Widener dinner party question


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Oct 23, 2000
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Did anyone who attended the Widner's dinner party in honor of E.J. Smith, and then survived the sinking, leave any detailed accounts of the party?
I'd love to find out at least a vague notion of what was talked about, what E.J. said, etc.

Richard K.
 
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Ben Thomas Sebastian Holme

Guest
Hi Richard,

All I know is that, according to Marion Thayer they were NOT discussing the proximity of ice. She mentions that she was deeply engrossed in conversation with Mr. Widener and Maj. Butt on "other matters". This is from Michael Davie's book.
I think I'm right in saying that George Rosenshine and Maybelle Thorne attended the dinner. Perhaps she wrote an account?

Sorry I can't help more

Ben
 
Dec 13, 1999
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Ben: Could you please specify the source for that statement about Rosenshine and Thorne being assigned to the Widener table on the last night? I've personnally never heard such a story. But I guess it could be true, as Mrs. H. B. Harris recalled seeing more than 10 people, maybe up to 12, at Captain Smith's table.

I've always imagined George Rosenshine and Maybelle Thorne as secret people, but it might not have been the case.

I don't believe Mrs. Thorne ever wrote an account. Newspaper interviews, perhaps.

Regards,

Charles
 
Dec 13, 1999
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Ben: Could you please specify the source for that statement about Rosenshine and Thorne being assigned to the Widener table on the last night? I've personally never heard such a story. But I guess it could be true, as Mrs. H. B. Harris recalled seeing more than 10 people, maybe up to 12, at Captain Smith's table.

I've always imagined George Rosenshine and Maybelle Thorne as secret people, but it might not have been the case.

I don't believe Mrs. Thorne ever wrote an account. Newspaper interviews, perhaps.

Regards,

Charles
 
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Ben Thomas Sebastian Holme

Guest
Hi Charles,

I got my source from Charles Stengel's testimony at the senate enquiry.

SMITH: "Was there any evidence of intoxication among the officers or crew that night?"

STENGEL: "No sir. I have a distinct recollection of a Mrs. Thorne stating, while talking about the captain being to dinner, that she was in that party, and she said, "I was in that party and the captain did not drink a drop." He smoked two cigars, that was all, and left the dining room about 10 o'clock.

Hope this helps

Ben
 
Dec 13, 1999
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Hello Ben, thank you for the information. Curiously, I must have jumped over that detail while reading Mr. Stengel's testimony. Thanks again.

I wonder why Rosenshine/Thorne did not enter in the popular story of the “Widener party” as well as the other guests. Obviously because they do not represent the archetype of the “rich and famous” people that were on the ship on that fateful voyage. The Thayers, the Wideners and Major Butt are well known to us, and that mainly because we look at chapters such as the amount of money they worth, or the social position they occupy.

It's a pity that we know so little about the whereabouts of Maybelle Thorne and George Rosenshine on board the ship. I think I'm right in saying that without Stengel's statements, we wouldn't know anything about their life on the Titanic. I'd like to be corrected if I'm wrong.

Regards,

Charles
 
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Ben Thomas Sebastian Holme

Guest
Hi Charles,

Glad to be able to help. I share you're frustration about the low profile they apparently kept. Perhaps they made loads of friends on board, but none/few of them survived. At dinner, they may have been in deep conversation with the captain, while the others were talking about the Pennsylvanian countryside! It's a pity we may never know.
I'm afraid I know nothing of their movements on board outside Stengel's testimony.
Do you know of any photo of George/Maybelle?
Anyone?

Glad I could help
Regards

Ben
 
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Daniel Rosenshine

Guest
Hello Guys,

I hadn't missed the Thorne mention in Stengel's testimony, but I had always believed that Rosenshine/Thorne simply dined in the restaurant. Too many people have claimed to be part of that dinner, it's almost like having being in a boat with Mrs. Astor. Thus I do not think that Thorne was actually part of the 8 (or more) people at the table, they may however have sat very close to the table.

If one had seen the plan for the restaurant, you can see that there are no tables capable of accommodating 8 people. 6 so far as I saw is the maximum. There are however two tables that 'I' believe may have been merged together to accommodate the 8 people, but no more that 8 could fit onto it.

