I am Siobhan
What a grand adventure, and how lucky I am to be on it!
Papa says folks in the States will most likely pronounce my name incorrectly and that other children will make fun of my accent.
No matter. I only care about getting there.
He says we are terribly poor, but we've always eaten twice a day. I know families who live in the streets here in Killarney, Ireland, so I'm not sure if he's right. If he is, that must mean that life in America will make us very rich indeed!
Instead of the one-room shanty with his bed in the corner and me on the sofa, maybe I'll have a room of my own. I've heard there's indoor plumbing in some homes, but I don't believe that. Not even the richies in Dublin have that, so it's most likely bollocks.
When mother died giving birth to me, Papa drank terribly and his mother had to raise me for a while. Last year he sobered up and began saving for tickets to the U.S. for the both of us.
Sure I'm excited, but I'm going to miss my friends at school and my granny terribly. He promises that once we're settled he'll send money back so that she can sail there too and join us. That'll make it a little better, but I'll still miss my schoolmates, especially Colin. He held my hand once and kissed me on the cheek on my 13th birthday. I was hoping to kiss him on the lips before the end of the school year, but now that he knows I'm leaving, he probably won't bother.
The only boat I've ever been on was the small finishing boat granny took me out on several years ago. It had paddles and smelled terrible. The one we'll be traveling on is a new one called Titanic and I've heard it's amazing. Truth be told, I'm more excited about the journey than the destination. I've only seen the ocean from the shore and I can't even imagine what it's like to be completely surrounded by water without seeing land at all.
- Siobhan Walsh (April 7, 1912)
The night before we left, I laid out my favorite dress to wear. My other two were packed in my bag with this diary and my doll. It was everything I own in the world. I didn't sleep at all.
As we walked out the next day, I took one final look around while I waited for Papa to give the key to the neighbor. The sofa, bed, table and two chairs sat quiet as they always had. Nothing looked different. Even the kitchen pans and dishes were stacked neatly as if they'd be waiting for us to return before dark.
Papa and I walked the four miles to the docks. He pointed to the Titanic as we rounded the corner. My stomach flipped and I couldn't stop smiling. He was excited too and picked up the pace. Near the concrete edge of the water, we waited in the longest line I've ever stood in. He faced forward waiting to show our tickets, but I was facing the other way studying the details of the ship, so tall and so long. Rows and rows of small windows were stacked neatly next to each other. The four large smoke-stacks seemed bigger than any building I'd seen in town. I was still smiling.
Finally, we made our way across the gangway. I breathed through my nose deeply to take in the mixture of salty fish smells that floated through the air. A group of us were led by a crew member through hallways and doors. We stopped at the bottom of a grand staircase. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen! All those in our group awed at its magnificence.
"Everything up there is for first class passengers only," the man announced. "You've no reason to go up these stairs, so take it all in now. You'll spend the entire trip in the lower decks."
No one questioned it, and soon we were led away. More hallways led to outer decks with reclining chairs. "What are these for?" I asked Papa.
"First class passengers," he replied.
"Yes, but why are they out here with no tables?"
He looked at me as if my question was funny. "They're for sunning and relaxing," he explained.
"People do that?" I asked. "Just face the sun and do nothing?"
"Rich people do," he said as he raised his eyebrows.
That was the most amazing thing I'd ever heard. I've certainly never known anyone at home who did that. I decided right then that one day I'd find a way to become rich in America and take many, MANY rides on ships, and do nothing but face the sun all day!
We were finally led back inside to a narrow set of stairs that zig-zagged down several levels. The halls were more narrow than the ones we'd been through upstairs and there were almost no windows. Crew members walked swiftly down hallways and up stairs, their arms loaded down with various items. On the left we walked past a large room filled with long tables.
"That's where you'll eat when the tables are out, and where you'll socialize when they're not. No women after 8 p.m." our guide explained.
After many left and right turns he opened a door to a small bedroom. Four bunk beds lined the walls...two on the left, and two on the right. He pointed to the families behind us, "That's where you'll sleep." Without a word they made their way in dragging their bags behind them.
The third stop was for the two of us. As we made our way through the door, five others were already sitting on some of the beds and the only two chairs in the room. Papa smiled and said, "Hello." They nodded and replied in kind. We took the only bunk that hadn't been claimed. I was thrilled to be on the top so that I could read and write with some privacy.
Later a bell rang and a woman in the chair explained, "That means we're taking off."
We all made our way back up and outside. We waved goodbye to the people on land as the boat began to move. The side to side motion was so slight, but I could feel it in my legs. It made me dizzy. I grabbed Papa's arm. "You'll get used to it," he said with a smile.
We walked around the section of the deck designated for third class passengers. It was more crowded, but the slow speed of the ship and wind in my face made everyone else disappear.
Two hours later someone announced that dinner was being served downstairs. Large plates of boiled chicken, carrots, potatoes and bread were placed at the center of each table. As we each began to serve them onto our plates, a man at the end turned to his wife and grumbled, "I'll bet the first class people upstairs are eating steak and drinking champagne."
His wife smirked and replied, "I'll bet they don't have to serve themselves."
I could tell Papa heard them. We smiled at each other as we ate. This was the most food I'd ever seen at one time. It was so very delicious too. What's more...we didn't have to cook it, and we didn't have to clean up after.
Once my plate was clean, I sat staring at what remained on the serving plates. Papa leaned over and whispered, "Help yourself. It's already been paid for."
I smiled and loaded my plate again. Moments later, before I could finish, several men came and cleared every item from the table within seconds. Before I could ask them to leave my plate, the men behind them wiped the table and placed small cups of caramel-covered bread pudding in the center. Papa's face lit up and his mouth opened wide. I giggled as we all reached for one. I want to live on a ship forever!
Now it's almost midnight and a girl across the room has complained about my candle light for the second time. I suppose I'll end this journal entry for now.
I'm so excited to see the ocean again tomorrow and equally excited to see what New York is like. What a grand adventure and how lucky I am to be on it!
-Siobhan Walsh (April 12, 1912)
About the Creator
Teacher, mom, believer in peaceful politics! Please feel free to send [constructive] criticisms on any of my works. My genres are: dark fiction, spiritual fiction, & articles on everything from improving politics to gardening & food.
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