Titanic International Society has just launched a new blog, which posts about daily on links, events and news of interest. The blog is accessible here http://titanicinternational.wordpress.com/
or from a nav button on the main website,
The blog will offer some photo albums and slideshows which are not possible to feature on the website. News items and information are always welcome from the community and may be sent to the society contact link.
Voyage 61 is at the printers. The cover photo and description of articles may be found at the society's web log. (link below). Paypal is now offered for payment and postage for memberships and individual issues. which will be a help to overseas friends. http://titanicinternational.wordpress.com/
Looks like there's going to be some really good stuff in this issue. Jack Eaton's article about passengers who canceled out for example to say nothing of the Morro Castle article by Jim Kalafus. If you enjoy intrigue on a Medieval scale, that one should be your cuppa tea! The Morro Castle was a veritable focal point for that.
The William Mellors article by Bob Bracken has taken a long time coming, but is very thorough, as only Bob can make it. Yes, the recent colossal donation to the TIS archive of the McDonnell Morro Castle collection has no equal on that topic. The 15 cases of material will take a very long time to catalogue, but the contents are thrilling and the material on Rogers alone is mind-boggling. What a trail of wickedness and trouble that man left in his wake from a very early age!
>Makes you wonder what the heels in the story were like.
"Estelle Chesler had trouble falling asleep that night. She had been awake for several hours when she was startled by the sound of running in the corridor outside of the stateroom she shared with two of her friends from Brooklyn, Miss Bessie Weinrub and Mrs. Bessie Perlmann. Estelle opened her cabin door to investigate and upon stepping in to the hall saw a passenger fleeing aft. He called to her that the ship was on fire. She returned to her cabin and awoke her friends. All three immediately fled the cabin without grabbing their life preservers. They climbed up the enclosed, aft most, staircase to B Deck, where they saw crew members running forward. The women asked a crewman for life preservers, and received a shrug of the shoulders and a response of “I don’t understand English.” Finally, an English dining room steward gave the three women a small life ring, and they climbed from B Deck to A Deck. They joined a large crowd of passengers aft on the open sports area, by the gymnasium, on the port side. From where they stood they
could see smoke, but no flames. They watched an unsuccessful attempt to prepare a lifeboat for lowering, forward of where they stood. Someone ordered the crowd below to B Deck, and the three women, still without life jackets, climbed down again. There they saw steward Pond and gym instructor Marco Apicella. Pond wore a life vest, and Apicella held one of the large Morro Castle life rings. The women asked him the best way to evacuate a ship with a life ring, and he replied that it was best to throw it over first, and then jump down to it. Miss Chesler, Miss Weinrub and Mrs. Perlmann asked if they could hold on to Apicella’s large life ring when they all went in to the water, and he reluctantly agreed that they could. All four watched the flames driven back towards them. The wooden deck began to burn, close to where they stood, and suddenly the gym instructor pulled away from them and went overboard. The three women forgot his instructions on how to use their life ring and jumped from the ship holding it. The impact knocked Bessie Perlmann out, or may possibly have killed her, and she lay face down across the life ring. A woman passenger in a life jacket swam up to them, and tried to raise Bessie’s head out of the water, but then a wave swept over them and Mrs. Perlmann was gone."
That said, I'll say flat out that Rogers did not start that fire. He was one of MANY viable suspects, and the evidence against him in this specific case is about as compelling as the evidence agaisnt the others. I frequently think of the killing of Vonnie Suth out in Seattle in this context. It happened at the same time as the Ted Bundy killings. She looked EXACTLY like Ted's other Seattle victims. The circumstances of her killing were very close to those of confirmed Bundy victim Linde Healy. She was listed as a posible "Ted" victim for quite a while but, as it turned out, she wasn't. Yes, the Morro Castle burned. And yes, her radio man later murdered two people and attempted to murder two others, but one can argue more effectively that his near death experience on September 8, 1934 was the final factor in CREATING Rogers The Monster, than one can argue that he set the fire.
