Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and along with the 3D remastering of the epic 1997 film staring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, other testimonials of that day in history are coming forth -- including one from educator Jeannette Nichols who recalls a letter one survivor sent to her fifth grade class in 1985, the Star News Online reports.
"I was in bed in the stateroom but not asleep because I remember what seemed like a bump and vibration ceased," Marshall Drew, who was 8 years old at the time of the crash, wrote in his response letter to Nichols' student correspondence.
"A steward knocked at the door and told us to get dressed, put on life preservers and go up to the boat deck. Elevators were not running so we walked up the staircase. On deck all was very orderly with an officer in charge: “WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST.” Before the tearful fairwells (sic) when my aunt and I were placed in the lifeboat I remember I heard the band playing some distance off in first class. As I looked toward steerage all was blacked out. As the lifeboat was lowered nothing worked right. First one end of the lifeboat was up high and then down low. I was scared because an upset meant drowning in ice-cold water, 28 degrees. Down the liner’s side was 70 feet."
Nichols was teaching in Bethel, N.C at the time, and told the paper that the correspondance began after she read Drew's account in the New York Times.
“When I saw this article, I said, ‘Let’s write to him,’” she told Star News's Pressley Baird. “I just could not believe that he would respond in his own handwriting.”
Marshall Drew died in 1986 at the age of 82 survived by one daughter, four grandsons, and three great-grandsons.
In an article by the Bangor Daily News, St. Joseph’s College professor Karen Lemke recounted her discussion with Drew, where he shared how, even at the age of 8, the scene of lower-class passengers being kept on the ship while the wealthy were lowered on lifeboats left a strong impression.
“He said, ‘I was saved for a reason,’” Lemke said, according to the paper. “He said, ‘I was saved for who I was — when I was in the lifeboat, a woman covered me up in a chinchilla coat, if that tells you anything. The other children who went down, they died for who they were.’”
Drew, whose uncle lost his life on the Titanic, went on to teach painting and work with students from lower income families.