FLASHBACK, 105 YEARS: Titanic – and the man who never was!

THE ‘UNSINKABLE’ SINKING: NOW, IN HER LAST POSITION, WITH THE STERN OF THE TITANIC POINTING TOWARDS THE SKY FOR FIVE MINUTES, SHE TOOK HER FINAL PLUNGE.

“I couldn’t contain myself,” said Frank Morris. “The ship, what ship?”

FRANK MORRIS

The autumnal afternoon shadows have begun to fall like a damask curtain over this city. The year was 1974. It has been a perfect, April day.

It was mid-afternoon when I walked out of the building and headed for the bar. Today was a slow-news day. It left me feeling bedraggled.

When I reached the wine bar the shower had now dissipated. When I walked in there were a few people talking to Wendy, the hostess. Wendy spotted me. She poured a glass of white wine and pushed it towards me, and disappeared.

I looked at the railway clock perched on the far wall. It was 3.30pm. I flicked through the late final editions of both newspapers. Newswise, it had been a slow day.

Rain is a funny thing. It comes and it goes. I found myself humming this poem:

The rain has drifted,
The cloud filled heaven shines softy.
Still is the air, the sea is calm.

I hummed away.

HE MADE HIMSELF COMFORTABLE

Then I searched for my papers. I was going home.

“Are you looking for these,” he asked. His presence had snapped me out of my reverie. He was clean-shaven, had thin hair and dressed in an expensive suit.

He made himself comfortable. “You don’t mind if I berth here, my friend. I need to rest awhile.”

Can I buy you a beer. He shook his head.

“April is a very sad period for me. My mother and uncle drowned sixty-two years ago. As old as I am, I find it hard to go to asleep at night. I was in a small boat with seventy-odd survivors when the ship went down. I was six at the time.”

I couldn’t contain myself. The ship, what ship? The gentleman was pulling a yellowed fragment of well-thumbed newsprint from his wallet, and handed it to me.

A SMATTERING OF HEADLINES

Sydney Morning Herald, April (could not decipher the date) 1912. It showed the Titanic leaving Portsmouth and a smattering of several decked headlines. Titanic Sunk/An Appalling Disaster/Over 1000 lose their lives.

“The night is as vivid as this minute and it was over sixty years ago,” he said. “I see the rest of the family from time to time …”

I interrupted the storyteller.

I want to race back to the office a get my tape recorder. I’d like to write a story about you. He shrugged his shoulders; his eyes glazed over. I was gone about 10 minutes. When I got back to the wine bar the old man was gone.

He was nowhere to be seen. He had scarpered; done a bunk.

I caught Wendy’s eye. What happened to the old gent who I was talking to a few minutes ago?

This is Twilight Zone stuff. Did I imagine this encounter? I headed for home.

But it wasn’t over yet.

I glanced at the date on the newspaper, just to make sure. It was April 15 – the day the Titanic sunk. It was a day I’ll never forget.

This is a true story. It did happen … or I think it DID. It’s a conundrum. But I’ll never forget it. Now, see if you believe it.

<< From Grand Years 5 years ago.

Pictures: Many notable people missing. Mrs Astor was gone and so many other notables, like writer, W. T. Stead, two of the most famous to lose their life on the Titanic. Against the 866 rescued from Titanic, which took 4 hours to sink and over 1250 went down with the ship. Fire underneath. On the outside of the ship, under the first funnel, there was a burn mark which indicates that there was a fire alight in that boiler. Only about half a dozen crew knew of the incident; none of the passengers and rest of the crew knew about it.


TITANIC MAKES HEADLINES: THE RMS TITANIC SEEN ENTERING A NEW REALM, SYDNEY HARBOUR.

YOU’RE INVITED! FAMOUS TITANIC VOYAGE TO THE HABOUR

FRANK MORRIS

Up to 1000 passengers will be at James Cameron’s mega-hit movie, Titanic, from 1997, while they’re enjoying a time-lapse into 1912. The box-office certainly knows what it’s doing. After they buy their tickets, for first, second and third-class decks, they “dress up” in outfits from 1912.

And not only that, they will eat a meal appropriate to each class. Actors will be on board to help “simulate” the experience of being on the ship.

