Q: Diana, do you recall any story about how they got into the
DS: I remember mother telling me that one of the cabin boys actually
carried Uncle Henry into the lifeboat and helped mother into it and helped my
grandmother and great grandmother. I think he was the one that later slipped
and fell and was rescued by his, whatever you call them, mate, from totally
Q: So paint this picture for me: it's women and children first, they're
getting into the lifeboats. There's Henry, I imagine doing a bit of screaming
himself perhaps. How is everybody reacting and how is Hallie reacting in
contrast to that?
DS: Mother told me that Uncle Henry was crying because of his Teddy
Bear that he'd left. Mother was busy arguing with him and this is in the middle
of lifeboats--women screaming, people trying to get dressed into whatever they
could. There was one man that was trying to get into the boat with his wife
because she wasn't fully dressed. Total panic.
Q: Tell me about the general sense of what was going on on deck and how Hallie
reacted to it?
DS: I think that my mother's reaction to that has to have been panic,
chaos, and tragedy, since the people that my family knew in the cabin below were
the ones that were killed with the direct impact of the "Florida". All of this
drama mixed together, my mother seemed to just be fascinated and just almost
taking it in as though it were a movie and registering it all as something she
was going to write about later. And strange for a 10-year-old to be so cool
Q: Tell me about the first transfer to the Florida.
DS: Well I think that because of the incredible fog, usually you do
find very quiet, very calms seas and I think that the transfer, given the
conditions went fairly smooth. Except for when the pulleys went squeegee on
mother's particular lifeboat. I think the drama was the next day when there
was no fog and there was heavy seas. I mean, can you imagine trying to get
these ladies with wet long petticoats and dresses and whatever they had on,
blankets, all dripping, up ladders? I'm sure my grandmother and great
grandmother had never been up a ladder in their lives.
Q: Your great grandmother tripped at one point didn't she?
DS: I don't know if any of you
have ever tried to get from a life boat. I have tried onto a ship on one of
those rope ladders and I was young. And they're swinging in and out. And my
great grandmother was not a young woman and she just didn't even make the
ladder, and just went into the water. To the total joy of my mother who
thought it was fascinating to watch her billow up.
Q: And then the second transfer from the "Florida"?
DS: From the "Florida" to the "Baltic" which they finally were able to
reach, thank God, through the wireless because they all thought the "Florida" was
gonna sink. I mean, momentarily the whole front of it was crashed in because of
heavy seas. Therefore, the lifeboats were bobbing, which is an understatement,
and the ladders were swinging out. So it was, for these older ladies, or even
younger ladies, very hard to hang on and hard for the seamen to steady them. So
I think that was the dramatic actual transfer.
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