Miss Albina Bassani, at Parents Home on London Street Gives Vivid Account of Great Disaster
One of the survivors of the ill-fated White Star liner Titanic, which was wrecked In collision with a huge iceberg on the morning of April 15 off the coast of New Foundland is Miss Albina Bassani, a pretty young Italian woman, who arrived in this city yesterday morning and is now at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Bassani, 241 London street.
When a representative of the Herald called at the Bassani home yesterday afternoon, a cordial greeting was extended by the members of the family. In a cheerful, homelike sitting room, Miss Bassani talked freely of her experiences of the never-to-be-forgotten night. The extreme cold, the deathlike pallor on the faces of men, women and children and the awful realization of what seemed to be the inevitable fate of all were phases which were foremost In the mind of the young woman.
Miss Bassani was travelling as lady's maid for Mrs. E. W. Bucknell, a wealthy widow lady of about 60 years whose home is in Philadelphia. This was the second time that Mrs. Bucknell had crossed the Atlantic accompanied by her maid. Mrs. Bucknell, while on a visit to her daughter, Countess Pecorini of Rome a few years ago, engaged Miss Bassani as a lady's maid and eventually a warm attachment between the two was formed. Mrs. Bucknell and her maid sailed for Rome last June and were returning to their home city when the tragedy occurred.
Leave on Fatal Trip.
They sailed from Cherbourg on April 10, under most favorable conditions. The journey was uneventful and everyone aboard was in a happy state of mind. Time did not hang heavily as there was always something to see on the magnificent liner.
Miss Bassani related the story of the wreck.
Sunday night after I had assisted madame and had made her comfortable for the night, I retired about 10:30. I soon fell asleep and had not slept long or very soundly when I was wakened by the sudden jar of the ship, followed by a scraping sound which came from the bottom of the boat and continued for several minutes. I arose and hastily donned a dressing gown and went to my lady's cabin nearby. She, too, had awakened and had inquired from an officer of the boat what the trouble was. He replied that the ship had struck an ice berg but there was no danger. I was very much frightened, but was assured by Mrs. Bucknell that all was well, I then returned to my cabin and, in looking out of the window, was greatly surprised to have pieces of ice come in followed by water. A few minutes later I went up on Deck E, accompanied by Mrs. Bucknell. When we reached this deck there was scarcely anybody to be seen. One of the officers came hurrying toward us and told us to hurry below and put on lifebelts. We were greatly alarmed and hastened to do his bidding.
Struggle For Lifebelts.
It may have been due to our excitement and fright or it may have been from lack of strength but we could not take the lifebelts from their racks. A steward came and assisted us. We then went up to Deck A, and hardly had we stepped on the deck when an officer—I don't know positively whether it was the captain or not—came to us and told us to hurry to Deck E [sic], as there was a lifeboat ready to be filled. Mrs. Bucknell grew sick with fear and was unable to move as rapidly as I desired. She was apparently choking and asked continually for water. Having procured water for her, I entreated her to hurry.
I shall never forget the faces of the people who stood around waiting to be saved. Many seemed to have a far greater dread of the peril before them in going into the smaller lifeboats than in staying aboard the Titanic. In my anxiety for the safety of my lady's life, I did not get an opportunity to return again to my cabin and in consequence lost my entire possessions, many of which I valued for the associations of my home land.
First to Leave Titanic.
Mrs. Bucknell and I were among the first of the survivors to leave the Titanic. After I had seen her safely put into the lifeboat, I went into it too. We were the fifth and sixth passengers to get aboard; four other women had preceded us. When our lifeboat, which was the first to leave the ship, was rowed away there were 30 women and four sailors aboard. A number of the women were not more than half dressed and two of the party were attired only in night robes with outside coats as their only means of comfort. There was a great deal of room In the lifeboat we were in for several more persons. As it was, those who were ln the boat will never forget the thrilling sensation which took possession of them as wave after wave of icy water dashed up and seemed to scoop boat and all into their clutches.
When the boat we were in started away nobody knew where they were going or how long they were going to exist.
Nearby Ship Sails Away.
In the far distance the sailors saw a light which we all thought to be a vessel coming to rescue us. After hours of continuous rowing—the sailors did not understand how to row very well and the women cheerfully lent their assistance in the time of need—it was discovered that the ship we were trying to reach was sailing away from us. We drifted around the ocean throughout, the night, and many times our boat was endangered by huge masses of floating ice.
Miss Bassani was asked by her interviewer if the people on the doomed ship seemed to realize their fate and if any great outcry was made. She said there was no confusion and that it would be difficult to find a body of people who were face-to-face with death more restrained or orderly. The faces of all were pale, and many of the passengers were calmly praying for salvation and safety.
Continuing she said: "When we were about a mile away from the Titanic we saw the lights go out, but in the stern of the boat a large green light was still burning. We saw this light go up and down repeatedly three or four times and finally disappear. We then knew that the Titanic had sunk."
Asked if the lifeboat which she was on encountered any of the other boats with the survivors aboard during the night, she replied that it had not.
Survivors Picked Up.
The next morning we were picked up about 8 by the steamship Carpathia. The last hour on the lifeboat was the most terrible of all and never while I live will I forget that awful hour. The night's adventure was too much and for a short time I have no recollection of what happened. When I had regained my senses I found myself being kindly cared for in the dining saloon of the Carpathia. Warm blankets and warm milk, coffee, soups and other stimulants were given the people and those who were scantily attired were provided with clothing from the steamer trunks of the Carpathia's passengers.
The remaining days of the journey to New York were spent in reminiscences of the narrow escape we had had from a watery grave. After Mrs Bucknell had arrived at her home ln Philadelphia, she visited her son at his home in Atlanta, Ga., for several weeks. Upon her return I resigned my position and have come home to my parents for a few weeks much needed rest.
Miss Bassani is a young woman of prepossessing appearance. She has a quantity of jet black hair which was neatly and becomingly arranged, bright brown eyes and pleasing features which were enhanced by a good complexion. She speaks the English language very fluently. She Is the second eldest daughter of her parents. Mr. Bassani is a piano-maker by occupation.