TITANIC SYDNEY BOUND

“The organisers are calling it an immersive cinema observation – but not too immersive. With cinema operators looking for ever more innovative ways to turn movie-going into an event,” the report said.

Nobody will end up in the water, said a Beyond Cinema spokesperson. The company is planning to recreate the Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage on Sydney Harbour, said the report.

<< Also … Titanic: The Exhibition. Where you become the passenger. Byron Kennedy Hall, Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park, NSW.

Just some of the meals. If its luncheon you are par-taking it’s more than possible that these are the type of dishes that will be served.


ALBERT JACKA, VC: THE FAMOUS VC WINNER DODGED ENEMY BACKLASH AND WITH POINTED BAYONET MANAGED TO TAKE THE DUGOUT.

COMING: THE GREAT WAR … THE CAPTAIN JACKA STORY. Albert Jacka, who helped forge the spirit of the ANZACS, performed acts of human courage that you would not believe. The editor of Go55 Newspaper, John McNamee, wrote in profile, that “in bitter fighting at Pozieres, Jacka recaptured … heavily defended trench, freed a group … of captured Australians … and forced the surrender of 50 Germans.” There’s much more. But we will let you read the rest of the Jacka story -- end of the month. In each issue, Mr McNamee tells a story about other spirited Aussies. You can read or view on www.go55s.com.au


FUN FOR EVERYONE! THE LONDON MAIL RAIL IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

INSIDE NEWSPAPERS: CITY A.M, LONDON: FIRST CLASS FUN

Not even the Blitz could stop the London Mail Rail from running. It is open to the public for the first time as part of a celebration of postal institution.

The Mail Rail will allow visitors to take a ride in special underground tunnels that have lain abandoned for years. The attraction is part of the new Postal Museum that retraces the vital role Britain’s Royal Mail played over its 500-year history.

The now-listed company can be traced back to King Henry Vlll.

<< From City A.M. newspaper, London, this year.


COMING NEXT YEAR! Series two -- Australian Chronicle Newspaper: Making Our Nation
What year was the first world “heavyweight championship” on a scale never before attempted? What year did Mrs Gunn write her immortal classic, We Of The Never-Never? What year did General-Motors-Holden release its new Australian-made Holden? What year did the Prime Minister Mr Menzies’s start his drive against communism.


PARKES OBSERVATORY: REPECTED ASTRONOMER ERIC HILL.

COMPUTER MILESTONES: FINAL! FROM PROCESSING TO DIGITAL

PDP-9 with astronomer Eric Hill, gives the first Apollo moon landing a link with Australia!

FRANK MORRIS

Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 designed the World Wide Web with URLs, HTTP and HTML.

Commercial operation of the first GSM networks started in European countries in 1991. By the beginning of 1995, over 60 countries would have operational or planned GSM networks, including Australia.

In 1993, the development of the Intel Pentium processor marked a new era in PC power; while the first Web browser, NCSA Mosaic, was developed and released this year.

The Australian Computer Museum Society in 1994 was formed to foster the preservation of historic computing items around the nation for the benefit of future generations. First release also of the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Protocol for Web browsers. An updated version of SSL is currently bring used to secure transactions over the Internet.

‘THE DISH’ USED APOLLO MOONWALK

South Australian Electricity Trust in 1998 decommissioned the Torrens Island Power Station computer that had been providing boiler house control for 33 years. This massive parallel processor computer, which cost about $2 million to install, was housed in bullet proof cabinets to ensure its survival if any of the boilers exploded.

When movie-makers were producing the Australian box office hit film, The Dish, in 1999, they borrowed a Digital PDP-9 computer from Max Burnet collection of the Australian Computer Museum Society warehouse-museum. The PDP-9 they used was actually the original computer that had been in operation at the Parkes Observatory, used by Eric Hill, at the time of the first Apollo moon landing, July 21, 1969. It provided the sole link between the Earth and the Apollo craft during the historic moonwalk.

<< ACS milestones were used in a 4-page double spread advertisement in The Australian, November 6, 2001

Picture: Safe landing. The Apollo 11 Lunar Module, Eagle, touched down on the Sea of Tranquillity on the morning of Monday, July 21, 1969, Australian time. Australia was watching!

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 01 September 17

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