Encyclopedia Titanica

Memories of a Titanic Night

Unidentified Newspaper

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He Recalls Sinking 62 Years Ago
The Easter season is never a completely happy time for Tom McCormack of Elizabeth, N.J. It always brings memories of his escape from the sinking Titanic, which went down in the freezing Atlantic 62 years ago today.

McCormack is one of only 30 living survivors of one of the worst sea disasters in history, and throughout his life he has had nightmares about that night when 1,500 people died as the supposedly unsinkable ship hit an iceberg and sunk on her maiden voyage.

"I try not to think about that night but I can't help it." McCormack said yesterday. "It's a memory I'll always have with me."
The 81-year-old man has lived in retirement in a small apartment at 120 Madison Ave., Elizabeth, for 16 years. He is bedridden, but remains in generally good spirits under the care of his nephew, Barney Evers.

Sixty-two years ago, McCormack was a 19-year-old with the same sense of adventure that drew the other passengers to the Titanic's trip. McCormack was returning to America with two cousins from a visit to his native Ireland.

Just before midnight, April 15, 1912, the indestructible sailing fortress smashed into an iceberg and began to sink.

"I was sound asleep at the time," McCormack said. "I jumped out of bed and ran into the hall with my two cousins when we hit. Everyone was crazy and running, screaming. My cousins and I separated in the confusion. They eventually drowned. I kept running toward the deck."

When he got to the deck, there were thousands of people pushing and shoving each other.

"They were crying, yelling. I didn't know what was going on. I panicked and ran to the rail. I never stopped to look how far from the water I was. I just jumped over. It felt like a mile down to the ocean, and it was freezing water. All I had was by lifejacket," he said.

McCormack spent 80 minutes in the water before one of Titanic's lifeboats picked him up. He spent another three hours in the lifeboat before he and the other survivors were picked up by the rescue ship Carpathia.

"The Titanic sank into the ocean while I watched from the lifeboat. It was a terrible sight... all those people screaming and moaning on the deck as it went under the waves..." McCormack said.

The young McCormack was brought to New York and spent four days recuperating at St. Vincent's Hospital from exposure. Then he went to Bayonne, N. J., where he bought a tavern and operated it for 14 years. Then he spent many years as a guard at a Bayonne factory before his retirement. The sinking of the Titanic has always had some effect on his life. Afterward he was afraid of sailing, and the only ship he ever boarded was the troopship that carried him to the shores of France to fight in World War I. McCormack had nightmares for years, and almost all of his conversations somehow get around to the Titanic.

"When I was running up to the deck in the confusion that night, I did not think I was going to live. Maybe if I didn't jump into the ocean right away I would have died. I owe my life to God's kindness, nothing else," McCormack said.

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  1. agbjr agbjr

    This is from the "Record" of Bergen County, NJ. I cut it from the paper that day and have ever since kept the clipping tucked between the covers of my first edition of Lord's "A Night To Remember". The extensive Jersey City-Irish side of my family is also interred at Holy Name Cemetery.

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2004) Memories of a Titanic Night (Unidentified Newspaper, Monday 15th April 1974, ref: #3081, published 24 June 2004, generated 30th May 2023 09:02:16 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/memories-titanic-night.html