Named after the Titans of Greek mythology, and advertised as “The ship of wonders” and “The floating palace , Titanic began her maiden voyage filled with passengers and crew of all class levels. On the dark and moonless night of April 14th, 1912 the ship steamed through the icy waters of the north Atlantic en route to New York. What happened near midnight, and over the course of the next two hours, is well documented: the ship struck an iceberg which caused catastrophic damage to the hull. Despite press claims of being unsinkable, by 2:10 AM on the 15th of April, Titanic begins her journey to the bottom of the sea, taking just over 1,500 people with her. The stories of those people and the history of that night- that ship- continue to grimly fascinate 100 years later.
It was all those histories that sent us to view Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at Kansas City’s Union Station. The building itself amazes us, built in 1914 and closed in 1980, it was renovated and opened again to the public in 1999. Union Station is now home to an Amtrack station,shops,a museum,an interactive science center, and more as well as hosting traveling exhibits such as the one that we toured recently.
Kansas City’s Union Station -it’s a really cool building.This is only a tiny part of it.
Facing the walkway that takes people from Union Station to Crown Center- another really fun thing to visit here
This episode tracks that adventure for us. While photography is not allowed in the exhibit, we thought that it would be fun to bring you along with us via recording device as we toured the collection of memorabilia. The $19.12 adult admission made us smile, and the entire exhibit sparked discussion and imagination. We did our best to describe what we were looking at and touching…we touched part of the Titanic! (insert girly squeal here).
Vocabulary lesson: The term “poop deck” comes from the latin word puppis meaning aft or stern. The poop deck is a partial deck above the ships main afterdeck.
- As disappointing as this is, it’s still fun to say.
Also Puppis is a constellation…but before you get 12 year-old giddy, it represents the stern of a ship. Hey, one of us is bumming with you.
In the gift shop, replicas of first class china
Second glass china
Third Class China
Yes, we could have taken more pictures in the gift shop, but didn’t think you cared to see all the merchandise with “Titanic” emblazoned across it. We didn’t buy anything.
Love love love this one. The Watch the Ends the Night by Allan Wolf. Own love. That much! The story of the Titanic is told through poems and dialogs from the point of view of two dozen passengers and crew. Some who survived, some who did not but all speak of their lives and the experience of April 14, 1912. I felt greedy sitting down and snarfing the whole book. I wanted to take it in short bites and savor each piece like really fine chocolate.
Watch that ends the night, voices from Titanic by, Allan Wolf.
If you happen to find yourself in Kansas City, you really should check out Union Station. Here is a link to the events and things that will await you there.
Imagine that you followed your heart to live an honest life doing what you felt was right: working hard, marrying for love, aiding others, traveling and always, always learning. You were a wife, a mother, a socialite, an activist, a suffragist, and a citizen of the world. You were adored by many, inspired more and lived life in the fullest, kindest way that you could imagine. And, when you died, your impressive life story was altered to one that was almost beyond recognition. Often for the worse!
That’s what happened to Margaret Tobin Brown. You might know her as Molly Brown- the Unsinkable Molly Brown. A woman whose real life story was so much more impressive than the one that was assigned to her after her death.
That’s a fan, not a pick ax! Margaret Brown: socialite, activists. mother, strong and educated woman. Not an uneducated gold digger.
Margaret Tobin was born a middle child of John and Johanna Tobin in Hannibal, MO on July 18, 1867. Her parents had ridden a wave of Irish Catholic immigration during a Potato Famine and landed in this western railroad stop of a town . John worked as a laborer for a variety of businesses while his children attended school and played in the same woods as another Hannibal resident had years before: Samuel Clemens.
The reconstructed Tobin family home in Hannibal, MO
The Tobin children had no more, and no less, than most of their neighbors. It was a frugal childhood, but not the miserable, motherless one of the fables of her life.
And another fable? She wasn’t called Molly, she was called Maggie or Margaret. Molly was just another fabrication to fuel the poor-Irish-upbringing image the media had created for her.
Oh! We could carry on about all the inaccuracies in the story of her life…oh, wait, we do. More details are in the podcast about how she traveled as a teenager to Leadville, CO looking to improve her life. How she worked hard and loyally first at a cigar factory in Hannibal, then in a department store in Leadville. How she wanted a better life for herself and her family and how she married for love, not for money.
