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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

We Got Bingo & Lost Gold Too

DATELINE:   Eureka?

bingo

 Bingo Minerva.

The lost treasure among the many treasure hunters from the new History Channel series Lost Gold of World War II is their at-home in the U.S. researcher and Man Friday.

His name is Bingo Minerva, and he has the most interesting and least stressful job of the pack. He interviews old gold hunters and experts in myriad evidence, then skypes his response back to the Luzon Island boys.

The elderly gold diggers on Luzon Island seem to be sweating more than usual in this episode. We worry for the health of old-man Peter Struzzieri.  The only smart one is the expert in reading Japanese markers: he seems to remain back at home base in the air conditioned bungalow, aka shack, of the treasure hunters.

As per usual, they take the wrong road constantly: deciding to dig next to a waterfall—and then becoming amazed that water leaks into their air vent pit.

The other brainiacs have decided to dig down into the area where drill bits have been worn to a nub. The volcanic rock is, of course, impenetrable.

The upshot is a waste of time and a waste of one episode: the sole interesting point was made by Bingo who interviewed an aging attorney who represented a man who sued Ferdinand Marcos for stealing millions of dollars in hidden loot.

There is a hint of danger in that the CIA is also after the Japanese treasures hidden in some remote mountain tunnel.

As the series will go on hiatus after the next episode, we suspect we are about to be left hanging for a year.

 

Horse’s Neck & Other Derby Matters

DATELINE: Horsey Set?

mr. ed Mr. Ed for President!

In the United States of America, there is only one horse who can talk—and Mr. Ed likely has plenty to add to the recent spectacle of horse flesh known as the Kentucky Derby.

This annual bettor event is used by swells for preening and promenading all for the better. Tom Brady was there with a plethora of former backup quarterbacks and some of his other sycophantic friends. It was a Trump supporters’ extravaganza.

However, Maximum Security stole the show and may be now in lock-down if not in harness in his solitary stall. He was disqualified for cheating.

We suspect the horse sense only applied to his jockey, but the action of judges to take the one-third of the Crown away from the pretender to the Derby has left big bettors throwing their hats in the ring for a fifteen-round fight.

Imagine a horse cheating in 21st century American sport known for gambling, and he did not even take a steroid.

Now the Cheater-in-Chief has taken again to Twitter to explain his view of the universe. He hasn’t much else to do except bet on losers.

In America the only talking horse is Mr. Ed.  But, when it comes to blowhards, the white horse’s ass is speaking again in 140 characters from the White House, no country estate.

You have to understand how a cheater and liar can be indignant when someone does not win after cheating or lying. If you are looking for a premonition of the 2020 presidential election, you may gulp hard at the attitude of the White House wannabe returnee.

Maximum Security lived up or down to his name, and the Country Horse is Country House, an offense to someone in the White House.

Of course, as you might expect, Mr. Trump cannot even spell “Kentuky,” a state he hopes to carry in the next election. His semi-literate tweets may once again prove that his father bribed some college to give the horse’s end a degree, but that’s a horse of a different color.

Civil War Gold Returns to Pan Again

DATELINE: Glittery Start

Daddy's Boy
Daddy’s Boy?

Has History Channel no end to the depths to which it will sink? Apparently not, as The Search for Civil War Gold is back on the air for another season.

As if to sweeten the leprechaun’s pot at the end of the rainbow, they have added Alex Lagina as a catnip to fans of Curse of Oak Island. His millionaire old man (Marty Lagina) is bankrolling this series, of course.

They are also trotting out Gary Drayton as a guest star, to bring the full-force of the Oak Island influence to another series. It won’t hurt to throw the two most popular figures from the other series into the pot of gold.

Trying to overcome the bad habits of the first season may be an interesting exercise. A three-ring circus may be a good way to deflect and to misdirect. It works for Trump.

Curse of Civil War Gold has hooked us immediately as the stars of last season, Kevin Dykstra, picks up the newest addition:  Alex Lagina. He will now serve as the lynchpin.

You could not ask for more: handsome, charming, and with 50million bucks in the bank. We are now on board. Be still, all those beating fan hearts.

There has been a bit of hostility and passive-aggression from Kevin Dykstra and his brother over the fact that Marty Lagina has kidnapped their “baby” project.

However, without Lagina’s money, they’d be nowhere and with a theory they could not prove.

Then, with the onerous tones of Robert Clotworthy bringing sequelitis to this Curse of Civil War Gold followup to Oak Island.

