Twelve Thousand Feet Above the Titanic

by | Dec 9, 2022 | Blog

You are about to read a tale that has never been told before. In 1996 Rose Dawson Calvert boarded the Titanic research ship that was twelve thousand feet above the wreckage of the sunken passenger ship. Rose joined the crew on the ship because they identified her as the woman in Jack Dawson’s sketch found in the safe that they recovered from the wreckage. The sketch was dated April 14, 1912, the same day that the Titanic hit the iceberg. The research crew hoped the safe contained the Heart of the Ocean necklace made of a huge blue diamond pendant surrounded by many white diamonds.

Before the Titanic sank, Rose ended up with the necklace and she kept it unbeknownst to her rejected fiancé. Eighty-four years later she carried the necklace onto the research ship. While the ship’s night lights illuminated the Atlantic’s surface, Rose threw the necklace into the water in memory of her lover on the Titanic, Jack Dawson. The necklace  with its precious jewels reflected the ship’s light and tricked a passing fish into thinking was a delicious night snack.

While Rose relived her Titanic memories on the research vessel, my family and I were minding our own business in Cape Neddick, Maine, located on the coast in York. My wife Jan was a nurse at the York Hospital. We were trying to raise three sons, 15, 13, and 10. Part of my self-care included jogging in the morning. I would run on River Road that followed the Cape Neddick River to Shore Road that passed by the Cape Neddick Beach.

The beach is horseshoe shaped. In good weather, which usually occurs for two days in July each year, I would jog on the beach. It added about 200 yards to my jog. On one of those two good days in July, I turned onto the beach to run to the other side of the horseshoe and back. The bright morning sunlight reflected off some of the wet shells. I wished they were real pieces of jewelry or coins.  I saw ahead of me a large, decayed fish washed up on shore. As I got closer, something in the fish’s remains reflected the morning light. I assumed the fish had died from a swallowed fishing lure. Whoever hooked it, missed hauling in a marvelous keeper and the lure. I stopped to inspect the fish remains and lure that had a blue color to it. I started to pull it out of the rotted fish, but it wasn’t a lure. Just then, a hard rain began to fall so I stuffed the object into my pants pocket and ran home.

The boys were putting their breakfast dishes into the sink when I opened the kitchen door. Their mother, still in her hospital scrubs from the night shift she worked, frantically tried to complete filling their lunch bags. She asked me to take over because she was about to fall over from exhaustion after twelve hours of work. She said goodbye to the boys, kissed me, and headed upstairs.

I got the boys out the door in time to catch the school bus. Alone in the kitchen, I remembered my mystery object. I pulled it out of my pocket and immediately realized it was a necklace. How did that get into the fish’s belly? I carefully cleaned it with warm water and soap in the sink. The pendant was a large blue, heart-shaped stone surrounded by what looked like white diamonds.

Three months later I read a notice in the York Weekly about a Titanic survivor scheduled to speak in Boston. Her name was Rose Dawson Calvert. She had recently revisited the site of the Titanic’s sinking. I ordered tickets for my wife and me in seats as close to the front row as possible. As we got dressed for the event, I asked Jan to wear the necklace I had found and given to her in celebration of our first date in 1978.

Rose looked lovely for her age when she came out on stage. The excited audience’s loud welcome energized her. She told us about her background and the years after the fateful April 15 sinking. Then she began to tell us about her experience on the Titanic. A few minutes into her tale, her eyes look directly at my wife, but not in her eyes. Rose’s gaze latched onto Jan’s necklace. For a split second she looked mesmerized by the stunning piece of jewelry. Then unexpectedly, Rose quickly turned to her right and rushed to the side of the platform and disappeared.

The audience waited in silence for a few moments. Curious chatter started and then grew louder. Piped in music came out of the speakers. Three minutes later the Master of Ceremonies came out and spoke to us. He apologized profusely for Rose’s sudden exit, but she had become nauseous. The staff was tending to her. He also regrettably announced that the rest of the event was cancelled but our tickets would be refunded 100 percent. A big sigh swept across the audience.

Jan and I dejectedly prepared to join in the mass exit when, out of the blue, the Master of Ceremonies tapped me on the shoulder. He graciously, but urgently, requested that we follow him. He led us to Rose’s dressing room. She introduced herself and thanked us for coming to hear her story, but apologized for the sudden cancellation. She asked for our names and where we were from. Then her eyes turned to Jan’s necklace, “Please, please tell me about your gorgeous necklace.” I looked at Jan and blurted out, “I found it on a beach in Maine.”

Rose looked puzzled and asked me if she could examine the necklace clasp. Jan replied, “Yes, Ma’am,” and turned her back to her. The elderly woman gently turned the clasp and read three initials, R.D.B. and the date 1912. I asked her, “What do the initials stand for?” She effortlessly replied, “Rose DeWitt Butaker, my maiden name.” Our jaws quickly dropped as we gasped and stared at her.

She continued, “I was on the research vessel exploring the site of the Titanic earlier this year. I threw the necklace into the Atlantic in memory of the man I fell in love with on the ship whose name was Jack Dawson. Even though I was engaged at the time, I despised my fiancé. He gave the necklace to me in anticipation of our marriage. I returned it to his safe when I decided to end our engagement. He retrieved it from the safe on that fateful April night and put it in his coat pocket. In his haste to escape the Titanic, he forgot about the necklace in the pocket. In the helter skelter on deck, he gave me the coat for warmth. We both survived, but I never told him I had the necklace. He committed suicide in the stock market crash in 1929. Tonight on the stage, I saw your wife wearing what looked too much like the Heart of the Ocean necklace, and I froze. I never expected to see it again because I intended for it to join Jack and the Titanic forever. Apparently, that fish thought the sparkling necklace was a tasty late night snack and swallowed it.”

I spoke up, “Rose, I am so sorry that seeing the necklace again shocked you and made you feel ill.” She brushed me off, “Oh, no need to apologize. I wasn’t ill; I was simply rattled to the core of my being. Jan, you look elegant wearing my necklace. You can keep it if you two will promise me one thing.” We immediately chimed in together, “What’s that?” “That you’ll love each other the rest of your lives more than Jack and I loved each other on that brief Titanic trip.” Without any hesitation, we exclaimed loudly, “We promise!” We wrapped our arms around her and squeezed gently while we told Rose, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”





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