I think that Harris and Futrelle both knew the Thorne's, but I have never read any of their accounts that say that, but I know that there are either accounts or newspaper articles that say that. I would imagine that the Thornes were a very 'secret' couple and I doubt they made heaps of friends aboard.

Daniel.
 
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Ben Thomas Sebastian Holme

Guest
Hi Daniel,

It seems to me that Maybelle Thorne made it pretty clear she was dining with the Wideners. Stengel quotes her as saying "I was in that party". I don't think someone on a nearby table would bother to notice the number of cigars Smith smoked even if it was clear he wasn't drinking.
However, Stengel may well have misquoted her.

Also, a table for 8 doesn't appear sufficiant even for the well-known diners. This is my understanding of who was present.

1, George D. Widener
2, Eleanor Widener
3, Harry Widener
4, John B. Thayer
5, Marian Thayer
6, Capt. Smith
7, Maj. Butt
8, William Carter
9, Lucile Carter

I have read several times that Clarence Moore was a guest. This was not the case.
Also, Daisy Minahan, in her affidavit mentions there being, "perhaps a dozen men and three women". If this is the case, it seems a possibility that the two Williams men were present as he was a prominent Philadelphian (please correct me if I'm wrong)
She may have meant half a dozen, in which case I'm sure you're right.

Thanks for the info on their acquaintance with Harris/Futrelle

Regards

Ben
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Ben,

Might not Frank Millet have also been among this group? He was close with Maj. Butt. In your opinion, who were the others - apart from the Williamses - if the number of men was indeed 12? It would be interesting to have an idea of who all might have been with this group if it was a larger party than thought.

I am disappointed to learn that only three women glittered in this sea of dinner jackets. I bet they enjoyed the attention, though!

I've always thought an artist ought to attempt a depiction of this happy though, in retrospect, tragic band of merry-makers. I think of that party for Captain Smith as a kind of unwitting farewell, both romantic and macabre, to Titanic. It might even be seen more philosophically as a farewell to an era. One thing for sure, it was a farewell to life for most everyone there.

Randy
 
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Ben Thomas Sebastian Holme

Guest
Hi Randy,

In answer to your first question, no, Millet was not at the Widener dinner party. In his testimony, steward F. Dent Ray stated that he served Butt, Moore, Millet, and the Clarks on their assigned table in the main dining saloon. On April 14th, the only people who were down to dinner i.e on their table in the Saloon were Clarence Moore and Francis Millet who were dining together.
As far as the restaurant/party goes, apart from Duane and R.N Williams I would include Rosenshine and Thorne making a fourth woman.
Possibly William C. Dulles also, as he was from Philadelphia. All the others I would take to be single men from New York (Foreman, Natsch, Nicholson??) if indeed there were twelve men.

I think a painting of the dinner party would be a great depiction to sum up the elegance and good ambience on board Titanic. I would also include the surrounding tables (Harris, Duff-Gordon, Douglas, Minahan etc). I find Mrs. Walter Douglas' observation that every man in the room perished apart from Cosmo D-F, Ismay and Carter.
The idea of coming from that level of elegance to an icy death 4 hours later is a surreal and macarbre thought.

Hope this helps

Regards
Ben
 
Dec 13, 1999
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Daniel: I have to agree with Ben. Mrs. Thorne was certainly part of the group; her statement is clear on that. On the other hand, there is no evidence that Mr. Rosenshine was also in that party. I believe they wanted to keep their liaison as secret as possible, if I'm not mistaken. Mrs. Thorne could have been invited personally by Mr. and Mrs. Widener; George Rosenshine dining alone or with friends in the dining room.

I'm sure that the tables weren't a problem. The stewards were prepared for this. They might have joined two or more tables. (Two tables of 6 must do it)

The guests we can confirm so far are:

1. Captain Smith
2. George Widener
3. Eleanor Widener
4. Harry Widener
5. John B. Thayer
6. Marian Thayer
7. William Carter
8. Lucile Carter
9. Major Butt
10. Maybelle Thorne

That's a total of 10 people to accomodate.

