100th anniversary of Titanic

On April 14/15 this year, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, I did something I’ve rarely had the chance to do – spend the day viewing Titanic-related sites and attending two Titanic-related cultural events.

Friends Denise and John had suggested driving around Cleveland to see a few spots I’d never had the time to go to see and photograph. So they planned the itinerary and we set off at about 10 a.m. Saturday, April 14.

First stop was the Shaker Heights home of Titanic survivor Caroline Bonnell, who later married Paul Jones, a federal judge, and moved to Cleveland from Youngstown. This was their home. (It was raining so I just took it through the car window.) I had just recently interviewed Caroline’s daughter, Mary Jones Chilcote, for the series of Titanic stories that ran in The Plain Dealer in Cleveland on April 8, as well as online. (Caroline’s story and a video clip of Mary talking about her mother’s experience appeared on cleveland.com only.) Here’s the link to the cleveland.com page:

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2012/04/titanic_100th_anniversary_mary.html

Caroline Bonnell Jones’ home in Shaker Heights

We also stopped at the church that Caroline and her husband and family attended, Church of the Covenant on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland. Caroline’s funeral service was also held here.

Church of the Covenant, Cleveland

Burton Monument, Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland

Theodore Burton grave, Lake View Cemetery

Another stop was Lake View Cemetery, where many famous Cleveland people are buried. Among them is Sen. Theodore E. Burton, who was a member of the Senate subcommittee that conducted the American inquiry into the Titanic disaster. His monument and gravestone are across the road from the more famous Garfield Monument.

Our Cleveland tour culminated with placing a wreath at the Ohio Titanic Memorial behind the Great Lakes Science Center. Denise and John had ordered and picked up the wreath. As we placed the wreath and paused to take a few pictures it started to rain so we didn’t linger too long.

You can see more photos of flowers placed at the memorial in previous years here:   http://www.glts.org/scrapbook/anniversary/

Mary Ann at Ohio Titanic Memorial, Cleveland

By then it was lunchtime so we headed west to The Harp Irish restaurant and appropriately toasted the day with a bit of Bushmills Irish Whiskey and Bass ale (Bass was on board Titanic and I feel sure Bushmills was as well).

At Denise and John’s place after lunch we looked over some new Titanic books and then headed south to meet other friends Christina and Roman & Suzanne to attend a performance of the Titanic musical at the Akron Civic Theatre.

We went to the Akron-Summit County Public Library first as there was a display about the Akron-bound passengers. However, when we got there we were told the display had been moved to the theater to coincide with the musical’s performance. Since we then had some free time before the musical started, and the cemeteries where some of the Akron-bound passengers were buried weren’t too far away, we stopped there. I had never seen them in person.

Elizabeth Hocking grave

Ellen Wilkes grave

Joan Wells’ gravestone

I’d seen the Broadway touring company of the musical in Cleveland in 2000 and a few years later put on by a local theater group in Canton. So it had been quite a few years and to see the play again on the 100th anniversary of the Titanic was definitely an unusual experience. This performance was a bit different in that the Akron Symphony Orchestra was onstage, not in the pit, and the sets and props were minimal as the actors moved around the orchestra. Still, the wonderful songs carried the show. The music is soaring and sweeping with an epic quality. If there’s any music that can match the score of James Cameron’s film, this is it. The cast did a great job, and I noted in the program that the actor who played Thomas Andrews, Baldwin-Wallace College student James Penca, is a Titanic buff. He said it was a special experience to play the ship’s designer on the 100th anniversary. I hope James discovers our local group of Titanic buffs (Great Lakes Titanic Society; see the link on the Links page) and meets up with us sometime.

Akron Civic Theatre marquee for Titanic musical

The next day, Sunday, April 15, I went to see the 3-D version of James Cameron’s Titanic. It was amazing. The 3-D was seamless and not at all distracting as it has been with a couple of other 3-D films I’ve seen. It was like you were IN the film. The scenes of exploring the wreck were so lifelike it seemed like you were diving the wreck yourself – certainly as close as I’ll ever get to actually doing so!

All in all, a Titanic weekend to remember …  Mary Ann

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