The Arcadian Press

Titanic Reminisced

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Titanic Reminisced

By Hope Elizabeth Vines

Life is something to be valued. If you do not value life, then it is not worth living. This is the story that changed my life.

I, Clara Suzanne Carter, was born in Australia in 1897. My parents, Henry, and Juliette Carter wanted a new life in England, so we moved to Durham in 1900. 

I never thought of my life as significant until the year my family boarded the Titanic. This is the story of how most of us survived. 

It all began when Ellis and Bridgette, my two older sisters, turned 18 on April 1st, 1912. I have always loved to sing, explore, run, daydream, and play games. And so did my seven siblings. Karl was 19; Ellis and Bridget just turned 18, Seraphina was 12, Landon was 10, Katherine was 5, Reuben was 2, and I was 15. 

We were celebrating in the parlor when my father asked his two eldest daughters what they wanted for their birthday. 

“What would you like for your birthday, my daughters?” he asked as we cut into the cake our mother had made the night before. 

“Well…” Ellis began before Bridgette interrupted her.

 “Have you heard of the Titanic!?” she said with the most excited look on her face.

Our parents had no clue what they were talking about. 

“It’s a ship!” Ellis said as she gave her sister the side eye. 

They wanted to go aboard the Titanic, but more importantly, they wanted to see New York City. I never blamed my sisters for wanting to see New York City, or board the Titanic; they blamed themselves enough. But we were all on board with the decision. 

We left for our aunt’s house on the 8th, before purchasing our passes and our tickets for the biggest disaster of our lives. We left the little ones with our aunt before leaving for the ten-hour trip to Southampton. We arrived there on the evening of the 9th at 7:30 PM. We rested at an inn, and in the morning, we got ready to board the biggest ship any of us had ever seen. My parents, Karl, Ellis, Bridgette, Seraphina, Landon, and I went aboard, while. our aunt watched my two youngest siblings at home.

“This ship is just glorious!” my sweet little Seraphina exclaimed as we boarded the ship that would change our lives forever. Our parents and the twins were detailed to handle the unpacking while we raced off to explore the magnificent ship.

“Look at the gold!” Karl exclaimed. “Look at the stairs!” 

We all marveled at the detail and beauty of this astonishing masterpiece. 

“Well, Clara….” Karl began as he walked up the stairs. “Watch me!!!!!” he yelled as he slid down the handrails and did a flip at the end. 

My siblings all cheered as he bowed, but I couldn’t help scolding him, “Karl Theodore Carter!” I yelled while putting my hands on my hips, “What would mother have to say?” 

He put his hands on his hips and in a sassy voice said, “MAMA would think it was funny, and probably be impressed.” 

I couldn’t be mad at him; he was always like this, fun, carefree, and loving. 

This changed after the accident on April 14. 

We spent the next few days exploring, playing games, and spending time together. 

“So, are you kids enjoying yourselves?” our mother asked us while tucking us into our beds on the night of the 12th. 

“Yes, Mama!” we all exclaimed nearly at once. 

The next morning, we were exploring the decks when a very well-dressed gentleman sat on a chair nearby. 

“Hello there,” he said to Karl, as he waved politely.

 His name was Silas Bennett, a very well-respected man in his town, who was traveling with his wife and children. 

“What is your name?” he asked me while standing up to shake my hand.

 “Clara Suzanne Carter,” I said while shaking his hand. 

Silas was a first-class passenger visiting the third-class decks. He was very kind and said nothing about how disgusting the third-class decks were, or how underprivileged we were. We talked for an hour.

 “Would you like to have lunch with my family?” Silas asked, pointing to the first-class entrance.

 “Oh yes,” Landon exclaimed with excitement as he jumped up and down.

“We wouldn’t want to intrude,” I looked at Karl while giving him the side eye. 

“We would love to,” Karl said as he smirked at me and grabbed Seraphina’s hand. 

We walked into the grand hall and magnificent staircase with confidence, like we had built the ship, only to have everyone stare at us. Karl seemed undeterred by this. I swear that boy had all the confidence in the world, and then some. 

We ate the most delicious sandwiches, and then soup, salad, and cakes until we were soon to explode. A tall, stiff-looking crew member told us we had to leave. Silas insisted we stay, but we knew that there would be trouble if we didn’t leave. 

That night we went into our cabin and our father was waiting there for us with a huge smile on his face.

