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Weeping and Desperation in the Company’s Offices

This article was published in the Yiddish-language Forward on April 16, 1912.

Scenes of weeping and desperation took place yesterday all day long and through the night at the offices of the White Star Line located at 9 Broadway. A stream of people drawn there were besieging the clerks, demanding the latest news.

These were relatives and friends of the passengers who were aboard the ship. Many of them were crying and wringing their hands as the sad news trickled in late that night, finally revealing the dreadful truth of the accident in its entirety. There, in front of the company’s offices, cars arrived delivering men and women holding handkerchiefs to their eyes. They entered the offices and many spent a long time in there, only to finally leave for home weeping.

Among that crowd was Vincent Astor, son of well-known multimillionaire John Jacob Astor. The elder Astor and his young wife, the former Miss Madeleine Force, with whom he was recently wed, were aboard the ship. When Vincent Astor came to the company’s offices to inquire after his father, the news was still that “‘all could be rescued.”’ Vincent Astor was taken to the office of the company vice president, Philip Franklin, where he remained for more than half an hour, and he was told the complete truth — that according to the latest dispatches received, the ship sank along with more than 1,400 passengers. When the young Astor eventually exited the office, he was weeping and unresponsive to questioning.

Sylvester Barnes, Isidor Straus’s secretary, also came to the office. Isidor Straus and his wife were among the passengers on the Titanic. There was no cheery news for him, either.

This article was published in the Yiddish-language Forward on April 16, 2012.

Miss Whitlock, a wealthy young woman from 317 Riverside Drive, appeared terrified when she approached the offices of the company and inquired after her sister, Mrs. Marvin, and her husband, who were among the first-class passengers on the ship. The Marvins, who were recently married, were returning from their honeymoon. When the young woman was informed that the worst had occurred, she began crying uncontrollably, setting off weeping among those who remained waiting for news at the office.

At 11:30 p.m. yesterday, the company vice president, Mr. Franklin, was informed of the sinking of the Titanic and of the news that the Carpathia had rescued 875 passengers. He stated that he believed the rescued must largely be women and children, as that’s the standard for rescues at sea. Women and children from the first class and second class would have been rescued first, not those from the between -decks.

The company office stayed open the entire night, filled with an air of anxiety and pierced by frequent outbursts of crying and panic. Most people were waiting through the night for a list of the rescued, which would arrive with the Carpathia, currently on her way back to New York. The latest news was that when the Carpathia arrived at the disaster site, there were no signs of the Titanic anymore and that only the lifeboats were there, holding 866 passengers.

Around midnight, a young pair ran into the company’s offices. The man asked, ”Is it true that the Titanic has sunk?”

They told him that was a fact.

“My God, we’re ruined,” he yelled “They’ve all drowned!” he bellowed, and the young woman began lamenting loudly.


Regarding the Between-Deck Passengers: The list of third-class passengers has been lost along with the ship. The New York-based company telegraphed London and the list will likely arrive here tomorrow.

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