September 1 1985 September 1 2010


John Clifford

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Mar 30, 1997
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Hello Everyone!!!

Can you believe it?
It was 25 years ago that the Titanic site was located, and we saw the first images of the remains of the ship, since April 15, 1912.

I still remember hearing the first news piece, on the CBS Evening News, that Sunday; followed, the next day, by the story broadcast on all the media.

For me, that started my interest in Titanic anew, and I was able to recall all the things I had, earlier, committed to memory, about the story.

I know many of us can remember where we were when the news about the discovery broke, and our thoughts and feelings about it.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I know many of us can remember where we were when the news about the discovery broke, and our thoughts and feelings about it.<<

I was reporting to RTC San Diego for staff duty at the time. While I was pre-occupied with more pressing matters...like getting checked in...I recall following the news very closely, especially when the first photographs were released. I wasn't lost on me that I was seeing something that nobody had seen in almost 3/4ths of a century.
 

Adam Went

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Apr 28, 2003
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I wasn't born then so obviously I can't remember it, but I do know that "St. Elmo's Fire" by John Parr was on top of the Billboard charts at the moment Titanic was discovered....what a fantastic, fitting song!
 

Jim Kalafus

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Evening news. Large teaser item during the lead-in, and...even though you know what is about to happen, having experienced it before.... you sit thru the entire broadcast for the 30 second long snippet at the end.

I recall a double-page Titanic spread in the local newspaper, and...oddly.... that I was out of cigarettes, and was trying to read the news while dressing in garb appropriate for a dash to the 7-11. The paper ran that photo which looks like the Beken of Cowes bow shot, but isn't.

When my interest had last peaked, around 1975, the booklet which came with the 36" Titanic model, I think written by THS, claimed that there was something like 70 survivors still alive at that point. The news coverage left me wondering how many were left in 1985.

There was an odd sense of disappointment that the wreck was in halves and not intact.
 
>> that I was out of cigarettes, and was trying to read the news
>> while dressing in garb appropriate for a dash to the 7-11

Classy, Jim.

I was 10 years old, laying on the floor, watching TV with my parents (getting ready to dash out for more cigars). There was a teaser for the 10 o'clock news that showed newsreel footage and then some black and white footage of the boilers. I remember my jaw hitting the floor. I think my parents may have let me stay up to watch it. But I remember the news teaser.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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I think I was in bed. On a Sunday morning. And it was reported in a fairly small column inside the paper. I don't think it was a really big issue. It became a bigger issue over the next few months as both Titanic historians and marine archeologists came together to wonder about this wreck. You don't get many ships just sitting on the bottom, waiting for people to dive down to them. Especially, if they are famous.

Some years later, I saw on TV a Roman ship disembowelled from the Mediterranean mud, with human and animal skeletons, gold, amphorae, ceramics, and money. Nobody thought it shouldn't be excavated because it was a grave. Hmmmm.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Classy, Jim.

Indeed. Only people who secretly fear that they lack class attempt to project the image of leading lives in which ONLY the words Guide Michelin Three Star appear.
happy.gif
It is strange to consider the small details that lock in your head. Newspaper, coffee half finished, and being out of cigarettes locked together permanently.
 
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I smoke, and so did you once, Jim. One or both, I'm not sure... but anyway, there are worse things to do, let's face it.

Smoking has nothing to do with life except, possibly, curtailing it. Life has to do with (these days) wondering whether the Titanic is any more worthy of veneration than a Roman vessel (none of whose occupants smoked) which is beached on a European sandbank. And has been ransacked for distant-in-time archaeological reasons. Like, they died ages ago, so what does it matter?

I think that all of them are dead, Romans and Titanic victims. So, it doesn't seem to matter much to any of them really now.

And I think that those of us who are still alive, and justifying why we should explore one wreck but not another, are deceiving ourselves.
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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Hello Monica!

"I think that all of them are dead, Romans and Titanic victims. So, it doesn't seem to matter much to any of them really now."

I would tend to agree with you up to a point.