Margaret and James (J.J.) Brown set up housekeeping in Leadville. They took on a little domestic help and hired tutors to continue their own education. Margaret’s family from Hannibal moved up, and they all became an integral part of a very tight community. Margaret was very active in civic activities. This wasn’t some dainty, wihte glove wearing woman (although she probably did wear them) she wasn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves to help those less fortunate than her. She was well liked, and liked many- the Browns were pillars of Leadville society. Soon they added two children to their family, Lawrence and Helen.
The James Brown family in Leadville, CO
Not overnight, and not by sheer luck, J.J. hit it rich. Gold. (This is the only gold digging in Margaret’s story!)
Leadville had been a silver mining town, but politics got in the way and the price of silver had plummeted. J.J’s mine, the Little Johnny Mine, was a boon to the town AND the Browns. They hadn’t been living in squalor, the family was very much middle class. But suddenly, they found themselves in a very different class. They were moving to the big city of Denver.
What was life like for the Browns in Denver? They fit very well into society. Not a tiny elitist portion, but the portion where most of the people of means were hanging. They traveled the world, entertained at home and abroad and educated their children in a variety of very fine schools both in the States and Europe. And Margaret? She was very much a civic minded lady and her former Leadville soup kitchen activites turned grander and more income generating. She was charming, knew the right people and knew how to separate the rich from their money for a good cause- she knew how to get stuff done.
Doesn’t really sound like the activities of a woman who didn’t fit into society, does it? Listen to the podcast for the details of this time in her life, but at some point, Margaret and J.J. separated. They would never divorce, but live together they could not. J.J. was a workaholic, and Margaret, quite busy with her own endeavors as well as the travel (which she adored)- she had outgrown Denver and housewife duties. We name drop big time when we discuss the circles she traveled in but at this point Margaret was dividing her time between Newport, Europe and Denver living large and in charge where ever she went.
Yadda Yadda…she ends up on the Titanic.
Margaret’s actions on that fateful voyage were the stuff movies are made out of. She did help people in her lifeboat, she did attempt to get the lifeboat to return to see if there were survivors, she did row (as did other woman in the lifeboat),she did share her clothing, she was level headed…stripping down to almost nothing, cracking jokes and singing bar songs? Prolly not. But Margaret had spent her life helping people, she was smart and knew how to take command of a situation- those skills all would come into play during the hours in Lifeboat #6.
Once rescued by the Carpathia hours after the Titanic sank, Margaret and her caring ways really sprang into action! No resting in First Class for this woman, she was tending to the needs of all the recued passengers and shaking down the one’s that were traveling on the Carpathia. By the time they docked in New York, she had plans in place to keep track of -and get promised funds to- survivors; she had thousands pledged and plans to get more. With a heart bigger than her hat, she made sure that blame was placed properly, and heroism rewarded.
After Titanic, presenting gifts of thanks to the Captain of The Carpathia
In the years following the Titanic portion of her life, Margaret continued to travel, was deep in Newport society, attempted to run for a state Senate position, continued to be an advocate for those who she felt needed one, and never stopped learning. She died at the age of 65 in 1932 while in New York studying acting.
Margaret Brown was a multidimensional, big hearted, smart woman with charm and personality. The myths that surround her life, while entertaining, are not nearly as fascinating as the real life of this remarkable woman.
Time Travel With The History Chicks
Books! The first one we loved a lot, had so many,”Wow! She was a rockstar! Who knew!?” moments for us:
Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth by Kristen Iversen
The second is a kids’ book, but we thought it did a fun job of telling her philanthropic story (and the photos were terrific):
Molly Brown: Sharing Her Good Fortune by Charnan Simon
We love our museums! If you are in Denver, check out the Molly Brown Museum which is in the former Brown home. And a related blog with some really wonderful posts, Between the Lions.
Near Hannibal? The Molly Brown Birthplace and Museum will show you where she began her adventure and developed the strong character that would propel her through life.
There is a brand new… museum? Theme establishment? Convention center? Birthplace of The Titanic?Not quite sure what it is exactly, but it’s pretty cool looking and sits where the Titanic was built in Belfast, Ireland. Titanic Belfast
Curious about Leadville? We were and found lots of answers here!
What about mining Ghost Towns of Colorado? This site is very fun to poke around on, Coloradopast.com, they have pictures of how the Little Johnny Mine looks today, as well as other signs of Colorado’s past. Links to some other Ghost Towns in the US, and lots of beautiful regional photography as well.
Ok, we carry on about how painful this was for us to watch, but you don’t have to believe us! You can experience the same pain (now that you know the real story of her life):
The Unwatchable Molly Brown
As always, music comes courtesy of Music Alley. Visit them at Music.mevio.com