Written by Phil Guarnieri Friday, 13 April 2012 00:00
It seemed like an eternity, but just 37 breathless seconds passed when lookout Frederick Fleet espied a dark, glistening object rising menacingly over the placid sea and the collision that tore a 300-foot gash across the Leviathan’s iron and steel starboard side, popping and splitting plates from her forepeak to the boiler rooms.
A floating Babylon, the Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. She had everything passengers on a trans-Atlantic cruise could want except, when they needed them, enough lifeboats. But was that necessary when her designers at Harland & Wolff called the ship virtually unsinkable when the designers needed room for a Parisian café?
The Titanic’s beloved captain, Edward Smith, was considered the best in the business, having been at sea for 42 years without a serious incident. Captaining the Titanic’s maiden voyage, he announced, would be his last. The words had more import than he could have ever possibly realized.
Smith knew ships, but not the mechanics of these new behemoths. Neither did Charles Murdoch, the officer in charge of the bridge that fatal night who ordered a hard starboard turn and then reversed the engine (which would have worked for a smaller ship) inadvertently driving the Titanic into the valley of death. Like all big ships, the Titanic turned more quickly the greater her forward motion.
Smith told the lookouts that if at all doubtful, to inform him at once. There were no doubts. Jarred by the impact, Smith was on the bridge in a jiffy. Shouts – cries — alarms: the Titanic making water fast. The captain sent for Thomas Andrews, managing director of Harland & Wolff. Andrews knew every inch of the ship and was keeping a notepad to record its slight flaws. The Titanic had 15 watertight compartments, but they had no ceilings. Like overflowing ice cube trays, water seeped from one compartment into another. No one knows whether Andrews recorded this flaw in his notepad. Regardless, the ship was doomed, “a mathematical certainty,” said Andrews.
Andrews gave the ship 2 and 1/2 hours to live, but because of the unsung efforts of the engineers, (all 35 perished) thousands of tons of water were pumped back into the Atlantic, buying some time. Distress signals, including the new SOS, sped out over the airwaves. The ears of young David Sarnoff, the future pioneer of radio and television, were the first to hear the faint signal of desperation from the dying Titanic.
The passengers realized the engines had stopped, but otherwise were blissfully ignorant of an unfolding epic tragedy. The 2,200-plus passengers were a microcosm of society from the very rich to steerage passengers from 38 countries. Even with the uncovering of the lifeboats and the order of women and children first, there was no panic but plenty of confusion. There had never been a lifeboat drill. Too many went to some stations and too few to others. As a result many of the 70-person capacity boats were lowered half empty, one with just 14 passengers.
Rockets fired from the Titanic were seen by the Californian, which noted the ship’s peculiar angle, but concluded its gradual disappearance was the result of it steaming away. The Californian’s wireless operator was never awakened. For the remainder of their lives, their captain and crew made plenty of excuses, none terribly convincing.
Casualness also marked the voyage of the Titanic. The ship’s binoculars had disappeared; more ominously repeated warnings about ice were mostly ignored, one just 40 minutes before the fatal collision. The winter of 1911-12 had been unseasonably warm, and unbeknownst to the Titanic, Greenland growlers had broken off into giant islands of ice floating directly into the Titanic’s path. The messages, pieced together, indicated an enormous belt of ice stretching 78 miles directly ahead. But like 9-11, no one connected the dots.
Some precautions were taken: At night, all lights were shut and the Titanic changed course moving further south. On the other hand, pressured by Bruce Ismay, owner of the White Star Liner, Smith did not reduce speed in order to arrive in New York in record time. What appears criminally negligent today was standard practice in 1912. Every passenger liner captain agreed, save one, they would have acted exactly like Smith. As long as the weather was clear and there were good lookouts, there should be ample time to avoid a berg. There had, after all, never been a case where a liner hit an iceberg, much less been sunk by one.
