Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Titanic: The “Millionaire’s Special”

Money, money, money….American millionaires had it and they wanted to spend it. While there were only 19 millionaires in 1850 in the U.S., by the end of the 1890s that number had grown to 4,000.

At the time of the sailing of the Titanic, seven of the men on board were worth $420 million dollars in 1912 currency.

The Titanic was their playground.

Built as a “floating palace,” the Titanic had 318 first class passengers aboard who enjoyed every luxury, according to the Denver Times (“Men of Millions, Famous Beauties, on Wrecked Ship wrote one reporter).

Sensual Turkish baths with a Moorish theme; a gymnasium with up-to-date equipment, including a mechanical camel; squash racquet courts.

Three electric lifts.

First class dining saloon located on D deck with exquisite chinaware by Spode (which was recreated for the new TV mini-series about the Titanic to be broadcast in 2012).

Even the captain of the ship was a perfect choice for her maiden voyage. Known as the “Millionaire’s Captain,” Edward J. Smith was popular with passengers and intended to retire after the crossing across the North Atlantic.

How does my heroine, Katie O’Reilly, figure into all this?

Through a series of escapades, Katie finds herself in first class on the Titanic, the likes of which she’s never seen. This was a time when steerage passengers were confined to E deck and below. Or the third class promenade “poop deck” located aft.

Not our Katie.

She sneaks up to the first class promenade deck and runs into Captain Lord Blackthorn, who is trying to help her:Katie knows he’s right, but she doesn’t regret trying to better herself. She worked briefly in a grand house when she went into service (reluctantly, I might add) with her sister, Mary Dolores, so she had experienced a taste of fine living, but she was poor Irish and proud of it.
They stood close together, their frosty breaths as one, their eyes meeting yet she revealed nothing more, as if she chose to keep her secrets hidden from him for a while longer. He should let her go, but first he must tell her what he knew. “They haven’t given up looking for you, Katie. If you’re caught, I won’t be able to do anything to help you.”

But what girl wouldn’t want to sleep in damask silk bedding and--

Glory be, can you believe some first class cabins even had their own private bathroom?

Next time on Titanic Wednesdays: Titanic and the Loo


Michelle Polaris said...

First class is the only way to travel Titanic. I book that way every time (LOL). I don't blame the girl. Thanks for the interesting posts, Jina.

Ashlyn Chase said...

I love learning new things. Your post was very enlightening, Jina.

Wynter Daniels said...

Interesting post. Yet millionaires went down along with common folks when the ship sank, including a Vanderbilt heir.

Jina Bacarr said...

You're welcome, Michelle! We often forget that Titanic had 285 second class passengers; less than half survived.

Jina Bacarr said...

There's a lot to learn about the Titanic, Ashlyn. More than I could ever put into my novel. Thank you for checking out my post!

Titanic is an ever fascinating subject...

Jina Bacarr said...

Wynter, are you thinking of George Vanderbilt and his wife? According to the NY Times, they had their luggage on board the Titanic (with their footman in charge) when his mother-in-law convinced him to transfer to the Olympic.

Acc. to the story, his mother-in-law had a bad feeling about the maiden voyage. Sadly, the footman was lost on the ship.

I imagine Mr. Vanderbilt had no problem listening to his mother-in-law after that.