Andrea Doria, Sinking Slowly into History

DATELINE: End of Luxury Ship Travel

doria

The List of Andrea Doria.

An Italian documentary, it may be suspect as having some prejudice in favor of the Italian liner that came to its doom in 1956. The Sinking of the Andrea Doria may be the opposite of Titanic’s helpless 1500 fatalities, where 1200 lived off Andrea Doria and a few dozen unfortunates met their deaths.

The film is an abject lesson about what might have been recorded on Titanic if the accident occurred during daylight to see the sinking, and if there had been modern media. Andrea Doria seemed also quaint in its destruction in a technological age. Yet ships still did not directly communicate, and radar in fog seemed unreliable. The real problem again is human error.

On its 101st voyage across the Atlantic, with an aging captain ready for his last trip, in summer, there could not be any icebergs. It was far worse when a direct impact slice into its side. Slower to sink, with more rescue ships nearby, the death toll was nowhere as bad as 50 years earlier.

Indeed, if you are waiting for parallels to be drawn between this luxury ship, believed the height of technology in 1950s futuristic mechanics, and its counterpart, the unsinkable Titanic, you may wait a long time.

RMS Titanic is mentioned but twice in regard to lifeboat numbers. The connection is never more than: Andrea Doria had enough lifeboats to save everyone; they just were listing so badly that half of them could not be launched. That was the panic and horror.

This ship, like Titanic, was an art museum on water. Each was meant to be a playground for first-class elite. And, each kept other classes separate and discrete: indeed, third-class was now “tourist class.” And, they had their own swimming pool, but never would the big money gentry meet the under-privileged.

The likes of Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, Ty Power, Orson Welles, and other grand stars often took the slow, luxurious week-long sail across the ocean. The film never mentions the only big star on board: Ruth Roman who lost her jewels, not her life.

Unlike Titanic, Andrea Doria’s demise likely put the cap on all luxury ships. Jet aircraft became the safer rage.

The Stockholm hit the Andrea Doria like a can opener on a can of baked beans. It killed over 50 people in the collision. One girl was thrown off her bed in the ship into the open hole that was the offending smaller ship.

If you were looking for blame, try the old chestnut term: “cover up.”

Both ships were represented by Lloyd’s of London who conspired to hush up everything they could. Worse for the Italians, they didn’t know how to handle media—and the Swedes put their story out, blaming the former allies of Hitler for the problem.

Not until recently did the story come out fully: and the Swedish third mate, Carstens, may have been at the eye of the trouble.

The Andrea Doria took a dozen hours to sink, giving media a chance to film its demise into 76 meters of ocean. Unlike Titanic, this modern ship was dangerously dive-able—and no one mentions the idiots who died trying to salvage the Italian liner.

As telling as this documentary is, it seems to miss out on much information.

 

 

The Last Days of Anne Boleyn

DATELINE:  Off Kilter & Off with Her Head?

Boleyn Plain Jane Came Later!

A documentary about the trial and execution of Henry VIII’s second wife, 500 years ago, sends historians into a tizzy of debate. It’s the last days, literally, of Anne Boleyn, just about a couple of months of instant downfall.

The hour-long film puts most of its focus in a six-month period after she seemed ready to take over as a powerful queen—almost immediately fortunes turned against her. She miscarried a male heir, and she alienated the powerful aide to Henry.

They wonder if she deserved execution, or whether it was a giant conspiracy to eliminate an upstart to the throne.

No one mentions that her ghost wanders the halls of various castles holding her head under an arm. If you wonder about the relative nature of injustice, that’s a compelling notion. She gave a confession in the hours before her death, saying she did nothing “physical,” whatever she was hinting.

Anne Boleyn was too clever for her own good, and she was a woman ahead of her time, thinking she could influence and advise the king. Her adversary seemed to be Thomas Cromwell, a man who would be right at home in a Trump cabinet.

She was accused of having sex with five men, including her brother. Henry never saw her after the accusations, and the kangaroo trial sent her the message that innocence is no protection in a world where the whim of a king is law.

In case, you’re wondering: Henry married the next wife not two weeks after Boleyn’s death in 1536. That may speak volumes about failing to deliver a male heir, which was her royal duty.

As for Cromwell, he too met an untimely end for treason: Henry wasn’t about to leave loose ends around his court.

When the floodgates open, you don’t stand a chance–and that history lesson remains the same 500 years later.

