Titanic survivors’ descendants to recall disaster

Apr 13, 2012, 6:57 PM

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – As a little boy, Tom Goldsmith followed his grandfather into his north-central Ohio den and begged him to tell him about the Titanic. His grandfather, Frank Goldsmith, was a 9-year-old traveling in third class when he was plucked from bed and placed on one of the last lifeboats lowered into the frigid Atlantic Ocean as the ship sank.

Across the ocean, Tim Lightoller was picking up tidbits from his grandfather about the night he narrowly escaped death. As the bow of the lavish ocean liner went down south of Newfoundland, second mate Charles Herbert Lightoller was sucked with it and became caught against a grate. A blast of hot air from the boilers blew him clear, allowing him to take refuge on an overturned lifeboat.

One-hundred years after the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage, the two grandsons are among about 40 descendants _ including the great-granddaughter of Colorado socialite survivor Margaret Brown _ gathering to remember the maritime disaster at a pair of U.S. museums more than 2,500 miles from where the ship sank. The museums are co-owned by John Joslyn, who helped lead the first private expedition to visit the ship’s resting place on the ocean floor. Music-filled ceremonies planned at the museums Saturday are being billed as the largest gatherings of survivors’ descendants.

The story of the Titanic has gained traction in in the southwest Missouri town of Branson and Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains town of Pigeon Forge. Museums there claim to house some of the largest permanent collections anywhere of Titanic artifacts and memorabilia. The museum in Branson has had more than 5 million visitors since opening in 2006; the Pigeon Forge museum has drawn about 2 million since it opened in 2010.

The anniversary events will conclude with a symbolic re-enactment of the launching of Titanic’s distress flares and the lighting of a memorial flame to honor those aboard the doomed ship, which struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912, and sank at 2:20 a.m. on April 15. More than 1,500 of the 2,208 crew members and passengers died.

“He was very, very lucky,” Tim Lightoller said of his grandfather, adding that the ship’s chief officer had ordered his grandfather into a lifeboat before water began to wash over the ship’s bow. “He said, `I’m not doing that. I’m going down with the ship. My job is to look after the passengers and the crew and everything else like that. I’ll take my chances like the rest.’ And that’s what he did. I hope if I was ever faced with the same situation, I’d do the same.”

Afterward, however, his grandfather’s luck dwindled. Lightoller said that as the most senior officer to survive, the Titanic was a black mark his grandfather couldn’t escape despite being “exonerated from any fault” and decorated for his service with the British Royal Navy in World War I, after the sinking.

“It killed his career completely,” recalled Lightoller, of Glasgow, Scotland, who was 10 when his grandfather died.

“There were four seaman officers of the Titanic who survived and not one of them would ever get any further than being sort of first officer or chief officer. They would never be made captain. In fact, they were eased out of the lines,” Lightoller said.

Tom Goldsmith, 48, of Ashland, Ohio, said that although his grandfather collected newspaper clippings about the Titanic, his recollections mostly came out in bits and pieces. Once, after saying “goodbye,” his grandfather pulled him aside and urged him to say “toodaloo” _ or anything else _ when parting.

“He said, `When you say goodbye, that’s forever,” recalled Goldsmith, who was 18 when his grandfather died. “And then he would tell me the story of how they got to the gate and they were only letting women and children through. His father kissed and hugged his mother and patted him on the shoulder and said, `So long, Frankie. I’ll see you later.’ He said he said goodbye to his father at that point and never saw his father again, so he didn’t want me to say goodbye. I never said goodbye to him again until his funeral.”

Helen Benziger, who lives in a small town in the Big Horn mountains in Wyoming, didn’t know she was the great-granddaughter of one of the disaster’s most famous survivors until she was teenager watching Debbie Reynolds in the 1964 movie “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” The musical was a fictionalized account of Margaret Tobin Brown’s life.

Though Benziger asked a few questions, it was 20 more years before she became fascinated with the story. She learned through her research that besides helping raise money for less fortunate Titanic survivors, her great-grandmother also was involved in the women’s movement and ran for the U.S. Senate.

“I thought, `This is pretty amazing,'” said Benziger, 61. “It got even more amazing as it went on. The real Margaret Brown was even more fascinating and even more amazing than Molly Brown the myth.”

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Associated Press

North Texas shooter kills 2, wounds 3 cops, takes own life

HALTOM CITY, Texas (AP) — A gunman killed two people and wounded four others, including three police officers, before taking his own life Saturday evening in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, police said. Haltom City Police Det. Matt Spillane said early Sunday that all of those wounded in the shooting in a residential neighborhood had non-life […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 file photo, Associated Press Special Regional Correspondent f...
Associated Press

Hope and despair: Kathy Gannon on 35 years in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Afghan policeman opened fire on us with his AK-47, emptying 26 bullets into the back of the car. Seven slammed into me, and at least as many into my colleague, Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus. She died at my side. Anja weighed heavy against my shoulder. I tried to look […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 18, 2019 file photo, the logo of Google is displayed on a carpet at the...
Associated Press

Google to erase more location info as abortion bans expand

Google will automatically purge information about users who visit abortion clinics or other places that could trigger legal problems now that the U.S. Supreme Court has opened the door for states to ban the termination of pregnancies.
1 day ago
FILE - President Joe Biden, center, meets with South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, and Jap...
Associated Press

North Korea slams US-South Korea-Japan military cooperation

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Sunday slammed the United States, South Korea and Japan for pushing to boost their trilateral military cooperation targeting the North, warning that the move is prompting urgent calls for the country to reinforce its military capability. North Korea has long cited what it calls hostility by the […]
1 day ago
FILE - Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo, second from left, stands during a news conference...
Associated Press

Uvalde schools’ police chief resigns from City Council

The Uvalde school district’s police chief has stepped down from his position in the City Council just weeks after being sworn in following allegations that he erred in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead. Chief Pete Arredondo said in a letter dated Friday […]
1 day ago
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson throws a pass during an NFL football practice at FirstE...
Associated Press

Attorneys seek Deshaun Watson NFL investigation documents

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Attorneys for multiple women suing Deshaun Watson over allegations of sexual misconduct are seeking the documents from the NFL’s investigation into the former Houston Texans quarterback. According to the motion filed Friday by the women’s attorneys, Tony Buzbee and Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey, the legal team seeks any and all reports and files […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Titanic survivors’ descendants to recall disaster