However, there are still some wrecks from WW2 which are designated gave sites and you can look but that's all! I suppose it's because there are still many WW2 veterans alive who remember their mates as are children and grandchildren who view such sites as 'sacred'.

Last month, my wife and I visited the WW1 memorial at Theipval to (not literally) dig up a lost uncle. For those who glorify war or who, as did Brer Rabbit 'poo-poo the whole idea' of revering death sites, I would recommend a visit -if for nothing else but to experience the peace and tranquility that the preservation of that area brings.

The whole of Europe, in fact most of the earth, has been a battle ground since long before the Romans and sure, the attitude of site-reverence can be very much OTT but I do think that pillaging a grave site while there are still people around who have personal memory of those in the graves is in itself, a bit OTT.

Until the time of the discovery of Titanic on the sea bed, the preservation and protection of ship wrecks of recent historic or special interest was confined to those found in shallow water. I can't see why that practice should be foregone just because technology has progressed to the point where we can find and temporarily at least, preserve such sites.

To me, the time to recover and preserve what artifacts remain should be after all the genuine 'mourners' have joined the dead.

This preservation of Sites of Special or Historic Interest has most certainly gone OTT!
Ask anyone who has tried to obtain planning permission to build.
 
>> I think that all of them are dead, Romans and Titanic victims.
>> So, it doesn't seem to matter much to any of them really now.

Well put, Monica. It's the symbolism that bothers the living.

>> but I do think that pillaging a grave site while there are still
>> people around who have personal memory of those in
>> the graves

And that's the thing. There aren't people around that have personal memories of those in the graves. It's not 100% out of the question. But anyone having personal memories of victims of the Titanic would have to be over 100.

But, let's look at the Lusitania. Someone molted one of the propellers down for golf clubs and no one said 'boo'.
 
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Yes, I agree. Once a wreck has gone beyond its victims' lifespans - it should be just - a wreck. But who are its victims? Surely not great grandchildren, or great grand nephews or nieces? Who never actuallly knew their forebears?

Surely, you can't mourn someone you never knew? So, it becomes an interesting, archeological site. And interesting to you, of course, but not really familial?
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Once a wreck has gone beyond its victims' lifespans - it should be just - a wreck. But who are its victims? Surely not great grandchildren, or great grand nephews or nieces? Who never actuallly knew their forebears?

There is an interesting phenomenon I've found, particularly in the case of unsolved homicides (another interest of mine), which is that descendants occasionally feel as attached to (and protective of) the victims as the people who actually knew them did. Sometimes more so. Inspired by one of the weirder films of the noire era, one might call the THE LAURA FACTOR.

>But anyone having personal memories of victims of the Titanic would have to be over 100.

Depends on what you mean by 'personal memories.' I know, from my research, that there are still quite a few people around, born in the 1920s, who can recall childhoods spent with mothers who periodically slumped into deep depressions and who could often be found crying over children who died aboard the Lusitania. they never knew their older siblings, but DO have very strong first person memories tied in to the cost of that disaster. I suspect that there are still people left with the same not-fond memories of the Titanic.

That said, there is something weirdly Victorian about the PRESERVE THE WRECKSITE 100% INTACT mindset, redolent of demented widows who sealed off their husbands' death chambers EXACTLY as they were at the terminal moment, and never entered them again. That sort of...death totem...fixation passed out of style during the American Civil War. (Check out first lady Jane Pierce as an example of how weird pre- Civil War mourning could get. She sat upstairs in the White House for three years, writing endless letters of apology for being a bad mother to her dead son. Steven Decatur's wife, Susan, carried HER mourning so far that even during the histrionic mourning era people mocked her excesses) People no longer make death hair jewelry, preserve deathbeds intact, capture final breaths in bottles, or place coffin photos on the mantle. Psychologiclly, we have matured to the point at which we realise that there is no connection at all between you and the room in which you happened to die....