 

Hitler’s Secrets, Again!

DATELINE: Last Birthday Gift for Adolph?

Birthday Greetings from Eva Faithful Fool.

Hitler likely could have his own cable network: the documentaries just keep coming.

We prove to be a saphead when it comes to Hitler tales. Suckered in again to Hitler secrets, we watched Hitler’s Last Secrets, a relative newcomer in 2017 to the controversies.

You knew a reaction, vehement and in focus, was bound to arise out of the spate of stories and documentaries that Hitler escaped death and took up residence in South America.

According to the French documentary, Hitler’s Last Secrets, this cottage industry is based on a house of cards and a bunker of bunk.

A French commandant named Rose led a group into the vandalized bunker months after Hitler’s alleged suicide and found a cache of original documents that he kept. Another collector had access to Eva Braun family letters, and together these are the basis for concluding Hitler refused to leave the bunker and killed himself before his May Day arrived.

We certainly concur that most of his hangers-on tried desperately to convince him to leave Berlin in the weeks before the end, but Albert Speer was most influential by arguing that the better Wagnerian opera ending was a go-down fighting scenario in Berlin.

Eva Braun held herself up as the last faithful supporter and threw a birthday party that proved how hypocritical all the others were. She received a wedding certificate for her trouble, followed immediately by a death certificate.

However logical this doc is, there remains an unknown element that could have given Hitler a chance to flee—and leave a double in the fortified bunker. Yet, the incontrovertible evidence that he had Parkinson’s and likely was not well enough to undergo hardship in escape remains strong.

With Stalin spewing misinformation, and suggesting the United States wanted to hide Hitler, it seems to undercut everything. Stalin was even more deluded than Hitler—and tended to live in his own reality.

We are left with an alternate viewpoint, but that simply gives us pause and the stuff of legend. That is, if you are really up for another Hitler story.

X-Ray Milland with X-Ray Vision

DATELINE: See-Through?

Rickles Stares Down Milland Stare down between Rickles & Milland!

One of the first major box-office-poison stars who won an Oscar was also one of the first to go to American International’s low-budget junk division to continue his career when others simply faded away.

Man with X-Ray Eyes is a sight to see.

We think of Ray Milland as a man with an expensive toupee and a weary face.  His career as actor and director fell into the skids after playing the lush DT-suffering alcoholic in the film The Lost Weekend. His Oscar led to a lost career. In this movie, he makes an equally ludicrous choice when he character decides to cheat at cards in a Las Vegas casino.

Milland liked to work, and he was not about to let trashy scripts and bad TV stop him. Here, he plays Xavier, or X-Ray Milland, the savior of mankind gone all wrong.

Milland often transcended much bad material by finding something a cut above:  such was the case with Roger Corman’s delightful X-Man with the X-Ray Eyes.

Oh, it is filmed in lurid, eye-popping color, with boiling hard-boiled eggs standing in for bloody eyeballs in a glass specimen jar.

The film is actually quite modern and quite intelligent, dealing yet again with a researcher (Milland) who uses himself as the guinea pig—despite friend’s (familiar costar Harold J. Stone) objections.

Don Rickles is also around for the cynical laugh part as a carnival barker, perfectly cast as an unlikeable, greedy insulter.

The doctor starts off by seeing through paper folders to read messages or seeing through some clothes to see a missing button. Then, it becomes more sinister and more licentious. Yup, the thrill of voyeurism gives way to seeing bare bones beneath the sexuality.

There is a sense of medical come-uppance in Corman’s morality film that manages to hit on all the sensational aspects but presents them with a sensibility of political rightness. (Our woman doctor colleague demands respect—before the women’s movement in 1963).

You may be surprised that the exploitation elements are actually intriguing issues of ethics. Milland’s performance was regarded as scraping the barnacles off his once-high-toned acting, but in retrospect, he is professional and classy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oreo Cookies Not on Titanic Menu

 DATELINE: You Need a Biscuit?

Oreo biscuit 1912 1912 Version!

With Oreo Cookies in the news this week, another one of Trump’s “stable genius” appointees mixed up the distinction between an REO and an Oreo.

It came to our attention that the Oreo was invented and launched to the public on March 6, 1912, while the RMS Titanic was launched on April 12, 1912. So, we checked our First-Class Titanic menu for April 14, and learned that British-style biscuits were not proffered to passengers among the fancy pastry tray items.

