There’s a room painted pale blue in my house that we refer to as the Titanic room. Actually, it’s the guest bedroom, but it’s filled with antique furniture from the latter part of the 1800’s and the turn of the century. The room proudly displays the few Titanic mementos I have collected. I love hanging out in this cozy area. It transports me back to a time I have fantasized about on many occasions; a time of innocence, chivalry, grandeur and elegance.
You might have guessed by now that I’m a total history nut. Maybe that’s why I’ve written eleven Historical Romances. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve daydreamed about cowboys, Indians, pirates, sea captains and knights in shining amour, and romanticized the time periods of the past. I’m sure that’s why the idealistic and catastrophic story of the Titanic has always fascinated me so much.
Although, I have to admit I did not become a complete Titanic fanatic until I saw the movie with Leonardo and Kate for the first time in January 1998. Every Saturday afternoon, and an occasional evening, from January to April 1998, I would sit in my local theater (with a co-worker and friend who was as obsessed as I was) filled with anticipation to see the doomed love story of Jack and Rose, and the tragic tale of the condemned luxury liner, Titanic, over and over again. I would tear up the minute the word Titanic appeared on the black screen. My tally for seeing this movie at that time was twenty-five times in the movie theater and would have been more if the movie had been at my theater longer. Never before— or since— have had I gone to the theater that many times to see a movie. Obsessed? Yes!
Even though I adore the fictitious love story and am in awe of the epic way the disastrous sinking is depicted in the movie, I am equally as fascinated by the exquisite costumes worn by the actresses. The movie did an excellent job of accurately portraying the clothes of the time. In the darkened theater I would study the number of buttons running down the back of the gowns, memorize the sophisticated hairstyles, or watch closely to catch glimpses of their feet to see what types of shoes the women wore with each dress.
To me, the fashions of the Gilded Era, or Golden Age, are styles that embody ultimate romance and refined elegance. They were not the heavy cumbersome gowns worn in medieval days, the modest calico garments worn by women in the Old West, or the flashy scandalous dresses that would come later in the roaring twenties. They were designed to accentuate the feminine body with low necklines, fitted waistbands, and long flowing, intricately detailed creations of silk, and satin, adorned by delicate lace and pearl buttons.
The jewelry was elaborate and flamboyant, and the shoes and boots were baby soft leather with high heels and dainty laces.
And the hats…oh those gaudy magnificent hats of the era! The hats were created to accent the beautiful dresses, and the magnificence of these hats outshined even the most gorgeous Parisian gowns. Everything from long plumes of feathers to masses of flowers decorated these splendid creations. The brims were enormous or curled up at odd angles, and the hats were designed to set anywhere on the head they could perch; over the forehead, off to the side, tipped to the back, anywhere a hat pin could be secured. My neck starts to ache just thinking of how the women had to hold their heads to keep those gigantic hats from tumbling to the ground. But, it would be so worth it.
Aside from my fascination with the fashion of the Titanic era, is my never-ending interest in learning about the real passengers who were on board during that fateful trip a century ago, including Captain Smith and his crew. I want to know where they were headed and why, who went down with the ship, which ones were saved, and anything else I can discover about all of them.
The idea of that glorious ship rotting away at the bottom of the dark deep sea breaks my heart, and I watch every documentary I find about expeditions to the ship and the artifacts being recovered from the ruins of the Titanic and the debris field surrounding it. One of my goals was to see a traveling exhibit of the artifacts. In Las Vegas a few years ago, I fulfilled this goal. Words cannot express what it meant to me to actually see the fragments of the great ship, fragile white dishes with the White Star emblem, articles of clothing, jewelry and even a wallet with paper documents that had miraculously survived decades in the water. Priceless remnants of shattered dreams and lost lives rescued from the murky depths of the devouring ocean.
Once I joined the Titanic Historical Society, my addiction to all things Titanic grew. The quarterly newsletters and magazines have even more information in them than I can find in books or online. I have an entire bookshelf dedicated to books about the Titanic and I read anything and everything I can find in regards to the ship and its passengers. For years I planned to be on one of the hundred year anniversary cruises, which are happening right now. However, my entire life I have been terrified of water and could not overcome that paralyzing fear enough to consider boarding any ship, even one as special as those commemorating the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s departure.
Now, I anxiously scour the Internet daily, reading everything I can about the cruise, and savoring the pictures of the people lucky enough to be aboard this amazing journey. But, I don’t have any desire to be there with them.
Remember my friend and co-worker whom I mentioned earlier? She loved the movie as much as I did, but was not interested in the true historical facts. However, she found my fear of water an interesting aspect in light of my overwhelming obsession with the ‘real’ Titanic. During a visit she had with a fortune teller a few years ago, she decided to find out if there was a link between my water phobia and the sinking of the great ship. This is the conversation as she relayed it to me.
“In a former life did my friend, Veronica, drown on the Titanic and is that why she is so terrified of water?”
After a long silence, the fortune teller looked intently at my friend and answered, “Her former self said it’s none of your business.”