Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Titanic, A Lost Suitcase And Champion Jack Dupree

I am reminded by one of my favourite daily newsletters - the Daily Perspective from www.newspaperarchive.com - that today is the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. As someone who will set sail on a frightening large ocean liner in a few weeks time, perhaps I should steer clear of stories about the Titanic, but my efforts to avoid the subject are about as successful as Captains Smith's efforts to avoid the icebergs.
As can be seen from the extract from the newsletter, the original newspaper reports suggested that all the passengers had been saved. As with so many later disasters, the full extent of the tragedy only became apparent in the days that followed. The anniversary started me thinking about a story I heard many years ago and have subsequently been unable to verify and that is the story of how the news was first broken in the United Kingdom. 
For some reason I remember that the news was broken by the Halifax Evening Courier (and this, of course, is Halifax Yorkshire rather than Halifax Nova Scotia) and that the first the White Star Line offices in Liverpool heard about the disaster was when someone contacted them having read the report in the Evening Courier. Exactly how the Courier obtained this scoop is less clear, one is tempted to wonder whether the news was conveyed by accident in a message misdirected to the wrong Halifax.
There has often been confusion between the two Halifax's. I well remember hearing the famous American blues and boogie woogie pianist, Champion Jack Dupree (who for some unaccountable reason lived on a Halifax Council Estate in the 1970s) saying that his luggage was so often misdirected to Halifax NS that the airport authorities there had a permanent area given over to him alone.
One never had the problem of lost and misdirected cases when one crossed the Atlantic in a stately liner. Other than when they drifted off on the evening tide, that is.

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