A Tale of Two Titanic Survivors

DATELINE: Never Told Story?

Emilio Portaluppi.    &     Charles Joughlin

One of the segments of the recent TV series UnXplained featured the mysterious survival story of Charles Joughlin, the chief baker on the Titanic. It went so far as to suggest that supernatural forces were at work when it came to this man’s miraculous escape from death.

The story of Joughlin was made famous, or infamous, on the movie A Night to Rememberwhen notable character actor George Rose played him for comic relief. When he discovered the ship was sinking, baker Joughlin started drinking heavily and was totally drunk as the ship went under.

He spent his last minutes aboard ship, in his chef’s white smock, throwing objects into the ocean for those in the cold water to hold as buoyant rafts. He himself went into the frigid waters that killed people after ten minutes. Only he did not die.

After a short time in the North Atlantic among chunks of ice, he was pulled aboard the lifeboat of Officer Lighttoller and lived.

How miraculous was that?

Not quite as amazing as the story of Emilio Portaluppi, a second-class passenger who lived in Milford, New Hampshire, and worked there as a stonemason. He too was tossed into the ocean as Titanic sank, and he too survived being in the frigid waters that killed so many so quickly. Yet, his story has not really been told.

What’s the difference?

Perhaps, the key ingredient was nationality: Joughlin could readily speak to journalists and told a tale that bemused even other survivors. Portaluppi was an Italian immigrant who moved to Milford, New Hampshire, likely spoke poor English and returned to a small New England town and lived unobtrusively for years. No movie character ever depicted his intriguing story.

Joughlin was older by eight years, and he was in his mid-30s, married with two children, when he was chief baker on the White Star Lines. Portaluppi had no listed famiy in America. In fact, he was on a holiday in Italy to see his parents when he booked passage on Titanic in France to return to America.

Both men lived years after Titanic became folklore, but Joughlin was British and managed to find his tale in Walter Lord’s famous book, A Night to Remember.Portaluppi, by that time, had left New Hampshire to work in Brooklyn for a contracting company. Though Joughlin died in the 1950s, Portaluppi lived until 1974—and was available to talk to anyone interested in Titanic.

Apparently, he never did. The few news stories about him seem to offer details and dismissive skepticism. He said he was in the water for about two to four hours, and he floated among dead bodies until a rescue vessel came by after dawn and found him. He was one of four still alive in the waters. This superseded Joughlin by many hours!

How did Portaluppi survive the hypothermia? There are no tales of his drunkenness being the root cause. The officer who led the rescue claimed he never spoke to those whom he saved, and they never spoke to him even after being fished out of the water. No thanks, and no explanations. One could presume they were half-dead, in shock, and perhaps Portaluppi knew little enough English.

Thus, Portaluppi’s tale was truly supernatural, but for over fifty years, he lived quietly, even as films were made and TV specials passed him by. Perhaps he blacked out and did not recall what happened. Perhaps he suffered from post-traumatic syndrome and never wanted to discuss it. He went into a kind of seclusion usually afforded New Yorkers like Greta Garbo. He was in the biggest metropolis of media for 35 years, and when he died, his body was sent to Italy for burial.

You mean no journalist found a story here worth telling?

Séance at Spring Village

DATELINE: Titanic Spirits Beckon Us!

 Five Who Dared!

Apparently, we are the first ones to hold a séance at Spring Village since the Titanic sank.

You would think that someone around here might have done conducted some kind of paranormal event—considering that two of the residents died on Titanic. And, also, considering that the neighborhood has been rife with ghost tales for nearly two-hundred years, we are ripe for supernatural activity.

Good heavens, even those two who perished on that ill-fated voyage of 1912 were well-aware they lived in a haunted house. It’s a point hard to ignore when orbs and bumps in the night are everywhere.

It seems to us that what goes around comes around.

If you live over a natural mineral spring that Native Americans felt was some kind of ancient vortex and miracle cure for what ails you, you may have a good site for reaching other dimensions.

Since the Titanic went down in the frigid Atlantic, Albert Einstein theorized that wormholes and other tunnels warped time and space, making it even more likely that beings from another time and place might go wherever they wished.

And, wouldn’t two who died on Titanic make an appearance at the ancestral home?