Ben: It's dangerous to guess who were the other people sitting at the dinner party just because they are prominent Philadelphians. I don't believe that the Wideners only wished to have people from Philadelphia at their table. The guests were evidently chosen because they were acquaintances of the Wideners on the ship.

I would also like to see a good representation of that dinner party.
happy.gif


Does anyone know if Mrs. Widener ever wrote something interesting about her experiences on the Titanic? It certainly would help us with our questions.

Regards,

Charles

PS. I have never seen photographs of Mr. Rosenshine and Mrs. Thorne. Phil Gowan or Mike Findlay could possibly help you.
 
Mar 10, 1998
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Well, I have a photo of "a" Gertrude Thorne that looked very promising--but unfortunately she turned out not to be the Titanic woman. She was a member of the wealthy Kemmerer family of Pennsylvania and was about the right age and lived in New York City. But some time ago Brian Meister and I contacted her living family members/got copies of her (and her husband's) obituary and determined that in all likelihood she was not the "Titanic" passenger.

Phillip
 
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Ben Thomas Sebastian Holme

Guest
I had a look at the THS website and it appears one of the back issues has an article on George Rosenshine. That may include a pic, but at $20.00 it's a bit risky.

Ben
 

Chris Dohany

Member
Dec 12, 1999
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Mr. Rosenshine appears in a group photo that is on display at the THS Museum in Indian River, Mass. I would imagine that the Commutator piece includes at least this picture.
 
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Daniel Rosenshine

Guest
Hi,

I doubt there were more than 8 people at the table. In her account Mrs. Thayer makes it clear who the 8 people were. Harry Widener, Jack Thayer, Clarence Moore to name a few were often attributed to the table however none of them actually were at the table.

There was only one square table for 6 in the restaurant and nearby was another rectangular table for 2. The only other quadrilateral tables in the room were for 2. I think it would have been awkward to compile a table for 8 with the round tables. I believe that the large table for 6 and the nearby table for 2 were the two tables combined to form a table for 8. Unless other rectangular tables for 2 were retrieved from other locations in the restaurant, I doubt very much this happened, then I'll stick to the 8 that are known and accepted to have been at the table that night.

The fact that 3 women were observed (which would have been very easy to see amongst a crowd of men) for me basically excludes Thorne from the table. They were listed as Mr. and Mrs. Thorne, on the passenger list and occupied one cabin, for those on Titanic they would have been known as a husband and wife, there would be no need to pretend they're not together, which would only throw further suspicion upon them.

I'll use Ben's list and exclude Harry Widener, to make up the 8 occupants of the table.

Daniel.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Daniel, Ben, and others,

Those of you who have concentrated on the a la carte restaurant dinner on April 14, I assume are familiar with Lucy Duff Gordon's account of this evening in her memoirs.

She claims that Bruce Ismay was dining with Dr. O'Loughlin near the table she shared with Cosmo and Laura ("Franks") Francatelli - it is important to mention that Franks was there because so often she is misidentified as a maid, which she most certainly was not.

I feel pretty sure she wasn't mistaken about Ismay & the doctor but I think she may have been wrong in saying that the Astors were also dining nearby with the Strauses. I believe Daniel and others have told me that the Strauses and Astors were NOT in the restaurant that evening but in the dining room.

Can some of you clarify who WAS and WAS NOT in the restaurant that evening? I know of the Harrises and Futrelles but who else was there?

Do we know if the Astors or Strauses at any point dined in the restaurant?

I'm trying to see how Lucy DG could have gotten this mixed-up. Perhaps she ate in the dining room at some point and saw the Astors and Strauses there and got confused when recalling it or else at some point those couples DID dine in the restaurant and she just got the dates confused.

The quotes from Lucy's book re: the daffodils on their table & overhearing Ismay's remark on the ship's speed have been mentioned before, I think, but many may not have read the rest of her description of that especially gala night:

"...Further along the room the Wideners and Thayers were dining with the Captain and others and there was a great deal of laughter and chatter from their table. It was the last time I saw them. At another table sat Col. Astor and his young bride. They were coming back to New York after a honeymoon in Europe and I thought how much in love they were - poor things, it was the last few hours they were to have together. They were joined by Isidor Straus and his wife. These two so openly adored one another that we used to call them "Darby and Joan"... They told us that in all their long years of married life they had never been separated for a day or night..."

