Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Journey Begins

Leaving New York

New York was a fabulous but short visit.  We took in all we could in three short days and now we are off to London.  When I look back at my experience in New York, I had hoped to take my first step in “Chasing Molly”.  I did feel her spirit and what it might have been like during her stay in New York during those dynamic times.  Of course paying my respects at her resting place in Holy Rood Cemetery was a very emotional experience.  It actually felt good to have the opportunity to say hello to her on behalf of all the fabulous staff and volunteers at The Molly Brown House Museum who are so very proud to keep her legacy alive. 

Jolly Ol’ London

London was a short stop - just a day and a half.    Our flight from New York arrived in the early morning and we were off to our hotel.  I woke up real fast while sitting back in our taxi driving on the opposite side of the road after the 7 hour flight.  We stayed right in Westminster (a section of London) next door to Victoria Station.  We checked into a room which was considered “quiet”.  We found out that evening the definition of “quiet” might be a little different in greater London.  After catching a little nap, we were off to the BBC Radio.  I had been requested to do a radio interview regarding our upcoming cruise and to discuss Margaret Brown.  They had asked if I could arrive in costume and of course I never miss a chance to dress up.  My traveling “red hat” was a big hit.   I thought the interview went very well and of course was very proud to talk about Margaret.  We then left there to have lunch or dinner, which ever it was since we were off our “meal schedule”.  

The next day, we had an opportunity to take in all the sights by a “double decker bus” and enjoyed a meal of the famous “fish and chips”.  My overall observation of London was the graciousness of the people, how proper the behavior of everyone was, and the formality of their speech and service.  Perhaps there is a little bit of Queen Victoria still alive in London.

On to Southampton

Monday was the transfer to Southampton. As we were waiting for the bus in the lobby of the hotel in London, it was the first time we met fellow passengers going on the cruise.  Everyone was introducing themselves and sharing their excitement of the upcoming cruise.  There was somewhat of a hum across the lobby as many conversations were being exchanged about their love of the Titanic and what they were looking forward to finding on their journey. The word was out that I was from The Molly Brown House Museum and conversations began.  Everyone had very interesting perceptions of who she was but everyone had heard of her. We finally boarded the bus and our journey began.    The bus had a constant buzz of conversation.  Everyone continued sharing how much they knew about the Titanic, what went wrong, and who was on the Titanic.  I met a lady who is a John and Madeline Astor buff who was very pleased to meet me and wanted to know more about Margaret’s relationship with the Astor’s.  After a 2 hour bus ride we arrived in Southampton to begin our first official Titanic Tour.

Two costumed guides arrived to tell the stories of the crew, musicians, and officers of the Titanic as we traveled by foot through old Southampton.  Southampton is a major port and boasts a great maritime history including the sailing of the Titanic as well as the Mayflower which brought the pilgrims to America.  What I observed was very refreshing and a subtle and somber way to show respect for the passengers and crew of the Titanic.  There was not a big advertisement for the Titanic in the city.  The city seemed to advertise all on its own through the buildings and the stories of that day and afterward. There were still many of the original buildings standing, but many had been destroyed during the bombing in WWII.  As we walked through Old Southampton, I felt as though it was that day of the launching of the Titanic.  What took me back the most was the actual dock area where the Titanic sat prior to the launch.  It is now a high security area where you were only allowed to walk to a certain spot.  There is a park across the street where the families gathered to say their farewell at the launch in 1912.  Several blocks away were the sleeping quarters for the crew and officers and the Southwestern House Hotel where Thomas Andrews (the Titanic designer) and J. Bruce Ismay (Director of White Star Line) stayed prior to the sailing.  Ironically, just down the street is the building that housed the White Star Line offices where family members and friends anxiously waited for the posting of the survivors after the tragedy.  Within one block was the history of the excitement of this great vessel’s introduction to the seas and the meeting place for news after the tragedy. Of those who lost their lives, 549 people were from Southampton, which was approximately 1/3 of those that lost their lives in this tragedy.  

I will blog more about Southampton when the initial memorial cruise begins on April 8th, but I leave you with one thought:  Southampton today is a major port for tourists to depart on cruises to fulfill their dream vacations, but 100 years ago Southampton was a port for emigrants to embark on their life dreams….little did they know their dreams would end so quickly and leave a footprint of loss in history.   


  1. And awayyyyyyy we go. Permission to come aboard the blog of the century. Steady as she goes mates. Clear all moorings, ahead impulse power. Helm put in a course for history. Thanks Janet.