Since moving here, I have been an advocate that something odd and decidedly paranormal has been taking place in the vicinity. It became more imperative when the activity seemed to center on me personally, as if one spirit wanted me to write his life story. Well, I did: it’s called Tales of a Titanic Family, and then I followed it up with something more about his life and death, entitled Chess-Mate from Titanic.

Perhaps even that has not been enough. So, we have arranged a séance here in the house where a library is dedicated to Richard White, a college student whose graduation gift was a first-class ticket to oblivion and infamy on Titanic.

Oh, he has been hanging around me for decades, but I never paid it no mind until something brought me to a place that I learned was his home. No, I had no idea when first I came here.

Recently, we had a group of ghost hunters, led by Susan Allen and Eric Metzler, and capped off with a special assistance from Kadrolsha Ona, the celebrity Queen of Paranormal.

Unlike Houdini, and his 100+ seances that he usually debunked, we had two video cameras and a plethora of audio tape recorders for the standard EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon to you novices).

Call us ready or not. The séance went off with plenty of hitches: It was not what I expected—we developed sea sickness, mal de mer on the deck of Titanic, and one spirit went hysterical on us, looking for her husband who was not allowed on a lifeboat with her.

Have we learned a lesson from this tampering with the unknown? Not really, as we plan to do a follow-up in September.

 

Dr. Russo’s books on Titanic are all available in print and e-book formats. The latest is Titanic Mysteries on Mill Circle. A book on the seance will be available before the 2020 New Year.

One Hour on the Decks of Titanic!

DATELINE: Seance on a Saturday PM

carol and orb Kadrolsha with orb (Richard?) next to bookrack!

When your home is haunted by one of the victims of the Titanic, and you are on a first-name basis with that spirit, you may find yourself engaged in strange activities.

So, we came to have a séance on a Saturday afternoon that would try to reach Richard White, a 21-year old college student who died on April 15, 1912. He has been following me for some time, and he was likely responsible for my discovery of his old family estate not far from his grave.

On an August day, we finally arranged the first séance to reach him. Like Arthur Conan Doyle or W.T. Stead, notable 19th century spiritualists, we were about to embark on a great adventure.

To help with this was foremost spiritualist and healer, Kadrolsha Ona Carole, who is known professionally as the Queen of the Paranormal.

Also to join us in my study were long-time ghost hunters Susan Allen, Karen Raymond, and Eric Metzler. They have visited my home often and helped me communicate with the spirits around me. Primarily, this is Richard, a student with a penchant for spending time with a retired professor: Dr. William Russo.

The Queen of Paranormal told us we would conduct a professional investigation, not the usual hand-holding, table-tipping that often occurs in Hollywood movies.

As a first timer, I had a bit of nerves: we set up an antique round table for five, each with a white candle on a red tablecloth. There would be sage to cleanse the air and block out the entrances. There would be bread, home-made, natural.

Our contact, Kadrolsha is fairly active in media—with graphic novels, TV and movie tie-ins. She is a stunning blond woman, tall and with a healer’s kindness. She did not engage in fancy chants to set us up: but did a silent prayer and touched each of us on the head to open up.

Many times I had told Richard through divining rods that I did not want to see him on Titanic and felt he was cheated by life. So, I felt some protection. Only later did we find an orb in a corner photo of our session. My belief is that Richard stood next to a bookrack where my work Chess-Mate from Titanic detailed his life.

What happened shocked me, and it was unexpected: we felt the rock of ship in distress. Many of us were freezing cold and shaking to and fro. I was actually warm, and grew flush, but Eric was profusely sweating and overheated: it was a description that survivors gave of Richard’s father who seemed to suffer a heart attack on deck.

As for me, I felt my hands and arms involuntarily raising off my lap—as if buoyant by water. Yet, I was never cold, but in a stunned state at the reactions of the others at our little circular table.

Our hostess, Kadrolsha also felt choked with heart pains—but Sue was most affected, having visions of a woman forced to separate from her husband who was not allowed on the lifeboat.

Her panic grew exponentially and consoling her was nearly impossible. Kadrolsha recognized this, and she brought us back after a harrowing hour aboard a sinking luxury liner.