The elite on the voyage had a choice of apple meringue, custard pudding, or assorted pastry. We think Animal Crackers were not on the docket.

Our spirit of choice, who stays in our haunted home, never had a chance to partake of an Oreo Cookie from the National Biscuit Company. He was a teenager during the years that the American cookie revolution hit:  oh, you would find Fig Newtons, Graham Crackers, Animal Crackers, and even Saltines, all invented in the first decade of the 20th century. Oreos came on the tail end.

In all likelihood, Richard White—who died on the Titanic at age 21—never heard of an Oreo Cookie.

Oreos have since been sunk into a billion glasses of milk by children, while the Titanic sank but once as it steamed into oblivion.

When first on the market, the Oreo was sold as an elegant, first-class “dessert sandwich.”  They came in a tin box to prevent dampness and water from turning them into soggy spoils.

Snobs of America, those lovers of all things Anglophilia around 1900, likely preferred ‘biscuits’ to ‘cookies’, in language terms. The cookie was a term around since the American Revolution, derived from a Dutch sounding word for little sweet cakes.

Since the Titanic was of British registry, you would not find a cookie aboard, though unkind people might have referred to Titanic passengers, artist Francis Davis Millet and his friend Archibald Butt, as a couple of sweetcakes.

By 1912, American children who had been introduced to snack-food cookies began a journey that would bring them to an epidemic crisis of diabetic proportions 100 years later.

And we have not even dunked our blog cookie into the racist use of the term Oreo.

 

 

Five Movies with Spirits

 DATELINE: Oldies but Goodies

Mrs. Muir & Ghost

 

 

 

Crusty Dead Sea Captain?

You may well wonder why five of the most influential and fascinating fantasy films about timeless ghostly encounters were made in a short span of the 1940s.

Some theories have centered on the fact it was the time that millions of women lost their husbands and boyfriends to casualties of World War II.

Our selected films do feature a romantic drama complicated by the fatalism of war. Two movies present men (one maimed, one an alleged suicide), and two depict dead women (yearning for unrealized love).

The women characters grow up and grow old in long sequences of time passing. Two of the men are actually one man: Rex Harrison.

If you have not guessed the movies, here they are:

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, wherein Gene Tierney meets a salty and dead sea captain at her new home, Gull Cottage (see photo above). In Blithe Spirit, a sophisticated writer finds his first dead wife jealously returned to claim her husband. (See photo below). It’s the only one in color, if that’s your preference.

Playful Blithe Spirit Rutherford as Madam Acardi

Between Two Worlds features a shipload of dead people learning their fate—and finding heaven and hell are the same destination and destiny.

Go to Hell?  Go to Heaven or Hell?

Life apparently is filled with apparitions and reincarnated souls, as told by these literary-styled tales.

 

Jennie, Dead Dream Girl  Jennie, Dead Dream Girl?

Portrait of Jennie featured a painter whose model seems to age a few years with every sitting—and who died before they met. In Enchanted Cottage, a location with magical qualities can help a disfigured war survivor and an ugly woman find themselves transformed into movie stars by an invisible benevolent force in the universe.

Enchantment Makeover  Enchanted Makeover?

If you are haunted by lost love, dead friends, and cheating fate, you may relate to these stunning films.

There are some fairly sophisticated quantum physics theories at work back in the 1940s. We hear about tears in the seams of time, or atmospheric conditions that give a place parallel universal magic, or we meet obese Examiners who measure your life like a haberdasher fitting a good suit.

In nearly every instance of these plots, you must ultimately give up the dead and continue your life until you may be returned to some dimension where death is ephemeral and an illusion.

Perhaps we love these movies because they tell the fortunes of a haunted landlord and his soulful tenant.

Our Cosmo Topper ties to a personal spirit parallel each of the story-lines of old celluloid ghosts. If there is a common thread for all these stories, it is a dimension called limbo. One day both parties will be reunited, if not reincarnated.

Stead Fast in the Titanic Library!

DATELINE:  Bookworms?

W.T. Stead & booksW.T. Stead, Spiritualist

Over 100 years ago, W.T. Stead was a big name in spiritualism.

He was one of the foremost proponents of life after death, and he used his pulpit of investigative journalism to publish many books and articles about the paranormal world. He was a man of steely gaze and intense demeanor.

