The Book Club event of the year is here! Oh my goodness, I am soooo excited to share this with all of you. Today, I hosted the Adult Book Club Titanic Extravaganza Finale (Be sure to roll your Rs on “Extravaganza”, least you should pronounce it incorrectly. This fete has been a month in the making. The gathering went wonderfully.
On the first Wednesday of last month I posted a steamship manifest in the library announcing the Book Club Finale selection: The Watch that Ends the Night by Allan Wolf, a novel in verse. It was a nod to Poetry Month and the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (April 14th/15th, 1912) Due to member word of mouth, this was the first book selection that had a wait list! How magnificent!
I, per usual was dressed in full costume, complete with feathers in my hair. The dress and feathers were purchased with this event in mind. I was not the only member in fancy dress. Three participants came aboard. Two first class ladies, one of which donned her mother’s heirloom fox fur stole complete with the fox’s head, and a gentleman from second class. My supervisor even attended the festivities, although not in costume.
As it happened, the children’s librarian’s storytime in the next activities room terminated five and ten minutes prior to the Extravaganza. Little girls squealed in delight and pointed at our costumes. A few parents took photographs of the fancy group. One young Asian mother desired her son to pose with me. The poor lad barely came up to my thigh. I let him hold the Titanic tickets for the photograph. He was all smiles. After the camera clicked, he slowly returned the tickets and with breathless awe said, “I like you.” I burst out laughing. How completely adorable!
By now a queue had formed. Passengers took note of the sign posted on the door as I handed them their tickets. Each ticket was marked with a real Titanic ticket number and the passenger’s name scrawled across the bottom. On board, it was a feast for the eyes. The room was lit by twinkling lights and stars overhead, a gorgeous torchiere lamp illuminated a dark corner, and the flittering candlelight beckoned from the table. The strains of classical music from the movie soundtrack waffled through. It was all it took to be transported.
A long table draped in lace and damasked was formally set for four and ten individuals. The white plates had hand glued red stars pasted in the center to replicate the White Star Line’s reverse logo. Menu placards rested beside each table setting. The centerpieces were a physical representation of a tongue and cheek conversation with my brother; utilizing stout white candles, pink faux blooms, and cored . . . what else but iceberg lettuce? The feast was divine, as I had no hand in the preparation of the food.
To the side was the vignette for the further study table. There was a traditional rug, the torchiere lamp, a period style chair and the a table covered in delicate lace showcasing material on the Titanic and poetry books.
After we completed our sumptuous repast, I reached into the faux ice bucket and declared, “Because we just ate and because it is the Titanic, I brought each one of you a Lifesaver mint.” They all laughed. We officially began after a moment of silence. The assembly proceeded to discuss the merits of the book, the historical accuracy, the poetry format, and the engrossing narratives. I interjected questions when there was a lull in conversation. The most emotion response was elicited by my final question. The answers were illuminating! “Given the author’s note and the facts; regulations dictated only six and ten lifeboats were required for a ship of such size. The Titanic had twenty. Eight and ten were successfully launched. One of the first boats had only four passengers aboard. Four?! If you were in a lifeboat which three people would you choose to come with you?” My supervisor was to my left and went first. I knew she was a mother of three, one of which was a few months old. She joked and inquired if her baby counted as a half person. I shook my head and held up three glove fingers. She visibly began to tear up and finally said her three children; not her spouse. We went around the room. One lady with an estranged husband said she would take her daughter and her parents, “my husband can save himself.” A member said she would take her husband who has many years in the shipping industry and her brother who is a survivor-type gentleman. Another woman said she would bring one of her relatives who is an eternal optimist and always so positive in times of crisis. One member said she would not get in the lifeboat and would place “four of the grandchildren in the boat because they have their whole lives ahead of them. The emotions in the room were high and tears were beginning to spill, so I mentioned whom I would bring and because one of them was buoyant. They let out with peals of laughter and the sober spell was broken. Towards the end of the night, I reached into the ice bucket, brought forth sealed envelopes with corresponding ticket numbers, and delivered their Titanic fates. At my insistence, they opened the envelopes and read their accounts. About half of them survived and half of them perished, two of which bodies were never recovered. It was a solemn five minutes. Again, I broke the revive and announced the next season premiere selection to look forward to is . . . . The Phantom of the Opera! Check back in September for the details!