Edith Rosenbaum (Russel) was chosen to bring the newest fashion from Paris to New York. She had all of her 19 trunks with fashion worth more than anything she owned with her when she boarded the biggest Ocean Liner in the World. The RMS Titanic. She waited nervously in Cherbourg of the liner to arrive. And when it was time to step on board she refused.
Somehow her intuition told her not to travel with the titanic. But as her luggage was already boarded and it caused a fuss to bring them back out she sighed and gave in. She went on board and headed to her first class cabin with a door leading to the promenade deck.
The night, the titanic hit the iceberg, Edith was in the reading and writing room. She was writing letters and when they called lights out, she went to a servant to hand him the letters. Telling him, she’d pay for the letters tomorrow morning. As she went up to her stateroom, she felt a slight bump. When she reached her door, she felt another bump. And when she entered her room, there was a third bump.
A knock on her door from a gentlemen interrupted her thoughts of what might be wrong. They had planned for a date late night. He pocked his head into her room and said:“Come on, see what the bumps are!“
They went outside her stateroom door to the promenade deck and this is what Edith later told in interviews.
„I saw a large, grey thing. I looked to me like a building floating by. And as it went, it bumped along the rail and chopped of bits of ice. And a few, myself included, picked up the ice and started playing snowballs. They thought it was fun.“
She then went to bed. A few minutes later, a servant knocked on the door and said that she should get dressed and head for the lifeboats.
Edith wasn’t aware of the terrible desaster that was ahead of her and the many people on board. But Edith as a first-class passenger had the privilege to be able to get off the ship early and get in one of the few lifeboats. Yet there she was, refusing it. She went to the boatdeck twice and refused each time to enter a lifeboat. She sat down comfortably in a big easy chair.
She did not believe in the slightest that the Titanic would sink and thought it was ridiculous the be put into a lifeboat at night. Being lowered several meters down into darkness not even seeing the water. So she sat there, waiting.
But she did something she herself explained to be idiotic. She locked every trunk in her room. Every door and window. She proceeded to give the keys to her valet. And asked if he could sent the trunks to New York. He simply answered: „You can kiss your trunks goodbye.“ She wondered and asked:“You think there is any danger?“ and he said:“ Well, I’ve got children at home and I am worried.“ This conversation made Edith revalue saving her life and she asked him for her mascot. A tiny toypig that could play the maxixe. A gift from her mother and a good luck charm.
He brought her the pig that was left on her nightstand and then she went to the boats. She happened to meet Bruce Ismay, Chairmen of the White Starline and he shouted:“ I thought all women have left this ship!“ (Which they have clearly not – not even all first-class ladies had left at this point during the sinking.)
He picked he up and threw her down the stairs to the next to last lifeboat that was being lowered. But she stood there, not knowing how to get in. She had a hubble skirt on, a skirt that was very tight around the ankles. A sailor asked her, if she wanted to get into the boat.
„How am I supposed to get into a lifeboat with this thing I got on? I am a prisoner in my own skirt!“
„Well, I don’t know about you, but I am gonna save your baby!“
And the sailor grabbed the toypig and threw it into a lifeboat and Edith said:“ That’s it, here I go!“
She later referred to this as her mothers calling. That she’d never be separated from her mascot. So the sailors made a cradle and helped her into the lifeboat. Or as she said:“They threw me through space into the lifeboat.“ She found her toypig with his legs broken, but it still played the music.
When the lifeboat departed the sinking went on. Soon the screams of all the people left behind filled the silent dark night. And Edith looked around her and realized, that her boat was mostly filled with children. They all looked terrified and were crying. Edith figured, that she’d play the music from her mascot. And most of the kids stopped crying and were more interested in the toy than the tragic around her. (Which I personally think is the most motherly thing Edith could have done.)
They were picked up by the Carpathia the next morning. Edith survived the sinking and went on with her life. She never married, nor had she children. But she was beloved by her many friends. She died at the age of 95. Her written report of the sinking was never published.
Titanic Survivor story
Interviews with Titanic survivors / Documentation