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Barbara Kay Presents: The Sinking of The Lusitania!NashvilleApril 22, 2015

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Susan Roethemeyer

Last week Tuesday, our community was treated to a personalized presentation of the sinking of the ship Lusitania, nick-named “The Lucy” by its passengers.

Barbara Kay, the lecturer, is a retired history teacher who made her lesson come alive by dressing up as a second class survivor of the disaster, and presenting the story in her perspective.

It reminded me of a show I once saw at the Science Center in Saint Louis, where a display of the Titanic disaster was attended and personalized by several people walking around in period costumes, answering questions and helping people understand the magnitude of the event.

This show had something of that same flavor, only on a smaller scale.

She had a power point display, and showed pictures as well as information about the ship and the circumstance surrounding the sinking of the ship.

It was during “The War to End All Wars,” a time we call World War One, and the confusing mix of allies of both sides made my head spin.

It was a German U-Boat that sent the fatal torpedo that sank the Lusitania.

Even though the ship had enough lifeboats (having learned the lesson of the Titanic’s sinking of the year before), somehow there was still mass confusion.

It turns out that even though the crew had lifeboat drills, the passengers had never had any, and that meant that no one knew what to do or where to go.

And so although they had enough room for all 1,959 people aboard, in the confusion only six lifeboats were able to get away safely.

There were some local passengers on board : of the three – Patrick Owens of St. Louis, Stephan Solonina of East St. Louis, and Alfred Stockton of Marion, Illinois – only Alfred Stockton managed to survive.

The Lusitania sank 12 miles off the shore of Kinsale, Ireland.

Next month on May seventh will be the one hundredth anniversary of the sinking.

Robert Ballard, who has also found the Titanic, has written a book on his finding of the Lusitania, if any one is interested in finding out more.

Barbara Kay’s presentation was a delight to attend, and she is planning to come back next year (maybe as Annie Oakley?).

Barbara Kay Presents: The Sinking of The Lusitania!

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