Emilio Portalupi, Returning from a Visit to His home in Italy on the Ill-fated Liner, was Picked up after Floating Two Hours in the Water. He Tells of Thrilling Experience.
Much concern was felt in Milford when the published lists of the rescued second cabin passengers of the ill-fated Titanic contained the name of Mrs Emilio Portalupi. and While Mr Portalupi's close friends here felt quite certain that there was a mistake in the names and that it was he was rescued, yet there was considerable uneasiness. Saturday, however, Mr Portalupi arrived, safe and sound, in Nashua, there he was met by a delegation of his Milford friends who escorted him home in an automobile, on which they had hung American flags.
Emilio Portalupi came to Milford from Barre, Vermont, and worked first for P.C. Felli & Co., as a stonecutter, designer and draughtsman. At present he is employed by Tonella & Sons. He is an artist, and has become well known here through his work in the school of design which he taught in 1910-1911, and where he developed some excellent work. Milford has seen this work exhibited on several occasions. At the Carnival, last fall, Mr Portalupi carved the open-work piece in Milford granite and was watched by hundreds of stonemen who believed the difficult feat could not be accomplished. Last fall Mr Portalupi returned to his former home in Italy to spend the winter. and was returning to his work here by the giant White Star liner, the finest ship in the world, the Titanic. He finished the journey as one of the handful of survivors on the rescue-ship Carpathia , worn and exhausted by the frightful experiences he had witnessed and been through.
Even now it is with reluctance that he brings his mind back to the scene of the wreck and tells the story, and the whole experience is like a horrible nightmare.
When the accident ocurred which sent the monster ship and over 1600 people to the bottom of the Atlantic, Mr Portalupi had retired. It was at 11.30 Sunday night. The shock of the glancing blow on the iceberg aroused him, and, he says, his first thought as he regained his senses was that the ship had reached New York and was docking. A moment's thought told him that such could not be the case, and while not alarmed, he decided to investigate and see what was the cause of his awakening. Dressed only in a bathrobe Mr Portalupi went on deck. Here he found some excitement, but nothing resembling a panic. However, it was plain that something serious had happened, so Mr Portalupi returned to his stateroom and fully dressed. On again returning to the deck he found that the lifeboats had been unlashed and were being hurriedly filled with women. Officers were giving hurried orders, and everybody was instructed to put on a life-belt. Hastily putting one under his arms Mr Portalupi found that a boat near him was being lowered and was only partly filled with people. No women were about on the deck where he stood, and he attempted to get into the lifeboat. Luck was against him, or seemed to be, for he lost his footing and fell into the ocean. The feelings of a man falling from the deck of a ship which he believes to be sinking, in the middle of the night, a thousand miles from land. into an ocean littered by floating ice and of freezing temperature, can best be imagined.
When he hit the water Mr Portalupi found that he was not alone. and many others were swimming or floating in the icy, numbing water. At once he struck out and had succeeded in putting four or five hundred yards between himself and the ship before she took the final plunge. Chilled through by the water, weighed by his clothing, and supported only by the life-belt, the swimmer watched the enormous liner slip quietly beneath the waves. So quietly and gradually did she go that the man in the water felt no suction and only a big wave marked the final submerging. What the effect was in closer proximity to the ship Mr Portalupi of course cannot tell.
As time went on and the first streaks of dawn made it possible to distinguish objects the half-frozen man in the Water saw near him a womans, supported by a life preserver, and also a child which had succumbed to the cold and died. One of the lifeboats, passing near, came within ear shot, and the crew rescued the man and woman, pulling both into the boat. Here also the cold was almost intolerable. and of the men and women in the frail craft, three died front the exposure before the Carpathia reached them. Their bodies were taken aboard and buried at sea.
Once on board the Carpathia every attention and kindness was showed to those who had been rescued, but the horror of the night was on them and the lapse of years will not efface it. As fast as possible the names of the rescued were flashed ashore by the Carpathia 's wireless, and here it was that the mistake occurred which made the report that Mrs Portalupi had been saved. When New York was reached the custom house regulations were suspended and the survivors were again showed every courtesy.
As soon as possible Mr Portalupi left for Milford, and his arrival here, on Saturday, was made the occasion of quite a Cerebration among his friends and acquaintances, many of whom hardly expected he would ever again be back among them. It is now, after the lapse of several days. that Mr Portalupi seems to realize fully the terrible experience and the narrowness of his escape. As the awful scenes of the sinking palace, crowded with humanity, and the screams of those being drawn to death, come back to torture the emotional mind of the rescued Italian he resolves never again to undertake an ocean voyage. He is mentally exhausted and unstrung. He wants to forget, and blot out the sights and sounds. This, however, will take time. From his severe experience Mr Portalupi has suffered little physical harm, and aside from a cold and lameness contracted during his two hour bath in the icy water, he is as well as ever.