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Astoria historical society remembers the Titanic

The RMS Titanic is pictured pulling into port. April 15 will mark 100 years since the ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean on its maiden voyage to New York. Photo courtesy Greater Astoria Historical Society/Joe Colletti Collection
TimesLedger Newspapers

The story of the RMS Titanic is getting a closer look next week.

To honor the centennial of the ship’s sinking, the Greater Astoria Historical Society is hosting a lecture and film screening by Gary Vollo of the Titanic Historical Society, Monday, April 2, at 7 p.m.

The film being screened is original footage of the Titanic leaving port.

“It might be the only film of it,” said Vollo. “It was found by this woman in England who had found it buried in the back of her shed — her husband was a cinematographer and just happened to have made a video of the ship and stored it.”

Vollo plans to tell the story of the Titanic’s sinking, which took place on April 15, 1912, but will also discuss aspects of the familiar tale that many may not have known. For example, the Titanic was one of three identical ships, it was never claimed that the ship was “unsinkable” and it actually made several stops in Europe before departing for America.

“I’ll show photos from a priest who got on the Titanic at Southhampton in England and got off at Queenstown,” said Vollo. “Most of the photos we have of the people on the ship were taken by that priest.”

He also plans to tell stories and anecdotes about individuals on the ship and the survivors. Vollo gave the example of one survivor who could not attend baseball games after the event, because the crowd’s cheers sounded like the chilling screams he had heard from the ship as he sat aboard a life raft watching it sink.

These personal experiences will get a special focus from another guest speaker, “Titanic Joe” Colletti, who will share personal interviews he conducted with a number of Titanic survivors. The first-hand accounts will add human voices to the now mythical event.

For years, Colletti had made his Long Island City home a tribute to the tragedy, including signs, models, and photos of those who lost their lives on the ship. The memorabilia exhibited on the inside and outside of Colletti’s “Titanic House” were donated to the society in 2010 and will be part of the event.

Also in attendance will be Lindsay Gibbs, the author of “Titanic: The Tennis Story,” a historical novel based on a true story of two Hall of Fame tennis players who survived the sinking and went on to play each other in the U.S. Open quarterfinals two years later.

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