Some historians credit him with being one of the founders of tabloid writing, in order to dismiss him as one of the age’s séance masters. Like Conan Doyle, he was an authority with the power of public support—and public ridicule.

So, what happened?

He booked passage on a ship across the Atlantic from his British home to lecture in New York about the occult topic of ghosts and spirits. Alas, the voyage was not a happy one: his accommodation was cabin C-89 aboard RMS Titanic.

Among the reports after the tragedy, his last night’s dinner table companions insisted that Stead told them how a medium friend had warned him that there was a chance of trouble on this trans-Atlantic trip.

Later, the witnesses to the comments were disparaged as exaggerating the story, though one wonders why anyone who survived the Titanic disaster would feel compelled to exaggerate their trauma or misremember a single detail of their vivid night to remember.

Among the survivor accounts, there was the stunning image: people saw W.T. Stead calmly sitting in the First-Class Reading Room of Titanic, smoking a pipe and perusing a book as it sank into the cold briny deep.

The image of the old man facing another world with singular and peaceful demeanor is striking amid chaos and panic of others unprepared to meet their destiny.

Like young Richard White, the elder writer loved the ambiance of a library—and chose to spend his last moments in such a haven. It is likely that Richard and Stead crossed paths, if not exchanged pleasantries at some point. They were both denizens of the Titanic library.

Poetic Richard may have been the only young man among the first-class passengers who might agree with Stead that the library provided a special comfort.

Years later, the daughter of Stead—herself a spiritualist—contacted a medium to conduct a session of automatic writing (Ouija board stuff) in which they contacted W.T. on the other side to give the particulars of the final moments of Titanic’s destruction.

He also provided a glimpse into the Blue Island, a dimension he called “beyond the veil”: a double metaphor for the Great Beyond, another part of the universe.

The saffron yellow sofa in the Library of the Titanic washed up on the shores of Nova Scotia several days after the sinking of the ship. Apparently, someone thought it might make a good life-raft.

Stead’s body was never recovered, like so many hundreds of his shipmates and fellow passengers who booked a date with destiny on Titanic.

Gold in Them Thar Michigan Cellars?

DATELINE:  Top Pocket

top pocket picker 

If you want to find a gold coin, you call on only one metal detective with a heart of money-making: Gary Drayton.

The Curse of Civil War Gold has tried to live up to its name by bringing aboard again, the star gold piece of Curse of Oak Island. Gary Drayton seems to have a knack and no one else comes close to his luck and pluck. Last year he came on for one appearance in Georgia, and not unexpectedly, he found a Confederate gold coin near the capture spot of President Jefferson Davis.

This year, he visits the home of Lt. Col. Ben Pritchard, the man who led the capture of said Davis. Lo and behold, like a gopher in the front yard of Prichard’s home, he digs multiple holes (apparently with the latest owner’s blessing), and he not surprisingly finds another Confederate coin.

It looks more than suspicious that the same sort of coin would be in Michigan on land by a man who is now being accused of conspiracy to steal gold.

This is the second pillar of the community and Civil War hero who has come up besmirched by the gold diggers. We are hit with less circumspect conclusions about circumstantial evidence.

Yet, the digging does seem to yield one key discovery: people will agree to anything for finding free loot.

More promises by Robert Clotworthy end the show with name-droppings like Abe Lincoln and his assassination. Hmmm. The show continues to make big conspiracy theories—and Marty and Alex Lagina continue to make last minute appearances to affirm the activities.

Next time Alex and Gary team up to steal the gold fillings from Kevin Dykstra’s mouth.

Still waiting to hear what the curse is in the title of this show.

 

 

 

 

Stagecoach to Lordsburg, Re-Take Three or So

DATELINE: Where’s Bing?

merritt  Merritt Shortly Before his Untimely Death.

 You may think you already saw a great, classic western with John Wayne as Ringo and directed by his mentor and most brilliant collaborator, John Ford.

Actually, you haven’t if you tune into the color, 1986 version that manages to remake the film. Unlike most revisions of the better original, this film is truly a curio, interesting on its own level.

If the first great Western had not been made with Duke Wayne, and you never heard of it, this little film might actually have been an amusing vanity project by well-known performers.

Actually, Stagecoach of 1986 is a television movie and could be better called a Country-Western. Yes, pardner, the stars apparently felt the story held its own without Wayne and Ford. So, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson, take on the key roles. No, they do not sing. Nelson did the title tune over the credits, but we guess they might have hummed a few notes between takes. That might have been more interesting.

