Mudcat Café message #1883520 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #96272   Message #1883520
Posted By: Dave'sWife
11-Nov-06 - 08:03 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: General Slocum (wreck of/Disaster)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: General Slocum (wreck of/Disaster)
Great work Jake and Peace. If you grew up in certain areas of NYC or are of either Irish-American or German-American NYC ancestry, the General Slocum Disaster is MORE famous than the Titanic. One could call it the "Working Class Titanic" I suppose. The first link I lickified covers most of the history.

Why do we remember it so well? Well, most of the victims were German-Americans from a Lutheran Church on their way to their annual picnic on Long Island. Little Germany never fully recovered from the massive loss of life that wipes out whole families. If you are Irish, it's because at the time, the majority of policemen and fireman who jumped in the water and swam out to the wreck were Irish and likely to be your grandad or greatgrand-dads.

The boat caught fire shortly after leaving the dock and was seen burning all the way up the river until it finally beached in the Bronx - a horrific sight with stories of it being passed down. My Grandmother's older brothers tried to help save some of the victims but my Grandad's family was still in Ireland at the time. Grandma was just a small child -toddler maybe. Her oldest brother who eventually ecame a cop used to tell us children about the General Slocum and how the bodies washed up on shore in the Bronx 6 and 8 people thick.

Considering that up until 9/11, this was the worst tragedy NYC ever suffered, I'm susprised at how few folks remember it. The wreck is still there. There are a number of memorials to the victims but with ethnographic shifts in the City, they aren't in places likly to be venerated.

The name of the book I was referring to in my first post is My Father's Gun by Brian MacDonald - a terrific book that covers 3 generations of NYC Irish cops and the parallel lives they seemed to lead - Grandfather, father and son. I highly recommend it.