Friday, April 4, 2008

A Black Family Onboard Titanic

Miss Louise Laroche was an Honour Member of the Titanic Historical Society from the beginning until her death in 1998. Since she could not speak English, correspondence over the years was thin. When a young man from France joined the Titanic Historical Society who spoke fluent English, Edward Kamuda asked Olivier Mendez if he would pay her a visit and her story was published originally in the Titanic Commutator in 1995.

The Titanic Historical Society receives inquiries from time to time asking if there were any black passengers onboard. The answer is yes and contrary to popular assumptions, the family traveled in second class.

Oh, yes, I can eat cake. I'll even offer you some when you come!" Mademoiselle Louise was laughing on the telephone. My question was simply that of someone conscious of an elderly lady's health, I wanted to meet her in person and telephoned for an appointment.

Looking at the photographs taken in 1910 by Louise Laroche's grandfather, Monsieur Lafargue, one cannot imagine the small house where the last French lady survivor of Titanic was living was still there wedged in between a modern glass government building and a row of older homes.

When I rang the door bell a lady wearing a shawl came down the stairs in the small garden and walked toward me. Her step was not sure on the cobblestones covering the yard. Mademoiselle Louise smiled as I remarked about the weather. "Never mind," she answered, "it's not too cold."

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