Since singers were the motif, they also brought in Anthony Newley—and Bing Crosby’s daughter, Mary.

The cast is not bad—and you can throw in John Schneider with a perfectly coiffured beard. Anthony Franciosa plays a corrupt banker, and Elizabeth Ashley sounding like a ghetto girl, and even the under-rated Merrit Buttrick as a cavalry officer.

The story has something to do with a stagecoach making a desperate and dangerous trip with Geronimo on the warpath.

Kristofferson takes on the thankless role played by John Wayne as the Ringo Kid. Cash is some kind of marshall, and Willie Nelson is Doc Holliday.

These guys are pros—and their fans will hoot and love every scene, but we kept thinking: wait a second, wasn’t there another remake—with Bing Crosby??? It also starred Ann-Margaret, Mike Connors, Red Buttons, Van Heflin, Robert Cummings, Keenan Wynn, and Slim Pickens.

We don’t think Bing was the Duke, but we had to go to IMDb as our memory banks are corrupt lately. And, yes, there was such a film in 1966—made with old TV stars in the key roles! It is not generally available, but we will search hither and yon to find it.

 

Nobody’s Name Is More Well-Known

DATELINE:  Somebody is Big!

somebody Fonda Somebody!

When Terrence Hill, a pretty-boy actor from Italy, received top billing over Henry Fonda in the spaghetti Western, My Name is Nobody, you know the pasta won’t stick to the wall.

Though Sergio Leone’s name is pinned to this comedic western mess, he is not the director: but his style is shamelessly copied to the point that even scenes of Clint and Lee Van Cleef from A Few Dollars More are repeated here.

It is a western territory that has nothing to do with the West, except horse pucky and dust. It’s a social milieu that is a fun-house version of the noble Western. Indeed, much action takes place in a fun house with mirrors, a la Orson Welles in The Lady from Shanghai.

Stealing from the best seems to be the motto of this unfunny occasional slapstick, or burlesque, movie. It’s more Fellini than John Ford.

This Western comes several years after Fonda made a spectacular villain in Once Upon a Time in the West. Here he is Jack Beauregard, aging gunfighter wanting to retire, and Nobody is Terence Hill, an unfunny stalker who deserves to be shot for his shameless mugging. His pretty eyes notwithstanding.

We could not figure out their real relationship, but suspected it was father/illegit son. Each encounter is filled with some kind of oddball paternal bond.

R.G. Armstrong, Leo Gordon, Steve Kanaly, and Geoffrey Lewis are names you may not know, but their faces will strike you immediately for their Western roles. Here they lend their faces.

The humor is on a level of finding “Sam Peckinpah” on a tombstone in one desert cemetery. It mirrors Eastwood finding Leone’s name on a marker in one of his movies. Nothing original survives here.

However, this is ultimately Henry Fonda’s movie, a farewell and ode to the Old West, where he ends the movie with writing a letter about how it is all disappearing. He steals the movie by being Henry Fonda. Well, if this movie is the evidence, the West not only has gone with the wind, but was pushed out of the picture by bad jokes.

 

 

 

 

Titanic Leap from Shelf

 DATELINE: Shocked in the Library!

leap from Titanic   Side by Side on Shelf: DVD titled Last Mysteries of the Titanic, next to photo or Richard White in Titanic’s Reading Room.

Oh, poltergeist generally are puckish spirits who have a tendency to throw items or create havoc with a brazen sense of humor.

We have posted a video on YouTube that shows a DVD named Last Mysteries of the Titanic, sitting next to a photo of Richard White in the First Class Reading Room of the Titanic, that took on a life of its own—and jumped from the shelf leaving me speechless.

Maybe the headline for YouTube should be “Ghost Throws Book at Writer.” My spirit guardian Richard and I would receive more hits, searches, and bingo moments.

In my Titanic Memorial Library, where my roommate spirit Richard spends some time, several psychics have noted that he always has a playful sense of fun.

The library is a commemoration to him, as he lived here once long ago, and then he died on Titanic, celebrating his college graduation on a maiden voyage of a luxury ship.

Earlier my security camera had mysteriously fallen down from its perch in the library where it had been completely secured with duct tape. It provides a late-night glimpse into the space where orbs, noises, and things that go bump tend to congregate. No one really wants to be there after dark.