This experience lasted an hour, though it felt much quicker and sudden. Once the spell was broken, we felt a great relief: recordings taken will document the time aboard the ship at our table.

Should we try this again? I am wary: for a day after I suffered paranormal hangover, tired and headachey. No bad spirits took up residence in my home, thanks to Richard. Yet, I never again want to be on a Titanic deck, even in a hypnotic trance of a séance.

Dr. William Russo has written three books on his Titanic connections:  Tales of a Titanic Family, Chess-mate from Titanic, and Titanic Mysteries on Mill Circle. All are available on Amazon.com in print and in ebook format.

 

 

 

Titanic 2 in the News

DATELINE:  Now, Voyager!

Percival on Titanic deck Percival White, Titanic deck, 1912.

Another billionaire is challenging the world with his money.

This time it is an Australian known as Clive Palmer who decided in 2012, on the 100th anniversary, to build a duplicate of the original unsinkable catastrophe, Titanic, and let it set sail under the Blue Flag Liners.

Delays can never be put aside, but the latest press releases are touting the ship as nearly ready to go out to sea in 2022. The ship will leave from Dubai for New York.

It may be an expensive voyage: first-class compartments may go for $100,000 for a few days of fun. The former owner of our home was one of the victims in 1912: Richard White died on Titanic as his college graduation present went awry.

Now Mr. Palmer plans to honor victims like Richard with an expensive, but safe, re-enactment. The ship is scheduled to sail right over the sunken wreck of the original ship, which should irritate enough paranormal spirits to evoke more than a few chills aboard Titanic 2.

This one will be modern, with plenty of lifeboats, and such unheard of items as wi-fi, tv, and re-enforced hulls. The lower decks where the hoi polloi will bunk for about $500 to $900 will be completely contemporary. The replicas start with D-deck.

The upper segments will be totally copied from original with restaurants, menus, and bistro areas, in ship-shape a la 1912.

We might be willing to go along for the trip and offer the passengers (about 2000) and crew (about 900) a lesson in history. As we have three books about Titanic and lecture on college campuses in New England, we could be persuaded to give a series of presentations aboard Titanic 2, to prove that the trip is meant to honor the victims, not to cash in on their tragedy. By providing historical background through an academic lecture, this will negate charges of “classless” cashing in that some news reports circulated.

If Mr. Palmer or ranker.com or AVIC wants to call on this expertise to fend off paranormal anger, we are ready and willing to discuss premonitions in 1912 of disaster and post-sunken spirit visits from various victims.

But, for heaven’s sake, don’t call us “a re-enactor.”

Dr. William Russo, Professor Emeritus, is author of three books on Titanic, including a paranormal history. He regularly presents and lectures around New England colleges on the topic. He is available to join the Titanic II voyage! His books include Tales of a Titanic Family, Chess-Mate from Titanic, and recently, Titanic Mysteries on Mill Circle. Percival White was born and lived at Mill Circle.

What’s an Orb? Five in One!

 DATELINE: Ghostly Images!

We see many weird incidents in our library, dedicated to the Titanic and its victim who was born and lived here on Mill Circle. We have even written his biography and a couple of follow-up books on the paranormal activities.

This week provided us with a lesson in orbs. Believe it or not, these two images are exactly the same spot on two successive nights.

We set up the security camera for a 2 a.m. view on two subsequent nights. We never touched the camera, moved it, cleaned it, or otherwise altered the image sent to us. What you see is what came through. A friend with skepticism noted that there were atmospheric differences: we cannot vouch for the barometric pressure and how it altered the camera image. We think it unlikely. Some orbs are like shooting stars or Fourth of July fireworks. We did not see those this time.

So, what have we got here?

The first image is completely hazy. And, strange lights give off halo effects. One elongated vertical light moved from one side of the closet door to the other. Two orbs, one quite misshapen and another more perfect and higher toward the ceiling, dominate the traditional orb style.

Some kind of ray or laser (perhaps two) seem to emit from alongside the camera, where a portrait also hangs and cannot be seen. These lights cast a spotlight on the opposite wall.

The most dominating feature of this image is the cloud that takes up the entire window seat and a chair near the chessboard, which is about center in the image. One paranormal expert told us that it was a ghost trying to materialize.

