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Friday, October 21, 2011

No Reservations: Passengers and Crew Who Did Not Sail With the Titanic

On April 14th of next year, the one hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic will be observed.  The tragedy took 1,517 lives. Many famous American families were affected - the Astor’s, the Guggenheim’s, the Strauss’, and of course Molly Brown. But what about people who were supposed to sail on the ship, but didn’t?
For reasons of business, health or just an uncomfortable sensation, 55 passengers cancelled their bookings. Eighteen of them planning to board at Queensland surrendered their reservations due to a “bad feeling” about the ship. Still, on April 10th 1,320 passengers were aboard as the Titanic left the dock.

Here are the stories of some the people who did NOT sail on that day.

Saved by Drink ?

The three Slade brothers, crewmen of the Titanic, were making the rounds of local Southampton’s pubs before reporting to the ship. They later admitted to drinking a little too much. Eventually they regained control of their faculties, just in time to rush to the departing ship. An angry duty officer on the deck refused to lower the gangway to let them board. All three lived to tell the tale.

Thomas Hart, a ship’s fireman, after signing in for the voyage but before the Titanic departed had returned to shore, and got drunk. While he was unconscious, his ID had been stolen. Another person boarded in his place bearing Hart’s name and producing appropriate credentials. When he awakened the ship was gone. He wandered around for nearly three weeks, too ashamed to return home and his aged mother. Hart was listed as lost at sea devastating his mom. Later he admitted to authorities that he had lost his ID while he was drunk in a pub. Nobody will ever know who the name of the man who used Hart’s identification.
A Victim of Seniority

At Belfast, David Blair was transferred as the Second Officer from the Oceanic to the Titanic for its maiden voyage. Henry Wilde, the Chief Officer of the Olympic, who was more familiar with the new class of White Star ships and a higher ranking officer was then sent to replace Blair at Southampton. A reluctant and disappointed Blair disembarked and returned to the Oceanic. It saved his life, while Wilde perished.

What is it about Suite B52-54-56?

This was an expense suite of rooms with its own private promenade deck, and an interesting tale to tell. American steel tycoon, Henry Clay Frick of Pittsburgh, booked passage on the Titanic for himself and his wife two months before sailing in Suite B52-54-56. Just prior to boarding, he relinquished his tickets because his wife had sprained her ankle on a shore excursion. They took a later ship.

No problem. The suite was subsequently taken by financier J.P. Morgan, the owner of the White Star Line and the Titanic. But Morgan’s business negotiations in England lengthened and he, too, gave up his reservation.

The booking was then taken by wealthy Americans Mr. and Mrs. Horace Harding. He was a financier and director of the New York Municipal Railway System. The couple wanted an earlier sailing date so they also cancelled and booked passage on the Mauretania instead.
Ultimately, J Bruce Ismay, the CEO of the White Star Line (owner of the Titanic), took the suite - but he survived the disaster. So the suite wasn’t bad luck after all.

Lost Luggage

The socialite George W. Vanderbilt and his wife were all set to sail on the Titanic but his wife’s sister, Susan Dressler, warned him not to take the trip as “so many things can go wrong on a maiden voyage.” Their luggage had already been delivered to the ship by his valet, Frederick Wheeler, however and there was no time to remove it. Vanderbilt and his wife sailed on the Olympic arriving in New York before the Titanic sunk. The Vanderbilt’s lived on but their luggage, and their servant, was lost.

Political Protocol

Robert Bacon, the U.S. Ambassador to France, reserved passage on the Titanic for himself, his wife and daughter. His appointment had just concluded and they were returning home. But the new Ambassador, Myron Hendrick, had been delayed in his arrival. Bacon family had to remain in Europe at little longer before sailing on the France on April 20th. They were aware of the fate of the Titanic before they departed. Robert Bacon later became the Secretary of State under Theodore Roosevelt. The delayed departure became a fortunate development for him for several reasons.

Legal Delays

American James O’Brien and his wife were in Ireland to settle a lawsuit. The case’s conclusion was delayed and so their reservation was cancelled. They switched to a later departing ship. On her 100th Birthday (in 1972), Mrs. O’Brien said that her 38 grandchildren and great grandchildren were grateful for the change.

Divine Intervention

Four senior clergymen from England, including the Archbishop of Liverpool, were headed to New York to speak at an international conference all booking aboard the Titanic. Among them, the Vicar of St. Paul’s in London, J. Stuart Holden, had to cancel his reservation due to his wife’s illness. The other three decided to also postpone their passage and everyone changed to another ship. They all expressed gratitude to God for this miraculous escape.
Kisses for all

Milton S. Hershey, chocolate mogul, and his wife were booked for the passage on the Titanic but due to her illness, they decided to wait until a later date and cancelled their reservation. They sailed on the Amerika instead. That was lucky for all candy lovers.

Psychic Forebodings

Mr. and Mrs. E.W. Bill, wealthy Philadelphians, were really looking forward to sailing on the Titanic. But two days before the departure date, Mrs. Bill had a dream that the Titanic had wrecked. They cancelled their tickets the next morning.
And Finally (someone who didn’t heed the warning)

Walter Harris was travelling to America and had made reservations aboard the Philadelphia. The Philadelphia’s sailing was abruptly cancelled due to a coal strike so he transferred to the Titanic. Before the sailing date, Harris visited some friends locally. Among the group was a lady who practiced palm reading. She did not like what she saw on Harris’ hand at all but wouldn’t say why. Harris’ little son asked her, “Is Daddy going to drown?” . . . He did.

"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic." (unknown)

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