If you have ever dreamed of dining like one of the guests onboard the famous Titanic, now is your chance once again. Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition — 7324 International Drive, Orlando — announced on Tuesday that its popular first-class dinner gala is returning on July 2. Guests can join Captain Smith, Margaret “Molly” Brown, and additional first-class passengers for a night to remember. The reserved dinner event includes a Captain’s cocktail party, a tour of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, a first-class dinner, and reenactments of the night of April 14, 1912.
We landed in our job zone away from the ship, slowly moved off in the direction of the ship and after about 10 minutes, we gently bumped into a mud bank. The sea floor at this stage has been quite beveled with ripples in the sand. And as we got nearer and nearer the wreck site you could see debris starting to fall — bits of wreckage or small items on the seabed. And you know you’re getting nearer and nearer to it. But as we approach the mud bank, the pilot had slowed down and gently bumped into it. He then started to rise because, at this stage, the mud banks where the ship — the bow — plunged into the seabed. It literally buried itself 60 feet below the surface of the seabed. And so the pilot just started to make the sub rise slowly in front of us.
According to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, newlyweds have received stinging rebukes on social media for a Titanic-themed wedding. Their uncle shared a photo of the two posing on a homemade Titanic bow celebrating their nuptials. It quickly drew criticism from people who were mad at how this trivialized the tragedy. The comments were all over the place, but the message was clear that they had crossed a line.
There have been many tacky things over the years from Titanic shaped ice cubes, knick-knack of all kinds, and even children’s slides. And there have been lots of people who have tried to recreate the famous scene from the James Cameron movie, sometimes just in jest. There was a famous advertisement some years back for a Red Bull, an energy drink. It showed a carton of it being loaded onto a ship. The captain asks about it and the crewman says it is an energy drink that gives you wings. The captain scoffs saying they only serve champagne on his ship, and you do not need wings on a ship. As the carton is lowered back down, the ship’s name is revealed as Titanic. You can view it on YouTube.
There were some who criticized the commercial for being in bad taste, but it was just a lighthearted joke to sell a product. Does anyone criticize James Cameron for having that bow scene in that famous movie? Not that I have heard. Here we have a fiancée who knew his future wife loves that scene. With some assistance from a relative, they build one so that they can both stand on it for the reception. How many times has this happened already? Probably a lot where couples got married in a Titanic-themed setting. The Titanic themed exhibition in Pigeon Forge offers wedding packages where they can get married at the outdoor fountain or at the Titanic Grand Staircase. And all the marriages are done by an ordained minister dressed as the Titanic Captain. I hardly think that is tacky and I bet whether at the fountain or on the staircase, it is a wedding to remember. They do not offer one with a bow setting because that is from that movie. It also may be difficult to pull off as well.
At the risk of sounding like William Shatner in the famous skit of his on SNL, get a life. They were recreating a scene from a movie. A movie, I must remind, that though depicting historical events, was fictional as were the characters of Jack and Rose. That is what they are recreating, two fictional characters standing on Titanic’s bow in a romantic scene. It would be different if they were dressed as Isidor and Ida Straus for the wedding and saying to each other “where you go, I go” type of vows. That would trivialize their deaths and others as well. The fact so many people got worked up into a frenzy is quite astonishing. And that some of the comments were quite vicious as well. Those who have been around the Internet for a long time have a feeling of déjà vu as it reminds one of the old flame wars on the old Internet groups and email discussion lists.
The newlyweds should not be ashamed, nor made to feel so. I wish them nothing but happiness for their life together. Enjoy the Celine Dion song here.*
*Due to restrictions imposed by creators who post on YouTube, some videos and music can now only be played at YouTube. YouTube will generate a message that the content is unavailable and must be played on their site. Rather than seeing that ugly message, we will provide the direct link for you to view.
Today is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. For those below the equatorial line, it is the Winter Solstice. The June Solstice usually takes place between June 20-22. For both the UTC and local time of the solstice, go here.