But in the early morning hours of April 15, all this was about to change in an appalling way. The human vignettes about the sinking Titanic will live as long as men traverse the seas: Arthur Reyerson giving his lifebelt to his French maid; Benjamin Guggenheim and his valet dressing in a top hat and evening clothes prepared to go down as gentlemen; the devotion of Ida Strauss refusing to leave her husband’s side and he refusing to go before the other men; the insufferable Lady Cosmo Duff watching the ship go under turned to her secretary and said ‘there goes your beautiful nightdress;’ John Jacob Astor, who was at the bar when the ship hit the berg quipped, “I asked for ice but this is ridiculous.” That story, undoubtedly a legend, sails on like the Titanic itself.
When tragedy and romance rendezvous with such drama and pathos, the story itself becomes unsinkable. As pandemonium swirled about them, the card game in the first-class smoking room played on with no more concern than if they were waiting to be called to dinner. Also playing valiantly on was the Titanic band. Walter Lord, the Titanic’s most famous chronicler, insisted their last song was “Autumn,” though most survivors remembered “Closer to Thee My God” — and so it has ever been in popular imagination, if not fact. Bruce Ismay, seeing nobody, quietly stepped in a half-full lifeboat. Staying aboard would have added only one more casualty. But too many perished in those icy waters — more than 1,500. Feeling the scorn, Ismay sequestered himself in a remote corner of Ireland dying a virtual recluse.
Death came to steerage passengers in shocking numbers: Some 530 out of 709; practically as many children in steerage were lost as men in first class. In a pitifully heartbreaking scene, Father Thomas Byles, who twice refused a lifeboat, was surrounded by more than 100 of these abandoned passengers clutching their rosary beads as he granted final absolution. Fate was capricious as it was cruel. J.P. Morgan, George Vanderbilt and the steel magnate Henry Clay Frick all cancelled at the last moment. But the Goodwin family found themselves transferred from the Oceanic to the Titanic’s steerage because of a coal strike. It seemed a stroke of good fortune. All eight Goodwins perished.
So did all the bellboys and senior officers, save Charles Lightoller, blown clear from the sinking Titanic by a burst of hot air. Twenty-eight years later, he distinguished himself in another evacuation — Dunkirk. Captain Edward Smith stoically remained on the bridge. British to the core, he refused a life jacket. The captain must go down with the ship.
At 2:20 a.m., according to one witness, the Titanic looked like a “lighted theatre” before the final, tragic denouement, when the 883 foot-, 47,000-ton vessel descended 13,000 feet deep into the Atlantic. She had been the queen of the ocean; now, like a passing mirage, she vanished. Only the echo of her existence remained; the terrible wails of those now plunging into the frigid water. “Like the roar of an athletic stadium,” one survivor recalled. Ten minutes later an eerie silence, except for the sound of water gently swooshing against the 18 bobbing lifeboats in the awful blackness of night.
At 4 a.m., the Carpathia, at great peril, rescued the 706 survivors. Its captain, Arthur Rostern, was a true hero but his story is often eclipsed by the callousness of the Californian. There were two inquests into the disaster, one in America and another in England. But the best answer to the tragedy came not from any official hearing, but an off-handed remark from Officer Lightoller, who muttered to no one in particular, “We were so sure.” That, perhaps, is what Thomas Andrews, chief draftsman and naval architect for the Titanic was thinking when at the end he was seen staring blankly at a painting above the fireplace, his lifejacket on a nearby table. Just the day before, with a streak of pride, he remarked that the Titanic was nearly as perfect as human brains could make her.
It wasn’t the iceberg that sank the mighty Titanic, it was human presumption. That’s what Anglican Bishop Edward Talbot preached in his sermon the Sunday after the Titanic went down. One century later, historian Allen C. Guelzo said that the Bishop was right, the real killer was presumption: Presumption that technology relieves us from prudence, presumption that intelligent regulation will eliminate fear and pain, presumption that we have achieved exemption from the dangers that plagued earlier generations, presumption that nature can be driven out with a well-intentioned pitchfork.
