Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Titanic Anniversary

Tomorrow marks the 95th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

On April 14, 1912 at 11:45 p.m., an iceberg grazed the side of the Titanic; soon afterward the ship sank.

At least 1,502 people died in the shipwreck.

Among the dead was Dr. Robert J. Bateman of Jacksonville, founder of a local rescue mission. He was the only Floridian on board the ship.

A letter from a prostitute had led the minister to be aboard the Titanic.

Years ago I became interested in Dr. Bateman’s rescue mission work because I dabbled around the edges of such work serving in soup kitchens and such. I began researching Bateman’s Central City Mission as one of the earliest of such charities in my home town. This began even before I learned about his dying aboard the Titanic.

For several years I was asked to be a speaker at local memorial services for Titanic victims

Here’s a photo of me speaking at such a service with the flag of the White Star Line displayed in the floral wreath:

Here’s one from another year’s service held at Dr. Bateman’s grave (Yes, his body is buried here in Jacksonville):

If you would like to see some more related Bateman/Titanic photos, click on http://www.cowart.info/Monthly%20Features/Transfer%20Copy%20of%20Titanic%20px%204%20web/Titanic%20pix.htm

Something really odd happened during the speech in that second photo:

All four local tv network news programs and the local newspaper covered the event. At one point I looked up and realized that one of the tv reporters was crying.

I can’t be sure why.

Perhaps it was sympathy for the shipwreck victims. Perhaps, dust got in his eye. Or perhaps God’s spirit touched the man’s heart in some way during the service

The thrust of my speech about Dr. Bateman emphasized how the love of Christ motivated this physician to give up his medical practice and give his life trying to establish a home for “wayward women” enslaved in whorehouses in the notorious Jacksonville Tenderloin where customers could rent girls as young as 8 years old..

I wrote a couple of magazine articles about Dr. Bateman’s ministry and heroic death (Yes, newspapers of the day hailed him as a hero and credited him with several rescues of fellow passengers on the Titanic).

If you would like to read what I wrote, click on http://www.cowart.info/Monthly%20Features/Titanic%204%20web/Bateman%204%20web.htm

The tale of Jacksonville’s Titanic Hero is one chapter from my book Strangers On The Earth: A Collective Biography of People Whose Faith Got Them Into Trouble. If you would like to learn more about my book, please click on John Cowart’s Online Book Catalog at www.bluefishbooks.info

To conclude my talk at Dr. Bateman’s graveside, even though the crowd and I were miles from the ocean, I thought it appropriate to read a section of the service, For A Burial At Sea.

Seldom have I done anything to warrant tv news coverage, so I relished my brief brush with fame. But that same night, I spend cleaning toilets because back then I worked as a night janitor to support my family and my writing habit.

Nevertheless, tv and newspaper fame did not elude me altogether.

The next morning in the Winn Dixie grocery store, as I stood in the checkout line, the tinny-bopper cashier recognized me.

Excited, she called over another young woman and introduced me saying, “This here’s that old guy from the tv. He was on the Titanic and sank it”.

I saw no reason to correct her.


Ginny and I plan to be involved in a neighborhood clean up effort this coming weekend, so I doubt if I will post here in my diary again before next Monday or Tuesday.

Note to myself: Ilst2PLC/JLCllda2da — More Drama Stew.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:19 AM


At 7:16 AM, Blogger bigwhitehat said...

I hope the TV reporter's toe healed up ok.

At 8:09 AM, Blogger Battlerocker said...

So...you're the one that sank it!!?!

My grandmother had a ticket for the Titanic. She changed tickets at the last minute so that she could travel on another ship with a young women she met on shore while waiting for the boats to leave. Lucky for me I guess. Good blog fodder for Friday the 13th too. You've inspired me. Thanks!

At 8:10 AM, Blogger Battlerocker said...

Correction--Great Grand Mother. Opps.

At 6:15 PM, Blogger jellyhead said...

You were on the ship, sank the ship, and lived to tell the tale? What a guy!!

I can understand someone crying at one of your speeches. I often tear up reading your blog posts.

Hope the weekend goes well :)

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Amrita said...

Hi John you inspires me to start my own blog. AMRITA


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