Marian Thayer

Jack Thayer's incredibly lucid and beautifully-written account of the sinking has long been my favorite, rivalling that of Lawrence Beesley and far surpassing, in terms of literary elegance, that of Colonel Gracie. It is a pity that it hasn't, to the best of my knowledge, been re-printed in recent years. It would be fascinating to dove-tail Marian's story with that of first-class sisters Elizabeth Eustis and Martha Stephenson, old friends and neighbours of the Thayer family, who stuck to them closely throughout the sinking and later in Lifeboat No. 4.
Hi Martin,

I got to read Thayer's Memoir in a special printed volume that was printed right after Titanic The Movie came out. I too thought it was well written and wish the powers that be would do up a volume of his memoirs and his mother's side by side. I wonder if she writes like he does and he got his writing style from her and how their accounts stack up?
I agree, George. And, indeed, it would be interesting to know how Marian's relationship with Jack changed after the sinking. She had lost her beloved husband but he not only lost his father but also very nearly died himself, fighting for his life in freezing water, in the pitch dark, and among hundreds of terrified strangers. God only knows what impact this trauma had on him in future years. It must have required considerable courage to re-live the whole hideous ordeal in his writing. Or, possibly, it was simply an act of catharsis.

I've always felt Marian Thayer's simple words to her teenage son - 'where's daddy?' - and his answer - 'I don't know, mother' - when they were re-united aboard the Carpathia to be particularly heart-rending.
Yes that must of been terrible for them to get to Carpathia and find out that John Thayer Sr. didn't make it.

Perhaps they wrote there accounts at the same time. One of them either Marion or her son Jack mentioned that they were going to write an account and the other decided to write an account as well. Or they might of wrote their accounts at different times?

I wonder if the accounts echo each others or have totally different experiences. Here you have a 17 year old boy completing to the journey to manhood and you also have a woman entering early middle age. Yet there related and so they might of had similar experiences on Titanic and yet also had very different experiences at the same time. So as I said earlier I wonder how their account of the disaster stack up or compare to each other.
Hi Martin - it's true that I've also barely flipped open a Titanic book since boyhood (when they were my prized possessions). The Wyn Craig Wade book (including the accounts by Marian and Jack Thayer and Martha Stephenson) was among the first I ever read. Since these accounts were among the first I ever read, I've never considered that they aren't so widely available. So please excuse my incredulousness that you weren't aware of Mrs Thayer's account. I highly recommend ordering the book through your local library, if you can, or seeing if used copies are available on Ebay.
I'm constantly amazed by the sudden appearance of Titanic narratives I've previously been in complete ignorance of. The really wonderful joint testimony of Marian Thayer's friends Martha Stephenson and Elizabeth Eustis would be a perfect case in point. It might not read as elegantly as Jack Thayer's version but it possesses a meticulousness, an attention to detail and immediacy which so many of the 'I woke up/I went outside/I got into a lifeboat/the ship sank/it was cold' passenger accounts lack (with due acknowledgement to Jim Kalafus for that very apt summary of what so many survivors thought fit to record!) Certainly, it enhanced my understanding of the experience of the night's events immeasurably. One only wonders how many more stories there are out there, just waiting to be uncovered.
I can't speak to her independent wealth, but she was part of the Morris steel mill family. While her husband John Jr. was also wealthy (he'd taken up cricket and also played lacrosse at UPenn, both of which are about as stereotypically upper class as you can get in the US), he wasn't idly wealthy and had worked his way up through the ranks of the Pennsylvania Railroad. I don't know much about salaries at John Thayer's position, unfortunately, because the Pennsy kept its archives at Broad Street station and a large portion of those archives were destroyed in a fire in the early 1920s. But as for Marian, she was definitely old money in contrast to the Thayers.
Marian was seated at the Captain's table, Major Butt met her and instantly poured his heart out to her, and the aloof Ismay fell head over heels in love with her. She is so fascinating. She had the it factor that made the boys go crazy. Its a shame she turned to the occult after the voyage, her grandkids called her a "creepy old woman" so sad.