Dykstra makes a snide comment about Lagina trusting “one of his children” to look after the investment. We aren’t sure how Alex will react to being labelled a child.

Alex is the new star of the show, so move aside all you middle-aged, paunchy amateurs. Right away, Alex shows he is in charge by bringing in a noted underwater archaeologist, which the others gush over (later they sneer at how college professors always get it wrong).

Alex also shocks them with providing a luxurious boat to do their diving from: they clearly have never had it this good, and suddenly are humbled.

Dykstra struts, “Marty’s really paying off…” Yes, literally. That’s why he can take over the show and make his son the new focus.

Of course, these guys cannot do salvage work without a permit—and it again takes Marty Lagina to work out the legalities. When that’s done, Alex announces he will head the dive team.

The show also opened up by hinting that the Confederate gold was hijacked by Jefferson Davis, Jesse James, and John Wilkes Booth. Hmmm. Okay, we’ll come back to hear more of this.

Hernandez Haunted House: Updated

DATELINE: Creepy, Ooky, & Altogether Spooky

AH house Gloom & Doom?

Since first writing about the haunted manse of former Patriot and serial killer Aaron Hernandez in 2017, we have repeatedly been asked for an update on the situation.

Considered one of the more notorious houses in Massachusetts, the Hernandez residence may be up there in the neighborhood of Lizzie Borden.

It’s actually not far from Fall River where misbehaving parents were given forty whacks with an axe. It is definitely in Nathaniel Hawthorne territory.

The buyer of the Hernandez home, avoided by wiser heads, turned out to be a 23-year old investor looking to make a killing. He took it for $1million, a bargain at 33% off.

He chose to ignore the ominous signs of decay within the house, presuming that the cops knocked down doors. That is not true. Any vandalism within the house was by occupants or intruders. The house’s only curb appeal is that of an eyesore and mind-sore within an upscale neighborhood of cheaply-made and costly McMansions.

“My friends are definitely surprised and shocked,” said Arif Khan, a New England Patriots fan and owner of a haunted house. “It has a bad name to it, but it’s probably one of the most famous houses in Massachusetts.”

Khan’s inexact language may be symptomatic of his bad decisions. It is not famous, but infamous. The house does not have a bad name, but an evil foreboding to it.

“Nobody wants to buy a house with Aaron Hernandez’s name on it, but I feel a name change and a little upgrade on the property will increase its value.”  Yes, P.T. Barnum would say there’s one born every 23 years.

This whelp purchased the property “as is with no warranties.”  Yikes. He has paid the back taxes in the town in the neighborhood of $100,000. What can be more scary than losing your shirt in the process of turning this monstrosity into a fixer-upper?

There are three wrongful death suits still pending against the Hernandez estate. That would make any spirit restless. Parts of the house may need to be gutted.

As paranormal experts can attest, the more you change the physical plane of ghosts’ milieu,  they will become problematic. Khan said he does not get a “creepy vibe” from inside the house, though he had not spent the night there.

 

Idiot’s Delight (Again)

DATELINE: Learning Curve Bends Light Waves!

Laird Cregar

The Internet seems to teach us the impossible is not improbable, Sherlock Holmes notwithstanding.

We just read that Prince’s memoirs will be published posthumously. You mean he is not a vampire?

Another article tells us that Twitter is not America. Well, we already figured that out when 33% of our followers on Twitter are from Turkey and apparently do not speak English.

A new study on the concept of BS has proven to be overblown. Rich guys tend to exaggerate their abilities. Having more money apparently still does not make up for having little confidence and less talent. We even wonder if self-designations like “rich” are suspect.

We also found a journalistic piece that states that Twitter fuels anxiety. Well, that is one explanation for the Twitter-storms of Donald Trump.

A business named “mailchimp” claims to make marketing easy. Monkey see; monkey may do, as long as you have the money to pay the monkey to dance to the organ grinder’s tune.

Some people believe that slave-owner and man who turned down Lincoln to save the Union, one Robert E. Lee, was a kindly soul and gentle man. We call them white nationalists, but General Lee is not just a motor vehicle in a hick TV series. He is down by the levee with Kate Smith, watching their statues be torn down by the new majority in America, the Minority.

After watching the History Channel TV series, Project Blue Book, the United States military has decided to junk the term UFO and call those flying saucers, “unidentified aerial phenomena,” but a rose by any other name will still be high-flying space creatures.

