The Rescue of a Goose

“Will the sun never rise again?”

For Mother Goose, bobbing in her life preserver in the cold north Atlantic waters, the night seemed to last an eternity. She occasionally dozed off, the waves rocking her little boat like a cradle. She drifted along for hours and hours, too tired and sad to fly. She looked up to the heavens at the bright stars that seemed to dangle just a few feet over her head. She had never seen such brilliant stars — they were so close, she could almost stretch out her wing and touch them.

She wondered about the other survivors of Titanic…she had lost the lifeboats in the deep darkness of the night. As she looked to the east, Mother Goose noticed that the sky was not as black as it had been. “The light of a new day! Bless my soul, there’s hope for a new day!” she exclaimed and with that hope came renewed strength to Mother Goose. Stretching her neck as high as she could, Mother Goose could see a cloud of smoke very near the horizon.

“Rescue!” she shouted. “There’s a rescue happening today!” She began to sing with joy, and her wings flapped as she stood up on the life preserver and danced a thankful dance. She leaped into the air and began to fly. Up, up and away flew Mother Goose towards the smoke cloud.

And as she got higher, she could see the smoke came from a steamship. Truly a rescue was happening, and she would be saved. Her feathers rustled as she flew ever closer to the ship, and, of course, Mother Goose began to honk. She honked like she’d never honked in her life — like a foghorn, the honk of Mother Goose carried over the water. Like the mighty roar of a waterfall, the honk of Mother Goose could be heard for miles around. When you can’t imagine a louder honk, then you are close to the sound of this honk. Like a herd of New York taxi’s blaring their horns in the canyons of Manhattan, such was the honk of Mother Goose as she flew closer and closer to the rescue ship, Carpathia.

As she neared the ship, she could see the lifeboats from Titanic all around. The passengers were being lifted up out of the small boats and hoisted up onto the deck of the steamer. The seas were beginning to build with the rising of the sun, and the lifeboats rocked crazily with their precious cargo. But the crew was very careful with these poor frozen people, most of whom were in a state of shock for the circumstances they had endured through the night.

Mother Goose herself landed on the deck of the Carpathia and was quickly spotted by the other rescued passengers. “Look!” they cried. “It’s Mother Goose! She’s safe! Mother Goose is safe and alive!” She was quickly wrapped in a colorful quilt and offered a cup of hot coffee. She slowly sipped the coffee and looked around at the hundreds of people, many crying as they tried to describe the fate of the great ship Titanic. Many tried to find their lost loved ones, and many did. In total, 706 passengers and crew and one goose survived. But sadly, many did not.

Mother Goose watched the mothers with their babies, knowing that she had done her best in saving three. Perhaps those three babies would grow up to be happy, healthy adults who would make the world a better place. Perhaps one of them would find a cure for influenza… Perhaps one of them would be a great painter… Perhaps one of them would be a teacher…

Only time would tell, and Mother Goose knew in her heart that each and every person who survived this tragedy was saved for a reason. Though she could not begin to understand the mysterious ways of God, she knew His love would prevail even through this time.

As she gradually warmed, Mother Goose thought of her many friends who were gone now. She would never forget their courage and the way they faced death. Over 1,500 souls perished with the wreck and sinking of Titanic, yet their stories live on. The faces and names will remain in our hearts as long as we remember Titanic. In their passing, they have forever changed our world.

Greater Love Hath No Goose Than This…

The great steamship RMS Titanic moaned and groaned, her sheets of metal straining against the terrible and inevitable outcome. The tons and tons of man-made steel fought valiantly against the very ocean itself. Still the icy waters of the North Atlantic rose higher and higher. In the ongoing battles of man vs. nature, there can be only one winner. The powers of nature prove truly stronger than the puny attempts of man to defy the elements of God’s creation.

