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.