Low-income people are apparently more devastated by scams on the Internet than rich people. When you’ve got nothing to lose, you lose everything, according to experts.

The latest notion of pollution is microplastics, which seem to be so small that they are floating around cities and landing in lakes, though you can’t see them. It is no longer smoke that gets in your eyes.

Ten minutes on the Internet has undermined all knowledge you thought you had avoided in school.

Cybill’s Defining Role: Daisy Miller

DATELINE: Top-Notch Henry James

cybill Perfectly Cybill!

As mentor to the star, director, creative  force, and whiz kid, young Peter Bogdonavich took dry Henry James and made a fast-moving, emotionally-moving film of a famous novella, Daisy Miller.

You could not find a more perfect American girl than Cybill Shepherd as Daisy: unspoiled, direct, and completely at odds with social conventions in 19th century Europe.

Caught between women like her scatter-brained mother (Cloris Leachman) and an American social doyen Mrs. Walker (Eileen Brennan), Daisy does not stand a chance if she ignores or simply teases Frederick Winterbourne (brilliant young Barry Brown, too soon gone to a premature grave), an American who is a permanent resident of Europe.

Whether it’s going on a tourist trip to Byron’s famous castle without chaperone, or worse, going to the place of the viral Roman fever at the Colosseum, Daisy is hell-bent on living her way. Extraordinary location filming makes this a treat.

Winterbourne resists the notion that her scandalous behavior is anything bad. Yet, he cannot convince others in his social set—and crumbles in their heavy pressure.

Rich Americans policed themselves to try to avoid any ugly American image. Fast-talking Daisy, flirtatious and coy, breaks all the rules in her nouveau riche niche.

If Daisy learns there is a social convention, she is hell-bent on testing its merits. What she does not expect is that she will be shunned by the Americans living abroad. To a social butterfly, as Cybill Shepherd delineates to a T, this is far more damaging than she expects.

Perhaps this quintessential American girl could bear all if only Winterbourne remained on her side. He is sorely tested, and ultimately as the laconic Barry Brown narrates, he has lived too long in foreign places.

Alas, it is Brown, the actor, who is gone too soon, based on the promise of this extraordinary film performance.

 

 

 

Kate Smith Sings Under Cover

DATELINE:  Bless Us Every One?

Kate Smith

A Philly worker is not hugging Kate Smith but putting a noose around her neck as they wait for the crane to cart her off. Major Bowles has rung the bell. It’s Amateur Night in America.

If the revisionist historians have the final say, Songbird of the South, Miss Kate Smith, the ultimate fat lady, has done sung her last note.

In the City of Brotherly Love, the Fat Lady is being draped in a black tarp prior to being carted off the big stage.

Kate Smith has been exorcized. She died in 1986, but her real death is this week.

Yellow journalists are the peril of the past. Now they have uncovered that Kate Smith sang a couple of ditties with “racist” lyrics in the 1930s. As a result, the icon who died  after a late career blossoming as the “God Bless America” queen, has gone with the wind.

She first recorded the Irving Berlin favorite tune in 1939, and it became a staple. The song and Miss Smith sang to sell war bonds to win World War II, but alas, that no longer has meaning.

She has joined Robert E. Lee, waiting by the levee for the men to take her statue out of Philadelphia, have her tune removed from Flyer games, and stop stretching to her song at Yankee Stadium. She has joined Stonewall Jackson as the antebellum loser of the year.

The Moon has indeed come over the Mountain, and the cow is jumping over it too.

Kate Smith is now an outlaw and an outlier.

God once blessed America, but that quaint notion seems to have come to an abrupt end.

 

 

God once blessed America, but it seems to have come to an abrupt end.

Truly Miss Marple: Rutherford Murders?

DATELINE:  Murder Most Foul!

Dames Margaret & Agatha

Dames Margaret Rutherford & Agatha Christie!

A little British documentary about character actress Margaret Rutherford is shocking, surprising, and ultimately saddening. If you have forgotten her dotty old ladies, she was the first movie Miss Marple.

The film has the overwhelming title: Truly Miss Marple: the Curious Case of Margaret Rutherford. The actress died in 1972 after a rapid decline in health at the height of her popularity

Agatha Christie was appalled at the folly of turning her aged detective into an eccentric comic actress, but they later enjoyed each other—to the degree that Christie dedicated The Mirror Crack’d to Rutherford.