Many have argued that God’s wrath came against the pride of Man in the tragic demise of the Titanic. Many wonder at the “coincidence of the iceberg” laying directly in the path of the great speeding ocean liner. Many have called down judgment on the ones who acted carelessly in not providing enough lifeboats for all 2,340 passengers. There are many lessons we have learned from this tragedy, but none so poignant as this: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Mother Goose flew up the stairs to the boat deck, glancing down at the many passengers still struggling to get up and out of the lower areas of the ship. There were babes in arms and so many children clinging to the skirts of their desperate mothers. Brave husbands and fathers stood aside to allow the women and children through.

“I’m fortunate to have strong wings,” thought Mother Goose as she looked upon the poor souls below her. She honked sadly as she considered the fate of the little ones. “If only the children could fly up the stairs with me. We could all be free of the panicking crowds! We could easily get to the life boats.”

Then she had a brilliant idea.

“I can carry the babies and small children on my back! I can get them to the life boats! I can save many! There’s still time to make a difference in this world.”

Dear and gentle reader, you know that Mother Goose loves children so much. She’s always thinking of what is best for the small ones, even in a terrible crisis like the sinking of the Titanic.

Without a minute to spare, Mother Goose spun around in midair and dropped down to the nearest mother holding a bundled baby in her arms. “Quick, dear lady,” cried Mother Goose. “Put the wee little one on my back! I can carry her to a life boat and she’ll be safe!” The mother looked bewildered at the offer of this old goose. She looked around her at the masses of steerage passengers who could never reach a life boat in time.

“Please!” honked the goose again. “I’ll take her to a life boat and her precious life will be saved!”

Seeing that her choices were limited, with time running out and the waters rising, the young Irish woman kissed her baby and set the small bundle on the back of the goose. “Godspeed, Mother Goose! Bless you! Bless you!” called the mother as Mother Goose flapped her wings and rose up in the air.

Like a mighty goose of old, she flew up and over the crowds. Now she could see the full terrifying scene below her. She could hear the band playing a sweet old hymn, Nearer My God to Thee, as they stood on the deck. The water was up to their knees and still they played on. The song comforted and strengthened the passengers, giving them hope and peace even as the bow of the ship sunk deeper and deeper and the deck tilted dangerously to port.

She looked and saw many people gathered around a priest who was leading them in the prayers of the Rosary. She saw several gentlemen and officers helping people into the last lifeboats. These last lifeboats were filling quickly. She saw Captain Smith where he stood on deck. He looked calm and confident as he held an elderly woman’s hand, wished her well and lifted her into the lifeboat. She saw women crying and men wiping their tears as they said goodbye.

And then she saw what she was looking for — bobbing out on the ocean, 100 yards from Titanic, a life boat with only a small handful of passenger onboard. The lifeboats could have held nearly fifty people, but many of these had fewer than twenty-five huddled passengers. With her strong wings, Mother Goose glided over to this boat.

“Please,” she shouted. “Take this baby and keep her warm with you. I must go back for more!” And off she flew, over the water and up over the rails of the sinking steamship, over the heads of the musicians and back to the trapped passengers. “Quickly now give me another child. Put a baby on my back! I’ll carry them one by one to the lifeboats! I will save as many as I can.” Another mother settled her child on the soft back of Mother Goose, and again she flew to the same lifeboat. She left this baby with another woman and flew back to the deck of Titanic. One more trip to rescue one more baby from the clutches of the icy ocean.

Mother Goose gently landed on the lifeboat with the last little baby. “You must hold her close now,” cautioned Mother Goose to the woman who was wearing a warm wool coat. “Keep her as your own child for surely she’ll be an orphan by morning.” Mother Goose looked beyond her to the Titanic. The lights still burned brightly on the ship, although the stern was rising strangely up into the air.

“I must go!” she shouted and flew off again towards the ship. She couldn’t hear the band playing anymore as she flew around the deck, only the shouts and cries of the passengers as they slipped and fell overboard. There was nothing more for Mother Goose to do but to save herself. She spotted a life preserver floating out on the water. She was suddenly very weary, her wings so heavy and tired. She dropped down towards the life preserver, safely away from the sinking boat. She heard explosions and saw the large funnels of the Titanic break off, one by one and crash down into the water. As Mother Goose floated alone on the ocean, she saw the bow of the immense ship break off and slip away beneath the surface of the water. The stern settled for just a minute and then it followed the bow down to the bottom of the ocean.

