This story now
IN History & Culture ON 03 Aug, 2015
The most famous ship to ever sink, the RMS Titanic holds this (not very proud) record. For more than 100 years, she has been the inspiration of fiction and non-fiction, commemorated in art like no other. The ship, considered to be unsinkable, met its demise on the very first journey. Its first departure turned out to be its last ever. James Cameron immortalized the ill-fated ship with his 1997 blockbuster, ‘Titanic’. The multiple Oscar-winning movie led to a spread of a culture, wherein we see the myths, the rumors, and the stories surrounding the fairytale of a disaster, RMS TITANIC.
The four smokestacks that became synonymous with every representation of the ship aren't really what you think they are. The first three smokestacks were actually working the fourth one was put in, just because it looked good.
In 1898, 14 years prior to the sinking of the ship, a fictional tale called 'Wreck of the Titan' was penned down by Morgan Robertson. It described an "unsinkable" British ship, Titan sink after it hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic. The story contained incidents of stark resemblance to the real sinking of the Titanic. Eerie!
Contrary to popular belief, the company that built it, "Harland and Wolff", nor the company that marketed it, "White Star Line" never claimed the ship to be unsinkable. The rumor that it was unsinkable is actually false. However, the ship's technology was used in such a way that it was designed to be unsinkable.
Milton Hershey had two tickets to go on the Titanic. He later changed his plans, and did not board the ship. He turned to be the father of one of the greatest chocolate bars of all time. Looks like something good came out of it.
Violet Jessop, a.k.a. "Miss Unsinkable" was aboard the Titanic, and survived. Something special, right? Surprisingly, she didn't just survive the Titanic. Previously, she survived the accident of Titanic's sister ship, Olympic. Not only this, but, she also survived a sinking of Titanic's other sister ship during the first World War-the Britannic. Lucky, incredibly lucky.
Remember the musicians that were playing a ballad when the ship was sinking in the movie? Well, turns out, it wasn't just an artful representation in the movie, but a group was actually playing music on the deck right up until the ship sank. Survivor accounts are split on which songs they played until the end, but they went down as heroes in Titanic folklore.
Another myth which started after the sinking of the ship was its hull number. The hull number was known to be 360604, which if written badly and seen in a mirror, looks like "NO POPE". This was seen as blasphemy, in the ship's original place, the highly religious Belfast, and was seen as the reason for the ship's demise. However, the actual hull number was 401, and the myth lay in a joke started in a pub in Belfast. Phew! Missed a number there.
Much in tandem with popular culture, Titanic was a superstitious ship. As it common for hospitality establishments, the ship did not have Room Number 13, as it was considered unlucky. It still sank though, wonder why.
As the movie shows, the ship captain Edward John Smith, shot himself when the ship was going down. He did it because he had failed the people who trusted. However, as survivor accounts show, he never shot himself, and went down with the ship, helping every last life he could. What a true captain!
Charles Joughin, the chief baker, might have been the luckiest man on the Titanic deck. His survival story and that of other survivors are testament to the fact that his excessive drinking saved his life. After he went overboard failing to find a lifeboat, his body so full of alcohol, that it kept him warm enough for half an hour. This, coupled with his paddling ability, made him reach a lifeboat safely. Drinking does save lives.