Monday, April 16, 2012

Titanic Memory

One hundred years ago yesterday, the Titanic sank...

Twenty-year-old Mary Lawrence left Austrian Hungary, employed as a maid to a physician’s family en route to America. Mary seldom spoke about her terrible ordeal aboard the ill-fated Titanic, but in 1939, she did describe her experience to a news reporter. She recalled the utter horror of that night, April 15, 1912. First she heard a terrible crunching sound, then people running, screaming, crying, and shoving and pushing. She saw many fall overboard, and she saw her employer—the doctor—and his wife and their three children—all go over the side of the huge ship and into the water. She jumped from the sinking ship into a boat, suffering a severe and permanent injury to her leg as she landed. All around her people were drowning in the ice-cold water. She recalled crowding into the lifeboat, and several people froze to death during the five hours before help came.

Survivors of the Titanic on board the rescue ship Carpathia. Library of Congress
She could not remember the rescue, but once she arrived at New York City, Mary recalled wandering the streets aimlessly, dazed, homeless, injured, and unable to speak English. After several weeks, she finally met someone from her native homeland who helped her find work on a farm. Several months later she learned of an uncle in Montana. Mary traveled to Dillon and stayed with her uncle there for several years. In 1915 she married Jacob Skender, a miner and smelter worker. The Skenders settled in the Butte neighborhood of Meaderville where they raised six children, but Mary could never put aside that terrible experience. There were more than 2,200 people on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. Of those, Mary Lawrence Skender was one of 705 survivors.

1 comment:

  1. Ellen, please contact me regarding this woman, as I am writing a book about people who claimed to be Titanic survivors. I'm on Facebook.
    Kyrila Scully
    Titanic Impact Performance Exhibitions