Walter and Mahala Douglas


Lou Kerr

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Dec 13, 1999
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For anyone with an interest in Mr. and Mrs. Douglas, check out www.brucemore.org. This site is for a Cedar Rapids, Iowa home once owned by Walter's brother George (and now a National Trust for Historic Preservatin property) and contains information about the immediate impact of the disaster and Walter's death on his family .

Greetings to all,

Lou
 

Mike Herbold

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Dec 13, 1999
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Lou:
Thanks very much for that. Mrs. Douglas is on my California-related list as she wintered in her beautiful home out here in Pasadena.
Mike Herbold
Lakewood, Calif
 

Lou Kerr

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Dec 13, 1999
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Mike, As you have some knowledge of Mahala Douglas, maybe you can clear up a little mystery for me. I have read in different sources that she lived in Minneapolis after the sinking. Yet the journalist William Shirer mentions knowing her while he was growing up in Cedar Rapids and that would have been during the time the First World War and the early 1920's. Any thoughts? Thanks for your help. Lou
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Dear Lou,


Mr. William Shirer was correct in stating that he knew Mrs. Douglas while growing up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Mahala Douglas was a native of Cedar Rapids and lived there until her marriage to Walter Douglas. After their wedding, the couple relocated to Minneapolis where they purchased a fine estate on the shores of Lake Minnetonka. The Douglases only lived in the mansion a short time. They had gone to Europe on both a pleasure and a buying trip. While in France and Switzerland, they purchased furniture, draperies etc. for their new home.

Mrs. Douglas continued to live in Minneapolis after Walter's death in the Titanic disaster. She alternated between homes in Minnesota and Pasadena, California. She often returned to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to visit family and friends.
She would even stay for months at a time.

When she died in Pasadena in 1945, her body was returned to the Douglas family mausoleum at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Cedar Rapids. She was buried beside Walter (whose body was recovered after the sinking).

I hope this information will help clear up some of the mystery for you.

Sincerely,

Michael Findlay
 

Lou Kerr

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Dec 13, 1999
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Dear Michael,

Thank you for taking time to answer my question so thoroughly and promptly. This also gives me an opportunity to thank you for sharing so freely your knowledge gained from what must be countless hours of research.

Best regards,

Lou
 

Mike Herbold

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Lou:

I couldn't get the Mahala Douglas poem to open. If you were able to, could you please send it to me at [email protected]
One slight correction. The website is not .org, but rather Brucemore.com

Thanks
Mike
 

Lou Kerr

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Dec 13, 1999
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Mike,

(1) Sorry about the error in the web address I posted. Hope it didn't cause you too much grief trying to access.

(2) I tried opening the poem by clicking on the title and got a not found on server message. I'm basically computer illiterate but sounds to me like Brucemore either removed the poem or lost it from their site.

Good hearing from you.

Lou
 

Mike Herbold

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Hi Lou:
(1) No problem. It was well worth it. Wish I could find a similar site in Minneapolis.

(2)I'm also computer challenged, Lou. I get a lot of no server messages. I'll try to send a snail mail to see if they can send a copy.
Regards,
Mike
 
Dec 13, 1999
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Mike, Lou: I was able to open the link. Here is Mrs. Douglas poem:

The sea velvet-smooth, blue-black,
The sky set thick with stars unbelievably brilliant.
The horizon a clean-cut circle.
The air motionless, cold - cold as death.
Boundless space.
A small boat waiting, waiting in this vast stillness,
Waiting heart-breakingly.
In the offing a vast ship, light streaming from her portholes.
Her prow on an incline.
Darkness comes to her suddenly.
The huge black bulk stands out in silhouette against the star-lit sky.
Silently the prow sinks deeper,
As if some Titan’s hand,
Inexorable as Fate,
Were drawing the great ship down to her death.
Slowly, slowly, with hardly a ripple
Of that velvet sea,
She sinks out of sight.
Then that vast emptiness
Was suddenly rent
With a terrifying sound.
It rose like a column of heavy smoke.
It was so strong, so imploring, so insistent
One thought it would even reach
The throne of grace on high.
Slowly it lost its force,
Thinned to a tiny wisp of sound,
Then to a pitiful whisper. . . .
Silence.
 

Lou Kerr

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Dec 13, 1999
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Hi Charles,

Thanks for the posting. Reading this made me think of Eva Hart's recollection of how awful it was to hear the people dying in the water and her mother responding about the silence that followed being worse.

