The Caldwells, along with the others in the lifeboats, watched the Titanic go down. There was a moment of silence after the ship disappeared, and then the cries started. People who had not found a seat in a lifeboat were calling for help -- help that the nearly swamped Lifeboat 13 could not give.
Albert always said, "You have to forget the screams, or you'd go crazy."
The safety of the people on the lifeboats was very unsure. Would anyone ever find them? For millennia, shipwreck survivors who escaped the wreck usually only prolonged an inevitable death. Would the Titanic's survivors be next?
Some time later someone on 13 spotted a ship steaming up in the distance. Their heroic rescue ship was the Carpathia -- the ship the Caldwells had turned down in Naples a few weeks earlier.
Now the Caldwells were grateful to be added to the Carpathia's passenger list. The saddest thing, both Sylvia and Albert said later, was the line of the Titanic's women anxiously peering over the Carpathia's railing, waiting for a husband, son, brother, father, or sweetheart who never came.
The Caldwells were one of the rare families to be saved intact.
But the danger wasn't over for the Caldwells. They were still in need of one more rescue.
When the Carpathia pulled into New York, the church had indeed sent an ambulance to whisk Sylvia away to Presbyterian Hospital for an examination, to determine whether she was really ill. If she were given a clean bill of health, the church would not pay for their ill-fated trip home.
What happened? It's all detailed in A Rare Titanic Family.
The Caldwells went on to have another child and live all over the Midwest. They divorced in 1930 and each eventually remarried. They remained faithful Presbyterians all their lives. But they
never could outrun the Titanic, which followed them throughout their lifetime and continued to haunt them, even in death.
Read the fascinating details in A Rare Titanic Family: The Caldwells' Story of Survival.
The picture to the left shows Albert and Alden, plus Albert's mother, Fannie, and his grandfather, Francis Gates, in a four-generations picture taken shortly after the Titanic. It was the bottom two generations who nearly didn't survive long enough to have the photograph taken.
The picture of the Caldwells belongs to the author and is copyrighted.
The cover of Sylvia's booklet, Women of the Titanic Disaster, as pictured above, is from the author's collection. It was among Albert's effects and came to the author when Albert died. As far as anyone knows, there are only three existing copies of the booklet in the world. Sylvia's booklet gives interesting insight into the thoughts and worries of the Titanic's widows as they completed their sad journey to the United States aboard the Carpathia. NewSouth Books, publisher of A Rare Titanic Family, was so impressed by the rare booklet that it put Women of the Titanic Disaster on the web in e-book form especially for researchers and people interested in the Titanic. Women of the Titanic Disaster is available in all major e-book formats. (Cover image is copyrighted.)
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