A sharp white light is reflected in a glass over a painting on the opposite wall from the camera. It does not change in either photo.

The photo also features some curvatures on either side of the room, which seem to be distortions of the lens. However, there is no such distortion or shape in the next night’s crystal clarity.

We find the second night photo all the more amazing for its focus, unimpeded, and its lack of cloudy mist or residue around the entire room.

What happened? If the spirits showed up to hold a gathering of Titanic ghosts, or throw a party in the hereafter, they did so with upright silence and good behavior. Nothing was amiss next morning.

What you see in the second image, chessboard, bookcases, bric-a-brac, all remained in place. Sometimes there is a spill, or knock-over, but generally the spirits are well-behaved.

We count five different styles of orb in one picture. Over the course of a video, the cloud seemed to be dissipating, but unlike smaller rocket orbs, the large ones simply hung in mid-air.

We always are willing to defer to experts who may tell us these are angels, archangels, and beings from another dimension. We are also willing to hear the argument that it is an anomaly of no importance.

Whatever, we know that activity continues in the library—and it is a safe haven for spirits who wish to congregate together for a time.

Titanic Mysteries on Mill Circle

DATELINE:   Paranormal Book on Titanic!

new kindle mystery cover Richard White (picture from college yearbook).

When you live in a haunted house and create an enchanted library, you may end up with some paranormal mysteries to explain.

That is the premise of William Russo’s latest book about the spirit of a Titanic victim who shows his host both devotion and protection.

You may question why a college student who died on the Titanic would follow a retired college professor, but the overriding sense of being haunted is not demonic according to a new book about Titanic Mysteries on Mill Circle.

Psychics hint that there may be a reincarnation involved, or merely crossed wires of time and space. Whatever the cause, the effect is exhilarating:  messages and orbs fly all over the library. Russo’s path to his spirit guest crossed the lines of attending the same high school, but fifty years apart, and being members of the school chess team.

Whether you can accept DVDs thrown off shelves and other bizarre coincidences as regular daily activity, there is something definitely happening beyond normal. 

Dr. William Russo often contends that where he lives, the normal is paranormal. You may become convinced along with him.

A long-time skeptic of occult and paranormal, Russo cannot fight the barrage of evidence in his own home’s library that he has now turned over to a victim of the Titanic.

Richard Frazar White has taken up residence here and happily accepts his library as a gift. When he was a young man in 1912, he was a budding intellectual who spent time at his Aunt Julia’s library at Waikiki (the largest private library on the Hawaiian Islands in 1900). He is photographed, at the end of his life, two days before Titanic sinks, in the First-Class Reading Room of the grand ship.

And now, he has taken possession of a memorial library dedicated to him. Included in the volume are the weird anecdotes about Richard White’s ties to the art world, how Russo found Richard’s 1912 Bowdoin Bugle Yearbook, and how the orbs and noises of the library respond to his every request.

Other haunted people contact him with their own tales of connections to Richard, including a young lawyer from Brazil who was an exchange student at Bowdoin.

You may not believe it, but you cannot turn away from this page-turner.

Now available in soft-cover and e-book format on Amazon. Titanic Mysteries on Mill Circle is the final volume of the Mill Circle series, and the third volume of the continuing tales of the Titanic by the author!

William Russo’s other works include: Tales of a Titanic Family, Chess-Mate from Titanic.    Dr. Russo will teach a course on Titanic: a Local History at the CALL Program at Keene State College in the Fall term. He also will give a guest lecture at Monty Tech Continuing Education program in Fitchburg, MA, in October.

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.

 

 

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.

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.

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.

 

Decorating a Titanic Memorial Library

DATELINE: Happenstance Happening!

numbers

Two Newspaper headlines, one Puzzling Puzzle

When you do not expect surprises in the memorial library of the Ghosts of Mill Circle exhibit, you will most likely find them. We have been putting together a memorial to Richard Frazar White, who loved libraries, and spent his last day in the First Class Library on Titanic before it sank from a destiny with an iceberg.

As part of our decoration plan for the library’s ambiance, we are collating together all the various items or collectibles we hold from our research on several books: Tales of a Titanic Family and Ghosts of Mill Circle.