We smiled at each other as he held out six large candy canes with large beautiful bows tied around each of them. We all hugged and thanked our father. I can’t explain the joy that I saw in my little brother’s and father’s eyes. 

 Later that night, we were woken up by crew members ringing the alarm and rushing us out of our rooms into the hallways. I remember my brother Karl telling me to get dressed and pack my most valuable things. I packed my most precious jewelry, then got dressed in my warmest clothes and we were out the door into the hall.

 “What’s happening?” Landon asked the young man, who was telling us to hurry up and put on our life jackets. 

He told us very bluntly that “the ship is going down and we need to evacuate.”

 I cannot describe the fear in my older sister’s eyes when he told us that.

 We were rushing and sprinting up the stairs to get to the decks when Ellis slipped and hit her head on the railing. The next thing I knew, my mother was no longer behind me; my older sister was no longer in front of me, and the water was already at my ankles. I heard the water rush in and then I saw my little brother brace for the impact of the water. When I looked back at the water, it hit my face with the impact of what felt like a freight train.  

It did not take long for the water to rise. We were all screaming for each other.


 Soon everyone was being swept away. We were all crying and shouting. We all wanted to live. 

My siblings and I were in a hallway swept up by the water, holding on to the molding of the walls, and each other for dear life.

My sweet little sister, Seraphina, wept and clung to me. I said with a shaky voice, “Do not be afraid, my sweet sister, for God is with us.” I knew she would never let go. 

The freezing water overwhelmed my body, and I started feeling numb. The water level rose and swept away more things, benches, and people. A door flung open and stripped off the door number, which hit me in the face. I noticed blood in the water and touched my nose; it was bleeding. Screaming surrounded me everywhere.  

We swam to another passageway, desperate to get to the decks. When we got to the end of the hall, I finally saw the steps. 

I yelled “Look! The steps! We are so close!” but just as I said that, a gush of water came in and took Karl with it. 


 It was too late, Karl was gone. I felt a pain much deeper than the cut on my face.

I knew I had to move on. I had to get Seraphina and Landon out of there.

We got to the steps, and I immediately threw Landon towards the top. I did the same with Seraphina, and then I hurled myself towards the staircase right after them. 

We ran up the small narrow steps like there was no tomorrow because, as we knew it, there might not be.

 I later learned what happened to Karl. He was swept to another staircase leading to the other side of the deck. He climbed the stairs frantically and stormed onto the decks to find thousands of scared and frantic people trying to get to a lifeboat.

He ran, screamed, and tried to find us, but we were not on the deck yet. We were still on the stairs, trying to make it out alive. 

Karl kept running, screaming, and crying. But it was no use. Then he started asking people if they had seen us, but they either told him he was crazy or pushed him away. 

Seraphina, Landon, and I made it into a lifeboat when we saw something familiar. We spotted Karl’s curly black hair, then waved and screamed. He saw us and finally knew that we were safe. 

He left us to look for our sisters and our father. He ran around once more screaming their names, but no answer. A guard then came up and asked him what he was doing. 

“I just want to know that they’re alive,” Karl said to the man with tears in his eyes and a broken look on his face. “I need to die knowing they’re okay.” 

The guard’s face was saddened, and he started to cry. He had seen everyone so worried about their own lives that they didn’t care about anyone else. Yet, amid all the chaos, there was a young boy who only cared about his family.  

The guard led Karl to a lifeboat, where he sat him down. The guard asked, “What do they look like, my son?” 

Karl described our family, and then the guard walked away. 

Suddenly, a man in his forties threw Karl off of the lifeboat and helped two young ladies on it instead. Karl tried to get back on, but they pushed him off once more. My brother was then forced to find a new lifeboat. Out of nowhere, Silas grabbed Karl’s hand. 

“What are you doing Karl?” he asked, while putting his hands on my brother’s shoulders. 

“I…I…I—” Karl couldn’t speak. 

Silas then slapped my brother across the face and lightly shook his shoulders. “What is it, Karl?”

My brother was in shock. “My family. I need to know that they’re safe,” Karl said with a desperate look in his eyes. 

The guard came running up to my brother. “Son, I found your mother and your sisters!” 

He then pointed to another lifeboat, where Karl saw our mother and sisters waving and hollering. “Thank you, sir! May God bless you and keep you.” 

Karl embraced the guard for a solid five minutes before the guard left. Then Karl knew he could die, knowing his family was safe. 