There were hundreds of people in the cold water screaming for help, but there was nothing she could do. Her work was done — she had miraculously saved the lives of three children, but she could not rescue them all. “I’m only a goose,” she whispered. Great sad tears flowed freely now that she was safe herself, and she cried out with despair. Grief filled the heart of Mother Goose, she closed her eyes and honked hopelessly into the terrible darkness…

(Please come back tomorrow for the heart-warming conclusion to this story of Mother Goose and the Titanic.)

Mother Goose Did Not Say “Goodbye”

Captain Edward J. Smith

Her little fowl heart was pounding wildly as Mother Goose ran to Captain Smith’s quarters. She pounded on his door and cried out breathlessly, “Captain Smith! Captain Smith! There’s been a collision, and Titanic has hit an iceberg!” The captain, dressed only in his nightshirt, suddenly opened his door as Mother Goose fell in a feathery heap at his feet.

“What’s this, Mother Goose? What are you saying? What’s all this talk about a collision with an iceberg? Why, that’s simply absurd!” But as the Captain looked down the long corridor of his beautiful ship, he could see the beginnings of panic setting in amongst the passengers. People were running in all directions and shouting. They heard the sounds of breaking glass as the stewards attempted to provide all passengers with life preservers.

General pandemonium reigned supreme.

Captain Smith hurriedly threw on his officer’s jacket and ran to the pilot house to observe the disaster and direct his crew. He knew in his heart that this was going to be a tragedy of great proportion, and he silently prayed as he climbed the stairs.

Weeping, Mother Goose gathered her skirts and waddled down the passageway in search of her friends. Water was rising in the ship by the minute; icy cold Arctic water washed over her weary ankles and then rose to her bony knees. She slowly trudged the Grand Staircase, looking forlornly at the clock. It was midnight.

Midnight on the Titanic...

Finally she reached the upper deck of Titanic where the life boats were being filled with women and children. She saw Mrs. Astor and Mrs. Guggenheim and Molly Brown in one of the life boats. They fluttered their handkerchiefs to get her attention, but she only smiled sadly and continued waddling along. She must find Isidor and Ida.

People were rushing past her, jostling her. She was only a goose among many hysterical passengers. As she walked along, she felt as though it was all a very bad dream — she could hear the sounds of the band playing dance music somewhere, but how could that be? Mother Goose shook her head in disbelief to think that the beautiful Titanic was actually filling up with ocean water. How could it be?

They had said she was unsinkable. Yet Mother Goose remembered how they had shown her the blueprints of the ship when she toured the shipyards where Titanic was being welded together in Belfast. They had told her that the double thick hull was strong, and that if for some reason, three of the watertight compartments in the forward section of the hull were ripped open, Titanic would still float. But they had not considered what would happen if an iceberg punctured four of the compartments. Mother Goose knew and perhaps should have told them to think about that possibility. Being a goose, she knew that as the bulkheads filled with water, the upper levels of the ship would begin to take on water at a rapid pace. The great ship would fill exponentially as the bow sunk deeper and deeper under the surface of the ocean.

As an aquatic sort of bird, Mother Goose has a special understanding of how water rises and fills until it conquers.

Suddenly Mother Goose woke out of her misty reverie, and remembered there was much work to be done! Miraculously, her dazed eyes brightened, her spirit was refreshed, and her body was given new strength and energy to find her friends. Mother Goose got her second wind! “All is not lost,” she cried out loud. “There is still time. There’s always time to make a difference in the world.”

Ignoring the calls of the gentlemen for her to jump into a lifeboat, she dashed down the stairs to the cold, wet corridor leading to the First Class cabin of Ida and Isidor Straus. She turned left, she turned right and left again until she came to their cabin. The door was open and music drifted out of their room from the Edison phonograph, a sweet German waltz.

