A boatload of facts

Titanic lecture and dinner draws a packed house

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  • Photos by Anya Tikka First Class Passenger Ticket for the Titanic, using exactly the language that was used. It advises you, your baggage is insured, not you. The menu at Delmonico Room, with dishes using recipes from the Titanic dining rooms.

  • Ken Rossignol giving his Titanic presentation at the Emerson House to a full house.

  • Hotel Fauchere and Emerson House where the event took place.

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."

The movie
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.”

Unknown facts

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 towed 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 titanicspeakersbureau.com.

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