MILFORD — The story and history about the Titanic tragedy hooked Ken Rossignol as a young boy. Now, decades later, he travels around the world presenting lectures, facts, copies of original newspaper headlines and articles about the iconic ship — one such lecture took place in Milford’s Hotel Fauchere on April 27.
“I first got interested in Titanic at the age 12, when I read Walter Lord’s book ‘A Night to Remember,'” said Rossignol. “To me it was the best book, because he interviewed 50 or 60 survivors who were still alive at the time in the 50s when he wrote his book. The authenticity of this book comes through, because these were the people who were there, they knew what happened, and by that time, almost 50 years later, you could separate the embellishment from the real to a degree.”
Not only was the history interesting to Rossignol, but so was the movie “Titanic” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. “It was also, to me, the best movie too,” Rossignol said. “I was always fascinated by the Titanic, always felt, ‘What if that were me, what would I do?’ Would you jump into a life boat, would you help somebody else in?” he said. Rossignol also liked the love story that the blockbuster movie depicted.
“Their story personifies the stories of dozens of people on that ship,” Rossignol said. “It was a typical, believable human experience. People met, fell in love, and were separated by the disaster. And the important thing is, it’s got a whole new generation interested in not only Titanic, but history itself. That is reading, they are using their computers to find out about it.”
The lecture and slide show — sponsored by the Milford Historical Society and Fauchere — was presented to a packed room in Emerson House followed by a dinner in the Delmonico Room at the Hotel, with a menu using “original recipes from the ship’s various dining salons and its a la carte offerings in the ships ‘The Ritz’ restaurant.”
Rossignol became so fascinated by the largely untold story of what really happened on the fated Titanic’s maiden voyage, that he wrote “Titanic 1912.” The book came out in time for the ship’s centenary year in 2012.
In his presentation, Rossignol discussed many fascinating and unknown facts. For example, the captain had received five to six messages about icebergs ahead, and apparently, did nothing, even though there were lots of things he could have done. There was a fire burning in the bowels of the ship — almost from the start, but again starting exactly when, is unclear. Is it common to have fire in the bowels of a ship? Rossignol asked experts about this, and got a resounding “no.”
He added that post 9/11 world understands the risk of overheated metal — it was weakened when the iceberg hit, and possibly contributed to the ship’s demise. Among other, better known facts are, Titanic didn’t have enough life boats for everyone. Some officers “fell” into one life boat all together, while passengers fought to get in.
The “unsinkable” boat sank rapidly and the wireless operator’s efforts with SOS signals saved many from drowning. The first newspaper reports had headlines declaring “All were saved” as about 250 bodies were taken to Halifax. As a result of the disaster, all boats were required to carry enough life boats.
Lou Bataille from Milford who came to the presentation with his wife Barbara commented, “I thought it was wonderful, and very informative. He’s a very good speaker. We had heard stories and seen movies, but some of what he told us was very interesting, like the coal fire, and the log books.”
Dick Snyder, one of the owners of Fauchere Hotel and Restaurant agreed. “I thought it was very interesting. It fulfilled my expectations,” Snyder said. “It gave a lot of specifics I wasn’t aware of before, and it was presented in a very interesting way.”
For more information on Rossignol visit
MILFORD, PA — The Pike County Historical Society will host an evening in honor of the Titanic on Sunday, April 27. The Hotel Fauchere will host a dinner in the Delmonico Room. In addition to being the largest liner ever built, when the Titanic set sail it also hosted the most advanced culinary facilities of any ship of its time. The chefs for this Titanic-inspired dinner will recreate dishes enjoyed by the passengers in the first-, second- and third-class dining saloons of the big ship. Each course will be introduced with a discussion of the culinary history of the Titanic.
The speaker, Ken Rossignol, will present his program at 5:30 at The Emerson House, located next door to the hotel. Writing true crime, maritime history and cruise thrillers occupies most of Rossignol’s time. As a maritime history speaker, Rossignol enjoys meeting audiences around the world and discussing the original news stories of the sinking of the Titanic and other maritime history topics.
Luxury liner attire ca. 1912 is encouraged. The cost is $75 per person and tax and gratuity are included; beverages at additional charge. Ten dollars of each fee will be donated back to the Pike County Historical Society. Call for reservations, space is limited, 570/409-1212, ext. 150 or, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kyrila Scully shares stories of strength and survival from the Titanic disaster.
By Peter Hawkins, special correspondent
If you’re passing the band shell at Old School Square in Delray Beach one Saturday afternoon in May, you might see a lady wearing an Edwardian long satin dress topped by a wide-brimmed hat set on a rakish angle, describing her miraculous escape from the Titanic.
It’s none other than Kyrila Scully of Boynton Beach, portraying the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown, perhaps the most colorful survivor of the mighty liner that sank 90 years ago this month.
Scully is so steeped in the most famous maiden voyage since Noah launched his ark, that school children call her the “Titanic Mom.” She will again impersonate Molly–or Margaret Brown as she was known in her lifetime–May 18 as part of Delray Beach Preservations Week.
