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?

UnXplained Ends Too Soon?

 DATELINE:  Shatner Show Sort of Ends…

 Survivor Mysteries!

For the first batch of the UnXplained series, Shatner hosted a bunch of tales of survival and unusual, perhaps supernatural, abilities that caused people to overcome the worst odds. Now, the most extraordinary of these survival oments came when a commercial interrupted the series, and William Shatner himself promised us that the series is not done, after all, and will return “soon.”

Such a threat actually became a delight.

The series brought its limited run to another intriguing close with an episode that again brought disparate episodes into a kind of cohesive pattern.

We saw a six-year old boy, lost in wilderness, who walked 18 miles overnight to find a road to safety. He felt something was following him: coyotes, or something else. How he chose to make the right turns is something inexplicable all right. But he did it.

One of the hosts ofAncient Aliens recounted his boyhood experience, also unusual, when time stood still and he was able to rescue a 13-year old friend from going over a waterfall to certain death.

Another tale, close to our heart and chilling to our personal experience, related to a Titanic survivor, one of the bakers, whose story is often recounted in movies as an episode that many would call fictionalized. The wonderful scenes are from A Night to Remember!

Yet, the baker who was soused, inebriated, managed to survive in below freezing water for two hours when most others who fell into the Atlantic died, of hypothermia, in ten minutes.How did it happen? Why? No one can explain.

There was the tale of the man whose parachute did not open, and he fell three mile—defying all physical laws to end up with a broken spine (that also miraculously healed) and he was able to walk away from what should have been sure death.

And, one of the other tales told a weird, extra-sensory experience about a British woman, Clare Henry, whose avoidance of a foggy car crash that should have killed her was owed to a casual friend who had recently died in a car crash.

Yes, that friend was Princess Diana who appeared before Clare and directed her to pull off the road before she would have been killed in multi-car pileup.

 

The moments gathered together all featured some rising above physical laws and physics to areas of puzzling survival. There are hints of guardian angels and directive spirits, protective forces, and other dimensions, yet as some of the experts note:  these things have not been studied by science enough to figure out if there are forces in the universe that transcend our world.

 

Yes, we want old bill Shatner’s show to return.