Guest of honor Walter Lord is photographed with President Maxtone-Graham

At 10:30 on Saturday morning, April 4th, over 80 members and friends of the Ocean Liner Museum gathered at the Genealogical & Biographical Library on East 58th Street.

They were there for two reasons: To embark on a trek of Titanic memorials all over Manhattan and, even more important, to drink a stirrup-cup toast to our beloved trustee and colleague Walter Lord.

Walter showed up in fine fettle and was immediately besieged by throngs of ocean liner buffs anxious to shake his hand, say hello or have their copies of one of his books autographed. A photographer and report er from the Associated Press were on hand as well and dozens upon dozens of pictures were taken.

Your Editor/President had ready a small token, designed to convey to Walter the high esteem in which the Museum's Board of Trustees and members hold him. It was a funnel bas relief--White Star, of course--and obviously of Titanic vintage. Beneath the crossed flags of Britain and the White Star Line was a small "riveted" plaque bearing the following legend:

For Walter Lord, Mr Titanic, Who Singlehandedly Raised the Vessel from the Bottom of the North Atlantic Over Four Decades Ago.

Walter took the microphone to accept the tribute and made a gracious speech of welcome to the assembly, regretting his inability to join the trek himself but delighted that so many had turned out.

The wording on the plaque said it all, really; had it not been for Walter's seminal volume, A Night to Remember, published in 1955, there is every reason to think that no Titanic musical, no film, no television recreations, no torrent of books and in sum, no worldwide Titanic mania would have consumed us as it has this past year.

As final vale, your Editor proposed three ringing cheers for Walter. They awoke the echoes, to be followed by one more. ("Give three cheers and one cheer more," goes the musical refrain praising the captain of HMS Pinafore. That same convention "three-plus-one," incidentally, governs to this day all whistled exchanges between passing vessels at sea--three long blasts followed by a brief toot that captains describe as a "kiss.")

That pleasant overture completed, with cameras, picnics, thermos's and water bottles in hand, the Titanic trekkers divided themselves between two busses waiting outside; then the convoy got under way.

The Trek Begins

The first call was at Fifth Avenue at 91st Street where a memorial to the British journalist, William T. Stead, adorns the wall directly across the avenue from Andrew Carnegie's mansion. (A suitable location, since Stead had lost his life en route to address a peace rally at Carnegie Hall.)

Among the member/passengers on board one of the Museum busses was Jean Seward, whose uncle had been a tablemate of Stead's in Titanic's dining saloon. She shared an intriguing anecdote. Stead, her uncle had told his family after he was rescued, was forever telling largely supernatural stories, keeping his table companions enthralled.

On the night of Sunday, April 14th, he had begged off telling one particular anecdote about an Egyptian mummy's curse because, he explained, whenever he told it, something dreadful had always happened.

But when his dinner companions would not take no for an answer, the journalist reluctantly told the tale. Just as he had predicted, "something dreadful" did happen later that night and the fabled story-teller was counted among the missing.

The next stop was at the Cathedral of St John the Divine. Along the north side of the nave, down in the lower right-hand corner of a tall, stained-glass window is a small but vivid representation of an ocean liner in obvious peril, her funnels, alas, bright red. That portion of the window had been dedicated by friends in memory of Colonel and Mrs Astor. Just below the window, affixed to the wall on a recently installed brass plaque, were inscribed the names of all those who had perished in the crash of TWA Flight 800, a tragic contemporary disaster on an horrific par with the White Star liner's loss.

A very short distance away from St John's--at Broadway and 106th Street--is the memorial to Mr and Mrs Isidor Straus, a pensive, serene bronze female figure reclining atop a marble fountain.

The entire park surrounding it is called Straus Memorial Park, recently renovated by the Parks Department. The reason for its placement there was that the Straus family house had been nearby.

Chelsea Piers' Environs

The two busses then carried members down Broadway toward the Chelsea Piers, site of Titanic's anticipated arrival, now recycled as a sporting and recreational complex. Lining one interior wall were several large photomurals of the piers during their heyday. Just south of them is the small, triangular Liberty Hotel, a rather unsavory Stundenthotel, known in 1912 as the New Yorker.

The structure is located directly across the street from the root of Cunard's Pier 54, onto which all 703 incoming Titanic survivors disembarked from Carpathia on that rainswept night of April 18th.

To cover that disembarkation in depth, the publishers of The New York Times had cleverly taken over the entire New Yorker hotel. All of its accommodations became press rooms, serving as a vital satellite office in the thick of things that unforgettable Manhattan night; reporters interviewed survivors and then telephoned their stories in to rewrite colleagues awaiting their calls across town in Times Square.

Just inside Grace Church, located at Fifth Avenue and 19th Street, is a memorial plaque dedicated to the memory of Edith Corse Evans. She was an heroic Titanic passenger who declined to enter a lifeboat in favor of a fellow passenger, a mother who, Miss Evans explained as she relinquished her seat, "had children waiting at home." Battery Bound

Down at the tip of Manhattan, the Titanic trekkers inspected the entrance to 9 Broadway, location of the White Star Line's New York office at the time of the disaster. Thanks to some archival photographs of the entrance stoop thoughtfully brought along by Trustee Woody Swain, all could identify the correct location without difficulty. Around the corner, they saw the first class passengers' entrance, still clearly marked, of the IMM building. Further south, in Battery Park, is a memorial dedicated to all ship's wireless operators; Titanic's Jack Philips is prominent among the names.

Penultimate stop was at the famous Titanic tower that used to adorn a seaward facade of the old Seamen's Church Institute. The tower was donated to the South Street Seaport, where, mounted atop a concrete plinth, it serves today as introductory newel post, if you will, to the Seaport's principal esplanade to the water.

In the tower's original guise, there was a black ball at the top of the tower's flagstaff which, every noon sharp, descended to the bottom of the pole, after the fashion of the illuminated 'Big Apple' that marks the arrival of the new year high above Times Square. Peter Neill has advised your Editor that plans and funds are afoot to restore that kinetic aspect of the Titanic Tower to life down at the Seaport; certainly, it would become a marvelous visitor focus every day at noon.

That concluded the informative portion of the Titanic Trek; only reward remained. About half the tour continued back uptown to La Caravelle restaurant for a superb dinner marking the end of yet another successful Ocean Liner Museum outing.

It was a fascinating day that, more than anything else, underscored the sense of loss that New Yorkers felt back in 1912. Of the six ports with which that brand-new White Star liner was linked--Belfast, Southampton, Cherbourg, Queenstown and New York--only the last was deprived of any sight of the vessel. Following her collision with the iceberg off Cape Race, 1500 souls perished cruelly and Titanic's voyage remained forever incomplete.


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