We knew we had somewhere in storage a jigsaw puzzle of the New York Times front page that announced the sinking of the great super-liner. We first put it together in the early 1980s.

We had to rummage around boxes of never-unpacked belongings that we brought to this house where the Titanic victims once resided.

To our utter amazement, the puzzle we put together in 1980 turned up in a large bag. But it was not the one we sought. Forgotten long ago, we had bought and put together a second puzzle. The alternate puzzle was 1000 pieces of a dark night with a listing Titanic near an iceberg.

Not only were we surprised to find this item, but we had no recollection of ever putting it together. Yet, the box contained a puzzle that had been worked on—sometime in the past, likely the 1970s.

Deeper in the bag was the puzzle we sought: the New York Times headline page. It was not what we recalled at all: it had a wide black border and a smaller image than we remembered. We dusted it off and brought it to the library where it fit neatly on a shelf.

We looked at the box cover with its image—and a sidebar of “1500” which referred to the number of pieces and complexity of the puzzle.

When we turned around to look at the opposite wall, there we placed a front page of the Boston Globe of the Titanic disaster.

That headline read: “1500 Dead.”

It was a mirror or a parallel to the puzzle box that was on the opposite side of the room. We had never made the connection that 1500 pieces corresponded to 1500 lives: each a piece of disaster.

How eerie and uncanny it seemed to us. Others mentioned that it was all part of the mystery and mystique of our library, in a house once owned by two of the victims of Titanic’s catastrophe.

A Lump of Titanic Coal

DATELINE:  Fool or Ghoul?

lumps  Real or Fake?

When we chose to buy a small (and we mean small) piece of coal salvaged from the Titanic wreck site, we never expected to be excoriated as either a “fool,” or a “ghoul.”

Yet, here we are.

We purchased a rather expensive piece of coal with a certificate of authenticity, which may or may not be worth its weight in coal dust. Internet scams are made of such stuff.

Friends called us the victim of a scam, and others called us a grave robber. We point out that we have written extensively on dead people, even those who were our friends: is that exploitation too? Honoring those we admire and making a profit motivated people from Shakespeare on down the line of writers.

Those who know us well understand that we have lived in a house once owned by two victims of the Titanic’s sinking: the father and son Percival and Richard White. In fact, our home is haunted by these disembodied presences, likely ghosts or spirits.

As a result, we have dedicated ourselves to their memory—and have turned our library into a shrine of sorts, a Titanic Reading Room of First Class Order.

You see, we have discovered a photo of Richard in the Titanic library two days before it brought him to a watery grave. The picture was taken by a priest who disembarked at Liverpool with a camera full of first-class denizens on their way to doom.

As for the coal, it is legally the only object that can be retrieved from the Titanic debris field and sold.

Courts ruled it was not personal property. In fact, the Titanic Foundation uses the money to bring museum shows to the public.

The salvaged coal from a 1996 retrieval operation has been chopped into tiny pieces, about 400,000 of them. We cannot figure out why anyone wants a chunk, but we decided that our spirits might find the psychic energy in the coal to be helpful to manifesting themselves.

We may be opening up a Pandora’s Box in our home library, but orbs gallivant there nightly, and things go bump all the time. Richard is here too, guarding us from any miscreant of mischief.

So, we will provide regular reports on whether the lump of coal is residual or has caused intelligent hauntings. We await the noise in the library from a safe distance in the other wing of our house.

A security camera will give us insights and in-sounds. We expect to keep you, dear readers, posted.

If this light-worker is a bad boy, my lump of coal has arrived.

 For those interested, a website for GhostsofMillCircle.com provides information on visits to the Titanic Library at Mill Circle and walking ghost-hunter tours of the neighborhood on a limited basis. See the website for all details.

 

Seeing Cat Eyes in Darkness!

DATELINE: What’s New, Pussycat?

cat eyes-1

A short time ago we took a security camera into the library of our haunted house and set it up to learn what goes bump in the night. We never go into the library after dusk.

So, when the security camera app rang on our cell phone at 5am, telling us there was movement and heat activation, we gulped hard and opened up the image. No burglars were stomping around.

We saw shooting fireflies. In ghost-hunter business parlance, these are orbs, the electrical impulses and energy of spirits going hither and yon.

