by Mary Charles Johnson, age 12
Dorothy Gibson, an upand-coming silent screen actress, was in for the ride of her life. Immediately a hit, she starred in Hands Across the Sea and Miss Masquerader in 1911. She decided to go on a six-week vacation with her mother since she could now afford the luxury. At the end of the long vacation, because she needed transportation home, she bought a ticket to board a newly crafted ship. Stepping aboard the Titanic, Dorothy, along with many other passengers, marveled at the sight. The Titanic was breathtaking. Many travelers on board discussed the immensity of the ship. It was named the Titanic because of the legendary Titans, who were giants in Greek mythology. The large ship’s passengers also discussed the craftsmanship and building of the “Unsinkable,” while the crew unknowingly steered the ship into a tragedy. If only they had known one day the wreckage of the mighty Titanic would lie at the bottom of the sea. As the passengers enjoyed the voyage and the crew worked, they had no clue of their fate.
The unsinkable Titanic was the largest ship at the time of its creation. On March 31, 1909, the seemingly impossible project began at Harland and Wolff ’s shipyard. Beside the Titanic another ship was being built named the Olympia, which lost the title of largest ship to the Unsinkable. Tirelessly the six thousand workers built the Titanic. Because underwater formations were the designers’ greatest fear, the Titanic’s hull had twice the normal amount of steel plating on the lower half of it and, for extra precaution, sixteen watertight rooms behind it. The mast was raised, the glass in over two thousand portholes was placed, and three anchors were hooked to the sides. Panting, the workers stared up at the beauty. The hull glistened, and the four funnels towered into the sky. The anticipated Titanic was complete. Tickets sold faster than ice cream in July as the news spread of its completion. Passengers’ eyes grew wide as they boarded because the lavish furniture and excellent service was better than most had ever experienced. Suddenly, it was time for the unsinkable Titanic to begin its first and final voyage.
The Titanic’s voyage went swimmingly, but unbeknownst to all, a tragedy was on the horizon. Unexpectedly, at 11:39 p.m. a jolt swept through the Titanic. Drinks spilled, passengers hit the deck, and water began seeping into the Unsinkable. They had hit an iceberg. Because of the jolt, passengers were confused, but drinks were quickly refilled, and the band resumed playing. By 12:10 a.m. the crew knew that they were sinking, and distress signals were sent. Minutes later, women and children were hastily forced into lifeboats, which was a bleak revelation for passengers. As women shouted their last goodbyes to their fathers, brothers, and sons, the Titanic continued sinking into the depths. By 2:05 a.m. all of the lifeboats were gone. Jack Thayer and his best friend decided to jump before a wave of water could take them. His lifejacket pulled him to the surface, and he swam to an overturned collapsible. Knowing it was his only chance of survival, he attempted to pull himself up, but because the freezing water had numbed his body, he could not lift himself. Another survivor pulled Jack aboard. Jack gazed up at the largest ship in the world and watched it break in two, innocent people sliding into the deathly freezing water. Within minutes the broken Titanic sank into the depths. Hundreds of people shrieked as they swam in the piercing, icy water, and twenty minutes later there was nothing but silence.
As the sun peeked over the horizon and all hope had been lost, a dark shape emerged into view. The Carpathia had received the Titanic’s distress signals and arrived to rescue them. All the survivors were brought aboard. They were saved. The tragic event was over, but it would never be forgotten.
Jaw-Dropping Facts about the Titanic
• The ship cost approximately $7.5 million to build, but the production budget for the famous movie based on the disaster was $200 million!
• There was a dog kennel aboard the ship for the convenience of the wealthier passengers.
• The last meal served aboard the Titanic before its tragic sinking was an opulent ten or eleven course dinner.
• The Titanic only had enough lifeboats to accommodate one-third of the ship’s total capacity.
• There were nine dogs aboard the ship, two of which were rescued.
• The iceberg that the Titanic struck was approximately one hundred feet tall.
• The musicians onboard played until the ship went down. All of them perished.
• The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912.
Smith, Oliver. “Titanic: 40 Fascinating Facts.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 11 Apr. 2017, www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/lists/titanic-fascinating-facts/.
Schubak, Adam. “30 Mind-Blowing Facts About the Titanic.” Good Housekeeping, Good Housekeeping, 13 Apr. 2018, www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/g19809308/titanic-facts/?slide=30.
Illustration by Andy Richardson