The funniest sight

Inger Sheil

Stengel's US Inq. testimony contains the following oft-quoted passage:

I asked the officer - I could not see them, it was so dark and I presume I was agitated somewhat - I asked him if I could not get into that boat. There was no one else around, not a person I could see except the people working at the boats, and he said, "Jump in." The railing was rather high - it was an emergency boat and was always swung over toward the water - I jumped onto the railing and rolled into it. The officer then said, "That is the funniest sight I have seen to-night," and he laughed quite heartily. That rather gave me some encouragement. I thought perhaps it was not so dangerous as I imagined.

The most common identification of the officer in question is Murdoch, who was present at the loading of #1. However, I wonder if perhaps the man who was so tickled by Stengel's ungainly entry might have been Harold Lowe. It's certainly in keeping with Lowe's tendency to demonstrate his rather off-beat sense of humour without particular regard to circumstances.
Hmmmmmmm. Have to love a quirky sense of humor, for certain. From what little I know, Murdoch wasn't precisely the dour type. ;-) But perhaps it could have been is an interesting possibility.

Anyone else think, continuing on ID'ing people from actions, that it might have been Lowe responsible for yelling down to Pitman that it was his own bloomin' business to see that the plug was in anyhow, or something of the sort? Just a random musing...
Ing brings up a good point. We've discussed this before but I hadn't thought much more about it. In reading over this transcript excerpt again, however, I do think a good case can be made that it was Lowe who made the remark to Stengel rather than Murdoch.

We know Murdoch was in general supervision of the loading and launching of boat 1, but it was, as I've learned from Ing, definitely Lowe who was more actively engaged in the work. For instance it is a fact that Lowe was the one who put Lucy Duff Gordon in the boat - or rather "pitched" her in, as she more colorfully described it in her testimony!

Are we even sure it was Murdoch to whom Cosmo Duff Gordon first spoke about boarding the boat? Remember the incident of his coming up to an officer and asking to get aboard? And the officer's supposed (and excessively elegant) reply of "Oh please do. I shall be very pleased?" I think that's how Lucy remembered it.

Anyway, I've always thought either Lucy was "dressing up" the real response the officer gave or else the officer - whoever he was - actually DID say it that way but she just didn't realize it was meant as mocking humor. If so, it sure sounds like the kind of crack someone with Lowe's amusing personality would have made.

Inger Sheil

Interesting thoughts there, Randy. Margaret Brown later reported that Lowe was most emphatic that he had actively barred male 'nabobs' from entering the boats, considering it something of a point of pride. I wondered if this might have been referring to the loading of the aft port boats - perhaps it was even a reaction to seeing first class men leave in #1, as he was in some instances quite emphatic about blocking them from the boats (Alexander Compton was turned away when he asked if he might accompany his mother and sister, and some were apparently even threatened at gun point when they persisted).

You're right, though, that it could be a flash of Lowe's occasionally sardonic humour...although, according to his recollection, 'I said nothing to her. I simply bundled her into the boat.'

Yes, I'm sure there was no conversation between Lucy Duff Gordon and Officer Lowe. I was referring to a possible exchange between Cosmo D-G and Lowe. Lucy would not have known who it was who tossed her aboard boat 1 until the hearings, when it came out. And I'm sure Lowe didn't know who she was till later either.

In her testimony Lucy described their brief encounter merely as "...somebody hitched me up from the deck and pitched me into the boat..."

I have no doubt she was grateful for Lowe's hitching and pitching! Of course the strong words Rene Harris claims Lowe had for the couple on the Carpathia precluded any later show of gratitude from Lucy, which I feel otherwise she would have been happy to express.


Inger Sheil

I see your point, Randy - Lowe could have been quite correct that he didn't speak to Lucy if it was her husband he was addressing - and the idea of physical force is consistent in both their accounts!

You wouldn't know if Cosmo Duff-Gordon happened to have handful of gold sovereigns in his pocket, would you...?