Daisy Low, as I mentioned a fortnight ago, was deeply distressed at the loss of lives when the Titanic sank, and she learned more about Arthur Ryerson’s last moments when she went to visit his widow, Emily Borie Ryerson, who, with some of their children, had been on the ill-fated ship. This was Daisy’s report to her mother, from aboard the Baltic, as she was traversing the Atlantic:

“The Ryerson family…were wonderfully calm and said they did not feel cold at [the time of the] Titanic wreck, and both girls had to row and bail out the boat, because only one able seaman was aboard their life boat. Susanne, who is as strong as a man, threw off her fur coat and got into the icy water to help boost up one man who was too cold to get in. They saved 19 men and two died after they got them in their life boat. I look into the familiar faces of these stewards and seamen [on the Baltic] and I think of all the noble souls who met their death so bravely.  It brings forcibly to one’s mind the dreadful tragedy.” [1]

The Titanic was billed as an unsinkable ship. When the story broke, few could believe that the greatest luxury liner on the seas, on its maiden voyage, could possibly capsize. Daisy Low’s goddaughter, Anne Hyde Choate, wrote of her efforts to help in a letter to her own mother. Anne was a long-time member of the New York Junior League:

“I think nobody has been able to forget for a minute [the sinking] and it has of course upset every usual and ordinary occupation. After the first news flash…that the Titanic had struck an iceberg, we got all day long such encouraging news that nobody worried–we heard that no lives were lost, all passengers transferred to other boats, and the Titanic being towed to shore.  I think that made it all the more horrible to come down on Tuesday a.m. to find that she had sunk and all the encouraging news of Monday was false.”

You can see in this one early headline the erroneous news that
all passengers were safely rescued.

“Now it seems uncertain,” Anne continued, “how many are saved, 800 at most out of 2100, and I have just heard that 140 coffins are to meet the rescue ship tonight for those who have died in consequence of the exposure.

“The Junior League House is prepared to take care of 50 or 60 women from the steerage or second class who may arrive [in New York City] destitute and at the conference meeting this afternoon $75 was taken up to [assist] the sufferers. In like manner every organization in the city is ready to help….I wrote the Bories that if Reddy or I or our house could be of any service to the Ryersons or anyone meeting them I would only be too pleased and they said there was nothing…It is all too appalling for words.” [2]

It was appalling. We all live through tragedies. This one–the sinking of the Titanic–occurred a month after the founding of the Girl Scouts, and it loomed large in Juliette Low’s life.

[1]  Juliette Gordon Low to Eleanor Kinzie and William Washington Gordon, 9 May 1912, National Historic Preservation Center, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., New York City, New York.
[2]  Anne Hyde Choate to Mary Carter Clarke, 12 April 1912, Clarke Family Papers, MS2800/16/14, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
photos:  http://www.titanicausstellung.de/mythos/  and http://newsfromnowhere1948.blogspot.com/2009/04/titanic-lost-suitcase-and-champion-jack.html