Several years ago, my Dad and I went to visit my 93 year old Grandmother at her assisted living apartment. Even though she was in the twilight of her life, her mind was sharp and her memory was especially good.
We knew Grandma’s parents had come to this country from Czechoslovakia, and as we chatted, Dad asked her if she had ever been to Europe. “Well,” she began “when I was a tiny baby I was very sickly. The doctors here couldn’t seem to figure out what was making me ill. So Dad decided they should take me to see the family doctor back in the old country. He booked a passage for Mom and me to leave from New York in mid April. I was only a year or two old at the time.”
“Did you go?” Dad asked.
“No.” Grandma replied. “I started to get better that Spring. Besides our ship didn’t come anyway.”
“Because of World War I?” I asked.
“Oh no,” she replied. “That was before the War. Our ship never got to New York. It sank. You know – that ship from the movie.”
“You mean the Titanic?” I asked.
“Yeah, that’s the one. The Titanic. I never got to go because the boat sank.”
Dad and I just looked at each other, amazed.
“Yeah,” Grandma said “I got better that Spring. Dad got his money back from the boat ticket and he bought Mom a new icebox.”
Ironic, huh? The Titanic hits and iceberg and my Great Grandmother gets an icebox.
** I researched Grandma’s story a bit further. It appears she did in fact return to Europe with her mother the following year. I found an entry on the Ellis Island manifest dated August 6, 1913 that showed them returning to the U.S. after departing from the port of Hamburg, Germany on the Imperator. This appears to have been a very impressive ship – click HERE for photos.