However, around 8pm, still with dusk at hand, the camera had fallen onto a cushion on a chair. It could be re-secured before total blackness fell. Yet, later in the early morning hours, the camera fell again. I was not going in there at that hour.

Having an early morning cup of coffee to bolster the latest visit around 6:30am, we headed over there to restore the camera and face it directly at the floor-to-ceiling shelving of books and videotapes.

Once there, we accomplished our mission and stated aloud to the spirits present that we would check on the other memorabilia and souvenirs to see if they had fallen too.

Walking to the books, we were ginger in our steps, keeping an eye out for oddities. Upon looking at the books, we were startled when one of the DVDs came off the shelf just as we asked, “Has anything else fallen?”

You can see the incident caught on camera here.  It is posted on YouTube.

The movie in question on the shelf was a documentary on Titanic, of course. What else would jump off the shelf like a passenger trying to disembark a sinking ship?

As you can see from the footage captured, your host was clearly startled. It must have amused Richard and the other resident ghosts of the library.

It’s just another day at home when your housemates are spirits from another era.

Dali’s Greatest Secret & Miracle of Fatima

 DATELINE: Uninspired Dali?

Humdrum Dali Humdrum Dali?

If you have never heard of the Blue Army, you are not alone though it purportedly had 80 million followers at its peak. It was an organization tied to the Vatican by a couple of 1950s personalities who wanted to make sure the vision of hell as seen by 3 children in 1917 frightened people to convert to Catholicism.

The Paul Perry documentary Dali’s Greatest Secret may be hyperbole.

The miracle at Fatima was about small Portuguese children who witnessed an orb in the sky in the form of a woman who claimed to be Our Lady, mother of Christ. She terrified the children with visions and even appeared to thousands of hysterical people during her multiple visits to Fatima.

One child survived into adulthood, sworn to silence in a religious order: Lucia (called Lucy-ah throughout this documentary) kept a third secret that the Vatican withheld for a long time. Scaring children with visions of hell is not a nice thing to do, even in a good cause.

The Blue Army decided to commission the only man capable of depicting the children’s “Vision of Hell.” Atheist Salvadore Dali was given $15,000 to pain the image to help bolster the Blue Army numbers. It was meant to frighten the hippie generation into turning to God and Catholicism, over free love and communism.

Dali tried repeatedly to do something but could not. He needed to meet Lucia, but she at first refused. After a few years, she gave him 15 minutes that seemed to revive his inspiration. He actually converted back to Catholicism to do his painting with escargot forks.

Dali returned the money he was paid to priests associated with Fatima, but never showed anyone his final image of hell. Not his official photographer and executor of his estate, not to his last long-time mistress (both interviewed and showed the image on camera). It was largely unimpressive to them.

Even the Blue Army never saw the work in progress. A few experts claim it was too personal for public consumption for the surrealist who never shied away from tooting his horn.

What are we to make of the ultimate work? Perhaps that too is personal and may hinge on your attitude to Dali’s far-out notions. Perhaps he knew in his heart that it was one of his most inferior works.

 

 

 

Library of Dreams!

DATELINE:  Magic on the Bookshelves?

end table of Titanic   Brenda Duval’s Titanic End Table

We all know the famous baseball story by W.P. Kinsella, Field of Dreams, in which a man is inspired by a spirit of Shoeless Joe Jackson to build a baseball field in his cornfield.

As a result, he finds himself at the epicenter of spirit life.

We never presumed to be the builder of a “Library of Dreams,” yet it appears to be our role late in life. It was easy to change part of the house, the north wing, to a library to honor all the people who lived in the Spring Village area since 1800, but in particular we had a push by the main spirit who has reached out to us:  one of the passengers of the Titanic who met his end at an all-too young age of 21 years.

For decades, without knowing why, compelled by unknown forces, we have collected many items somehow associated with the infamous tragedy at sea that killed 1500 people: RMS Titanic.

Our part has been minor, pointing out only one more benighted victim of the arrogance of luxury and money in 1912. He is our spiritual chess-mate from Titanic.

Richard himself was privileged by birth, but also never had a chance to realize his potential as a poet and philanthropist.

Richard too loved libraries. The final library in his life was the First Class Reading Room on the Titanic. There is even a photo of him, back to camera, reading while his father was on deck, also photographed, looking for his son.

Within two days, they would drown.