For those in the Northern Hemisphere, it usually is the longest day of sunlight as the North Pole tilts directly towards the sun. Which translates into more sunlight particularly the further north you live. For those more closer to the North Pole (Alaska, parts of Canada, and Scandinavian countries)the sun literally never sets during this time of year. Of course the reverse is true in the Southern Hemisphere. They get less sunlight on the June Solstice and the closer you are to the Antarctic Circle means less sunlight or total night. For them, it is the Winter Solstice.
The coming of summer is usually a time for celebration in many cultures. Festivals in Northern Europe celebrate summer and the fertility of the Earth. Bonfires are lit and homes are decorated to mark the festival. Many cultures honor the sun in some fashion. Modern day pagans and druids also celebrate the day with their own festivals and many go to Stonehenge in England to witness the first rays of summer.
Few estates showcase the wealth of the Gilded Age than Lynnewood Hall in Elkins Park in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Built by A.B. Widener between 1897-1900, it was a masterpiece of design. The 110-room mansion sat on 300 acres that were meticulously cared for and adorned with statues. The mansion was 70,000 square feet and designed by the noted American architect Horace Trumbauer. Aside from being a place to live, it was also to be the home of one of the largest private art collections in the country. It is estimated to have cost $8 million to build. Sadly, both his son George Dunton Widener and grandson Harry, died when Titanic sank in 1912. George had two other children who were not aboard at the time. His wife Eleanor and maid did survive but it was a devastating blow to AB. He would die in 1915.
Between 1915-1940, it was a private art gallery open to the public by appointment. In 1940, over 2,000 pieces of art were donated to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. When Joseph Widener passed away in 1943, none of his children wanted the responsibility (meaning cost because it took a lot of money to keep the house and grounds maintained). It was abandoned and left to slowly disintegrate until 1948 when a developer bought it for a very low price. After that it was purchased by the Faith Theological Seminary. They sold off most of the land and now sits on 33 acres. Most of the art that was left was sold off prior to the sale. The seminary sold off many the famed interior detailing to raise funds. You must go to the National Gallery in Washington to see the Widener art collection, which is still preserved.
The house has been left to rot having been stripped of its precious art and detailing. Some rooms and areas are still in good condition as the slideshow indicates. It has been added to the list of endangered historic properties in the region. The secret tunnels referred to in the title were possibly used by staff to navigate the large house without being seen by Widener’s guests. The home was up for sale in 2014 for $20 million but that was brought down to $17.5 million in 2017. It appears off the market but not really known if it was sold or not. Perhaps it ought to be renovated and made open to the public (for a fee, of course) like many mansions and estates in Britain and France. You can view the slideshow here.
Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June in the United States. The movement to recognize fathers began in a West Virginia church in 1908. The sermon that day asked to remember 362 men who had perished in a mine explosion the previous December and many of the men were fathers. In 1909 Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington tried to establish an equivalent of Mother’s Day for male parents. She had been raised by a widower and believed the recognition was due. She promoted it so well to local churches, service organizations, and government officials that Washington State celebrated Father’s Day on June 19,1910. The movement to recognize fathers spread slowly but in 1924 President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day. Since then most states now recognize the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day but it is not a public holiday (neither is Mother’s Day).
Father’s Day is also celebrated in many countries. In Europe and most Spanish speaking countries it is celebrated on St. Joseph’s Day on March 19. St. Joseph is the patron saint of fathers.
On 14 June 1940, the open city of Paris was taken by the German army. There was no opposition. Le Havre in the north fell as to German control. The Maginot Line in the east was broken by the German 1st Army under General Erwin von Witzleben near Saarbrucken. The French government had relocated to Bordeaux and appealed to the United States to enter the war. Prime Minister Winston Churchill had asked the French to hold on and not surrender.