Yet one STILL hears that the pocket combs, forks, film envelopes and shattered bottles found at the wrecksite are SACRED RELICS RECOVERED FROM A GRAVE. One wonders if these people have hampers full of their late spouses' final batch of soiled laundry mouldering away in a sealed bedroom. There is virtually no connection between the body of J.J. Astor and the articles which fell off his bureau as the ship sank, and leaving debris scattered on the sea bed no more memorializes him than would saving his last set of soiled bedlinens.

>This preservation of Sites of Special or Historic Interest has most certainly gone OTT!
Ask anyone who has tried to obtain planning permission to build.

It seems that we live in countries that come at it from polar opposite angles, Mr. Currie, and living as I do in a place where sites of historic importance often end up buried under shopping malls or condominium complexes, I will raise the question "Which is worse; excessive reverence for history, or no reverence at all?"

>I smoke, and so did you once, Jim. One or both, I'm not sure...

I quit in 1991. The black paper Internationals I smoked (they coordinated with virtually everything) were becoming harder to find, and after a two week bout with a bronchial infection carried me past the point of physical withdrawal symptoms, I figured I'd been handed a free gift and that it was stupid to resume the habit.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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I guess you're right, Jim. I don't know much about this mourning distant relatives stuff. My father and Uncle survived WW2 to become rather feisty blokes, and their closest relatives were all in reserved occupations. A generation earlier, my grandfather was in charge of building WW1 guns for Vickers, but not firing them and, curiously, none of his large family ended up at the front either, so they were all probably steel workers too. And I don't recall hearing of any of my many ancestors dying for King/Queen/Empire before that either. We don't seem to have been very combative. Which is odd - I would have been, in WW2! Given the opportunity, of course. Most likely poking model planes round a map or driving generals about the countryside. But also blowing up railway lines and ambushing the enemy, if given half a chance. But only if I didn't have children at the time, of course ....

My grandfather, in early 1918, took my 5-year old father to see the huge gun, which was to be mounted on railway tracks in Northern France, to blow the Germans to Kingdom Come. It wasn't a very happy occasion. My father was expecting his father to fire it, and was bitterly disappointed when it was explained to him that this couldn't be done, and burst into tears, much to his father's annoyance. Anyway, the war was over before it could be deployed.
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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"Well put, Monica. It's the symbolism that bothers the living."

Actually it's death itself which does that! and which did that at the time of the disaster. It was the press that filled-in the romantic, wonderful, biggest, best, unsinkable ship bit!

A look at this website will tell us what people find most important about Titanic as it is now.

I wonder if anyone interviewed survivors when Titanic was found all those years after the event? and if so, how many of those,recalled dead people rather than a magnificent ship?

I remember my mother, father and all my aunts and uncles who were teenagers and young adults at the time of the disaster, frequently talking about it and that was long after the event.
Then, they recalled the horror of all those lost lives - even though they had experienced WW1 and we were in WW2

The wound was re-opened for many in the 1950s when the first film was made. It would be interesting to know what the reaction of Boxhall & Co. would have been if the grave of Titanic been discovered 30 years earlier than when it was found.

Jim, you ask:

""Which is worse; excessive reverence for history, or no reverence at all?"

That depends on how much history is all around you!

In the UK, it is highly unlikely that you will find a square foot of land, lake or loch which does not hide a prospective 'site of historic interest' Consequently, if you wish to turn up turf,the local Planning Officer will look at your proposals and, if they think fit, consult with archaeologists who will advise whether to shut you down, temporarily or permanently,make you wait until they have assessed the site and even 'plundered' it,or make you work at a measured pace under their supervision.
I suppose it's a bit like basic economic principle i.e. the scarcer a commodity the more valuable it is. However in the case of the UK, they have not yet sorted out the definition of 'scarcity'.
There is however, no problem in that direction with hoards of treasure!

I have a nephew who is a house builder. While he is interested in certain aspects of historic preservation he has had some nightmarish encounters with officialdom, encouraged, aided and abetted by ridiculous amateur historians.

As for history itself:

The sometimes extreme attitudes of regional an ethnic groups to each other in the UK - even today,is based on long past historical events

[Moderator's note: This post and the fourteen above it, originally posted in another topic have been moved to here, which is discussing the same subject. JDT]
 

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