Gives Description of Scenes on Pier
Silence Most Oppressive
Even Crowd and City Hushed
By Homer J. Wheaton (Gazette Staff Reporter)
New York, April 19- News of the Titanic's wreck was flashed to the world on Monday. Meager as the news came, it was enough to make the world understand that a catastrophe without a fellow in all the recorded tales of the sea, had been enacted. But still there was one thing lacking- confirmation, something more satisfying than the scanty flashes by the wireless, something that would be reasonably true, something that could be trusted, for hope still clung to the shred of possibility that things might not, after all, be as badly as meagre reports had led the imagination to paint them. Even the wireless had been all but silent for two days and this both heightened the tension and the mystery.
Here I am then, four days after the wreck, huddled with scores of hundreds of my fellow beings on a pier jutting into the black waters of the North River, waiting- for what? For the Carpathia, the vessel with its remnant of rescued, that shall bring unspeakable joy to a few, but that shall wither and vanish into thin air the last comforts of the many grouped about me, who have been hoping against hope and shall learn soon the saddest sorrow of their lives. (Continued on Page 11)
Gazzete Staff Man on Carpathia's Pier (continued from Page 1)
I shall never forget those hours upon the pier, neither will those who were about me. Somehow you were made terribly consience that a thing awful and grewsome was impending.
If you have ever heard the pitiess clatter of the first few shovelfuls of earth as they descend through the cut in the ground upon that beneath, and have been oppressed with the consciousness that there was then passing forever away that dearest to you in life, you may get some slight idea of the feeling which seemed to make heavy the atmosphere around this crowd of watchers. In some mysterious way, it suggested being at the Titanics burial.
The night was peculiarly fitted to heighten the oppressive funereal effect. A raw wind came across the waters with inhospitable breath. The rain was both discomfiting and depressing. But the thing the most oppressive was the silence. You always associate noise with a crowd. But here was a crowd large in number, made up of men, women and children from all walks and conditions in life, and they were silent, or all but silent, for in truth there was the most subdued of murmurs to be heard, but it was of such a kind and so low set in a minor key that it served but to intensify the silence.
That was on the pier. Around us was a great metropolis of the earth, and over that brooded too a strange and unwonted stillness. Even Babylon was hushed.
And so we waited, till through the gloom of the river, lights were seen and sounds heard which told their own story. "The Carpathia was coming" that was the whisper which ran from mouth to ear of the waiters.
The Carpathia, there she was breaking through the might with her lights, softly, slowly, like an angel of peace coming from her great mission of salvation at that far away spot off the New Foundland shore.
There was a blanching of faces to be noted and sobs and chokings began to be heard above that subdued murmur of the people. All this was more intensified when the gang planks dropped and the procession of refugees, preceded by the dead on board, came to step on terra firma.
The scenes there enacted were not striking. There were but few demonstrations of joy or hysteria.That same solemn repression of feeling still held. The Carpathia, with its news good or bad, and the worst and the best was now known.
In a chill, drizzling rain that would have kept a crowd of pleasure or curiosity seekers off the streets, 8000 men and women stood in silence, outside the Cunard pier shed last night, awaiting the arrival of the Carpathia with her survivors, most of them stricken in mind and grieving for loved ones whom they would never see again. The Carpathia made last to Pier 54, Fourteenth street and North River at 9.20
Gathered close to the pier shed were the relatives and newspaper men who were only admitted by pass through the strong guard of police who carefully scrutinized each permit. Here long before the rescue ship docked there were sobbing and weeping on the part of those who feared their own were not among the saved.
When the long line of returning voyagers who had lived through the greatest marine disaster of history came slowly down the gang plank and familiar faces were not there, the sobs turned to shrieks as the last shred of hope vanished, and there was work in a few cases for the army of doctors among those who had waited as well as among the folks from the sea. The survivors however, although showing traces of the terrible strain and hardships they had undergone are in better condition than had been hoped for and there was no need for half of the many physicians and ambulances provided.
Perhaps the grimmest feature of the whole tragedy came just before the gang planks were lowered. Ten coffins were brought up and laid at the foot of the pier. They were not needed, and the crowd hailed into one vast sigh of relief when they were taken away.
"HOW CAN I TELL MOTHER
I stood beside Dr. Leo T. Miles(?) of Cambridge, well known in Worcester, and Attorneys R. J. Lane and Federick Thompson who were with him, and when the last of the line had filed down the plank, and we knew the worst had come, I never will forget the look that came over his face. Hoping against hope, he had kept his courage up all the way. When it was all over and he knew the worst, he turned away, and with heaving sides, but dry eyes, sobbed: "How can I tell mother."
Among the passengers I talked with was Robert W. Daniels, formerly of Virginia, but known as a Philidelphia banker. Mr. Daniels said: I was partially undressed when the jar came. It was about 12 o'clock. It was hardly noticeable to shake you badly, but still enough to disturb you. I went up on deck, and a lot more came running up. Some of them went back to bed.
Then a surge in the crowd swept him away from me. Mr. Daniels was smooth shaven and looked in fair shape. He wore a raincoat, a soft white collar, but was without a tie.
Not a single one of the survivors told me of any cowardly acts on the part of the crew or officers in that final hour.
A woman, evidently a third class passenger and a foreigner, whose shrunken eyes and twitching face coupled with her gasping voice defied my power to determine her nationality sobbed: "They put me in a boat, then I see first one, then another, many lights go.
A woman who refused to give her name said: "Yes, I heard shots and shrieks," but with a convulsive shudder she added in a faint voice, "I want to forget them.
Perhaps the saddest of all was to see the kiddies muffled up in blankets or cloaks, carried down the gang plank.
One sturdy little chap of about three or four greeted the crowd with a broad grin. He clutched under his left arm a teddy bear.
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Leo T. Miles