I’m excited that so many are enjoying the characters in my novel, By the Light of the Silvery Moon. Want to know more about the REAL people on the Titanic? My friend Sharyn has been kind enough to write some profiles for us. They are amazing and interesting . . . enjoy!
Only seventeen the night the Titanic sank, John B. “Jack” Thayer struggled under the shadow of the tragedy for the rest of his short life. He would wait thirty years before putting his story to paper, which he published privately in 1940. He wrote his account,* The Sinking of the S.S. Titanic, “. . . primarily as a family record for the information of my children and perhaps their children in memory of my Father, John Borland Thayer, the third of that name, who lost his life in the disaster.”
Besides suffering from the death of his father, Jack also suffered from the loss of his new friend, Milton Long. Jack and Milton jumped from the sinking ship, but Jack never saw the young man again. He barely made it through the night himself, spending hours trying to balance on an upside-down collapsible boat.
Jack was just a young, easygoing lad in 1912, described as a “clear-cut chap” by fellow survivor Algernon Barkworth. Before he boarded the Titanic, Jack’s thoughts most likely centered around college, girls, and his future prospects. Though he went on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania, become a successful banker, marry, and father two sons, he always seemed to carry the Titanic with him.
Though we can grieve over this young man’s heartache, we can also be grateful for his willingness to open that wound and share it in words. Who can understand the true nature of a great tragedy better than those who lived through it? And who better to share their newfound focus on life, even when that focus brings with it a clarity of sorrow only survivors can appreciate?
For Jack Thayer, that clarity led him to see things differently. After the sinking, he would witness a terrible world war and the Great Depression. He finally wrote his story down in 1940, just after World War II started. At that time, he looked back at life before Titanic and saw an idyllic age, filled with “ordinary days.” It led him to write this profound assessment:
“Nothing was revealed in the morning, the trend of which was not known the night before. . . . These days were peaceful and ruled by economic theory and practice built up over years of slow and hardly perceptible change. There was peace, and the world had an even tenor to its ways. . . .
True enough, from time to time there were events—catastrophes— . . . which stirred the sleeping world, but not enough to keep it from resuming its slumber. It seems to me that the disaster about to occur was the event, which not only made the world rub its eyes and awake, but woke it with a start, keeping it moving at a rapidly accelerating pace ever since, with less and less peace, satisfaction, and happiness.
Today the individual has to be contented with rapidity of motion, nervous emotion, and economic insecurity. To my mind the world of today awoke April 15, 1912.”
Like many of his fellow survivors, Jack chose to write because of the tragedy he endured, to share with the world something only he could. His voice and the others we have explored reach out to us today. Perhaps, if we listen closely, their words can remind us not to sleep through our often comfortable lives, but to be awake and aware of the work God has for us. Then we can use that knowledge to accomplish His purposes.
* Thayer, John B. The Sinking of the S.S. Titanic. 1940. Academy Chicago Publishers, 1998. 324-356.
Amelia Gladstone’s hopes are tied up in the Titanic–hopes for a reunion with her sister and an introduction to an admirer. But when she offers a spare ticket to a down-and-out young man, her fate is about to change.
Quentin Walpole is stunned when a sweet lady secures his passage to America–and even more surprised to find his wealthy father and older brother on board the ship. Suddenly Amelia finds herself caught between the attentions of two men, but who should she entrust her heart to? As the fateful night arrives, will Amelia lose everything to the icy waters?