Neither then nor now has there ever been a more fitting epitaph for that fabled and fatal maiden voyage.
Saturday, 23 November 2013 00:00
For Frank Lazzaro, getting into floral design was an accident, a stroke of luck. What started out as a makeshift Christmas decoration in the Army eventually landed him in the Oval Office at the White House serving as Christmas decorator for three presidents.
The former Floral Park florist served at Fort Bragg, N.C. during the Vietnam War as supervisor of medical supplies in Womack Army Hospital when his boss made a request.
Friday, 22 November 2013 00:00
Rotary Club of Floral Park-Bellerose President Shane Parouse was among the 50,304 finishers of this year’s ING New York City Marathon, which was held on Sunday, Nov. 3. Keeping stride with the club’s mission “to serve those in need locally, nationally and internationally,” Parouse ran for charity and raised $4,000.
“One of the great things about the marathon is the amount of goodwill that surrounds it,” Parouse said. “Millions are raised every year by people like me, supported by friends and family and strangers who urge us on throughout the 26.2 miles. It’s really a beautiful event.”
The Junior Women’s Club of Bellerose will hold a Shopping Night on Friday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. at 50 Superior Road, Bellerose Village. Wine tasting, jewelry, cosmetics, baked goods, handbags, scarves and shawls,ornaments, gourmet cookware, spices and handmade items will be available. For more information, Lisa Tice 516-581-9772 or Nancy Knese 516-567-6321.
will hold its annual Holiday Breakfast and Chinese Auction fundraiser at Floral Park Village Hall on Sunday, Dec. 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Chinese Auction will begin at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 10 and may be purchased at the door or in advance by contacting Lion President John Mansfield 516-233-1564.
• Gam-Anon, an anonymous organization for spouses, adult children over 18, family and friends whose lives have been affected by a gambling problem. Meets Mondays at the Jewish Community Center of W. Hempstead, 711 Dogwood Ave., W. Hempstead. For information call 321-2883.
• Triple Bingo every Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Bellerose Jewish Center, 254-04 Union Tpke., Floral Park. You can win up to $3,000.
• Nassau Mid-Island Chapter Of The Barber Shop Harmony Society invites any man who is interested in singing barbershop harmony to join them any Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. in the Church of the Advent Winthrop Hall, 555 Advent St. (one block east of Post Ave.; two blocks south of Jericho Tpke.), Westbury. Call George Seelinger 333-0803.
• Bingo Robert Van Cott American Legion Post #1139, 734 Woodfield Rd., West Hempstead, hosts a weekly Bingo game Wednesdays at 7:15 p.m. Early bird and game specials.
• Boy Scout Troop 158 Queens Village for boys ages 10 to 18 meets at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, 92-10 217th St., Queens Village, every Friday from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Call Mr. LeVine 1-781-465-5522 or email to Pear1H21@nyc.rr.com.
• Look Good...Feel Better sponsored by LIJ Medical Center in association with the National Cosmetology Association, the Toiletry Fragrance Association and the American Cancer Society. The program reaches out to women with cancer and teaches them how to best apply makeup and wear their hair while undergoing cancer treatment. Meets on the second Monday of every month at LIJ Medical Center, 27005 76th Ave., New Hyde Park. Reservations suggested, but not required. Call Harriet Pine or Selma Robinton 718-470-7094. All women who attend receive a makeup kit filled with brand-name cosmetics valued at over $200.
• AARP Chapter #5224 Floral Park meets on the third Monday of the month at the Floral Park Recreation Center. For further information call Marge Vance, president, 354-4296.
• Family Promise Of NC Are you concerned about helping homeless families in our local communities? You are invited to meetings for Family Promise of Nassau County, Inc., the third Monday of every month, at 7:30 p.m. at the New Hyde Park Baptist Church, 635 New Hyde Park Rd., NHP (352-9672 ). All congregations invited: Churches, synagogues, mosques and NC residents. The need is great. Call Family Promise at 684-9833.
