Friday, August 23, 2013

Musical Toy from Titanic Plays Again

This was a famous story from the many documentaries relating to the Titanic.  It is amazing (and haunting) to think how the eerie tune emanating from the toy, played over and over again comforted children in a life-boat.

A little over a century after the tragic sinking of the Titanic, historians say they have repaired a strange little toy pig that survived the infamous wreck.
The curious pig was repaired following an appearance in a National Maritime Museum exhibition meant to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the disaster. More than 1,500 men, women and children lost their lives when the celebrated ocean liner sank on the night of April 12, 1912.According to the museum, the pig originally belonged to a wealthy 32-year-old American passenger named Edith Rosenbaum (later changed to Edith Russell). A lucky charm from her mother, the little toy ended up saving Rosenbaum's life.
In 1970, five years before her death, the then 90-year-old Russell told the BBC how she and other passengers laughed and made snowballs after the ship's railing scraped across the side of the iceberg. Unconcerned, she then went to bed. Later, she stubbornly refused to leave the "unsinkable ship" and evacuated only after a fed-up sailor threw her beloved toy into a lifeboat.
"You can do as you want, but I'm going to save your 'baby,'" the sailor said, according to Russell.
For the next six hours, Russell used the odd possession to soothe her packed lifeboat's many terrified children.
"The children were crying and whimpering," Russell said. "And I said, I believe I'll play music and maybe the children would be diverted. ... And the poor children were so interested, most of them stopped crying."
By the time the pig reached the National Maritime Museum it had long since stopped working. Constructed from wood, papier maché and pig skin, the toy was far too fragile to open, according to the museum. Undaunted, however, experts used 3D X-ray scans to look at the toy's inner workings, and eventually figured out a way to access the music box mechanism without damaging the pig.
“The tune came out beautifully," museum curator Rory McEvoy told The Telegraph. "It was quite unbelievable and very emotive. There are a few notes missing, because a couple of the comb teeth are adrift, but otherwise, the song was as clear as it ever was. Listening to it for the first time had a powerful impact.”
Although the song itself was at first a mystery to researchers, Telegraph readers helped identify it as the "La Sorella march," a tune written by Charles Borel-Clerc and Louis Gallini a few years before the Titanic's fateful voyage.
I am still curious as to why a Jewish mother would present her child with a music box in the form of a toy pig.  But that's just me.

And so it goes.
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