Commentary: Costa Mesa woman's connection to the Titanic

Editor's note: To mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster, the Daily Pilot's Life + Arts section thought it would be fitting to run this commentary from Costa Mesa resident Louisa Arnold. In it, she details her mother's close call with that dark episode in history. Arnold said that her piece came out of a writing class she took at the OASIS Senior Center in Corona del Mar.


The sinking of the Titanic was a major event in my life — or what may have turned out not to be my life.

My grandfather and grandmother were Russian-born Jews who had fled the Czar. They barely escaped in time to find sanctuary in England, where they lived for a few years.

Grandpa Crown, my mother's father, was the first to travel to the United States, where he learned English and worked for almost a year in a small town in suburban New York.

He was a talented tailor in the little seaside town of Mamaroneck, and worked until he finally had enough money to send for my grandmother and their four children. At age 10, my mother was the eldest child who cared for her three younger brothers.

Grandpa purchased and arranged tickets for them to come to be with him in America. However, my Uncle Harry, who was an infant at the time, came down with chickenpox. As a result, under strict health rules, the family would not be allowed to leave England or enter the United States.

In the meantime, proud Grandpa canceled those previous ticket arrangements, and purchased and sent tickets for his little family on the "unsinkable" new ship, the RMS Titanic.

Being a practical woman, Grandma Rachael Crown took a neighbor's advice and sold the impressively high-priced tickets for the Titanic, replacing them with tickets in steerage class (third class) on a far less expensive ship. Doing so left her with much-needed extra cash.

News of the ill-fated Titanic traveled fast.

However, communication was not as it is today. When Grandpa received news of the Titanic's sinking, he was stricken with grief. For two weeks, he mourned the loss of his beloved wife and his four children before receiving the miraculous news that his precious family had not been passengers on the Titanic.

Louisa Arnold

Costa Mesa

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