Encyclopedia Titanica

Interview with Philip Zenni

The Dayton Herald

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Philip ZenniPhilip Zenni: ''I was in my bunk in the steerage when one of the fellows with whom I was traveling woke me and said the ship had hit something,' said Zenni.


'The engines were not working right, I could tell that because of the unusual noise from the engine room, and I knew that something was wrong. I had made trips across the water before and I was not scared like some of the other passengers who had never been on the ocean much. I partly dressed and went up on the deck, when when (sic) one of the steamship's waiters said the vessel had struck an iceberg. The waiter, like the other passengers, had strapped on the life preservers, and when I saw these I knew it was something serious. I asked for a life preserver, having left mine down in my bunk.
'How much will you give me for a life preserver? said the waiter to me, and I told him I had left all my money and my gold watch under my pillow, and that he was welcome to all of it if he would hand me a life preserver. I got the life preserver and never went back to the steerage.


Then the first boat was lowered even with the first deck and I got in. An officer said to me, 'Ladies and children first,' and I got out of the row boat and back on deck.
When the second boat was lowered even with the deck the officers were puting (sic) women and children in the boat. I sneaked behind the officer as he was helping a woman in the boat, jumped in the boat myself and crawled under a seat. Then the boat was lowered called out, 'can any you women help row! Then I got out from under the seat, as we were now down on the water, and said, 'There is another man in this boat, I'll help you row. I did not know whether the sailor was going to order me to take an oar or throw me overboard, but he seemed glad to have another man to help and told me to row for my life. There were three sailors, myself and twenty women in that boat, the second which was lowered from the Titanic. Some of the women helped us row and we stayed at the oars for an hour or more.


'We were a mile away from the Titanic when it sank to the bottom, and the suction was felt by us at that distance. We rowed for a long time toward a light which we thought was another boat, but finally discovered it was only the Morning Star which we saw. Then we stopped rowing, and waited. We were in that boat for eight hours and a half and only saw one other boat during all of that time.

As we had left the Titanic so soon after the ship had struck the iceberg we did not see the awful scenes which took place when the big ship finally sank to the bottom, but what we did experience as we were leaving the first deck was terrible. I hope I will never see such sights again, and it is too awful to describe.


'Finally we saw a light, and though (sic) it was th (sic) Olympic, but it proved to be the Carpathia, and we were finally picked up by that vessel, along with the other passengers who had escaped in row boats.

While I was the only man passenger in my boat, besides the sailors, I do know the sailors and women were glad another man was there to help with the oars during that trying time in the little boat.


After reaching New York, he waited there until his bride, whom he had married in Tula, Syria, last winter, came to this country in another boat. Zenni has pent (sic) about seven years in Minneapolis.......He returned to his native country last winter to be married and then came back to this country. His wife is here with him, and they have secured a house at 101 Joe Street, where they will make their home. Zenni, who is 22 years old, is looking for employment here, and has presented a letter from the Hebrew Charities society, of New York, which has thoroughly investigated his case, endorsing him as a straightforward and deserving young man.


The love of a woman for her pet dog was manifested as the Carpathia came alongside their rowboat, said Zenni Thursday, when the woman turned to one of the men in the little boat and said, 'Oh, take my little dog up the ladder with you, I must have him.' The man had his hands full, said Zenni, and was looking after the safety of another woman, not after that of a dog. He refused to take the dog, but when all were aboard the Carpathia zenni said he saw the woman again, and she was holding tight to her pet, about the only thing except the clothese on her back which she had managed to save.''

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) Interview with Philip Zenni (The Dayton Herald, Thursday 13th June 1912, ref: #21656, published 19 October 2018, generated 23rd May 2023 04:28:12 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/interview-with-philip-zeni-21656.html