The story of RMS Titanic has fascinated many of us since its tragic sinking in 1912. Touted as “unsinkable” by its builder, the White Star Line luxury cruiser set sail on its maiden voyage from Southhampton, England to New York on April 10th with about 2,200 passengers and crew aboard. Just hours later at around midnight on April 14th, Titanic struck an ice burg and would sink within three short hours resulting in the deaths of an estimated 1,500.
When Richard discovered that he had distant relatives aboard the ship, he was elated. He had been intrigued by Titanic since his grandmother had taken him to see the movie, “Titanic” starring Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck, and Robert Wagner in 1953. From then, his interest grew and he recalls reading “A Night to Remember” by Walter Lord in a single sitting because it was so interesting.
Richard’s grandmother had shared the story of her relatives with him when he was just a boy:
Her cousins lived in San Francisco and her own family lived in New York and so they did not get to see each other much. Her cousins had been aboard Titanic when it sank and among them was Dr. Washington Dodge., who came from a prominent family. The Dodge family had made a trip to France so that Dr. Washington Dodge could receive treatment for a blood disease and were returning to the United States first class on board the Titanic when it sank. On the night of the sinking, Washington helped his wife and son board one lifeboat before he was able to board another and all three miraculously survived. Tragedy would strike the family again in 1919 when Washington suffered a nervous breakdown and attempted to commit suicide but was unsuccessful. He was quickly transported to the hospital and passed away three days later leaving behind his wife and son. Read more about Washington Dodge and his newspaper interviews about the sinking of Titanic.
Hearing his grandmother’s story and seeing the movie in 1953 left Richard with a thirst to learn more about the “unsinkable” ship. He estimates that he has over three-hundred books referencing Titanic. Of course, when the movie “Titanic,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet debuted in 1997, Richard just had to see it. His favorite part of the movie was the dining room scene because it was so luxurious and the actors in the movie were accurate in their portrayals of their characters and what one would like experience aboard the ship. A lesson he learned from the movie was never to be so sure of yourself and he feels that, had he been aboard the ship, he would have tried to get on a lifeboat rather than succumbing to the icy waters.
Richard Shaw is not the only Carlton Senior Living resident fascinated with Titanic. Ted Fuller and Juanita Erickson, both actors in their own right, also love the story and jumped at the chance to recreate a famous snapshot from the 1997 James Cameron film.
When Carlton Senior Living associate, Suzette Marco, approached Ted and Juanita with the project they were very excited and immediately started discussing which outfits would work best in assuming the roles of Jack and Rose from the movie.
On the day of the photo shoot, Suzette recalls that the two were all smiles. After the shoot while the photos were being reviewed, Ted went to remove his captain’s hat when Juanita reminded him that, “good actors had to wait until the photos were approved” to remove their costumes in case any retakes were needed. Ted and Juanita enjoyed the project and were still talking about it days later. They enthusiastically agreed that they would like to work on a project like this again in the future.
Carlton loves to help our residents live their lives in a way that showcases their talents and honors them as individuals. We appreciate Richard, Ted, Juanita and Suzette’s participation in this tribute to Titanic and hope they feel like true Carlton celebrities!