As this last dinner in the a la carte restaurant was so festive and reports from various people confirm that dress was particularly formal, it may be of ironic interest to some that according to Lucy, she (of all people) wore only the heavy suit she had worn while taking a turn round the deck with Cosmo and Franks before dinner. She said the weather to her was too cold to justify dressing for dinner and so that "when we all three went down to the restaurant we kept on our thick clothes..."

Randy
 
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Ben Thomas Sebastian Holme

Guest
Hi Randy,

That section of Lucile's memoirs is completely new to me and I'm grateful for the new information.

I'm sorry if this is more info than you need but here is a list of who I would include/exclude from the dining saloon on April 14th. In addition to my Widener table lst and the Duff-Gordon trio I would include for certain:

Walter and Mahala Douglas: Dining alone
William, Lillian, and Daisy Minahan: Dining alone
Henry B. and Rene Harris dining with Emil Brandeis
and John D. Baumman (possibly)
Edgar and Leila Meyer
Lucian and Eloise Smith (Smith and Meyer possibly dining together)
J. Bruce Ismay dining with Dr. O'loughlin

Not sure about Astor/Straus.

I would EXCLUDE for certain:

Molson
Peuchen
Allisons
Warrens
Ostbys
Moore
Millet
Gracie
Kent
Smith
Woolner
Steffanson
Colley
Candee
Gimbels buyers + Graham
Newells

Hope this helps.

Ben
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Here are a few other poignant excerpts from Lucile's book (Discretions and Indiscretions)dealing with her experiences on Titanic:

After dinner April 14 -

"...we went down into the lounge where we met Mr & Mrs Edgar Meyer. I had my little autograph book with me and got them to write in it. It was one of the "confession" books which were so popular just then. Mr. Meyer filled in his "likes," "abominations," etc., then came to the column marked "madnesses." He laughed as he said:"I have only one - to live," and wrote it down..."

Heading for the deck after the collision -

"...Before the door closed I looked round the cabin... I shall never forget that last glimpse of my lovely little room with its beautiful lace quilt and pink cushions and photographs all round and, on a table, the big basket of lilies of the valley which my 'Lucile' girls had given me when I left Paris...It all looked so homey and pretty, just like a bedroom on land, that it did not seem possible there could be any danger. But as if to give this reassuring thought the lie, at that moment a vase of flowers on the washstand slid off and fell with a crash to the floor..."

After Titanic sank -

"...I remember thinking at the time how remote and indifferent the stars seemed. I looked up at them with tear-filled eyes, when all was still again, and thought how many scenes of human agony they must have witnessed. Yet it came to me then that in the scheme of the universe the life and death of Man must be very unimportant things..."

Dawn and rescue -

"...I shall not forget the beauty of that dawn, stealing over the cold Atlantic, stretching crimson fingers across the gray of the sky, lighting up icebergs till they looked giant opals... The men were rowing now for all they were worth and one of them began to sing. We were all nearly hysterical with this reaction from the miseries of the night and as we saw other lifeboats rowing alongside us we imagined most of our fellow passengers on the Titanic had been saved like us; not one of us guessed the appalling truth. As we drew up beside the Carpathia the wreck and the dreadful experiences we had gone through seemed to have passed away as a nightmare..."

I have the book readily at hand at present because I am editing/annotating Lucile's Titanic chapters (there are three) with hopes of adding a foreword and index for future publication. I've been asked to submit them in article form with an introduction and may do this first but ultimately my idea is for a small illustrated book. (This of course apart from the biography which is still making the rounds of interested publishers).

Sorry for taking this thread off subject.
 
Dec 13, 1999
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The Harrises dined with the Futrelles on the last night. John D. Baumann and Emil Brandeis didn't dine at their table, but elsewhere. Probably not in the restaurant, but I can't confirm.

I believe the Stengels dined in the Ritz too.
 
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