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  • 1.Annie's Story

    She was born with the name, Annie Constantine and from the age of nine, she had worked tirelessly as a kitchen maid in a large house on the south coast of England.

    Annie could not settle for a life in service – she gracefully rose at 4am and fell into bed at midnight, but she told herself this was not going to be forever. She had bigger ideas, she knew was going to go to the new world one day and nothing was going to stop her.

    By the time she was eighteen, she had two proposals of marriage (both rejected), and two lovers who came from the overlords who lived in the floors above.

    Annie had a photo of New York City pinned to the wall of the little room she shared with two other girls.

    She had heard Lord Carnforth, her employer, talk about a great ship that both he and his wife were sailing aboard to the United States: The Titanic. When that name tickled her ears she knew it was destiny, she had waited for this very moment. Annie had saved her meagre wages and at last she could afford a third class ticket - one way, of course. She got one of the footmen, whom she trusted, to purchase a ticket for her while he was on a visit to his family in Southampton.

    Apart from the footman, no one else knew of her plan. So on the morning before the Titanic was due to depart for New York, she packed a small valise and headed down the back path, never to return.

    For her, the voyage, although being celebrated around the world, was one of monotony; the truth was she couldn’t wait to get started in her new country, to begin her new life.

    She had been in contact with an old friend, Sarah, who had met a ‘Yankee’ while she was appearing on the music hall in London’s Haymarket. Sarah had married her gentleman caller and they had both moved into a small apartment in Harlem.

    Sarah was there to meet and greet her friend, and all the way on the trolley north, Sarah talked non-stop about her new life in a great city. Annie didn’t hear most of it, as she could not help herself but constantly look at the wondrous views from the window of the trolley; it was 1912 and Annie Constantine was at the centre of the new world.

    The plan was for Annie to live with Sarah until she could stand on her own two feet. However this plan fell apart. After three days Annie was working harder than ever, cooking for Sara and her ‘Yankee’. Cleaning, and fetching the groceries, she was more exhausted than she had been at the big house.

    So once again, Annie got up early one morning, took several dollars from her Sarah’s saving’s box (Annie reckoned she had earned it, but swore to replace it one day) and took a train west.

    Within in a month, she found herself at the end of the line, and decided that she would settle in California and see how things went. In the sun and far from the drudgery of a maid’s work, she blossomed into a beauty. This didn’t go unnoticed, especially with one, Max Sennett who had opened up the Keystone Movie Company.

    Annie had to be honest, the first couple of one-reelers she made as the heroine were terrible, but Max had faith in her and it paid off. By the following year, Annie was the studio’s number one star and had started to work with a young English actor by the name of Charlie Chaplin.

    Annie couldn’t see Charlie’s little tramp character having any sort of appeal and subsequently, Charlie was dismissed and returned to England to work in a factory – he never made another movie.

    By 1920, Annie (now named Ann Silver) was the biggest light in the firmament and was commanding several thousand dollars a movie. She married for the fourth time in 1925, having given birth to two sons and two daughters by her previous three husbands.

    In 1929, it was decided that Ann’s movie, ‘The Little Honey Girl’ would be the first talking picture – it had been a choice between her and Al Jolson’s ’The Jazz Singer’ but Ann’s looks and popularity won the day. Ann’s voice seduced the crowds once again, and in even more numbers.

    When she married for a sixth time, she built a little house on the island of Catalina, a few miles off the California coast. It was while she was sailing there one afternoon, that her ship (which she had named The Titanic after the one which had brought her to a new life) sank with all hands. Her body was never recovered.

    2.Adel and Dirk's Story

    That Wednesday morning, the sun shone, and a gentle breeze blew in from the sea. As far as Adel was concerned, she had everything in life she wanted. She lived in Brighton Beach at the bottom end of Brooklyn, and she had a job painting decorations on the rides at Coney Island.

    She had been in New York City for almost a year. A year of struggling and making a life for herself in a new country. It had been lonely at the start, but the work had allowed her to paint and express herself. She had two friends, but as she worked most of the time, it really was difficult to meet people.

    On that sunny morning, her cousin Dirk was arriving from Europe on the biggest ship in the world; the Titanic. Both their families came from Stuttgart, and as a girl Adel had been close to her older cousin. Now that she felt herself more American, she was pleased that another of her tribe would experience the exciting land that was the United States.

    Dirk had qualified as a doctor, and in appreciation of this achievement, his family had saved money to send him second class on the Titanic.

    She knew that the ship was due within the hour and that she could watch it pass from her little apartment on the Avenue, but instead she took an elevated transit from Coney Island into Manhattan. She had heard that there was going to be a large crowd to welcome the greatest ship to the greatest city in the world.

