There were few passengers on the deck of RMS Titanic on the evening of April 14th. Most had retired to their berths for the night after a long day of entertainment and cruise fun — shuffleboard courts were dark and deck chairs were neatly folded for the night. Only Mother Goose strolled the forward deck accompanied by her friends, Ida and Isidor Straus.
“I’m feeling restless tonight,” Mother Goose explained. “There’s something in the air — I can feel that something’s just not right with the universe tonight.”
Ida was quick to comfort her. “Dear Mother Goose, I’m sure it’s just the dinner that’s got you upset. You must have been terribly dismayed with the menu choices this evening.”
“Omigooseness yes,” agreed Mother Goose. “How very insensitive of the chef to prepare the Pate de Foie Gras knowing that I would be at table this evening.” Mother Goose shuddered at the remembrance. “But there’s something else,” she quickly added. “It’s unusually still and dark out here tonight. There’s just a feeling I have…”
“Now, now Mother Goose, everything will be fine. Perhaps you’re anxious about meeting the Guggenheims over canasta tomorrow . She’s quite good, you know. But I assure you, after our fresh air and this little bit of exercise, you’ll sleep just fine.” Isidor Straus was kindly and gentle, so comforting to a goose.
Mother Goose was going to comment about Mrs. Guggenheim and her cards when suddenly she spotted something very dark just 100 yards beyond the bow of the ship. In the clear moonless night, the dark mountain of glass loomed menacingly and directly in front of Titanic.
With a honk of panic, Mother Goose shouted to her companions, “An iceberg! Dead ahead! Oh noooo…” Ida and Isidor followed her gaze and confirmed her worst suspicions — indeed it was an iceberg. Mother Goose flew up the stairs to the Pilot’s lookout, screaming and crying hysterically. Mr. and Mrs. Straus ran to warn the other passengers and the crew about what they had seen, and what they knew would be a deadly encounter.
The officers in the steering house realized too late they could not turn the enormous steamer in time. Then there was a moment of fright when the ship and the iceberg collided along the port side of Titanic. Mother Goose nearly lost her footing as the ship was jarred and chunks of ancient ice fell to the deck where she stood.
Gathering her wits and her feathers about her, she ran down the slippery deck to the stairs leading to the wireless room. She found the radio operators dozing in their chairs. “Wake up,” she shouted. “This is an emergency! The ship has collided with an iceberg, and we must radio for help! Quickly please, there’s no time to lose. We must alert any ships in the area to come to the aid of Titanic or all will be lost.”
The operators looked at her with wonder and confusion on their faces. She looked at them with frustration. “Please!” she pleaded. “We must try to get help now!” Seeing their lack of concern, she pushed them out of the way and sat down at the wireless radio. Fortunately, Mother Goose knew Morse code and she began to tap the machine — dots and dashes — until the completed message was sent: “CQD Titanic 41.44 N 50.24 W”. CQD was the code for “stop and listen, we have distress”.
Mother Goose did not receive an answer to her call for help, so she continued her rapid tapping. Her next message read: “CQD CQD SOS Titanic Position 41.44 N 50.24 W. Require immediate assistance. Come at once. We struck an iceberg. Sinking”.
She ran out of the radio room without waiting for an answer — she had to inform Captain Smith of the situation.
(Please come back tomorrow to hear more of the story of Titanic from the perspective of Mother Goose.)