The Titanic Historical Society

Presents the Frank J. Goldsmith Collection

The Real Artifacts & The True Stories: Frank J. Goldsmith, A Titanic survivor traveling in third class was only nine years old when he and his family emigrated from Strood, Kent, England to Detroit Michigan.

You can examine The Titanic Museum's extraordinary display of singular Titanic artifacts from the Goldsmith Collection. A unique narrative discovery that is usually available - but may require an appointment during busy periods.

It was at the museum's current location, that quite unexpectedly, Frank and his wife Victoria "Vickie" stopped in to meet Ed Kamuda. Frank was the first Titanic survivor to visit the birthplace of the Titanic Historical Society. The relationship developed and Frank spoke at several Titanic Historical Society events about his experiences that fateful night.

Frank over the years worked on his autobiography. After his death Vickie Goldsmith turned over his letters, notes and pictures and Ed and Karen Kamuda agreed to complete his book. Karen worked for the next two years to complete the manuscript for his book, "Echoes in the Night, Memories of a Titanic Survivor" and had it published.

Walter Lord, Narrative Historian (1917-2002), had met Frank and Vickie and was tremendously impressed with Frank's story and the details he was able to relate. Walter Lord wrote the forword to Frank's book, and like Frank supported and encouraged the work done by the Titanic Historical Society.


Titanic Survivor Joins a Lost Father

ABOARD A COAST GUARD RS 130, off Newfoundland, April 15 --
The last time Frank Goldsmith saw his father, the man was standing behind a barrier silently watching his son climb up the tilting deck of the Titanic toward one of the last lifeboats in the starlit cold of April 15, 1912.

Fifteen minutes later, in a lifeboat, for reasons the 9 year-old boy did not at first understand, his mother covered his eyes. That gesture may have blotted out much of the sight of that "unsinkable" ocean liner standing straight on its bow in the freezing waters and then sliding down to its watery tomb over two miles below.

But for almost seven decades, through a circular lifetime odyssey that included stops in New York City, Detroit, Ohio and Florida, the screams of those unseen sights that night, as 1,500 people drowned and froze to death around him, echoed in the mind of Mr. Goldsmith. And today, in pale sunshine, thanks to the efforts of a score of strangers who knew only his story, Mr. Goldsmith's remains were returned to the Atlantic where his tortured journey began, it was the ending that he had wanted.

A Dream and a Nightmare

In Mr. Goldsmith’s life the Titanic became both a dream and a nightmare. At times, for reasons perhaps only the 700-odd other survivors might understand, he would suddenly start talking uncontrollably about that midnight, how he grabbed some candy when leaving their cabin; how, as his descending lifeboat passed a porthole, he saw teenage crew members playing hide and seek; how the Titanic shot off rockets as if it were the King’s birthday.

Ice Patrol memorialMr. Goldsmith would describe how his lifeboat rowed hard after the receding lights of a foreign fishing boat, fleeing the disaster lest its illegal presence become known , and how Sam Collins, a fireman on the Carpathia, the rescue ship, told him, "Don’t cry, Franky, your dad will probably be in New York before you are."

Emily Goldsmith, a seamstress, and her son went on to New York. The Salvation Army housed them and helped send the penniless Britons, immigrants from Kent, to relatives in Detroit. Mr. Goldsmith went to school there. He coached the girls' basketball team for the Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church, where he met a young woman named Victoria, who did not like him at first.

They were married in 1926. They had three sons and 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. The Goldsmiths ran a photography supplies store in Mansfield, Ohio. They traveled widely, even taking two ocean cruises.

Mrs. Goldsmith noticed that, for reasons she did not at first understand, her husband became eerily quiet every spring. For days he would say only a few words. Sometimes, in the summer, when someone hit a home run at a nearby ball park and the cheers of the crowd carried down the street, he would freeze in his tracks for several minutes.

Even long after the Depression, Mr. Goldsmith said he was sure his father would appear some day. "He would say," Mrs. Goldsmith recalls, "I think another ship must have picked him up and one day he will come walking right through that door and say, 'Hello, Frank.', Frank and his father were so close."