But Silas had other plans. “I have seen your faith, my boy!” Silas exclaimed while putting his hands on Karl’s shoulders once more. Silas then led Karl to the same lifeboat as before. Karl sat down, but the man who threw him off earlier started to pick him up again. Silas had something to say about that. 

He grabbed the man by his life vest and lifted him off the ground, “Now you listen here, Mr. You throw that boy off this lifeboat one more time, and I will hurl you off the ship myself!” 

Silas then pushed the man into the lifeboat and shook Karl’s hand. “God bless, Silas. God bless.”  

The lifeboats started lowering while other lifeboats were lowered right on top of them. Men had to cut the ropes with their pocketknives before another fell on top of the people. Seraphina and Landon clung onto me for dear life when another boat was about to come down. We all screamed and shouted for the crew to stop lowering. A young man and his father frantically cut the ropes and saved us.

Our lifeboat made it to the water just in time to use the oars to push us away from the other boats. It wasn’t long before the Titanic rose and split in half, falling over and killing so many passengers. We watched in horror as the lights went out on the ship, and it all snapped. Landon buried his face in my arms. Seraphina covered her ears, trying not to hear the final cries of the innocent passengers. 

We drifted away from the chaos, into the cold, unforgiving sea. While we waited for help to arrive, I stood up and yelled for Karl. Soon Landon and Seraphina did the same. But no one replied. The sea was as quiet and as dark as the night sky above us. 

Soon, we saw a ship coming toward us, the SS Carpathia. It stopped and threw its ladder down for us to climb up. I was helped up by two kind young gentlemen. We were escorted to one side of the boat so that they could help more passengers onto the ship. We were given hot chocolate, blankets, and cots to sleep on. We slept through the night.

When we were about to arrive at the dock of New York City, I heard a familiar voice. “Clara!!!” It was Karl! He had asked the crew of the ship to look for us, just as he did on the Titanic. Someone else was following behind him. It was Mama, Ellis, and Bridgette. They ran up to me, Seraphina, and Landon. We embraced each other, hugging, laughing, crying, kissing. We were all so relieved. They had survived the ship breaking into two.

But someone in our beloved family was missing. “Mama, where is father?” Landon asked with a look of confusion in his eyes. Mama looked around and then she looked at Karl with horror in her face.

“I thought he was with you.” 

We ran around the ship looking for our father. We searched for what seemed like forever, but he was nowhere to be found. Father was nowhere. Absolutely nowhere.

Father was gone.

Most likely crushed by the ship when it split in two. Our father was dead. 

We wept until we left the boat. We had lost our father and our belongings. 

We were met at the docks by our beloved uncle, Benjamin, who rode the train from Maine to meet us. We had only ever seen him three times in Australia, but those were amazing memories. We embraced our uncle and cried with him for twenty minutes. 

Benjamin took us back to his hotel for three days. I do not remember those days very well, but I do remember spending most of it sleeping, eating, and regaining the energy that I had lost that fateful night. 

We later learned that on April 14th, 1912, at 11:40 PM, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean on its way to New York City. Devastatingly, we also found out that Silas went down with the ship. As well as the guard who found our mother and sisters. 

Nine days later, we left New York City, broken-hearted. 

Landon had to be physically held down several times on the boat that took us back. We arrived in England on April 30th at around midnight, where we were met by our aunt and little siblings. I do not remember much after that, only going home and sobbing for several days.

Life was very different after that. I valued it more.

As for me, I overcame my fears and traveled to America when I was 27, 34, and 63. I continued to travel, but my family never went on another boat again. My sisters, Ellis, and Bridgette blamed themselves entirely for our father’s death. They say if they had not suggested going to New York City, then we would not have boarded the Titanic. 

My father was a great man, and he did not deserve to die. But it was not their fault, and we never let them think otherwise. This was a heartbreaking, tragic, and horrifying experience. But it helped us appreciate life, and the people who make it better for us. 

If I could leave you with one thing today, it would be that you shouldn’t be afraid of the challenging things in life, nor the things that make you scared or hide under the covers at night. Instead, you need to embrace the changes and conquer the dark, and the scary things that life throws at you. When you do this, you can see how much the Lord has protected you when you were at your weakest and most vulnerable. He will always protect you, and you should never be afraid of death, or the dark, because Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. These are the only things in life you can count on. Because life will always change, and in my 97 years alive, I have seen that it will change for the better, to make you stronger, and to strengthen your faith. Trust in the one who made life so. Life is valuable. Take it from me. Clara. Suzanne. Carter.  

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