    She took a trolley across to the west side, to Pier 60 on the Hudson. There were many people trying to get to the pier, and the crowd stretched all the way to the Battery. Adel wanted to welcome her cousin personally when he stepped from the ship.

    She bought a hotdog and a lemonade as she waited, listening to the bands, some of which had come up from Coney Island. She had been granted the holiday by her boss, as long as she worked the following Saturday.

    After what seemed a lifetime, she saw the funnels, and then the grandeur of what was the largest ship she had ever seen. It was beautiful, so beautiful that it took her breath away. She wiped back the tears and waved with the rest of the New Yorkers to greet the Titanic.

    It was several hours before she was able to walk up and hug her cousin. He had to be processed through Ellis Island, as she had been, before he was allowed to set foot on Manhattan.

    She cried again, it was wonderful to see one of her family again and to be able to talk in her mother tongue. Dirk hadn’t brought much with him and so they decided to walk up Fifth Avenue and enjoy the sights of the city.

    They got back to her apartment, in Brighton Beach in the early evening. The sun was already sinking on this happy April day and she had baked treats that she would have made back home. She wanted make Dirk feel really welcome.

    He was excited by his new country and full of hope, he told Adel. Perhaps he could be a great doctor in America, or perhaps even the President himself. Adel told him that he would have to have been born in the United States but she loved his dreams.

    Then he told stories of the crossing of the Atlantic on the Titanic, how they had been troubled by icebergs but the captain had slowed the ship a little and all was well.

    Tomorrow she had to go back to work at Coney Island but she would introduce Dirk to her boss, who might be able to help in getting him work. Dirk thanked his cousin and took his little bag into the kitchen where she had made him up a bed. Adel wished him goodnight and hoped that God would be kind to him in the new land.

    As Dirk settled down, he took out the code book which he had been supplied, and went over once again the instructions he had been given. Not if, but when, there was a war in Europe and the mighty armies of the Fatherland moved into France and Britain, the Kaiser wanted assurance that the US would be in no position to join the war.

    Dirk had one activity and one activity only, and that was to assassinate the President of the United States when the signal came from the Fatherland.Dirk slept well that first night in his new country and dreamed of the bright new world that was to come.

    3.Julia's Story

    Her name was simply, Julia Edinburgh – not doctor and not professor; she was a woman after all in 1912. She was probably the cleverest of all people working on the causes and treatment of cancers. Her husband was a doctor, but he had grown to admire and love his wife and her ability to see patterns and signs in medical information that most people overlooked.

    She felt that after several years of investigation and begging money from family and friends, she was now able to say categorically what had been the initial cause of specific cancers. Even more exciting was the certainty she felt, that she had come up with a process to halt the cell division – in other words, a cure for some cancers.

    What concerned her most was there was to be a symposium of cancer specialists in Washington DC, on Monday the 21st of April – all of them men. She also knew that the main speaker was going to present his theory of cancer as a germ that is spread throughout the body. There was a train of thought, at the time, that cancer was a small protozoa – a small creature which transported itself from cell to cell.

    She knew this was so far from the truth and that it might put cancer research back many years. It was important that she got to this meeting and contradicted their thoughts by presenting what she considered a cure for the disease.

    Her husband had always been a fan of ships since he was a little boy, and it was at his suggestion that Doctor Samuel Edinburgh and his wife, Julia should take a second class compartment aboard the Titanic on her maiden voyage, bound for New York City. The Edinburghs would then take the train south to Washington, in time for the meeting.

    They boarded at Southampton and took pleasure in their small but comfortable cabin. Doctor Edinburgh found that his love of ships had him exploring all areas of the Titanic. This allowed his wife to spend her time writing and re-writing her presentation on the causes and cures for cancer.

    It was on the evening of Sunday the 14th of April, that the doctor found himself taking a stroll on the top deck. He always found that such a walk and taking the airs helped him sleep better. It also allowed his darling wife a little extra time to consider her thoughts.

    The doctor couldn’t believe it at first - but he ran towards the bow, it appeared that there was an iceberg off the starboard side of the great RMS Titanic. He ran and found a steward, whom he quickly impressed upon, that it was important that the captain should be informed immediately.

    This is what actually occurred, the captain was able to make manoeuvres, which allowed the Titanic to swerve to the port side of the berg. The Captain felt that he had been lucky this time and slowed the ship’s speed for the final part of the voyage into New York.

    By the time the doctor got back to his cabin, his wife was asleep. He failed to tell her in the morning of his escapade the previous evening.

    Julia did, in fact, make the symposium on cancer in Washington D.C. and it was her brave work which brought about the start of cures being found for several types of cancer.

    She died in 1967, in Long Island with her grandchildren by her side.

    bobby stevenson 2015
    Photo: RMS Titanic, Wednesday April 17th, 1912 NY,NY.
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