Two orbs shot up from the floor on either side of the room. Our attention was distracted. It took a trained ghost hunter, Eric Metzler to see more orbs and a couple of flashes.

We asked the attending spirits, Richard and Addie, to show an orb, they often obliged, though I was distracted and did not see them.

Richard is our mentor spirit from Titanic, and Addie Horton was head housekeeper of the family mansion. She lived next door most of her life but seems to have taken up residence in our study off the library in the after-life.

The only spirit in the house that has appeared to me is Richard’s cat. And, this large tom-cat black-shadow walked out of a wall next to a bookcase and blithely pranced into the kitchen. I ran after, but it evaporated.

I know it is Richard’s cat because one of the light-worker psychics who visited my home sensed a ghostly cat. Three psychics were in agreement that he belonged to Richard and served as his proxy, reporting back to my guardian spirit when he was apparently elsewhere.

They did not know his name, only that it was odd and began with a “G.” That made sense because Richard and his elder brother Percy made up a language—and the cat name was likely part of it.

When my friend Jose watched the video I sent, he called to my attention two bright almond eyes in the dark. He said they flashed or blinked on and off instantly gone.

I thought it might be a reflection off the bookcase.

I went to the library in daylight to see the approximate height of two shelves—the same size as the cat I had seen several years earlier. What is even more peculiar is that pro ghost hunter Eric Metzler used filters to try to bring the image out of the dark.

He found it alien-like. When I checked what that bulbous nose could be in the animal face, I saw that it was on the book binding—a round red circle that just fell under the cat eyes.

The book was written by a friend, Susan Kelly, on the Boston Strangler. It was a small photo of Albert de Salvo in a red circle. How amusing that it seemed to be the cat’s nose.

Not that I needed a reason to avoid the library at night, but now here it was.

 

 

 

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

 

Death in April at Mill Circle

 DATELINE: Mr. Ralph Arrives at Stage Depot in Sky.

 

A weekend In mid-April in Boston can be overwhelming:  the calendar will fill up quickly with Boston’s Marathon weekend, Boston’s Patriots Day when the British evacuated Beantown. There is also the anniversary of Wilkes Booth shooting Abe Lincoln, and the commemoration of the sinking of the Titanic. Throw in Palm Sunday, and your datebook is overwhelmed.

Our burdens increased at Mill Circle on this 107th anniversary of Titanic’s meltdown, and the 154th year after Booth killed the President at Ford’s.

We noticed on the cold, rainy morning that Mr. Ralph, the giant shire horse who lives in our Great Barn, did not emerge with the other four stablemates.

The shire horse is bigger than a Clydesdale. Mr. Ralph clocked in at 2000 pounds and 32 years of age. Earlier this week, he had fallen down in the corral and took nearly half-an-hour to regain his footing. He kept resting his head back on the grass.

We know he was overworked even in retirement. Earlier that morning, he had been saddled and ridden for an hour.

Now on a day that we usually only make a short trip to Riverside Cemetery to visit Richard in his grave and his mother Edith in an unmarked area next to him, we had commotion next door.

We had never seen a super-large horse ambulance, brought in from some visiting town, vets, rescue workers, and assorted onlookers. A dozen cars and pickups clogged our small Mill Circle. It took a while for them to put straps on Mr. Ralph, put a stretcher under him, and have a truck drag his body out of the barn.

Yes, it was undignified for the glorious old beast. Yet, it was better than being stewed up for glue or gelatin. The other horses in the corral were agitated by the event.

As much of respect could be found when a gray tarp was put over his massive dead lump of mottled golden brown hide.

When we returned from our pilgrimage to Richard’s grave, they were taking each of the other four horses over to Mr. Ralph to show them their fallen comrade. The tarp was lifted, and each horse spent as much time as he wanted at the body. It was a strange ritual: one horse wanted nothing much to do with it.  A mini-horse mate spent considerable time looking and nodding.

Two others kept bending down to sniff him and raise their heads. It was a repeated action.

Later we learned that Mr. Ralph would be buried behind the Great Barn of Mill Circle, perhaps near the grave of the unknown murdered peddler of 1826 whose burial spot remains unknown. His ghost haunts the barn. Perhaps Ralph saw him during his tenure at Mill Circle.