Dusk To Dawn
As many books as I've read about the Titanic, you'd think I'd
have had my fill by now. Wrong! When I got a chance to acquire Paul
J. Quinn's Dusk To Dawn: Survivor Accounts Of The Last Night On The
Titanic (a $29.95 book for about a dime) at the library book sale I
pounced on it like Joey cat on a new nip toy.
Quinn takes a novel and fast paced you-are-there format. The
ill fated night is broken into hour long segments. The text is
composed almost entirely by quotes by survivors with just the right
amount of expositary filler. You're everywhere from the posh first
class accomodations to the boiler room and steerage and the crow's
nest and finally the life boats.
At first people were contented with the total poshness of their
"Mrs. Douglas: 'The boat was so luxurious, so steady, so immense, and
such a marvel of mechanism that one could not believe he was on a
boat--and there the danger lay. We had smooth seas, clear, starlit
nights, fresh favoring winds. Nothing to mar our pleasure.'"
For a long stretch of time, even after the doomed ship hit the
iceberg, danger was downplayed, actions described by officers and crew
"Crowe: 'I got out of my bed. On E deck. I came out into the
alleyway and saw quite a number of stewards and steerage passengers
carrying their baggage from forward to aft. I inquired of the trouble
and was told it was nothing and to turn in again. The stewards were
making quite a joke of it...'"
It was this calming and minimizing on the part of those
considered experts, those whom the passengers took their cues from,
that played into so many life boats not getting filled to capacity.
Not knowing the true source of danger, many passengers chose to stay
on the large liner rather than taking chances with the comparitively
small and feeble looking boats.
Then the action speeds up. If this was fiction at this point
the novel would be impossible to put down. Even I found myself having
to step back mentally, breath in deeply, and remind myself that the
ending does not change.
My bias toward Titanic related literature may influence me
toward favoring Dusk To Dawn as a reading choice. Be that as it may.
It's a suspenseful narrative. It's real history. And there's a moral
to the story: when men get too confident and sure they can't possibly
fail BAD THINGS HAPPEN.
On a personal note, Orono Public Library had a really swell program on
the history of Orono fire fighting. It was very well organized and
informative. I especially enjoyed the pictures of old time vehicles,
equipment, and uniforms.
A great big shout out goes out to my son and all the other men and
women in this challenging profession--those whom our lives and homes
may someday depend on.
Sent from my iPod