Scully, 47, takes her “Titanic Nights”** exhibition to schools, churches, condos and civic events, and writes and performs monologues about the survivors. In addition to playing Molly Brown, she impersonates first-class stewardess Violet Jessop and second-class passenger Lutie Parrish in her best Kentucky accent:
“Thee, lawd! Look at all the people here today!” she exclaims. “Welcome aboard! I’m Mrs. Samuel Parrish, but you can call me Lutie.”
“She’s in total character when she plays these people,” said Sandra LaHair, who runs an Edwardian and Victorian costume business with Scully called Grand Staircase.
Scully is self-publishing TITANIC: THE SURVIVORS–A MANIFEST OF THE LIFEBOATS this month. The book places survivors in lifeboats and traces the stories of their escape from the doomed ship, which started to sink on April 14, 1912, and went down after midnight.
Also this month, Scully and LaHair are leading a party to mark the anniversary of the tragic voyage with special events at the Orlando museum, TITANIC–SHIP OF DREAMS. The lease on the museum, which features a full-scale recreation of the ship’s grand staircase, ends in August, and Scully is campaigning to move it to Palm Beach County. The museum hasn’t found a suitable location yet.
For LaHair, the sinking has a message for today.
“People lost their lives foolishly out of pride,” she said. “It was touted as unsinkable, as if to fly in the face of God. They thought God couldn’t sink her. Well, he could.”
Scully sees the parallel with the events of Sept. 11.
“There are so many correlations with 9-11,” she said. “It says a lot about the arrogance of technology. It’s similar to the Challenger disaster, too. In each case, ice warnings were ignored. Ice brought down the Challenger and ice brought down the Titanic.”
Scully has been interested with the vessel for almost 40 years. Her condo in Boynton Beach is like a shrine to the liner, with a life belt that was a prop for the film, TITANIC, scale models of the ship, and memorabilia that includes two tiny pieces of coal brought up from the seabed of the wreck.
In a curious way, the preoccupation was her lifesaver. At the age of 8, she went through a traumatic experience she still can’t talk about. Two things in 1964 helped her: One was the Beatles. The other was a movie about the disaster, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER. She got over the Beatles, but she’s still under the Titanic’s spell.
“It was inspirational,” she said. “I thought, if they could survive that, I could survive what I was going through.”
Through the Titanic, she has helped students see their way through personal crises. Scully answers students’ questions on a Titanic Web site.
“I’ve shown how the Titanic helped me to cope with problems I had growing up by showing them life lessons from the Titanic.”
** (Kyrila’s note: The name TITANIC NIGHTS has been changed to TITANIC IMPACT PERFORMANCE EXHIBITS. Also—not true—I didn’t “get over” the Beatles. I’m still a big fan.)
Photo by Staff Photographer Mark Randall
By Wade Sisson
I’ve spoken about the Titanic at a lot of schools since my book, Racing Through the Night, was published in 2011, and I soon learned that kids always ask the best – and most humorous – questions.
For that reason, it’s been my visits to schools that I’ve enjoyed the most. There’s something about the Titanic story that captures the imaginations of young people. You can see it in their eyes as you start talking about it. When you ask them if they know anything about the Titanic, they all raise their hands.
The questions are usually evenly split between Titanic, the ship and Titanic, the James Cameron movie. Were Jack and Rose real? Why didn’t the ship see the iceberg in time to miss it?
They’re always disappointed to learn that Jack and Rose were fictional characters – but they’re fascinated to learn about the real people who are part of the Titanic story. They always seem especially touched by the story of Millvina Dean, the last of the survivors, who died in 2009.
Most of the schools do an amazing job of preparing the kids in advance. By the time I arrive, they’ve already studied the ship, the passengers and have even dipped their hands in 28-degree water.
That doesn’t mean I don’t the occasional oddball question. Like the time one little fourth-grader asked me, “Did you bring up any gold?” I told him I’d actually never been to the wreck site – and I didn’t have any gold. He didn’t believe me and asked me again several times during the discussion. Then as I was leaving the classroom he stopped me. “Dude, seriously, where’s the gold?”
The children also try to tie the Titanic story in with other lessons they’ve had. During one school visit our discussion got hijacked by a few well-meaning third-graders. It started with one question: “Did the Titanic sink in the Bermuda Triangle?” I assured the class that the Titanic was nowhere near the Bermuda Triangle, but once the thing had been mentioned, it took on a life of its own. Another student said “Maybe the Titanic hit the iceberg because they couldn’t see inside the Bermuda Triangle.” I had to confess I was not a Bermuda Triangle expert and that seemed to satisfy them enough to stop their line of questioning.
There’s always at least one child who reminds me of myself at that age – completely drawn into the Titanic story and eager to learn as much as possible. But it’s all of the children – and their genuine interest in the history – that makes these school visits worthwhile.
The Titanic was the second in the Olympic Class for White Star Line and left port from Southampton on Wednesday, April 10th, 1912 for New York, stopping at Cherborg, France and Queenstown, Ireland.
The technology on the ship was state of the art and designed to move large numbers of people comfortably across the North Atlantic in a year when over 200,000 passengers were carried back and forth in ships.