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Mrs. Emil Lundi Recalls Night of Terror When Iceberg Sank Titanic 38 Years Ago Tonight

Mrs. Emil Lundi, 57, of 1459 W. 8th-st, aboard one of the last lifeboats to leave the sinking SS Titanic, struck by an iceberg off New Foundland at midnight April 14, 1912, enroute from Southampton to New York, reminisces with son Martin, 15, while looking at pictures of her hometown of Oulainen, Finland.

Encircling ocean waters loomed dark and mysterious on that memorable midnight, April 14, 1912, as Mrs. Emil Lundi, 1459 W. 8th-st, the former Miss Anna Sophia Turja, walked toward her cabin on-board the SS Titanic, then recently commissioned queen of the Atlantic sealanes, replete with tennis courts, swimming pool and fashionable salons.

The thrill and adventure of her first journey away from home quelled whatever initial fears she experienced in her new, unaccustomed way of travel.

The trip from Oulainen, Finland, to Southampton, England, and the four adventure-packed days at sea aboard the White Star Liner enroute to New York on her maiden voyage proved to be excitement enough for the 18-year-old woman.

Enroute to her cabin after attending the ship's evening band concert, Mrs. Lundi had bade her girl friend a last goodbye outside her cabin door as a warning command shattered the otherwise peaceful, midnight calm.

At first the command was imagined to be some sort of practical joke for what possible reason could there have been for abandonment of the new, luxurious, 882-foot giant of the sea, built at a cost of $7,500,000 and equipped with every latest convenience and luxury.

The events of the next half hour proved to be something more than a joke. In compliance with the command Miss Turja obediently stood by her lifeboat station while her more curious friend scrambled to the upper decks of the liner.

The hours that followed were beyond all description. A sudden boat shaking crash, the ominous sound of ice against steel, the cries and shouts of frightened passengers aroused from their midnight sleep, the frantic screams of mothers searching for their children, the lowering of lifeboats into the dark, freezing waters, a sum total of events effecting a nightmare of the most vivid reality.

Whisked by a sailor into a readied lifeboat, Mrs. Lundi, then Miss Turja, along with other women and children, some scantily clad in nightgowns, passively obeyed, as ship's officers stood stoically by, guns in hand, pledged by the code of the sea to prevent men from entering the lifeboats.

Minutes later the small craft dropped into the ocean as oarsmen beat off swarms of screaming, swimming male passengers who attempted to board the already-filled lifeboats.

As their distance and the frantic screams of abandoned passengers increased with each stroke of the oars, Miss Turja recalls seeing the lights of the "floating city", grow dimmer, by the second, finally going out completely as the huge liner went under with a loud roar of angry sea. The mountainous waves that followed almost swamped the heavily-laden lifeboats. The majority of boats managed to avoid capsizing.

Soon after the ocean regained its silence. The undisturbed midnight calm was shattered only by the sobs of grief-stricken survivors of the original compliment of 2,207 passengers and crew. Lost at sea were 1,517, of which 54 were children and 103 women.

Icebergs Nearby

Somewhere off in the distance, the black abyss of night hid the enemy lying half-submerged in the Inky Newfoundland waters. Nearly as close at hand were its cousins, less mountainous but equally treacherous icebergs.

The cavern of pitch black night was dotted by the small brave glows of lifeboat flares which served to guide the remaining boats into a make-shift herd.

Finally, after seven hours afloat, as the morning sun climbed into the sky, help arrived in the form of the SS Carpathians [sic]. Enroute to Europe, the liner had heard the Titanic's radio distress signals and had doubled back on its course to rescue the shocked, half-frozen of survivors carrying them four days later to New York and to safety.

Upon her arrival in New York, along with other survivors, Mrs. Lundi was rushed to a hospital for treatment and rest.

Days later, after release from the hospital, enroute to relatives in Ashtabula, Mrs. Lundi said that the railroad provided her with an escort at all points of stop to aid her from being mobbed by curious onlookers who flocked to catch a glimpse of her.

The gruesome chain of events occurred 38 years ago today, at midnight. Nevertheless, the balm of time has not completely erased the nightmare from the mind of Mrs. Lundi, nor dimmed the screams of human beings left to know the fate of cold Newfoundland waters.

Saved by Circumstances

In the busy years that have intervened since that dreadful night, Mrs. Lundi often pauses to reflect on the probable state of events that combined to spare her life. Had she too rushed to the top deck of the Titanic as did her girl friend, she would have shared her fate of an unknown watery grave.

A fellow survivor from Minnesota, learning of Mrs. Lundi's whereabouts, visited her many years ago in an attempt to glean information of his wife and six children lost in the disaster. The swiftness of the chain of circumstances that night were such, that no additional information was forthcoming.

Mrs. Lundi also recalls receiving a most welcome return letter from her mother who was more than relieved to learn that her daughter was alive and well and not lost at sea as previously reported on a missing passengers list released in Finland.

Denies Last Hymn

Newspaper accounts of the day claimed that the last musical number played at the ship's band concert, earlier that unforgettable April night, was "Nearer My God to Thee." Mrs. Lundi revealed that the account was not true.

With the light of humor twinkling in her eyes, Mrs. Lundi, said in all probability she is the only woman in Ashtabula who traveled from abroad to this country without having had to pass through the receiving station at Ellis Island, having gone directly to a New York hospital upon her entrance here.

The years may have eased the chain of painful memories somewhat. Nevertheless, Mrs. Lundi, mother of four boys and three girls, now living in peace and quiet in her tidy home, offers humble thanksgiving that she was spared to live a lifetime of happiness and well-being.

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