The band played on …when thoughts turned to the hereafter – The Richmond Times Dispatch
A Titanic minute by Bruce M. Caplan
The Titanic slammed an iceberg on the North Atlantic at 11:40 pm on April 14, 1912. Two hours and forty minutes later the great ship sank, carrying over 1500 souls to their demise.
One of the people to perish was a theatrical impresario by the name of Henry Birkhardt Harris. At the time he died he represented many of the stars on Broadway. Everyone assumed that Harris was a millionaire.
His wife Irene (Rene) Harris survived the Titanic. She soon discovered that her late spouse was dead broke! He left her with no assets.
Rene, was not a person to sit around and mope, and she became an actors agent too. One of her clients was a very young Barbara Stanwyck. In 1953, Barbara Stanwyck had a leading role in the movie Titanic, along with Clifton Webb.
This movie was the catalyst for Walter Lord to write his great narrative “A Night to Remember” and also for the creation of the “Titanic Historical Society.”
From Springfield Republican
SPRINGFIELD – Edward S. Kamuda, who founded the Titanic Historial Society in Indian Orchard, died at his home Sunday after a long illness, the society announced Monday. He was 74 years old.
Kamuda and five others founded the Titanic Historical Society on July 7, 1963 in Indian Orchard.
As president, he watched its membership grow to several thousand people from around the world and the organization became one of the leading organizations for researching the Titanic and documenting the lives of the doomed vessel’s passengers and crew.
The Titanic struck an iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912, killing 1,517.
“If it weren’t for Edward Kamuda, much of the information we have today on Titanic wouldn’t exist,” says Karen Kamuda, THS vice president and wife of Edward.
The historical society’s home office was humbly located in the rear of Henry’s Jewerly on Main Street in Indian Orchard. The store is located across the street from the former Park Theater, where as a teen, Kumuda’s lifelong interest in the Titanic was first piqued with the 1953 movie “Titanic” starring Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwick.
He began tracking down the remaining survivors and sending them letters. Many would write him back and share their recollections of the voyage and the night of the sinking.
As he told The Republican in a 1993 interview “”I was so lucky I got a hold of them when I did. Most of them are gone now.”
Over time, the society would work closely with Dr. Robert Ballard in the search of the ocean floor that in 1985 would eventually locate the wreckage of the ocean liner. He would also be a vocal opponent of efforts to salvage items from the Titanic site, equating it with grave robbing….MORE