Tale of Hoffman

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Laura Melinda Varjo

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I was reading Tale of Hoffman(good job) a couple of nights ago and I finally have time to ask a few questions: What is this supposed to mean ? "He has given her back her life, and lost his own. Good enough for him, she thought at first. And then, at lenght, she saw that it was good enough. Good enough of HIM." Maybe I'm too critical, but if it means what I think it does, which is that Marcelle did not even care Michel perished and saying he deserbed it, because he was the one who left and took the boys away from her, like nice try! That was so MEAN ! Sometimes we say some sharp things, without much thought, but this was totally messed up of Marcelle to say this. Wasn't she grateful for Michel's final message for her ? Or, as angry as she was at him did not buy the message and thought it was bogus, just trying to make it nice what he did. (I think Michel really did mean it, because he said it, why would he say it, if it was untrue ?) Marcelle was just cold. If I think this all through, everything, I feel so sorry for Michel. It was nice of his older son to visit his grave(I will too) and tourists, that he was not completely uncared for and forgotten.

Another question, I thought Michel said his sons' names "were" Louis and Lolo, not John and Fred. I can see the official documents, with their names listed on them as John and Fred, but then where does Walter Lord get Louis and Lolo from ?

Again, nice job on the article, and that picture of the boys is so adorable, when they are sitting on their mom's lap in the chair.
 

Senan Molony

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Laura, you have raised one of my favourite bugbears - the supposed message from Mr Navratil to his wife, transmitted through his four-year-old son after Titanic sank.

I make no mention of this nonsense in the article for the very good reason that it is a practical impossibility and undoubtedly belongs to someone's fertile imagination.

Don Lynch in his otherwise excellent tome tells us (p. 171) that "before placing young Michel in the lifeboat, he had held him close and spoken words the boy would never forget..."
Kleenexes ready? Here it is:
"My child, when your mother comes for you, as she surely will, tell her that I loved her dearly and still do. Tell her that I expected her to follow us, so that we might all live happily together in the peace and freedom of the New World."
We are asked to believe that Michel, not yet four, although listed as such, could have retained all the above for regurgitation...
"The peace and freedom of the New World" is my favourite bit, and a totally superfluous addition to an already strained message.
Now I actually have a four-year-old.
I have just read the above to her, asked her to remember it carefully, and then said it to her again. Then I said it a third time. Then I asked her to tell me exactly what I just said.
This is her reply:
"Mother said she loved them very much and she would follow us together to bring us to the New World."

The boy Michel supposedly delivered this parting shot over a month after it was said to him. I'm sorry, it's ridiculous. The father had all he could do to get the boys into Collapsible D in the first place.

Parents on this board will be familiar with the following quotidian exchange:

Parent (slightly cross): "What did I say to you only yesterday?"
Child: "I don't know."

They don't remember parental messages, a truth universally acknowledged. I do not believe this rubbish was ever uttered by the unfortunate Mr Navratil. I note also that these words are not relied upon by Mr Navratil's granddaughter, Elisabeth Navratil, in her book "Les Enfants du Titanic," 1982.
My four year old is now going to bed. I'm not even going to bother asking her in the morning.
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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Now I actually have a four-year-old.
I have just read the above to her, asked her to remember it carefully, and then said it to her again.
I might add that this is a particularly bright four-year old, who at the age of three already had words such as 'obelisk" in her lexicon.
 
Aug 29, 2000
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It was a great honor to serve on many occasions as Mr. Navratil's interpreter over a ten year period. On various panels and interviews, conventions and lectures, he was always asked this question about his father's behavior and any memories he could bring to mind. Michel distinctly recalled some of the meals taken in the dining room, seeing the horizon through the ship's windows, seeing his Papa at the railing,and his father saying, (and I 'm sorry not to have proper French accent symbols here)- to give his "amities" to Michel's mother. That word translates more as friendship than love, and can even be given the possible translation "Remember me to your Mother" or "Give my regards to your Mother" and it is believed he was trying to make some sort of peace to what was a bitter situation at the end. He may also have wanted to comfort the boys with the thought that they would see their mother soon. I went to Halifax to the cemetery with Michel in 1996 and was so moved by his emotional response to being reunited with his father at long last.
 
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94176.jpg

After the memorial service, 1996. Michel and Edith Haisman. aboard Island Breeze over the Titanic. (TIS Archive)
 
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Laura Melinda Varjo

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Nice pictures.

Yeah, you know, the truth is, that I, too, wondered how a three year old child can remember ALL THAT word from word in that confusion going on, and recite it over a month later, when as I've read in an other article, when asked a question all he could reply is "Yes" for every question asked. But, I still believed he said that, or in some other way of expression, like you have mentioned.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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In fairness to Michel Navratil and also to Don Lynch, the statement in question can’t be compared to anything one might say to a child in ordinary circumstances. Michel was remembering the last words his father ever spoke to him, not something he was being told in a casual atmosphere. Michel was only 4 but he was old enough to know he was facing danger, an emotion underscored by the knowledge that his father was leaving him. What his dad said to him at that moment might well have resonated with the boy beyond what would be psychologically possible for a child in a normal situation.

It’s also unfair to call the elder Navratil’s words, as recalled by his son to Don Lynch, "rubbish." Even if they were romanticized, the words aren’t rubbish.
 

Senan Molony

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The words are preposterous.

Don Lynch doesn't have children. Do you? Or do you just like romanticized sentiment?

