering
 

Jim Kalafus

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In Pawtucket Rhode Island this morning, Mike and I visited the grave of Lusitania survivor Elizabeth Hampshire Graham, whom Mike profiled of Voyage Magazine last year and who was mentioned briefly in Lest We Forget as the person who held Helen Smith on her lap in the lifeboat.
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The American Flag on the grave was left to commemorate Peter Graham's WW1 service. A film of Elizabeth Hampshire and her relative Mrs Whitehead, also a survivor, dating to 1915 has recently been found.
 

Jim Kalafus

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In St. Francis Cemetery, in Pawtucket, we found the grave of Andrea Doria victim Norma DiSandro, one of only three victims from that ship buried ashore. 6 members of the DiSandro family are listed on the memorial which marks the family plot, and there is one 'footstone' for a seventh male member of the family, but only cemetery records show that this is the plot where Miss DiSandro was buried on Tuesday, July 31, 1956.
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Norma, 4 years old at the time of her death ('though the cemetery record says 3) was emigrating to Providence Rhode Island with her parents Tuilio and Filomena DiSandro. She survived the collision, but received severe skull injuries in the evacuation. She was airlifted to Boston where her parents were briefly reunited with her before she died on the evening of Friday July 27.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Less successful was our search for the home of Lusitania survivor Dora Wolfenden and her husband, John, who was lost in the disaster.
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As one drives down Dexter, from the 1000 block in Central Falls, probably 80% of the buildings from 1915 survive, and most in fairly good condition. However, the last three or so blocks of the street were cleared (in the late 1960s and early 1970s to judge by the new buildings) and the Wolfenden home at #33 is gone without a trace. Dora died in England during WW1 and so never returned to Rhode Island.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Mike and I spent the last few days in the Northern Suburbs (NYC) gathering information for our next two articles, and filling in a few holes in our soon to be released latest. First, we returned to Kensico Cemetery and visited the unmarked grave of "Bessie" Nye Darby (Titanic) and the nearby plaque for Ensign Pugmire (Empress of Ireland survivor) a fellow Salvationist. We also visited visited the graves of Bertha and Norman Campbell Chambers(Titanic survivors) who are buried within site of the Lusitania's Hill family.
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Jim Kalafus

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The Chambers' stones lie between a trio of well tended Yews, which although attractive have obscured them from close up view. Making a horrible joke that only a landscaper could love (and even that is quetionable) playing upon the botanical name for Yews, Mr. and Mrs. Campbell are now at rest deep in the heart of Taxus.

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Moving on, from both the cemetery and that joke, we travelled on to Yonkers by way of Mountain Road in Worthington, where in the 1920s local serial killer Albert Fish strangled and then ate Grace Budd, a child from NYC whom he had lured to the quaintly named Wisteria Cottage under the pretense of attending a childrens' birthday party. The 1935 solving of the crime led to Westchester County's 'trial of the decade' and probably century, but I digress....Yonkers is a city rich in shipwreck history, and the afternoon was passed seeking out documents pertaining to two centuries worth. Mike finally managed to get a shot of the Grandidge home (Lusitania), which I have been unable to do on several past trips and which he will post here ASAP, and I managed to crack several ribs which is a whole other story...
 

Jim Kalafus

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While in Yonkers we learned that a Morro Castle victim hailed from my hometown (Carmel NY) a fact which, somehow, eluded me since I first began reading up on M.C. back in 1972. Despite a certain amount of lethargy on my part (the cracked ribs thing) we set out to document my late 'neighbor' Eleanor Brennan. Miss Brennan's story is good enough for an eventual article, but the rough outline is that she was a "small town girl" who after the 1912 death of her mother dropped out of High School to care for her younger siblings. When they were old enough to be self sufficient, she got a job at Macy's Herald Square, and by 1934 was prospering as the head buyer for the Curtain and Drapery department. She jumped from the ship and died of exposure before rescue craft could find her. She was found within the first 6 hours of the disaster and the press was careful to note that she was not burned or marked in any way and was wearing a life jacket. Over 1000 people attended her funeral, and she was laid to rest at St. Lawrence O'Toole Catholic Cemetery in Brewster NY.
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A look at Eleanor's grave attests to how hard life was within living memory. She is buried with a sister who died at age 2, a brother who predeceased her at age 33, her mother who died at 45 when she, Eleanor, was 16 and her father who, having outlived all but one of his children by 1934, had no one to order his date of death engraved after he was buried.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Then, about 50 feet from Eleanor, we found Lusitania survivor Francis Bertram Jenkins. Jenkins' experience on the Lusitania left him with what, today, would be called severe post-traumatic stress. His wife brought him to the then-luxurious Southeast House, ca 1920, to recover his 'balance.' Life in Putnam County agreed with Mr. Jenkins, and he bought a large estate here, only to die of pneumonia he contracted while doing a bit of early spring gardening with his teenage daughter. Mrs. Jenkins, and Josephine their daugher, remained lifelong Brewster residents and are buried in the same plot.
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Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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I hope those people who have been following the Lest We Forget series will look out for the new book by J. Kent Layton, Lusitania: An Illustrated History of the Ship of Splendor. You can find it in the Lusitania book thread.