News from 1905: A Christmas Story---of sorts

Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The New York Times, 31 December 1905

Comber Boarded the Celtic and Frightened Passengers

The White Star liner Celtic, one day overdue, reached her pier yesterday
considerably damaged and bringing a tale of a giant wave, which
interrupted the Christmas night entertainment and roughly scattered the
group of children and women around the Christmas tree.

According to Miss Gertrude Holinquist, a nurse on the ship, at least
fifteen women fainted when the monster wave struck the ship. The big
comber was followed by lesser shocks, which tore away twenty feet of the
ship's rail, broke several ports in the second cabin and smoking room,
and snapped off half a dozen stanchions. Both the second cabin and the
steerage were flooded.

The big wave struck the ship at 7:30 o'clock on Christmas night. A
Christmas tree had been fastened to one of the tables in the saloon, and
the children on board had already received their gifts. The programme
included an entertainment of the usual kind, and a solo was just being
sung by E. W. Mathews, with R. W. Cody at the piano.

In an instant the group of Christmas merrymakers were thrown into
confusion. Those who were standing up were toppled over, and those who
were sitting where they could not grab something stationary were hurled
from their seats. The spurt of water through the broken ports made it
appear as though the worst possible thing had happened, and the women
began to scream.

Some one suggested that the two musicians resume their work, and they
did so, but were only partially successful in allaying the excitement.
With the assistance of the nurse, Miss Holinquist, the ship's physician
got the fainting and hysterical women to their staterooms, where they
grew calmer.

Meanwhile the water rushed along the engineer's gangway, three feet
deep, smashing in doors and flooding about fifteen staterooms. One
assistant engineer, who was standing in his stateroom, averred that he
suddenly found himself standing in water breast high.

In the second cabin smoking room a trio were celebrating Christmas, and
one of them was just merging the pleasure of anticipation into
realization when the shock came. The bottle was smashed into smithereens
the next minute, and all three men were thrown in a heap on the floor.

The steerage passengers were locked in when the storm came on, but still
a large amount of water got into their quarters through the breaking of
several port-hole glasses. Practically the whole voyage of the Celtic
was a stormy one. It is believed, however, that the damage to the ship
can be repaired by Jan. 6, which is her schedule day for sailing again.

Among the passengers who arrived on the Celtic was Wasill Safonoff, the
Director of the Moscow Conservatory of Music. He comes here to lead six
concerts of the Philharmonic Society.

Alexander Winton, the Cleveland automobile manufacturer, also arrived on
the ship with his bride. She was Miss Labelle MacGlashen of Glasgow. The
couple were married at the home of the bride on Dec. 12. A day or two
later Mr. Winton sent the news to his business associates.

Others on the ship were Prof. Nordenskjöld of Gothenburg University,
Sweden; Baron de Fersen of Russia, and Capt. Harris, Military Attaché to
the American Embassy at Vienna.


Similar threads