|Franklin Institute (Philadelphia) banner add for exhibition|
Sort of related to that is the fact that Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia has a few Titanic-related graves, and they give educational tours on the subject. I’ve never been on one, but I thank Laurel Hill’s Gwen Kaminski for this NBC video clip, "Titanic Passengers Laid to Rest at Philly Cemetery," in which she is interviewed on the subject.
So, April 15, 2013 is the 101st anniversary of that hideous catastrophe, when on April 15, 1912 the Titanic struck an iceberg and sunk off Newfoundland in the North Atlantic. Of the 2,224 passengers and crew aboard the British ship on its maiden voyage, 1502 people died. Two of them are buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery, as is one of the survivors.
|Dulles mausoleum at Laurel Hill Cemetery|
|The Dulles' crypt|
The Titanic exhibition at the Franklin Institute was a theatrical and educational presentation in addition to an extensive display of artifacts salvaged from the wreck (it was discovered in 1985 at a depth of 12, 415 feet (more than two miles!) below the ocean’s surface. I suppose my overall reaction to the exhibit was that it was intensely creepy and reminded me of death – which is why I decided to write this blog.
I didn’t know this until after I got home, but printed on the back of the pass was passenger information. I glanced at it when it was handed to me and just assumed all the passes were the same. They were not. If I had paid attention during your tour of the exhibit I would have known that there was a big wall of names at the very end (before you were dumped into the gift shop, a la Disney). You could find the name of the person on your boarding pass to see if they made it out of the disaster alive. I’m kind of glad I missed this aspect of the tour. Even now I get an unsettling feeling just thinking about it.
|Widener mausoleum, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia|
Our two Laurel Hill Titanic people were both buried in expensive mausoleums, you may notice. Many of the passengers aboard the Titanic were extremely wealthy. But wealthy or not, when you walk down the stateroom hallway in the exhibit, you realize how death is the great leveler. Seeing the doors of the passengers’ rooms gave me the very claustrophobic feeling of being trapped, with nowhere to go. You wonder how the Titanic’s passengers felt as they opened their doors and saw people running down the tilted hallway … then of course, the whole idea brings to mind the 1972 shipwreck disaster movie, The Poseidon Adventure (watch the movie trailer here).
|Olive Potter's headstone, Laurel Hill|
|Lily Potter's headstone|
|Replica of the Titanic's luxurious central staircase (ref.)|
The other odd feeling I got was at the pay-to-have-your-photo-taken opportunity on the ship’s reconstructed grand wooden staircase. It was only $6.50, I think, so I climbed the stairs and the photographer took of photo of me holding daughter Olivia. The idea was that you later pick up and pay for your photo in the gift shop. After having the photo taken next to the angel on the stairway's center post, I thought about how unsavory this whole idea is, to transform the largest civilian maritime disaster of all time into a carnival. This was like getting your family photo taken with Goofy at Disney World. No, more accurately, it was like standing in front of your grandfather’s casket at the viewing, mugging for the camera. The angel, by the way, was actually on display as one of the retrieved artifacts. I never picked up the souvenir photo.
References and Further Information:
Titanic Passengers Laid to Rest at Philly Cemetery
RMS Titanic, Inc. – The Artifact Exhibition
Titanic on Wikipedia
Franklin Institute website