(Enters facetious mode)

Shelley, do you say that Michel didn't express any immediate gratitude in your hearing on entering once more into "the peace and freedom of the New World" ??

I know it was only Canada, but still... given how strife-torn and shackled France was in 1912...

Yes, that would certainly resonate in the child's mind. Given that it was "not a casual atmosphere" and there was panic, and shooting, and screaming, and sinking, of course he would remember his father's last words a month later.

(end of facetious mode)

None of this reflects in any way on the actual individuals, merely in the rubbish we are being asked to take at face value.
 
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Not being present at the incidence of the interview in which the words "peace and freedom of the New World" were uttered, I can only comment on what I have heard many times from Mr. Navratil,which I have posted above. French, like most languages, does not translate word for identical word into English, and some attempts to make it so result in hilarious results. I would also wonder if the ability of the interpreter present might have influenced the clarity of the translation. Mr. Navratil enjoyed conversation, especially near the end of his life, and would wax philosophical in his reflections. Don Lynch, Michel, Henri Navratil and I once shared a table at lunch in Wilmington. Delaware at a THS convention in 1985. Don does speak German, as did Michel, so the three-way translation of their German to English, to my French for the benefit of Henri who did not speak German, provided a memorable dinner conversation, and I bet a few things were missed in the connections between sentences! Having been a parent, and teacher of young children for many years, I am no longer surprised at things which make an impression on young minds. Lusitania survivor Barbara McDermott recalls holding her dinner spoon on deck, the two tiers of the dining room, being tossed into the lifeboat-and she was only 2 years, 11 months old. Marshall Drew, who had just turned 8 had vivid memories of all that happened on Titanic, right down to being unable to cross between the third and fourth funnel because the deck was so cluttered, the blackout in steerage, and what he did on Carpathia and afterwards at the hotel in New York. This is all I have to offer on the subject, but I do believe it is possible for a young child to recall events of an impressive nature. I also agree that the interpretation of the phrase in question seems a little stilted. I would want to know more about that actual interview or source. I truly believe Madame Navratil was mentioned to the boys by her husband and Michel's memory in that regard is accurate. It is exactly what I would expect a father to say under the circumstances.
 

Senan Molony

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Shelley,

You and I don't disagree in the slightest. I agree children can remember the most vivid details of even commonplace scenes. What they cannot do is remember long-minded messages very well, at age four particularly.
What I am deriding is this 48-word jingoistic message, which contains an obvious falsehood - that Mr Navratil expected his wife to follow them in due course.
They would all have signed on in their own names in that case, ne c'est pas?

Off to work. From out of the mouths of babes...
94205.jpg
 
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Laura Melinda Varjo

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I'm not going to say much, because I have to go somewhere, but I'm neutral.

I tend to agree with you Senan, and Shelley, sorry Randy.(still neautral, we gotta stop fighting) Yeah, you know, it's the same with me, I mean I do think that's falsehood saying he was expecting Marcelle to follow them, because you all know, you have read that they were sneaking out, going away w/o telling Marcelle, so how would she know then where they are in the world ? But, the other side of me says he DID meant that, because he really did like Marcelle, but he was just very,very mad at her for abandoning her family, not taking care of the children, nullifying him, according to Women and Children First. What Michel lived in was hope, I think, hope that Marcelle would collect herself one day.(After the sinking, she didn't have a choice.)

But, we might never know the complete truth of anything, probably not even the survivors them selves, ok I have to go, bye.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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"The words are preposterous"

More preposterous than your article about Johanna Stunke?

"Don Lynch doesn't have children. Do you? Or do you just like romanticized sentiment?"

Don Lynch has been friends with and interviewed dozens of Titanic survivors in person. Have you? Or do you just like to criticize sources of historical information that you know nothing about?

For the record, I have helped raise my now 7 year-old nephew since his birth. I don't have to have fathered a child to raise and love one.
 
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Laura Melinda Varjo

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Back to the topic, this question was never answered, how did Michel and little Michel have their names recorded as Louis and Edmond's name as Lolo, in Mr. Lord's A Night to Remember ? Plus, from the 1994 A&E series,Michel said he was called Monmon, or something.
 

Susan Alby

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Oct 22, 2004
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Hi Laura, et all-
I do not share your sympathy with Michel- to say that Marcelle was "cold" was very unfair. Put yourself in her shoes for a moment...imagine you are a young mother and that your two most precious possessions were taken away from you and you didn't know their whereabouts. Then a few weeks later you find that they have been taken to a foreign country and are living with some strangers...

The words that Michel did or did not say to his son does not excuse him for his reproachable actions for taking them away from their mother in the first place. I don't blame Marcelle for being upset at his betrayal (a criminal offense by law). None of us can fully comprehend the emotions that the people on board the Titanic went thru as they said good-bye to their loved ones on the lifeboats. So let's not "judge" other's actions or intentions that we don't understand.

Lastly, lets ALL try to have respect for each other in our discussion's and avoid flame throwing. Come on, we are all part of the ET Community, which I am proud to call myself a part of!

Thank you.
 
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Laura Melinda Varjo

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Hello Susan,

I do not think you know the full story of the Navratils. You see, the very reason Michel left with his two sons is because Michel claimed his wife had an affair with an other man, and was not a responsible mother for the youngsters, and not a faithful wife.Then, saying what she did, as I've quoted in my first message, is VERY cold, good enough of HIM...what do you call that-fair ? (Not trying to sound mean, just expressing my opinion.)

Yeah, ET pride!
 

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