In the United States, the fall of France was seen as a catastrophe but there was hesitation on what to do. The French premier Paul Reynaud asked President Roosevelt for aid in either a declaration of war or, if not possible, any help they could provide. Roosevelt was sympathetic but advisors such as Cordell Hull, the Secretary of State, argued any open support for the French would be seen as a declaration of war by the Germans. Public opinion was still in support of the U.S. staying out of the European war, and the Congress would not wholly support it either.
Parisians had been fleeing the approaching German troops. It has been estimated that over 2 million Parisians fled ahead of the German arrival in Paris. Parisians awoke that morning with messages blaring over loudspeakers that a curfew would begin at 8 pm that night. The Germans took quick control raising the German swastika on the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. The Gestapo quickly began to start rounding up those already on lists for arrest, interrogation, and execution or deportation to Germany. While the United States did not offer any formal support for France, it implemented a freeze on Italian and German assets in the country (meaning they had no access to funds in U.S. banks or to any property they owned).
By this time, the formal relationship between had already deteriorated. As a response to Kristallnacht in 1938, the U.S. ambassador had been withdrawn. Only a Charge d’Affairs*represented the U.S. from that point on. Germany withdrew its ambassador in response. This would remain unchanged until Germany formally declared war on 11 December 1941.
*A charge d’affairs is a diplomat who handles the ordinary duties of an ambassador when they are not present (whether temporary or permanent). Often this will occur when an ambassador has ended his tour and they are awaiting a new one to be posted. A person acting in this capacity has the same immunities that the ambassador does. In formal ceremonies, a charge d’affairs is treated with a lesser precedence than an ambassador.
Next month, a consortium of organizations assembled by Ballard will launch a 10-year, $200 million federally funded effort to study the Pacific Ocean section of the country’s vast offshore Economic Exclusion Zone, which includes far-flung destinations such as Guam and American Samoa. “Fifty percent of the United States is beneath the sea, but we have better maps of Mars than we do of our country,” Ballard said this week about the expedition, which will not only map the bottom but study the makeup of the entire water column, from the shoreline to the abyss.
The Rhinebeck, New York Astor Gatehouse is for sale and it’s an impressive piece of history. The asking price is $2.5 million and the listing is through Sotheby’s International Realty. The Aster Gatehouse was built in 1878 as part of Ferncliff Farms a working dairy farm and horse breeding farm. William Backhouse Astor Jr. built the property to breed racehorses. The Astor family was once one of the richest families in New York and one that has a tragic connection to the sinking of the Titanic.
On June 10, 1752 Benjamin Franklin conducted an experiment on electricity that has become both famous and legendary. Electricity was not well understood but many knew the effects of lightning. Franklin was fascinated by the subject and decided to conduct an experiment on a stormy day. He used a kite with a key to gather electricity the storm gave off and used string to transfer it to a Leyden jar. His son was the only witness to it. Franklin made sure he was grounded and that the string his hands were touching were not wet. Franklin’s delving into electricity would give us words we use today:battery, conductor, and electrician. He also developed the lightning rod,a very useful tool if you live in an area where you get thunderstorms. Simply put, a lightning rod on a house (or other elevated structure) acts to capture the electricity from lightning and then sends it through a wire to the ground thus avoiding it passing through the structure (which can cause damage). There are more modern variations of it but all use the same principle of grounding electricity so it does little harm to people or structures.
Attempts to replicate Franklin’s Experiment show how lucky he was and that it is difficult to do even under controlled circumstances. Some doubt it happened at all. Mythbusters found that in their recreation of the experiment he likely would have died. But they concede some parts were feasible such as collecting a charge from a damp string and accumulating it in a Leyden jar. So did it happen or not? Like all good stories, there is likely something to it. If he did do it as claimed,he was truly fortunate or blessed because it is extremely hazardous to do. Many places ban such experiments because of how dangerous it is. Whether he did as claimed or through some other means we may never know the full tale. But likely he did try something close to it and obviously he never tried it again.