• Stewart Manor Auxiliary Police Unit 105 is currently having an ongoing Recruitment Drive. Meetings are held on the last Monday of each month at the Village Hall, 120 Covert Ave. (side entrance on Chester Ave.). Those interested should call Sgt. Jerry Ortell 775-5126 to find out more.
• Garden City Ski Club meets on the first and third Wednesdays through April (except holidays) at 7:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus, 1000 Marcus Ave., New Hyde Park. Social events, trips to our lodge in Vermont, and skiing in a variety of areas throughout the West and New England. Ages 21 and over, please. For additional info and schedules visit www.gardencityskiclub.com or call 872-1448.
• Order Sons Of Italy meetings are held on the third Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at the VFW Hall, Lincoln Rd., Franklin Square. There are also entertaining programs and refreshments and food are served free at every meeting. Call Sal Palmeri 328-0333 for an application.
• Citizen’s Party Of FP meets on the third Wednesday of each month at the American Legion Hall. To become a member, residents are invited to visit www.fpcitizensparty.com or call 775-2940.
• Your Widows/Widowers Social Group, a nonsectarian, nonprofit organization of widows and widowers ages 50 to 70 years of age. Fee for members is $3, nonmembers $5. Meets at 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Church, 5th St. and Franklin Ave., Garden City, on the third Wednesday of each month. Call Denise 488-4597. No meeting at the church during July and August.
• FP Arthritis Support Group meetings will be held on the first Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at the Floral Park Library, Tulip Ave. and Carolina Pl., Floral Park. Call the Arthritis Foundation 427-8272.
• LI Junior Chamber Of Commerce The LIJC regularly has the Meet and Greet on the first Thursday and the monthly meeting on the third Tuesday of each month, along with a variety of other events throughout the month, For more information on the LI Junior Chamber, visit WWW.LIJC.com. Contact: Martin Dekom, Chairman, 850-2717 - Mdekom@gmail.com; Julie Dekom, Membership Director -Julz_5@yahoo.com; Steven Eiselen, Community Development VP -SEiselen@msn.com.
• Free/Low Cost Health Insurance The residents of communities served by Mercy Medical Center will have the opportunity to apply for free or low cost health insurance for children, families and adults up to age 64 on the first Thursday of every month from 5 to 7 p.m. in Mercy’s Main Lobby. Staff from Catholic Charities of LI will assist you and your children applying for Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus and Medicaid Health Insurance Programs. The bi-lingual enrollers will screen adults for income eligibility for the state’s health insurance program Family Health Plus. Children are eligible for Child Health Plus. These programs cover medical check-ups, hospitalization, emergency care, prescriptions, vision and dental care.
• Zonta Club Of LI a member of Zonta International, a worldwide service organization with a local club. Members help advance the status of women and are involved in many community service activities. The name Zonta is a word taken from the Sioux and stands for honesty, trust, inspiration and the ability to work together for service and understanding. At meetings members discuss and learn about issues facing women, develop and conduct fun fundraising that benefits community programs and network with Zonta International programs. The club meets at a monthly dinner meeting in New Hyde Park on the third Thursday of each month. Call Kathy Rau 488-2796.
• Art League Of NC monthly meeting and demonstration by a guest artist. Meets on the fourth Friday of each month at the New Hyde Park Recreation Center, Clinton G. Martin Park, Marcus Ave. and NHP Rd., NHP (near Union Tpke.) at 7:30 p.m. The public is invited. Refreshments served. Call 437-0919. Nonmembers $2. No meetings in June, July, August, December.
Has year round classes all taught by a professional. Classes for the littlest artist to the more serious, adult classes too. Call for more information at 742-7662 or go onto the web at thegardenartstudio.com.
Safe Boating Courses, free vessel safety checks and more from America’s Boating Club, the United States Power Squadrons. With 18 squadrons around Long Island, there’s one near you. Visit WeBoatSafe.org or call 1-800-341-8777 for more information.
