So it's May 1, 1915 and the great day has arrived. At noon on May 1, 2 hours late, she was pulled out of her berth on Pier 54.
My Aunt Marguerite, Lady Allan and her party are on board.
Here is where many of my family group will be staying on B Deck.
Next door to Orr-Lewis in the port side Parlour suite B 78 are Michael and Angela Pappadopolous. They will feature a lot in the last days of the trip.
My other Aunt, Granny Stephens is on D Deck
Mrs Stephens is in D 5 and her maid Elise Oberlin, her Nurse Caroline Milne and Baby John are in D 9.
What was it like to arrive at Pier 54? We can see what it was like in this amazing video where we see passengers arriving at Pier 54 to board that morning.
Later in the video we see the Lusitania being pushed out of her berth.
At minute 4.25, look at the deck below the Boat Deck - this is B Deck. Just as the area is enclosed is the Regal Suite on the Starboard side. My Aunt Marguerite, Lady Allan is probably inside. Just before that is the Parlour Suite and Mr Alfred Vanderbilt.
My bet is that the girls are on deck somewhere with maybe Robert Holt and Dorothy seeing the the sights. I have struggled to find them but have had no success so far.
For sure Annie Davis and Emily Walker are busy inside unpacking the travelling trunks.
The same is true for George Slingsby who is unpacking Frederick Orr-Lewis, William Stainton who is unpacking Mr Frohman and Ronald Denyer who is unpacking Mr Vanderbilt. Denyer and Slingsby share B62 and no doubt compare notes for much of the trip. They are consummate professionals at the top of their game. As are Annie and Emily.
Here is the plan for Allan cabin the Starboard Regal Suite. (Eric Sauder)
Here is the girls' bedroom. It is B 47. The door we see goes out into the hall. Where the camera is is where the door is to the rest of the suite. Their mother, my Aunt Marguerite, is in B 49 (Eric Sauder)
Here below are some more views of the Regal Suite - They are on the Port Side but they will give you a sense of the room that the Allans had on the other side of the ship.
Eric Sauder identifies this as B 48 the port Regal in his beautiful book The Unseen Lusitania
These pictures are from an excellent album found here.
Here below is I think the Parlour in Aunt M's suite. The Starboard Suite seems to have panelling.
Very few rooms even in First Class have a toilet and almost none have a bath. The Regal Suite has both! You will see that Mrs Stephens cabin faces the Ladies loo and bathroom on D. Great position.
Remember few people at home, even in very grand homes had joining bathrooms. We all went down the hall in those days or used a chamber pot at night.
Note that the key staff all have rooms in First Class too. At the top of the tree in domestic service, you lived close to those that you served when you travelled. This was true at home too.
This is the house that Slingsby lives in when they are in England.
The girls had been here a lot as they had also been to school in England before the war. It is called Whitewebbs. Slingsby was quite different from the house staff. He only served Orr-Lewis. As with Bates in Downton Abbey, he would have had all his meals cooked and be served as a high status person in the servants world. He would have travelled with Orr-Lewis everywhere.
It is significant that in OL's account of the sinking he refers to Slingsby as George. They were very close. I explore this relationship more in this post here.
It is the same for Lady Allan's maids. They too had very high status. They too were close.
"We" (Defined as her grand daughter Cheryel Goodale and I) think that Emily was a Bernardo girl who had come to Canada on an Allan ship, the Sicilian. If Cheryel is correct, then Emily had first worked with Robert Holt's father and was in the 1911 census as being in the Holt household. Now in 1915, she was working for Lady Allan. This made her top of the tree in the domestic world in Canada. Robert Holt, aged 15 must have known her.
I am sure that Lady Allan would have left all of this to Emily and Annie. They had done this many times and Aunt M had lived with a household of servants all her life. She did not have to tell them anything.
My bet is that she might have been having a meeting with her Cunard steward. Dinner and the seating might have been on her mind. Dinner and private parties before and after dinner were the highlight of the voyage. As their key guest, Cunard would have wanted to make sure that she as happy.