Her acting career did not fully reach success until after age 40: she was always the costar, whether it was for John Gielgud or Edith Evans. When success came, she played old ladies who were NOT battle-axes. It was an unkind comment by interviewers. Dame Margaret was always a gentle figure of fun.

Her biggest break came with Noel Coward in Blithe Spirit, a role she almost refused because she thought it might demean spiritualists (as she was a believer).

Her indomitable English grand dames gave way in old age to the Christie character, though Margaret hated the word “Murder” in the titles of the four grand Miss Marple movies. There was a reason for her sensitivity: her father murdered her grandfather, and later, likely as a result, her mother committed suicide.

Yet, Rutherford herself was the ultimate woman of kind hearts and coronets. If there was a downside, it was her growing periods of depression. It was a losing battle, especially when dementia added to her woes.

She briefly went to Hollywood with Burton and Taylor in The VIPs and won an Oscar as a supporting actress. The Oscar disappeared after her death, stolen and on the black market, sold by a conniving housekeeper.

Miss Marple’s little murder mystery movies remain delightful, owing to Rutherford’s charismatic personality.

 

Lost Gold’s Backdoor Episode

DATELINE: Grandpa Knows Best. 

Luzon meeting Luzon Meeting of the Braintrust?

Finally, in the fifth episode of trudging through the thick, humid, sticky jungle, the intrepid American heroes of this series admitted there were bugs eating them alive. Lost Gold of World War II holds your attention.

We saw sweat dripping several times over the past few weeks as they chop through thick underbrush, bemoaning how the Japanese soldiers managed.

Well, we heard in a throwaway line that prisoners of war and others did this heavy work—and were paid by being entombed in the mine shafts where the gold was hidden.

We were also bemused to see the true oldsters of the expedition going out on this show:  Peter Struzzieri, the ostensible brains back at basecamp and a spry 70 year old, and Martin Flagg, a less spry senior expert in Japanese secret society symbols were dragged out.

Peter Casey was clearly concerned that this was an arduous trek. But, the so-called carved turtle rock was something they must behold: it’s alleged to be a direction marker to a backdoor to the gold.

We did laugh when Struzzieri noted that the younger guys would go on ahead. No one is under 50. If you stick around for the closing credits, you will note that these scenes are all “re-enacted,” for cameras.

You also have to marvel when they go to “grandpa” who is the ancient source of wisdom (sort of their version of Dan Blankenship on Oak Island).

Like our gold diggers on Oak Island, these guys like to jump to conclusions. Thank heavens that Bingo Minerva is back in Texas, taking a shell casing to a military historian.

The ammo is actually dating from 1908 and American intervention in the Spanish-American conflict of 1898. If you want rationalizing at its best, the searchers speculate that World War II Japanese soldiers were using old American ammo by war’s end.

Oh, well, this stuff is still fun.

 

A Picture Worth a Billion Jokes!

DATELINE: DEADLINE

Hole in One Your Inevitable Singularity?

Black Holes, unite! You have only your invaded privacy to fall back upon. Yes, the secretive monster of the universe has been exposed, or perhaps over-exposed.

Scientists think they have a black hole in one, but the hole is in their proverbial heads.

Einstein was right. The ultimate emoticon is smiling at us.

Smile, you’re on Candid Camera, you self-important denizens of Earth.

Scientists have taken a gleeful approach to the first photoshop of a black hole. No, this is nothing like the Black Hole of Calcutta. This is the laughing visage of universal death.

We see no reason for joy in Mudville or NASA.

To our poetic eyes, we see the metaphor of a Grim Reaper in the throes of the biggest smiley face of history. He will devour you.

Yes, it’s true:  scientists call it spaghettification.

That’s the process in which you are brought into the Black Widow’s orbit, never to escape, and as you sink in to the Singularity, you become one long noodle strand until you break up in the smile of the Black Hole.

Apparently, the shadow of your smile is not just a pop tune. That black edge you see in the photo is actually the shadow of some tiny center of nugget that has neither height, weight, or normal dimensions.

The only die-mention is your demise.

So, while science puts on a happy face over the first picture of their bouncing baby Doom, we feel that to look into the one-eyed Cyclops of Death with his broad grin is too fateful for fun, or ready for Funny or Die.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last of the Western Elite

DATELINE: Butch & Sundance

Rakish mistakish Seated on each end.

  Bowler League?

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are inevitably the guys with raindrops falling on their heads.

When the American Experience doc series takes on their story, we feel that the light ditty that sent them over the cliff of fame is unnecessary to the real truth of tragedy.