The stateroom of Mr. and Mrs. Straus

“Ida! Ida? Are you there?” Mother Goose ran from room to room. “Isidor? Where are you?” And then Mother Goose let out a cry of alarm for her friends were quietly lying in their bed, arms wrapped around each other, smiles on their peaceful faces. “Ida, come on, we must hurry! The ship is sinking! I can help you to the lifeboats, there’s still room for us. Isidor, come quickly! We’ll find a way for us all to be safe.”

“Dear Mother Goose,” said Ida. “Isidor and I must stay here. We’ve had a wonderful life, but we are very old and very tired. We’ve lived long together, and now we choose to die together. Please know that we love you, dear friend. Please save yourself before it is too late. You are still so young and have many stories to tell. You’ll survive this tragedy somehow, and you’ll get married and have babies and grand adventures. We love you, Mother Goose, but please understand….we cannot go with you.”

Mother Goose sobbed as she held her friends close and kissed them for the last time. “My dearest friends, I love you with the most tender affection. I will tell the world about your gentle hearts, your courage and your noble sacrifice. I have no doubt we’ll meet again on the other side of this life.” She did not say goodbye. As she backed out of the cabin, silent tears rolled down the feathery cheeks of Mother Goose, and she sadly smiled.

(Please come back tomorrow to find out how Mother Goose used her wits to escape from Titanic.)

Mother Goose Spots the Iceberg

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.

Isidor and Ida Straus, friends of a goose.

“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 Marconi wireless radio room on Titanic.

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.)

The Titanic (and Mother Goose) Left Southampton 100 Years Ago Today

On April 10th, 1912 at precisely 12:00 noon, Titanic pulled away from Southampton in England headed for America. She was a fine steamer, the largest and grandest to ever sail the Atlantic. Pride filled the hearts of the passengers and crew alike for there was none like her in all the world. “Practically unsinkable,” they told one another. The finest accommodations for the first class passengers. Quick and easy transportation for the hundreds of immigrants looking for a new life across the sea — life in America’s heartland.

There's Mother Goose waving from the rail!

Mother Goose was onboard Titanic that day. Few recognized her and those who did, simply nodded their greetings and with great sensitivity, didn’t point her out to the rest of the passengers. Though I was traveling Second Class, I strolled the upper decks, my sweater pulled tight to warm my ample bosom and my sunbonnet in place to protect my eyes from the glare of the sun on the waves. As I explored the beautiful Titanic, I took note of many things — the lavish decor, the sumptuous food, the grandiose pomposity of the First Class Passengers.

I also noticed that there were only sixteen life boats.

I found myself sitting next to Mr. Bruce Ismay at tea. I expressed my concern at the lack of life boats to carry the complete roster of passengers! He looked at me and smiled in a superior sort of way, “Why, my dear Mother Goose, we won’t be needing ANY life boats at all. We are aboard Titanic!”

My keen eyes watched the other passengers dining, dancing, gossiping, drinking sherry and smoking cigars.

I easily watched without interruption the ship’s crew in action. I was in the radio room when the messages came across the telegram wire that several icebergs had been spotted along the travel path of our steamship. I honked with great concern to alert Captain Smith of our great speed and the potential peril of our purported journey. He chuckled and said, “My dear Mother Goose, we are not in the least bit concerned about icebergs. We are aboard Titanic!”

I had many friends in the steerage compartments of the great ship, and I visited them often during our voyage. They told me their hopes and dreams. They proudly showed me their children on their way to a new life in America. The excitement was contagious, and Mother Goose found herself dancing and singing Irish ballads with them.

I went below deck several times to observe the boiler rooms in the hull of Titanic. Fascinated with the pure brute strength of the men stoking the great boilers, my heart skipped a beat at the sheer enormity of this ship. Such engineering! Such industry! Oh the progress of mankind! I had seen nothing like it in all of my travels abroad, and I made great plans to write it all down for the world to know that I was a passenger on the maiden voyage of Titanic.

(Please come back tomorrow when Mother Goose continues her story of her adventures onboard Titanic…)

Important Stats for a Goose

  • 79,312 honks to date

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March 2023