In 1955 Mr. Goldsmith's mother died on a train in Ohio. Eleven years later a Rotary Club’s program chairman asked Mr. Goldsmith to speak about his experiences on the Titanic. "At first," Mrs. Goldsmith remembers, "it was very painful for him. But the more he talked, the easier it seemed to become."

Invitations flowed in. Mr. Goldsmith charged only $15 for gasoline money. He was shocked when one group gave him $150.

Iceberg spottedAround every April 15 radio stations would call him from all over the country. One year it was 1975, Mrs. Goldsmith believes her husband gave 13 Titanic telephone interviews in 15 hours, her favorite measure of the passion he aimed at the subject.

Mr. Goldsmith was one of the stars of the Titanic Historical Society conventions held every five years. The television camera crews made him talk until his voice was gone and his shirt was soaked with sweat. "Oh, he told the story so well," Mrs. Goldsmith says today.

Over the years Mr. Goldsmith developed painful arthritis and he suffered his first stroke in 1970. "The doctor told me then," Mrs. Goldsmith remembers, "that when Frank went, he would go down quickly." These strokes affected Mr. Goldsmith’s memory of current happenings; at times he might not recognize a daughter-in-law. But he kept up his collection of Titanic items and ocean liner postcards in retirement in their mobile home in Orlando, Fla.

And his stories about that cold night were always the same and just as vivid, although he began talking more about his father. "We are very close," Mr. Goldsmith would say. The father a lathe operator, had saved $30 for his family’s passage to the United States, where he had heard that jobs were plentiful, offering his son a greater future.

On Jan. 27 of this year the invitation arrived at the Goldsmith home for him to speak at the Titanic Society’s convention this weekend in Philadelphia. Mr. Goldsmith was delighted. He stayed up late to watch the news. At midnight, Mrs. Goldsmith felt something drawing her from bed. She found her husband face down on the sofa.

"I knew he was gone," she said. The 76-year-old Mrs. Goldsmith, who has taught herself to walk and knit again after her own two strokes, does not recall much about those next few days. But at the funeral home she suddenly remembered clearly a conversation with her husband in 1950, one of those times he would go on about his father. He had been thinking about it many years, he told her.

As a result, Mr. Goldsmith was cremated, according to his wishes. Over the next few weeks a long chain of phone calls and letters between friends and complete strangers in Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts and New York City brought Mr. Goldsmith's ashes into the hands of Petty Officer John Flynn of Voorheesvillle, N.Y., in a Coast Guard reconnaissance plane above a cloudy spot in the North Atlantic about 1,200 miles northeast of New York City this afternoon. Mr. Flynn did not know the entire Goldsmith story. But he did know that 70 years ago this morning, Mr. Goldsmith's parents stood by that barrier on the Titanic and, without anxiety visible to a child, embraced. Then the father leaned over the barricade amid all the shoving and shouting. He squeezed his son’s shoulder, "So long, Franky," the father said, "see you later."

At 3:24 P.M. today, New York time, despite some aircraft problems, Mr. Goldsmith’s ashes were scattered into the sea with a wreath honoring the other Titanic victims. "For all of his life," Mrs. Goldsmith said on the phone, "April 15 was very sad for him. But that will be different now. They are back together."

- from The New York Times 1982

Read More about Frank J. Goldsmith.


Frank Goldsmith and his mother Emily


lifeboat
The cover of Frank Goldsmith's book, Echoes in the Night, is a depiction of collapsible C being lowered, the lifeboat he and his mother escaped in. When you see the Museum's life sized reproduction of a collapsible lifeboat, the same type of boat Frank and his mother escaped in, you get some sense of how frightening an experience it must have been, especially for a nine year old sitting in the middle of the cold Atlantic with the sounds of that night surrounding him. His story is available in the Museum bookstore.


Ice Patrol getting close to an iceberg
The U. S. Coast Guard International Ice Patrol traces its roots directly to the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April of 1912. The exact date of the first memorial ceremony conducted by the Ice Patrol in not known but it has been conducted annually since at least 1923. The presence of several large icebergs served to make this year's ceremony an even greater reminder to the men and women of the Ice Patrol of the importance of their constant vigil.