Are you a senior who would like help paying for Medicare benefits and prescription drugs? Free assistance is only a phone call away if you qualify because of limited income. There may be a way to alleviate some of the cost of Medicare — deductibles and coinsurance, Part B premiums, prescription drug plans (Part D). Reducing monthly premiums, annual deductibles and co-payments, aiding with coverage gaps (the doughnut hole). To learn more call an LIS/HHS (Low Income Subsidy from U.S. Dept. of HHS) counselor from Family & Children’s, a community of caring. 485-3425, ext. 222.
Stroke Life Society is a community organization of survivors and co-survivors in the pursuit of living and helping others. A stroke can be very isolating. By sharing experiences and encouraging one another, together we can face and overcome common challenges. All welcome. RSVP is requested but not required. For information and other locations and times, call Ben Thomas 398-4994. Go to www.strokelife.org.
• Every first Wednesday of the month at 11 a.m. in Room 12, St. Frances de Chantal, 1309 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh.
• Every second Monday of the month at 6 p.m. at the Church of St. Jude, 3606 Lufberry Ave., Wantagh.
• Every second Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Epilepsy Conference Room, Research Building Level C, 270-05 76th Ave., New Hyde Park.
• Every third Friday at 2 p.m. at St. Bernard’s Parish Center, 3100 Hempstead Tpke., Levittown.
• Every fourth Wednesday at
6 p.m. in Room 106, St. James Parish Center, 80 Hicksville Rd., Seaford.
The NC Auxiliary Police Unit has available, through the cooperation of the NYS Office of Crime Prevention, very informative pamphlets on how you, the homeowner, can better protect you and your family from being a victim of crime. Any resident requesting a copy of these pamphlets can write to NC Auxiliary Police Unit 116, PO Box 288, West Hempstead, NY 11552; call 538-5800; or e-mail: NCAP116@AOL.COM. The following pamphlets are available:
• Common Sense for the Elderly
• The Babysitter Guide
• Crime Check (Home Survey)
• Don’t Be a Victim of Burglary
• Rape Prevention
Provides free transportation to and from medical appointments for senior citizens who are residents of the Floral Park/Bellerose area and cannot afford cab fare or who have no other means of transportation. Should you or a loved one need transportation to a medical appointment, contact FISH at 835-9522 or telephone coordinator Fran Hornberger at 775-0740.
At The Bellerose Jewish Center
Located at 254-04 Union Tpke., Floral Park. Call 718-343-9001:
• Free Jewish education for kindergarten and Sunday School children. A thorough religious curriculum with experienced teachers for third grade to their Bar/Bat Mitzvah is also provided.
• The Renaissance Group. A nonsectarian group of men and women who have lost a dear one. Dialogue and an exchange of ideas can be helpful. Call for date of the next meeting.
The following programs regularly serve all residents of Nassau County (call the NC Dept. of Senior Citizen Affairs 571-4330):
• Employment Referrals for Seniors. The NC Dept. of Senior Citizen Affairs is a resource to employers seeking qualified workers and to mature job seekers, 55+, who want assistance with employment and résumé preparation. Services are free of charge.
• The Foster Grandparents Program is recruiting senior volunteers to share their time and love with children in Nassau County. Volunteers receive a non-reportable stipend, transportation reimbursement, paid holidays, sick days and vacation days.
• If you are 55+, make your spare time count. Join the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, a national organization, and share your talents and skills at one of the many diversified placements.
Franklin Hospital Medical Center’s Thrift Shop, 138 Rockaway Ave., Valley Stream, is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Floral Park United Methodist Church Thrift Shop, 35 Verbena Ave., open every Wednesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Featuring jewelry, clothing, housewares, bric-a-brac, dishes, linens, collectibles, some furniture, small appliances and antiques. Donations gratefully accepted. Call 354-4969.