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Hedwig Margaritha Frölicher, First Class Passenger

13th July 1955 Interview with Margeurite [sic] Schwarzenbach (Frolicher in 1912):

Had been seasick most of the trip. Never felt well until this Sunday, when she went to her parent's cabin for a light supper. Retired about 9.30, still a little under the weather. Didn't bother to undress completely, and quietly dozed off.

Suddenly woke up, feeling the ship bump. Half-asleep, she could think only of the white lake ferries at Zurich, landing a little too hard against their piers. Said to herself, half aloud, "Isn't it funny...we're landing!"

The grew conscious of her parents in the next cabin talking. Her father, always a worrier, was saying, "Oh, a collision! A collision!" Her mother was reassuring him, "Not at all!"

She got up and joined them, and when they felt the engines stop, they decided to go on deck and investigate. First, they went to the smoking room, where her father had been passing the time until shortly before, and they asked the smoking room steward what had happened. He told them it was an iceberg and led her father to the rail to look for it.

By now she was sure nothing was wrong, and feeling seasick again, she went below and got undressed once more. She felt worse and worse -- nothing mattered...she just wanted to die, like everyone does when seasick.

Then her father suddenly came in, looking serious. He had just asked the stewardess, "Is there really any danger? and she had come back with, "Yes Sir, there is." So now her father was firm: "You've got to get up!"

She said, "I won't!" and he said, "You must!" Then he took down the lifebelts and gave her one. Still seasick, she struggled back into her clothes and out into the corridor. As she went down, green to the gills, towards the main staircase, she passed a steward whom she had chided about the lifebelts when she boarded the ship at Cherbourg. At the time she had teased him by asking why the lifebelts, if the ship was so unsinkable; and he had told her they were just a formality -- no one would ever use them.

Recalling the exchange and looking at her pale face, the steward now smiled reassuringly, "Don't be scared; it's all right."

"I'm not scared; I'm just seasick," she replied grimly.

They all climbed to the Boat Deck and stood around, Soon a large seaman took her mother and pushed her into a boat. As her mother went in, she surprisingly lost her footing and fell. Then came her turn, and she lost her footing and fell too. Looking down, she saw the reason. Several stokers were lying flat in the bottom of the boat, ad she had unwittingly stepped on their bodies and tripped.

They started lowering the boat, and the women set up a howl that they didn't want to leave the ship alone. They stopped lowering the boat and some of the husbands then got in. Then they resumed lowering, and the boat pulled away.

Once clear of the ship, they learned that the Titanic was really going down, and the boat rowed a good ways off. She finally sank with a great crash of machinery and endless screams.

Miss Frolicher remained as seasick as ever. Finally the man sitting next to her pulled out a flask with a cup-cap. He poured some liquor into the cup and told her to take a swig -- it would make her feel better. She did and wasn't ever seasick for the rest of the night. But what really surprised her was the flask -- it was the first she had ever seen, and until then, she didn't know that sort of thing existed.

It was hard to see the Carpathia come up, because she had lost her glasses, but they were picked up in the loveliest of rosy dawns. It looked like every picture she had ever seen of the Arctic.


Notes:


1. Spelling and punctuation have been preserved, where possible.
2. In a letter of 27/12/55, Margaritha wrote, "I went down in boat No.5 because I knew that we had Officer Pitman, and that ours was the second boat launched on the starboard side."


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