I Took a Voyage on the R.M.S Titanic
“We climbed onto the ship and there was a silence like a funeral. The Carpathia by that time was loaded with Titanic survivors. People were lying all over the deck, just trying to find someplace to rest.
“Father wasn’t there. But I was so proud of him, that he’d abided by the rule of the sea: Women and children first. Some men didn’t. I know I sat beside a man on the Carpathia who had shoved aside Women and children to save his own life. Why, even John Jacob Astor got his wife on a boat, but never got off the ship himself.”
Shortly after nine o’clock the Carpathia had picked up everybody left alive and turned towards New York. Arthur Newell, who just 12 hours before had paused to muse on his daughters’ healthy appetites, was listed among the missing.
“We reached New York on Thursday and were hurried over to the old Manhattan hotel where my mother and other sister were waiting. My mother had seen lists of those who had been saved, but she was hoping that there had been an oversight. I can see her now in the hotel corridor, her arms outstretched, giving a howl of despair when she saw that only her two daughters had been saved and not her husband.
“Mother turned down an offer of a settlement from the White Star Line. No, she never asked us for details; she didn’t want to talk about it, and she forbade us ever to speak of that night. She wore black or white for the rest of her life. When she died, at 103, she was still in mourning.”
Two weeks after the Titanic disaster the body of Arthur Newell was washed up on a Newfoundland beach. Identified by some distinctive jewelry and a pocket diary, he was buried in Lexington’s Mount Olive cemetery.
Six years later, Marjorie Newell, who had been misidentified as “Alice” on the list of survivors, married and began her own family, her own life. Throughout her married and professional life, raising her children, helping to found the New Jersey symphony, she respected her mother’s wishes and refused any and all inquiries about her experiences on the Titanic with a polite but firm, “I don’t like to talk about it.”
And, in truth, she doesn’t. A most definite-minded, jut-jawed, matriarchal woman, whose strength of character is complemented by a distinctly coquettish femininity, Marjorie Newell Robb still grows noticeably upset, almost distraught, when she recalls that endless night of almost 70 years ago.
Still, there are some things that have to be faced, and the daughter was not at all like the implacably brooding, isolated mother.
In 1960, after the deaths of both her mother and her husband, Marjorie Robb took a trip to Europe where the itinerary included Litchfield, England; the home town of the Titanic‘s Captain Edward Smith.