Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The family next door



The Goodwin family. From left to right: William, Frederick, Charles, Harold, Lillian, Augusta, Jessie. The baby, Sidney, is not in this picture.


Even through the old black and white, they could be any family you live near. They look like nice people. Clothing styles have changed, but they're the same people we are now.

You can see them getting ready for this family portrait, which likely wasn't cheap. Putting on their nicest clothes, trying to get their hair just right. Harold and Jessie each with a trace of a smile. Maybe they'd shared some sibling silliness just before the picture was snapped, and were told to be knock it off and look at the camera.

We still take family pictures. To freeze those memories of childhood and family that we all hold dear.

Mr. Goodwin, at age 40, was a highly trained electrical engineer. He was having trouble finding steady work in Fulham, England, that would allow him to support his family.

But through his brother in America he heard of a new power plant under construction, in Niagara Falls, New York, that was looking for men with his training. So in hopes of finding a better life, the family sold their modest house, packed up, and booked passage across the Atlantic. They didn't have a lot of money, so had to settle for 3rd class passage.

The food and accommodations in 3rd class, while not great, were certainly adequate. The only potential drawback was that, in the unlikely chance something went wrong, you wouldn't have as easy access to the lifeboats as the wealthier 1st and 2nd class passengers did.

And for that reason, 98 years ago tonight, the entire Goodwin family died on the Titanic.


On a side note, the body of a small boy was found floating in the Atlantic 3 days after the wreck. He was buried in Fairview Cemetary in Halifax, with a monument paid for by the sailors who'd pulled him out of the water. He was listed as an unknown child victim of the Titanic. In 2007 DNA testing confirmed he was indeed the youngest Goodwin, Sidney.

24 comments:

Mike said...

Thank you. It is too easy, sometimes, to forget the human cost when looking at statistics, or even passenger lists.

-a fellow nautical history buff.

Celeste said...

Absolutely chilling. The Titanic exhibit has just come to my town's childrens science center, and I think you just convinced me to plan a Saturday there.

Todd said...

This has got to be the creepiest way to start my day. And to think, I'm eating Cheerios.


I don't think I could ever forget now the date of the Titanic sinking.

Amanda said...

I went to the Titanic exhibit when it was in Chicago many years ago. It creeped me out. So did you.

Well done. The human cost shouldn't be taken lightly.

The Mother said...

A sad story, but only one in a long list.

Families across the millennia have endured hardships and dangers to make better lives for their children. Sometimes it works; often it doesn't.

America was built by those families. The West was built by those families.

Helen said...

Mr. Goodwin looks so proud of his family.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

LYNXBABY said...

I live near Branson, and I think its creepy how that hip English maid is always smiles about coming to visit the Titanic. And they hold festivals and contests there as well. Bloody creepy if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Well, that wasn't very funny.

M.Brayfield said...

Always been fascinated by the Titanic. Cried at the Titanic exhibit a couple years ago. Yet somehow, I hadn't seen this one. So, I'm creeped out, but thank you.

Gloria P said...

I can't stop shuddering after reading that. It makes it much more personal (and tragic) than hearing about all those millionaires who died drinking champagne.

DaddyBear said...

Thanks for this. People romanticize these tragedies and forget the small but important human stories behind them.

A Doc 2 Be said...

Oh Dr. Grumpy, it is your blog I turn to when things are strained and I'm blue...

The post in poignant. Forgotten families, forgotten youngsters, forgotten lives.

Anonymous said...

Real faces always bring the horor of tragedies to the heart - as opposed to just a number...well done Grumpy.

JTN said...

Secrets of the Dead on PBS did an interesting special about identifying the child victim. The interesting part is that the only reason he was identified was because of the metal memorial put into the coffin with the body. Apparently the water table at the cemetery where the victims is buried is so high, all the bodies are pretty much gone. However, that little memorial managed to shield enough of the bone that it was preserved so they could do testing.

As a side note, I'm a huge Titanic buff, but I tend to avoid the exhibitions. I'm not sure which one is coming in your city, but Robert Ballard (who discovered the wreck) didn't claim it because it felt it was inappropriate to lay claim to such a tragedy. However, others didn't feel the same, used his research to locate it and lay claim to it and pulled up artifacts for the sole purpose of exhibiting them to make money (as opposed to returning identifiable pieces to families, etc). I personally think its tantamount to grave robbing so while I'd love to see the exhibition, I refuse to give the owners my money. But that's just my take.

pj said...

Thank you for this; we need reminders like this from time to time to leaven our usual (and necessary) flippancy in the face of daily sorrow. Dr G does a rather superb job of helping maintain that balance, I find.

I'm also fascinated by the social convention of those times, for photography: One was solemn, grave. One did not smile. It was too important for that.

BTW... I recently stumbled upon a fabulous site for archival photography if you dig this kind of thing: Shorpy. You can find the images elsewhere, but this site's searchable. The image quality is remarkable.

Queen of Crafts, Current Events, and Such. said...

Dr. G......So somber...

Anonymous said...

transport accidents happen.

Jackie said...

Sometimes I think that we forget the lessons of the past, and don't bring them forward to the future.

I grew up near halifax and have been to the Titanic grave sites, including the Unknown Child (recently identifyed as Sidney) I get shivers every time I do. I keep thinking what might have been for baby Sidney andhis family...

Thanks for the moment of reflection

xx
Jaxs

Anonymous said...

OMG...FIVE kids on a long boat trip. After the night I've had with my two and the week we spent in Florida, I wonder if they were too damn tired and never even woke up until it was too late...never mind what class they were in!

I cried...so sad!

Claudia said...

Bowing my head with deep sadness and respect. Thank you, Sir.

Hal Dall, MD said...

Terrible tragedy.

The Titanic never returned to pick up my grandmother, who was scheduled to be in steerage on a later voyage.

Tricia said...

Thanks Dr. Grumpy for the reminder of how fragile life can be.

Ellen said...

I live in Halifax and have visited the memorial and gravesite several times. The grave of the previously unknown child has a lovely large stone in a very pretty part of the cemetery. There are always flowers and toys, placed there by people who weren't even alive at the time of this tragedy. Thank you for reminding us of the human side of things - it is very easy to forget that every person who dies in such a tragedy was somebody's loved one.

 
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