Monday, July 2, 2012


Yesterday was my birthday (45!!!  Sake's alive!!!).  Weekend birthdays are awesome because we have all day to do something fun.  I chose to go to The Henry Ford to see Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit.

I thought the exhibit was well done.  They really made it personal, and seeing belongings of the passengers, things like purses and combs and necklaces, made me feel connected.  One hundred years ago, someone selected that particular brooch for her voyage. She carefully packed it into her suitcase.  It's a brooch like any other woman's brooch of that era, except it's not, because it was part of that disaster.

They didn't allow photography in the exhibit.  I was okay not photographing personal effects of the passengers.  Those items are private and need to be respected.  Items from the ship itself, though, just begged to be captured. I was captivated by a sink from a first class bathroom. It had an emblem on it that was still pristine, very fancy and stately, and the hot and cold water faucets were gorgeous.  I wish I could have photographed it to share here!

I was also fascinated by the silverware and the table settings.  I find everyday things from long ago so intriguing.  I can sit in a restaurant now and pay no attention to the spoons or the forks or the coffee cups, but when I see a table setting from years ago, I am all agog.  I can't really explain why I find it so engaging.  Maybe it's because such everyday items form a personal connection to the people of another era.   I love to look at old neighborhoods, old books, old toys, old dishes, old silverware, old jewelry.

When you enter the Titanic exhibit, you are handed a boarding pass with the information of a real passenger printed on the back.  I was traveling 2nd class with my husband and 8 month old child to begin a new life in Idaho.  

My daughter was given the boarding pass of a woman who was also traveling 2nd class.  My husband and son were both given passes of passengers traveling first class, which they lorded over us a bit.  My husband's passenger actually was a lord!  I figured that my passenger, as a woman in 2nd class with an infant, had a good chance of surviving, but I wasn't sure about the fate of my husband's and son's first class men.  At the end of the exhibit, you find out if your passenger survived or perished, and amazingly enough, all four of us had passengers who survived.  We definitely defied the odds.  

My paternal grandmother immigrated to the United States from Lithuania in 1914, just two years after the Titanic sank.  She was 5 years old, and her family traveled 3rd class.  It is scary to think that if something happened to her ship, she and her family likely would have perished.  She spent the whole journey crying because she was so frightened.  When they disembarked (at Ellis Island), the immigration official thought she had a communicable disease because her face was so blotchy from the crying, and he almost denied the family entry.  

When we finished our tour of the exhibit, we went outside to walk around Greenfield Village for a bit.  I like being there during holidays, because they always make it look so festive.  Right now everything is decked out for Fourth of July.
In the evening when we were home again, my daughter surprised me with a cake she and her friend baked for me.  It says "Happy bday Mom."  They baked it at her friend's house, and kept it hidden there until the big reveal.  So not only did I get a nice surprise cake, but my kitchen stayed clean in the process!  Happy Birthday indeed!  


Anonymous said...

Sorry to be so belated with this, but birthday greetings from Texas!! I love that your daughter surprised you with a cake =).

Isn't that amazing that things like the emblem on the sink are still pristine?

Oh my goodness, your poor grandmother! I can't imagine traveling by ship -- it would have been soooooo tedious, particularly for kids, or moms with babies/small children.

I'm glad you had such an enjoyable birthday =). And may you have many more!!


Tricia said...

We went to the Titanic exhibit not long after it opened (during some school break). Surprisingly, 4 of the 5 of us survived - the only one who didn't was T, who was semi-obsessed with the Titanic for part of his 2nd grade year after doing a project on it. It hardly seemed fair that he should perish, but on the other hand, he was expecting it. C had a character that we joked was the original Jack from the movie (a 2nd or 3rd class passenger who made friends with someone on the crew). M was a young woman who'd been to Europe on a honeymoon with her wealthy husband - she survived, he didn't.