Here is a view of the dining room.
Lady Allan arranged it so that her group sat with each other throughout the trip. This group included, her two daughters Gwen and Anna, Frederick Orr-Lewis, Mrs Stephens, Dorothy Braithwaite and young Robert Holt.
According to their own high status, Slingsby and Emily and Annie also had their own table in the First Class dining room on C Deck that they shared also with Stainton on the starboard side (Right) in the gallery above by the window.
I don't know where Ronald Denyer, Mr Vanderbilt's valet, sat but it would be likely that he too sat with Slingsby. After all, they shared a cabin.
Who are these people?
I have posted pictures of the group before but here for the last time are some so that you can remember that while this was a long time ago, that these were real people and mainly children.
Here is Gwen.
Here is Anna. I find her especially sweet.
Here is Baby John Stephens.
Here is Robert Holt - he was 15.
Here is Rita Jolivet. Later she and my Aunt become close and Aunt M introduces Rita to her cousin Jimmie Allan and they marry!
Here is Frederick Orr-Lewis. It is the only picture that we have found. (Mike Poirier)
So what would everyone else have been doing before dinner on May 1st? We can never know but we can have a good guess.
At first, surely the young and maybe Dorothy Braithwaite too, stood together on deck outside and watched as New York faded away. Then my guess is that they then toured each others' cabins.
Surely Gwen and Anna will have been round to see Robert Holt's cabin and then he would have payed a visit to the girls. Surely then girls might have gone down to D deck and checked out baby John and Dorothy?
We know Robert was a reader. He may have escaped the girls, after all he was 15, and gone to the smoking room and read a book? Here he was counted as a man. How exciting that must have been.
By late afternoon, Mrs Stephens and Lady Allan would have been working with their maids to get ready for dinner. Each night they would wear a different outfit. Each night they would wear a better one. They would have their hair done. They might change their mind about what to wear.
Aunt M had many dresses by Worth the top couturier of the time. Here is a lovely one.
It was easier for the men!
Frederick and Robert would merely have to dress for dinner. Frederick would be dressed by Slingsby. I am old enough to know how hard this might be. The collars would be detachable and have studs that stick into your neck. The white fronting had studs. Your cufflinks were very hard to do up on your own. Slingsby might have dropped by master Robert to give him a hand.
Gwen and Anna and Dorothy, as juniors were not under the pressure that Lady Allan and Mrs Stephens were. The girls did not have to wear formal dress. Dorothy could get by with something simpler than the older women. She also did not have their money either. Annie or Emily, like Slingsby with Robert, may have dropped by to help Dorothy with her hair.
It's fun speculating what they must have done. It helps me to get closer to them. I hope that these fancies of mine and all this detail help you make that connection too. For when we come to May 7th, for them it is not a history lesson. It's their lives and, for many of them, it is the end of their lives. The contrast between this luxury and the horror is so great.
And talking of the detail.
I think it now appropriate to offer some thanks and gratitude. For the level of detail that I have been able to find to honour my family has been as a result of other's people's work.
THE researcher on the Lusitania - the oracle that everyone goes to - is Mike Poirier. He is the source of many of the documents and pictures that I will be using. His is the only picture of Orr Lewis and later we will be quoting from his copies of the Orr-Lewis and Pappadopoulos letters. He is also the host of the Facebook site that many of the relatives are using to connect. No one who is serious about the Lusitania writes a word without checking with Mike.
Eric Sauder, is another key resource. No one know more about the interior and the workings of the ship. He is author of many books about the Lusitania. Eric is also incredibly generous. Note the many credits for Eric above.
The Goldmine is the Lusitania Resource Page Here every detail has been accumulated by teams of people including Mike Poirier.
In a world where people keep their cards close to their chest, the Lusitania family is remarkably generous with help, information and support. We are all karmically bound to each other. It's amazing to meet the descendants 100 years on. We can all feel this connection. It is a great privilege to be part of this.
So again, thank you all.
Finally if you want to tour the Lusitania - here is a nice one.