I walked along the platform of the Southampton dock littered with men in bowler hats carrying their suitcases and carting their trunks. Women dressed in gowns and feathered hats were toting their hat boxes and securing their valuables, as they prepared to board the ship. I could smell the seagull droppings on the pier competing with the odour of the fresh fish that the fishermen had brought in early that morning. Time was of the essence as I only had an hour to make my purchase and get back to the dock. I politely asked one of the crew where I might find a jewellery shop in town and he directed me towards Queen Street. Walking as fast as my legs could carry me, I rubbed shoulders with the eager passengers, and eventually the crowd thinned. Walking down the cobblestone streets, I passed a fishmarket, a blacksmith, a cooper -- but no jewellery shop. The heavy fog made it hard to read the lettering, but finally I came upon what looked like a jewellery store. I opened the heavy wooden door and enterd the shop, greeted by an elderly gentleman with spectacles hugging his nose. "Do you have any gold watches" I asked. "Not just any watch -- it has to be special. I've come all the way from America, just to purchase a watch for my wife." "Yes, of course" said the jeweller. I lingered over the fine watch pieces, making certain that I made the right choice. All of a sudden, I realized the time, hastily picked out a watch, paid the jeweller, and raced out of the shop, brushing past shoppers with perplexed looks on their faces. I rushed back to the dock, only to see the waves that the ship had left in its wake and hear the seagulls squawk overhead. NO! In my hand was my ticket dated April 10, 1912 for the S. S. Titanic.*
*Based on the life of veterinarian William M. Maraz, who, on a bet, sailed from New York to England to find a gold watch for his wife, intending to return home on the Titanic, but missing its maiden voyage while searching for a jeweller.
N.B. Today is the 100th anniversary of the collision of the Titanic with an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland, on April 14, 1912. It sunk in the wee hours of the morning on April 15, 1912. This post is dedicated to the 1500 lives lost on that night.
Photo of Titanic at Southampton dock on April 10, 1912 courtesy http://onpoint.wbur.org/files.