Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Titanic and the Pig

Did you know there was a pet pig on the Titanic?

According to the New York Herald on April 19, 1912: “Five women saved their pet dogs …another woman saved a little pig, which she said was her mascot.”

The reporter goes on to say that she didn’t know how the woman cared for her pig aboard the Titanic, but she carried it up the “side of the ship [the Carpathia, rescue ship] in a big bag.”

How did the pig get into the lifeboat? Was the pig traveling first class?

In a word, yes.

More about this intrepid little piggy and the important part it played in the sinking of the Titanic later. First, it seems you can’t get away from pigs and the Titanic.

In Julian Fellowes’ mini-series “Titanic” (airing in the U.S. on ABC on April 14 and 15), a passenger in third class isn’t happy about traveling steerage to New York. She tells her husband that her daughter said their Irish Catholic family is like “…six little pigs packed into that cabin, all trussed and bound for market…”
They’re not the only Irish aboard the ship with pigs on their mind.

Katie O’Reilly, the heroine in my Ellora’s Cave romance, TITANIC RHAPSODY, nearly doesn’t make it on board the ship because of a pig.

Katie runs away from the grand house where she is in service after she is wrongly accused of stealing a diamond bracelet. The law is after her, but she has one chance to escape.

The Titanic.
“Stop in the name of the law, Katie O’Reilly!” she heard the constable yell down from the open second story window. 
She looked up at him, disbelieving. Stop? Was the man daft?
With her ticket clutched in her fist, Katie took off running, up one winding street and down the next. The smell of cooked onions and cabbages filled her nostrils as she sidestepped piles of horse manure in the middle of the road.
Then her hat flew off. When she stopped to pick it up, she nearly collided with a large pig being driven through the streets by a farmer.
Was she about to be done in by a pig?
She thought not.
Katie jumped out of the way, then bent down to retrieve her hat.
The pig’s hooves had ripped it to shreds.
She kept going, the morning dew on the air giving way to a fine salty mist, sweeping away her fear and clearing her mind as the offices of the White Star and American Lines came into view.
Will Katie make it on board the Titanic before she sails? Only by the skin of her teeth.

Does she see the pig during the crossing?

Few passengers did because the cute little pig with the curly tail was the lucky mascot of Miss Edith Russell.

She loved to wind up its tail and it would play a lively musical tune similar to a two-step called “Maxixe.”
You see, the pig was musical pig.

The reporter on the Carpathia didn’t know the real story behind Miss Russell’s pig. How it was given to her after she survived a horrific motorcar crash. She promised her mother it would never be out of her sight. When she realized the Titanic was sinking and she’d left her mascot in her cabin, she sent the steward to retrieve her lucky pig.

Still, Edith was hesitant to get into a lifeboat. When a seaman tossed her pig into a boat (believing it was a baby wrapped up in a bag), Edith insisted on getting into the boat, too. Its nose was gone and its legs broken, but Edith and her little pig escaped in lifeboat no. 11.

Overcrowded with sixty-eight passengers (nearly one-third were children), Edith realized her little pig could comfort others as it had her. She wound up its tail so it would play music for the children. Most of the little ones stopped crying as the pig’s sparkling musical notes calmed their fears.

Its furry, white-gray body wet with sea spray.

Its cute grin giving them hope they would be saved.

It was the little Titanic pig that could.


Wynter Daniels said...

What a great story! I'm amazed at the things you learn through your research.

Naima Simone said...

LOL! That's an awesome story and ending! I agree with Wynter, your thorough research is amazing and inspiring! Cool post, Jina!

Naima Simone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jina Bacarr said...

Thanks, Wynter! I couldn't resist writing about this cute little pig (the pig in the pic is my little pig) and its journey aboard the ship.

I found a recording of Miss Russell speaking about that night and her pig; I listened to it several times to make sure I got the details right.

Jina Bacarr said...

Thank you, Naima, re: research comment. I spent a lot of time reading old newspapers and that's how I found the story about the pig the reporter thought was a live pet.

The important thing to remember about research is that no detail is unimportant. You never know when you'll need it!

Callie Croix said...

Oh, the things I learn on Blogger :)

Love that you did so much homework for this book.

Jina Bacarr said...

So true, Callie! The Titanic was its own world with many interesting facts and even more interesting people.

I'm glad you enjoy the posts! Thank you.

Dalton Diaz said...

Wow. It does end up being heartwarming, but she sent a steward back to her cabin as the ship is sinking to grab a stuffed pig?

Jina Bacarr said...

That's right, Dalton, according to Miss Russell's own testimony, she sent a steward to fetch her musical pig.

Interesting, though, in the film "A Night to Remember," she fetches the pig herself. It worked better dramatically (in Walter Lord's book of the same name, there is no mention of how she retrieved the pig).