>And at the time, Rogers was hailed as a hero.
Well, strictly speaking, he was. He remained in the radio room, transmitting, until he was very close to death, and upon leaving the radio room HE did not abandon ship in one of the nearby lifeboats.
And, wny keep accusing Rogers when there was a far more compelling suspect no less than ten feet away from the fire's point of origin? A suspect with ties to drugs and gun running who literally EVERYONE on the ship saw dozens of times each day? Think about it. Rogers, grotesquely fat and hydrocephalic, was someone the passengers NEVER saw. He'd have stuck out like a sore thumb in the suite of public rooms. Someone would have ntocied him. An equally evil individual who worked near the room, who everyone on the ship KNEW, is far more intriguing.
Continuing-the article is 100% George Rogers free.
We had a lot of fun creating it. Myself, Mike Poirier, Marty Oppenheim and Danny Land, and Morro Castle decendent Deidre Hosen, were joined by a cast of archivists and researchers at close to three dozen archives and public libraries since the latter half of 2006, assembling the project (which is, to tell the story of every last passenger aboard the ship) in its early stages. The fortuitous arrival of Mr. McDonnell's files last May added a whole new dimension, since they contained depositions by several dozen passengers and crew members that answered a great many questions while posing an equal number of new ones.
So, what you will be reading is one of three progressively longer works about the M.C. The manuscript that went to TI was, perhaps, 19 pages long. A second article, of at least 75 manuscript pages will be appearing here on ET after that, and finally the main 400+ page epic will be on Gare Maritime in 2008.
I can't express, enough, how grateful myself and Marty and the others who worked so dilligently with me these last two years on Morro Castle and Gare Maritime projects are to Titanic International for allowing us access to the FBI depositions. So often, in this field of ours, we run into individuals and groups with the hoarder/"crypt keeper" mentality, and so to be given unconditional use (We were NOT told, "Only if our magazine gets first crack at this") and unrestricted access to the files was understood- by us- to be quite a rare gift. I think that the end result was beneficial to all concerned, with (what I HOPE are) three great articles where there could just as easily been none.
So, thanks again to TI, and to the ET members who went all out to help me with this!
I have to ask: Why didn't you take this major project and publish it in book form? You have more than enough for a very fine book--tons of information, lots and lots of photos, original research, and a story that begs to be told in a new and fresh way. The 75th anniversary of the disaster is right around the corner (2009)--why not published it as a book?
Just curious--nothing against Voyage, Gare Maritime or ET, of course.
>Why didn't you take this major project and publish it in book form?
Although this is a rather personal question:
1) I feel a great deal of loyalty to both ET and Gare Maritime. Virtually everyone who helped me with this project is a friend I met through either site. Without ET, I would not have had the contacts to make this project happen ~ and so should not ET get something back in return?
2) Mike and I have been friends and co-researchers now for 7 years. It was through him, Shelley and Bob McDonell that the FBI files were made available to me. Because of friendship, (beyond the fact that they were nice enough to offer me unconditional use of the material) I have a vested interest in seeing Voyage and TI succeed. If I can give them what I hope is a good article, there is no reason for me NOT to! And, if I took their material and used it WITHOUT contributing something to Voyage not only would I look like an opportunist, but I'd also feel like one.
3) Good books take decades, not months to write. Fact is, there WILL be a book. But, right now, it is more beneficial for me to get articles online. Every day I get new leads, new tips, new ideas from people who've logged on and found me by typing "Morro Castle" into a search engine. So, I'm obviously reaching my target audience to a certain extent. The internet is a great "networking" tool that more authors and researchers should exploit. Survivors, and family members of survivors and victims, who "find" me make contact feeling as if they know me ~ or at least my approach to the subject. So there is not the initial reticence one sometimes encounters when the positions are reversed, and the survivor on the other end of the line is trying to figure out whether he or she is speaking with a serious researcher or a ghoul.
