On a winter day in 1998 Frances Hurd Stadler came to my office with two boxes of documents for our archives. Iíd known Frances for a long time and known her fatherís story, too; but now I had the privilege of examining physical evidence that marked a triumph in Carlos Hurdís early career.
Francesí father was a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In April of 1912 he was on vacation with his wife aboard the ship Carpathia. On April 15 all his thoughts of rest and recreation fled as the Carpathia began to rescue passengers who had escaped from the great ship Titanic that was sinking after collision with an iceberg.
Recognizing the story of a lifetime but forbidden access to the wireless and even to notepaper, Carlos and his wife scrounged for paper scraps and wrote up the disaster. They kept it all very secret; and when they reached New York, Carlos tossed the securely wrapped manuscript over the rail of the Carpathia to a colleague fortuitously arriving at the dock. The story was the first complete account of the Titanic disaster, and it appeared not only on the front page of the Post Dispatch but in newspapers around the world.
Handling these clippings and letters, in the presence of Carlosí daughter, was an experience beyond the story of the historic event. It became my story, too.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Bob Archibald is the President of the Missouri Historical Society