Lou
 
H

Helen Aubrey

Guest
Thanks for the poem. It is so moving. We have no idea what it must have been like for the passengers in the lifeboats, watching it sink, and listening to the cries in the water.
Do you know exactly when it was written? How soon after the disaster? It would be great to know.
 

Mike Herbold

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Dec 13, 1999
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Helen:
1932. Check out brucemore.com

Charles,
Thank you very much. You'll have to train Lou and me. I have a new found respect for Mrs. Douglas now after reading the poem. I tried searching by author for Mahala Douglas on abebooks without success.

Another interesting place which mentions the family a bit is the Quaker Oats website.

Is there anyone out there in the Cedar Rapids area that could drop by the museum and find out the titles of her books -- I'd love to find copies of them.
Mike Herbold
Lakewood, California
 

Steve Arnold

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Jun 28, 2000
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I realize this is a rather old thread but I have just discovered this board and thought perhaps I could help get some additional information for you on this particular topic. Cedar Rapids is my hometown and I now live just half an hour away. I will try to find out the titles of these books.

Brucemore is an incredible museum, very beautiful and well maintained and full of information as well as being a focal point in the community and the site of many cultural events. Two generations of the Douglas family owned it for nearly the entire time it was privately owned, purchasing it from the original owner soon after its construction. It was given to the National Trust by Walter Douglas's niece who also left a handsome endowment for its continued operation. Walter and Mahala figure prominently in tour information.

By the way, the website for Brucemore can be accessed by either .com or .org, though the .org address seems to be the one generally given.
 

Mike Herbold

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Dec 13, 1999
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Steve:
Thanks for the local knowledge. Having never been there, I had the impression it was a typically seldom used or visited museum, rather than a vibrant center. Hope you can find the titles.
Thanks,
Mike Herbold
Lakewood, California
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Mike, Lou:

I was recently in Minnesota visiting family. My sister had heard of Douglas and the Titanic, and told me that she thought the Douglas home still existed. She thought that it was located in Deephaven, Minnesota --which is on or near Lake Minnetonka. If you're interested in pursuing this, I could ask her if it's possible to get a picture of the home.
 

Mike Herbold

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Dec 13, 1999
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Hi Jan:
We haven't talked in way too long. The bad news is I'm working out of town all the time now and have no virtually e-mail access except weekends. The good news is "out of town" is up your way, so we'll have to get together for dinner soon. I'll trade you some photo's I took of Mahala's beautiful old house in the Arroyo Seco for some of the Lake Minnetonka mansion.
Regards,
Mike
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Sounds good, Mike. My office is in Oakland, now, near Lake Merritt. We could go to Jack London Square. I'll check with my sister. By the way, I used to live in South Pasadena, and I'm very familiar with the Arroyo Seco. It's a really neat place. The road along there is the one I always used to take to the Rose Bowl. Have you been one of the open houses at the historic Green Hotel on Green Street and Fair Oaks Avenue? My wife and I had our reception there. It's also a neat place. The Raymond Hill restaurant (if its still there) is on the site of the old Raymond Hotel, off Fair Oaks (which is part of Route 66). Finally, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is located in the beautiful former Arroyo Hotel on Grand Avenue, near where the Tournament of Roses Parade goes every year. There's the Norton Simon Art Museum, and much more.
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Mike, Kyrila,

My sister did locate photographs about the Douglas home, on Lake Minnetonka. It was a 27-room mansion, built in 1908-1910 on the site of the former Hotel St. Louis, and called "Walden" (the Douglas family must have been fond of Henry Thoreau!). It was filled with artwork, antiques and whatever, from all over the world. In 1927, President Coolidge considered staying there for the summer. My sister doesn't think it still exists, but a picture I have shows a what looks like a 1980 Mercedes Benz in front of the house--so it was at least around in 1980.

When Malaha and her maid went into the lifeboat, Walter told them "I'll see you in Cedar Rapids." Indeed, his body was recovered, and buried there.

Malaha smoked, used rouge, sometimes wore an Indian sari as a hostess gown.

Walter was a director of the First National Bank of Minneapolis.

Apparently, there was a book published by a Cedar Rapids author, which is believed to have been based on Malaha. It's titled: "The Tattooed Countess."

Email me your addresses and I'll send you this stuff.
 
Dec 12, 1999
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The Douglas' home, known as "WALDEN" is still there! It's now called the Gamble Estate, on Lake Minnetonka. I hope to get some pictures of it soon.
 

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