Tag Archives: Snapshot Stories

The Titanic’s real J. Dawson

 

J. Dawson, Titanic victim

1997 marked the debut of Titanic, James Cameron’s $200 million dollar movie that profiled an early 20th century Romeo and Juliet attraction between an itinerant Jack Dawson (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and high society girl, Rose DeWitt Bukater (played by Kate Winslet). It’s a fictionalized story set within an almost century-old tragedy.

Or so it seems. Did you know that there was an actual J. Dawson as a registered crew member on the doomed R.M.S. Titanic?

Who was this man? Was his story the impetus for Cameron’s blockbuster movie? Or is his life a simple footnote within the Titanic drama?

Unfortunately, J. Dawson didn’t survive the icy Arctic waters on that April night. His body was recovered from the sea one month after the tragedy and buried in a Nova Scotia cemetery. He now rests under the occasional layer of flowers, photographs and movie ticket stubs.

Senan Molony, a journalist and dedicated Titanic researcher, discovered that Joseph Dawson was the son of a failed Irish Catholic priest and worked on the ship as a trimmer. A trimmer is basically a stokehold slave designated to channel coal to the firemen at the furnaces. He was responsible for keeping the black mountains on a level plateau at all times so that no imbalances caused a threat to the trim, or even-keel, of the ship. Yet Joseph’s life leading up to that fateful night followed a series of ironic ups and down that are movie worthy in their own right.

Read the whole story here.

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Snapshots: Ye old farrier

Rudolph Celinas: World War I horseshoer

 

World War I irrevocably changed the view of warfare in a number of ways. The trench bogs, the introduction of tanks, weapons of mass destruction (mustard gas) and the last-gasp reliance on horses for either hauling artillery or cavalry officers through the endless mud and muck.

Animals were integral to the war effort. According to the RootsWebAncestry.com website, the US Army had six classes of animals to fulfill military hauling requirements. These were:

• For the cavalry: Active horses from 950 to 1,200 pounds

• For hauling light artillery: Strong active horses from 1,150 to 1,300 pounds

• For hauling siege batteries: Powerful horses from 1,400 to 1,700 pounds

• For hauling wheelers above 1,150 pounds or leaders above 1,000 pounds: pack and draft mules

Naturally, these animals required care and the Veterinary Corps stepped in to help out. Below, is some film footage from 1918 showing some of the various steps taken to prepare a horse for the war effort.

While today’s military veterinarians still take care of the ceremonial horses, they also look after sniffer dogs currently helping out troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Snapshots: The Spanish Mason

Check out all the relief carvings behind the statue (ladder, shovel, compass, level, etc.). If this isn’t an example of a Mason, then I don’t know what is.

Cementiri de l’Est, Barcelona

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Skip Spence

Skip Spence

Anyone remotely familiar with the music from the late 1960s, will remember Jefferson Airplane. Singer/songwriter Skip Spence was the drummer featured on their debut album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off.

A brilliant artist hounded by mental illness and drug addictions, Skip eventually died of lung cancer in 1999, and is buried in Soquel Cemetery near Santa Cruz.

A more complete biography is here, as well as on the Jefferson Airplane website

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Gonna be bright, bright, sunshiny day

 

A serene view

A serene view

Celebrating sunshine, flowers, and green, green grass. Such a nice change from all that ice and snow, eh?

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What was once old, is new again

Ophelia

One of the best things about wandering old graveyards is the names.

1925 was the most popular year (365 girls) for parents naming their daughters Ophelia, while in 2000, only 21 girls sported the name. Yet according to Social Security Administration data, the name seems to be growing in popularity once more.

As of 2013, there were 184 Ophelias out there. Makes me wonder how many will be out there in 2025, the 100-year anniversary of the original peak.

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Old surfers never die…

Forever surfing

They just get board.

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