The little film is more about the Pinkertons and modern technology of 1900 with marked bills, detailed descriptions, and Morse Code. Butch and Sundance could wear bowlers better than most, but the famous picture dogged them and doomed them.

On the tail end of the Western tale, they were actually weaned on the early dime novel adventures, becoming the last of a breed in the days after Jesse and Billy. They were dainty, dynamite train robbers of the Robber Barons, and that did them in.

Taking stage names that were part of the show, Butch Cassidy protected his family name by assuming the name of a paternalistic role model named Cassidy. Sundance took his name from the town where he spent much time.

Extrovert Cassidy and introvert Sundance were methodical and almost passionate in good manners for not shedding blood. They had a Robin Hood network of followers and supporters. Some claimed the Wild Bunch had 500 followers, all dedicated to Cassidy.

The two men were ultimately, if not homoerotically,  devoted mostly to each other, whether you throw in the beard of Etta Place or not. She left them in Argentina and they could ride off into the sunset together.

Alas, not knowing geography, language, or customs, they ended up as a murder-suicide duo, hopelessly entwined unto death. The real story doesn’t need a cute song to sum up their lives.

 

 

 

Commemorating Titanic after 107 Years!

DATELINE: Connections to the Past?

Harper & Clifton Father & Son Face Fate on Titanic (1953 version).

The 1953 version of Titanic and re-telling of the horrific night that is unforgettable and must be remembered was pure Hollywood spectacle. It had an all-star cast, and it ended with masterful special effects for its age. It had to be a black and white movie to heighten its impact literally with the iceberg and figuratively with the horror.

The central family of the movie plot bears a startling resemblance to the real family that became subject of my biographical history, Tales of a Titanic Family.

Rich Americans, the father is a prig played by Clifton Webb, and his stunning wife is Barbara Stanwyck. They have two children, the younger a boy (Harper Carter) at odds with his father. Their mettle would be tested by an iceberg.

So, not having seen the movie in dozens of years, we were not prepared entirely for what other coincidences and frightful similarities might turn up. The theory did not take long to prove itself.

The 1953 movie was released in April, on the 41st anniversary week of the Titanic’s sinking. Almost immediately upon introducing the mother figure in the movie, played by Barbara Stanwyck, she was identified as Julia. This stunned me a bit, as Julia was indeed the name of Richard White’s grandmother, and the name of his aunt, his father’s sister (His father died with him on Titanic).

Then, Clifton Webb showed up as the father: his name, of course, was Richard Sturges.

They have two children also on board the ship. The elder here is a daughter, and the younger son is only about 14. However, in a key moment, Stanwyck recites the A.E. Housman poem, “When I was one and twenty,” about fate. Richard was 21 when he was aboard the ill-fated ship.

Clifton Webb cannot buy a ticket in first-class because it is all sold out: which wasn’t true. White Star Lines tried to give away cabins that remained empty.

Though he was a world traveler, a man among many New York millionaires. Clifton Webb’s character has greetings for all his friends, from Guggenheim to Strauss to Astor.

Robert Wagner played a 21-year old college man from Purdue. He is a Richard White stand-in.

Among the delightful actors in this film are Richard Basehart as a defrocked priest, and there is also Thelma Ritter as the hard-talking, unsinkable Molly Brown. Brian Aherne seems to be ship’s captain in every movie version. Director Jean Negulesco is adept at weaving together an hour of soapish stories before the heavy business of sinking the liner.

In a key moment Barbara Stanwyck tells her husband that their second child is not his. They plan to divide up the spoils, each child going with one parent. It is a haunting parallel to the real family.

The final minutes of the ice-berg’s damage and sinking of the ship is done quickly and without any noticeable panic among the men left without lifeboats. They are all gentlemen, singing as the ship seems to blow up and rapidly spirals into oblivion.

There is no bad behavior, or messy deaths, as occurred in real life. We think the smoke stack fell from the ship and onto those who jumped off the ship, like Richard White. The unbilled narrator at the end of the movie is Michael Rennie.

Seeing this version of the story seemed to be fitting, as it became tailored to Richard White’s actual life experience. Watching was not easier, and not pleasant, no matter how purified the events. Richard apparently jumped off the ship, like Wagner’s character. Richard may not have been his father’s son, and Richard haunts this writer.

The ghost of Richard Frazar White brought me face-to-face with Robert Wagner a dozen years ago—and only now do I know why. Richard