4) You may have noticed, lately, that the ONLY mass market non-fiction books that don't...reek...are ones that are spun off from successful websites. The Weird USA series; the Forgotten NY series; the Hudson Valley Ruins book; Retrohell (my bible), all came on the market with built in fan bases, and substantially better contents than most of their rivals. When you post online, the entire world is your proofreader, and if you do less-than-stellar work you hear about it to a scary extent. By the time you publish, your material has been "polished" by the very people who are going to pay for your book!
>>The three women forgot his instructions on how to use their life ring and jumped from the ship holding it.<<
Ooooohhhhhh....BAD move that one! I have some very specific training on how to abandon ship and it doesn't include holding onto things that float when jumping from a great hight. If it doesn't kill you, you may wish it had.
>>Rogers, grotesquely fat and hydrocephalic, was someone the passengers NEVER saw. He'd have stuck out like a sore thumb in the suite of public rooms.<<
Yeah, that thought occured to me as well. If he had been The One, people couldn't help but notice him. It's a mighty loud silence out there.
>>Good books take decades, not months to write. Fact is, there WILL be a book.<<
I certainly hope so. This is the sort of story that in a comprehensive form deserves to be made to a wide audiance. A book of this kind is long overdue. I appriciate the reasons for holding off, but when it comes, I'll snap up a copy as soon as it hits the stands.
My own "conspiracy theory," which I will never write about except in forums such as this, because it cannot be proved, involves the 1933 murder of union organizer and agitator Margarita Iglesias, who was shot in Havana ~ allegedly at the order of United Fruit. I've talked about THIS aspect on ET before- how the United Fruit Havana head, fled north aboard the Morro Castle in Sept. 1933 and had to be escorted aboard by the US Ambassador under threat of intervention by the US Army, with an angry mob at his heels who wanted to storm the ship, drag him off and dismember him.
WELL, on the fatal voyage, exactly one year later, who was aboard but the son of the Havana general manager of United Fruit? That the ship caught fire in such a way that not only was she destroyed, but the son was almost immediately in a position from which he could not escape (and, in fact, did not)strikes me as more interesting than the fact that almost 20 years after the fire the ship's radio man beat an elderly family to death. That a pro-Communist crew member involved in all manner of chaos was standing ten feet from the fire's point of origin is also compelling in this context.
The week of the fire, Sept 8, 1934, there was a civil uprising in Rhode Island so severe that President Roosevelt was on the brink of using the US Army to surpress it. The immediate reaction to the fire was that it was an act of terrrorism- flights between the US and Cuba were cancelled. But then, that aspect of the story was dropped and, although Communists among the crew and passegners continued to be investigated, my "take" on the matter is that the absolute LAST thing we wanted, given that we seemed on the brink of civil revolt in Sept. 1934, was for the fire to be proved to be a succcessful act of domestic terrorism. So, when Rogers attempted to blow up his supervisor in 1938, it made a great "out."
None of which is proveable, so I shall never write about it.
>>The immediate reaction to the fire was that it was an act of terrrorism-<<
Which in light of the larger picture may not have been that far from the truth. While it looks like more of an assassination aimed at a specific target, given the ship's involvement in the centre of the previous year's mess, taking her out must have been icing on the cake.
What's the story behind the "interesting times" in Rhode Island? This isn't something you see in a lot of popular history books or even textbooks.
Thanks, Jim, for explaining the reasoning behind publishing your Morro Castle material in Voyage, ET and Gare Maritime rather than in book form. Sorry if you thought my question was too personal--I wasn't trying to pry into anything personal, just trying to understand your "publishing strategy." It's obvious you've done a huge amount of research and collected a wealth of material that seems more than worthy of being published as a book. That being said, the internet has changed how writers approach publishing their work. Authors can now opt for a more "mixed media" approach, using both print and electronic methods, sometimes simultaneously.
Still, I'm glad to hear that your ultimate goal is to put all your Morro Castle material into book form. I guess I'm old fashioned in that way. Until then, I'll look forward to reading your article in the next Voyage, as well as the upcoming pieces on ET and Gare Maritime.