Monday, February 16, 2009

A Titanic Evening

I have a feast for your eyes. Our new church family offered something unique this year for Valentine's Day - a Titanic themed evening complete with a ten course dinner. As our anniversary is on the 12th of February, we usually double both events into one night out. But this year was our 15 year anniversary and we wanted to do something a little more unique. So when the Titanic evening was advertised, I jumped (so to speak).

Period dress was encouraged and I love a good reason to try out clothing from other time periods/stories/plays so I started on Tuesday for a costume that would be ready by Saturday.

On Tuesday, I purchased:
An ugly straw hat


And a shirt and dress from a thrift store. Coincidentally, if you ever need a quick costume, thrift stores are DEFINITELY the way to go!! It's dirt cheap and you don't mind hacking them to shreds.

This $4 dress was a burgundy velvet on top and a burgundy satin on the skirt

I quickly set my plans in motion. I separated the dress bottom from the top, intending only to use the skirt. I wanted to use the velvet to cover the hat but realized there wasn't enough material. I found some upholstery fabric I had, left-over from some burgundy couch pillows I'd made a few years ago and used that instead. Only one glue-gun burn away, and I was done with the hat.

I spent a couple days looking online to really get a feel of Edwardian dress style. And apparently, just about anything went. The day-time tea gowns had high empire waistlines, full length skirts and lace covered their skin to their necks. In the evenings, however, society ladies liked to show off their jewelry so they were allowed in the evening to wear low neck lines and pretty jewels. To borrow a phrase from Gone With The Wind, they weren't allowed to "show your bosom before three o'clock!"

There was also a high oriental influence going on in fashion at the time. Many dresses had a komono style flair to them. Many dresses used the bright yellows and reds and ornate decor to them. Some Edwardian dresses were very puffed out in front, reminding me of a proud hen (something I nixed right away). Women also wore suits of many different kinds (if you recall the boarding suit Rose wore in the movie).

In the end, I went with the oriental style influence. I had a black velvet komono style top and placed it on top of the shirt and skirt, complete with a black tie. If I'd had time, I would have searched for some dangling earrings but that was secondary.

I also happened to find a derby for Hubby and together, we made the costumes work pretty well:

On Saturday, we arrived at 6pm to the banquet hall. They had a photographer set up when we entered. I'll post that picture later! We were handed a 'boarding pass' and told not to open it until we were told. We made our way to the tables, which were decorated beautifully.

A string trio played old beautiful songs for us throughout dinner.

When we opened our boarding passes, we had been assigned to an actual passenger on the Titanic. We had their name and class. I was M. Dorothy Tupin, 2nd class. Hubby was Johan Asplund, 3rd class. I teased him that he was overdressed for 'steerage' and that I hope he enjoyed his last meal, because I wasn't going to mourn a lowly third class passenger when I was safely aboard the Carpathia.

You can see here what was served for the first class passengers at dinner. Note that it was common for them to have more like 20 courses at dinner!

Ours wasn't quite so grand but was indeed a great dinner:

We spent the evening wondering how we'd ever eat ten courses but it was all eaten, every last bite, and very tasty indeed.
Here were our ten courses:
1. appetizer course - deviled eggs, rye bread toast points with dill, rye bread toast points with dill, fresh red pepper and cucumber slices
2. soup course - vegetable marrow soup (we were so intrigued as to what vegetable marrow was that someone broke out their ipod and looked it up on wiki for us) This was wonderful soup!
3. fish course - slice of fish with sauce and pickle
Cabin biscuits (crackers) were passed around at this time
4. chicken course - chicken with carmelized onions on top and vegetable marrow slices, hollowed out and filled with a yummy rice/veggie mix.
5. main course - roast beef slices, garlic baby potatoes and peas
6. dessert course - sorbet
We were told that 2nd class and steerage would usually end their meal here and retire to a loud party below deck.
7. chicken course - chicken nugget with honey mustard sauce poured over the top, and two sweet pickles. This course seemed very cheaply done to me but the flavors worked really well together and you should try it sometime!
8. salad course (yes, they had their salads at the end of their meals)
9. dessert course - this was an apple, raisin, walnut spice cake of some type
10. coffee course

Around course 6, a lady and man, dressed in period costumes, got up to speak about their lives as passengers aboard the Titanic. The woman was a 1st class lady who survived and was so worried about society's view of her that she spent the rest of her life trying to be perfect and never really mourning her husband. The man who spoke was Richard Norris Williams, a rising tennis star, who was traveling to the US to play matches because he'd beat everyone in England already. When the ship sank, he clung to a half deflated life raft and only 11 of the 30 on the raft survived. Aboard the Carpathia, the doctor wanted to amputate both of his legs because of the damage to them.
He refused and returned to Europe, aboard the France, in the May to exercise daily and convalesce. However, he soon returned to the US, took up his place at Harvard and, incredibly, managed to win the US Open mixed doubles that year with Mary Browne.

In 1913 he was the beaten finalist in the singles, by which time he was a naturalised American playing in the Davis Cup team, which he captained to seven wins in a 13-year career. He went one better in 1914 and 1916 when he won the US Open singles, the latter on the grass at Forest Hills. After the first world war he won the men's doubles in 1920 at Wimbledon, where he was also a finalist in 1924, the same year he took Olympic gold.

This man gave his life to God and in the tournament that he was favored in more than any other, declined to play because the match was on a Sunday. It was an inspiring tale of a life-time commitment to God.

A local history teacher, whose deepest love is the Titanic, gave a great talk about the building of the ship, important people who were on the voyage, how many little things could have made a huge difference in the outcome. Most of us know there weren't enough life boats and they didn't act quickly enough, thinking her unsinkable. But smaller things, like the captain ignoring the ice warnings, the lookouts not being able to find their binoculars, a ship that was nearby enough to save them all but who's communications officer had retired to bed so he never received the SOS. So many little things that went wrong that day.

In the end, I was wrong, as usual. My 2nd class lady, M. Dorothy Tupin, died that night (I was unable to find any information on her) and Hubby's person, Johan Asplund, lived.

It was a fun yet sobering evening. It definitely sparked my interest in Titanic and I'm sure the unschooler in me will have more to share about the subject soon.


Bona Fide Mama said...

What an amazing night! Congrats on your 15 years of marital bliss! I so totally wish I could have experienced this wonderful event!

Heather said...

Fascinating. Our local science center had a Titanic exhibit but we didn't get into it because the whole thing upset the girls too much.

Jen E said...

I can't believe I missed your anniversary!!! Happy 15th!!! Sounds like a wonderful evening!

Jack said...
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