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Ashtabulan Recalls Night of Terror

50 Years Ago
EDITOR'S NOTE: Exactly a half-century ago, on the night of April 14-15, 1902 [sic], the "unsinkable" Titanic, on her maiden run from Europe to the United States, struck an iceberg and sank. Of the 2,200 aboard, 2,500 [sic] died. One of the few survivors is an Ashtabulan. This is her story:

By Bill Reynard

Fifty years is a long time, but not long enough to erase the memories of that night of terror when the Titanic went down in the icy North Atlantic.

One Ashtabulan, Mrs. Emil T. Lundi, 1459 W. 9th St., recalls the disaster vividly. She was there.

At the time she was 18 year-old Anna Sofia Turja, traveling alone from her home In Oulainen Oulun Laani, Finland, to a new life in a new world. She was headed for the home of her sister, Mrs. Mary Lundi of Ashtabula.

She was among the many immigrants packed into third class cabins below decks, sharing a cabin with four other women, when the jagged, iceberg ripped open the Titanic's hull.

The first she knew of the danger was when a pounding on the door awoke her and her roommates. It was a crewman telling them to put on the warmest clothing possible, put on life preservers, and get above as soon as possible.

(Right) SINKING SURVIVOR Mrs. Emil T. Lundi can smile today in her home on W. 9th St., but it was a different story 50 years ago today when the Titanic sank.

Speaking in Finnish (her English is a little sketchy and she prefers to talk in her native tongue) through a good neighbor and interpreter, Mrs. Helia Lehtinen, Mrs. Lundi describes the first moments on deck:

"People, were everywhere. Many were shouting 'Women and children first,' and the lifeboats were being lowered as fast as possible.

"An older woman in our cabin, who had been my unofficial guardian, since I was an 18 year-old girl traveling alone, panicked when she got up on deck. She urged me to a higher deck 'where it is safer.'

"But up there on that higher deck, I decided to go where the people were, and went back down," she recalls.

Decision Saved Life

She is alive today because she did. She was shoved into the third from the last lifeboat left. She was among the survivors picked up by the Carpathia at about 7 a.m., eight hours after the-Titanic went down. She did not see the actual sinking. "It was a dark night and all the lights went out before the ship sank," she says. "But we knew when she sank, because there were horrible noises as boilers exploded, 'whishing' sounds as water filled the ship and, finally, huge swells as the ship went under."

That was not the worst part of the ordeal. Recalled most vividly are the screams of the people in the water, silenced only by their death by freezing. These cries still haunt her.

Worst of all, she had seen the men rowing the lifeboats have to beat off swimmers trying to get into the overloaded boats. "What could they do?" she asks, "They could not let the boats go under with everybody…"

Taken to Hospital

From her rescue by the Carpathia on, her story is happier. All survivors were taken to New York, where they did not have to go through Ellis Island. Immigrants and native Americans alike were taken to hospitals. Mrs. Lundi wound up in a Catholic hospital.

"Everyone was wonderful to us," she recalls. "Both on the boat and in the hospitals. I shall never forget their kindness."

Her relatives came to New York to bring her to Ashtabula, where, a year after the disaster, she married Mr. Lundi's brother.

From that marriage has come a family of seven, six children still living. (Her husband died in 1952 and a daughter, Mrs. Ruth Eckhart is also deceased).

Husband Was Custodian

Still living are Milton Lundi, Mrs. Ray (Ellen) Harju, Mrs. Lawrence (Ethel) Rudolph and Marvin Lundi all living in California; Paul Lundi, of Jefferson, and Martin Lundi, a student in a Lutheran seminary.

Mrs. Lundi's late husband was custodian at Harbor High School for 29 years. She now lives alone quietly in her, home... This week end's 50th anniversary of the Titanic sinking brings unpleasant memories to Mrs. Lundi; but she has a half century of happy memories to help offset the terror.

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