Richard’s other favorite library belonged to his aunt, Julia White Castle, who married the Hawaiian pineapple king, James Castle. They had the largest library in Hawaii in 1900 in their Waikiki Diamond Head mansion.

Richard lived there for a year. While his brother went out to enjoy the climate and people, Richard enjoyed the hundred magazine subscriptions that arrived regularly .

Almost in irony, after Richard died, his brother Percy wrote over 25 books: they too adorn our library shelf.

Local artist Brenda Duval, painted a picture of Titanic at full steam atop an end table. It is a labor of love, as she has all four funnel stacks billowing dark smoke. Only three were functional: the fourth was for show. It was the one that fell off the ship after the iceberg hit. It smashed into the frigid water atop dozens who had jumped—and were struck by a lethal force before hypothermia killed them. Richard likely was one of these unfortunates.

All of this is part of our library of dreams, giving the spirits of Mill Circle their safe haven. Based on photos of the original First Class Reading Room, we proudly note that we have more books! We will maintain it as long as our own spirit holds out.

 

Tunnel of Love on Last Lost Gold

DATELINE: First Season Ends on High Note

tunnel Smoke at End of Tunnel?

Of the threesome of gold hunter shows on History, this season’s tale of the hidden treasures of General Yamashita in the Philippines is head and shoulders above the ground. We have enjoyed The Lost Gold of World War II much more than could be expected.

We are coming to the end of season one, and the hook is finding that pesky tunnel on their mountain. Of course, there would appear to be at least one treasure on every mountain on Luzon. Take your pick.

The last episode starts with a threatening witness who alerts Peter Struzzieri that the CIA is his main rival, and that trillions of dollars are at stake: your life is cheap in the balance.

The secret witness has his voice distorted and face digitally mashed: but he provides slightly wrong info, as the CIA was not around after World War II, but came about closer to 1950.

Warnings are meant to be ignored, especially when the ante has gone up.

Martin Flagg is the code-breaker expert whose expertise is wrong nearly always. These guys misread a few more signs, proving that weeks of digging in the wrong place can be fixed in a few minutes by marching to another spot.

Flagg redeems himself by a clever triangulation that seems to uncover the big break the gold hunters require to have another season on History.

As they hike to the new spot, we don’t see CIA assassins around every jungle plant, but the hunters are worried about snakes. We wondered when the serpents would show up in this golden garden of Eden.

The hook for the second season is the discovery of an amazing labyrinth of tunnels that may reveal the boundless bounty of gold. The closing of the series is breathtaking in discovery and parallels this season’s Curse of Oak Island with the aged High Lama of each show passing on. Grandpa will not return next season.

Use of smoke to find other tunnel entrances is ingenious.

Whatever the drawbacks of hide and seek, this series has been more fun than the other History hors d’oeuvres.

Irony Lost on Civil War Gold

DATELINE: Follow the Red Brick Wall!

IMG_4765

“A Void at All Costs”? That’s what the episode is titled.

Yikes, when the show names its own poison, you have to wonder how serious it is when it comes to playing around with truth and history. Of the trio of gold hunt shows on History, this one is the lamest. Irony is lost here, not gold.

In a continuing effort to malign people who are dead, History Channel gives us more of the same. Collapsed tunnels from the late 19th century connects the two houses of banker partners who lived across the road from each other. How nefarious is that?

More troubling is the connection between a man who captured Jefferson Davis, Confederate president, and the treasury of the South—to Charles Hackley, the banker who hired the Union officer’s son.

Modestly poor men suddenly open banks. It does raise an eyebrow.

As far as permits go to salvage Lake Michigan, we again have been misled. The process only leads to a federal appeal—and a more deliberate delay. Clearly the Michigan connection is a dead end for now—and the series must move to other areas, literally.

The suppositions are built on sand, or brick walls that front air pockets. Follow the red brick wall. The tease of Wilkes Booth and Jesse James being involved in the story has dried up. They cannot break through the walls because it could bring down the house, which would put them over-budget.

There’s enough dubious dullness that Alex Lagina is not on Oak Island, but back at his father’s business. He gave them any excuse to flee the Civil War hoax.

But, we are connecting dots not meant to lead anywhere. Maybe next week, Gary Drayton will show up and find a coin. Going nowhere is a theme on this show, and they are off on another tangent next week. We still don’t know what the curse is this show’s title refers to.