The Famous and Infamous

Last month I was surprised to see Stephen Liddell, at his blog by the same name, had tagged me for a virtual dinner party. Stephen’s blog is an interesting collection of posts focusing on different things. I especially enjoy the history posts. For fun I have accepted the challenge and will abide by the rules which are few and simple:

-The party consists of six people, five guests and myself. Relatives are permitted, but living or dead public figures, real or not, are preferred

– Tag five other people to hold their own virtual party.

I’m pretty sure you all know me well enough to know that if I had my way I’d fill the guest list up with sailors. But I shall be fair and limit it to one sailor (all right, maybe two). Goodness! The possibilities are endless. We’ll start off with a sailor.

James Paul Moody Courtesy Wikipedia

James Paul Moody (Courtesy Wikipedia)

James Paul Moody, the sixth officer of the RMS Titanic, is of special interest me. Moody was on the bridge when Titanic struck the iceberg. He is also quite famous for his telephone conversation with Lookout Frederick Fleet. Fleet rang the bridge yelling, “Is anyone there?!” Moody responded, “What do you see?” “Iceberg straight ahead!” “Thank you.” His politeness was strangely out of place given the conditions and was well received by the public in the aftermath of the disaster. Moody spent the rest of his short time on earth loading lifeboats with passengers. When it came time to leave, Fifth Officer Harold Lowe told him an officer should go in the lifeboat that was about to be launched. Moody declined and told Lowe he should go in the boat and he, Moody, would go in the next one. They parted ways, but Moody would not get in the next boat. He was last seen trying to launch Collapsible A, before a wave came up and washed everyone away. It is likely he either drowned or froze to death.

Florence Nightingale (Courtesy Library of Congress)

Florence Nightingale (Courtesy Library of Congress)

Florence Nightingale would be my second choice. What interests me the most about her is her life prior to nursing. She struggled against almost insurmountable odds, with society and within her own mind. Society saw it as bizarre and improper that she should go on to nurse. Their fears were not entirely groundless. In Nightingale’s early years nurses were known to have loose morals. Nightingale’s family was adamant that she should take up the life of a gentlewoman, not go gallivanting around in disease and vice-ridden hospitals. The struggles she had with herself are very curious. I am of opinion Nightingale suffered from maladaptive daydreaming. She ‘cured’ herself, but it was a long and difficult road for her. Many times she tried to give up her rampant daydreaming but without success.

John George “Jack” Phillips (Courtesy Wikipedia)

My third choice is John George “Jack” Phillips, chief wireless operator (or in today’s terms, chief radio officer) of the Titanic. He celebrated his 25th birthday aboard the Titanic only to die a four days later when the ship sunk. Phillips along with the junior wireless man, Harold Bride, stuck to their posts until the last moment. While in communications with another ship, a sailor slipped into the radio shack and proceeded to take Phillips’ lifebelt. Bride spotted the man. Needless to say the would-be-thief got a thorough pounding. Phillips was one of three children. He had two sisters, twins, who lived at home with their parents. One of these sisters was somewhat simple-minded. While away Phillips would send her postcards and in the event of their parents’ death he would become responsible for her.

Benedict Arnold (Courtesy Wikipedia)

My fourth choice would be Benedict Arnold. All right so I know that it isn’t a very popular choice but Arnold is a character I have always been fascinated by. In many ways Arnold was to General George Washington what Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was to General Robert E. Lee; his right hand man. Arnold was an impetuous officer who was willing to take risks. At the Battle of Saratoga (a turning point in the Revolution since it helped the French to decide whether to officially join our fight) Arnold defied the orders of General Horatio Gates. Both men despised each other, and after a spat, Gates had Arnold confined to his quarters. Arnold instead chose to ignore orders and galloped off for the battlefield. Arnold practically won that battle, but Gates got the credit for it. Arnold also sustained a leg wound, which would ail him for the rest of his life. This appears to have been a turning point for Arnold as well as for America. Not unsurprisingly glory-seeking Arnold was bitter over the injustice. He later married the daughter of a Tory and sometime after betrayed America. He joined the British, but he didn’t fit in there either. They weren’t happy with having a traitor in their ranks. Suffice it to say, Arnold never did get everything he was promised in exchange for his betrayal. He died debt-ridden and lonely. He reminds me a lot of Philip Nolan from the story “The Man Without a Country”.

Edwin Jemison (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Our last guest would be Edwin Jemison. Jemison was Georgia boy who fought in the American Civil War. As a  Confederate soldier, Private Jemison served with the 2nd Louisiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment. A mere boy at 17-years-old, Jemison was killed at the Battle of Malvern Hill. Jemison’s face is familiar to many of us. His photo (taken when he was 16) has been featured on book covers, magazines and on a number of websites. In my humble opinion, his face has come to symbolize the many other faceless boys who died in that particular war.

Find below the five people I have tagged. Note that none of you are obligated to accept this challenge. If you choose not to, then please just think of it as a compliment.

  • Avel Keltia ~ Tiphaine Hirou blogs about RMS Titanic related topics. Most of her posts focus on First Officer William Murdoch of the Titanic, which makes for interesting reading. And if your interested in genealogy, boy are you in for a treat!
  • Tiaras and Trianon ~ Normally I wouldn’t find the subject of tiaras interesting, but Nicole has remedied that. You will also get a good dose of Marie-Antoinette posts if you stop by here.
  • Clanmother ~ Rebecca flowing words fit together so nicely and she writes some thought-provokers too.
  • The History Tourist ~ Have you ever wanted to see some of the US’s many historic areas? You can explore some of those places right from your computer at The History Tourist.
  • Woolhogs ~ Crochet, yarn and a rainbow of colors. Nearly every month the ‘woolhogs’ host a Made It Challenge. It’s interesting to see the different projects that enter that challenge. I’m ashamed to say I’ve only entered it once. Rats! Shame on me.

45 thoughts on “The Famous and Infamous

    • In a way I can feel sorry for Arnold. Originally I had planned on adding Red Skelton as the fifth guest, but remembered Jemison. Glad to hear you liked the links. Thanks for your comment!


  1. Thank you so much for inviting me, I accept your invitation with great excitement. Thank you too for introducing me to your guests, very interesting chaps, especially Jemison – that photo is beaitifully haunting. xxxx


  2. I like the choice of Edwin Jemison at the end. It would be fascinating to hear from this individual, who we recognize, but know so little about.

    The nameless, or nearly nameless, are as important to history as the famous, and we need to hear the stories of both to understand the past better.


    • Yes, it’s too bad he didn’t keep a journal. I wonder if any living Jemison relatives would have any letters Edwin wrote? Yes, indeed, the ordinary people in history are very important. Thanks for your comment.


  3. Ah !!Poor Edwin- surely Irish with that surname. So young! Hmm – interesting that you chose Florence Nightingale as your only female dinner party guest .
    Fascinating selection that would make an interesting dinner party! !


  4. Thank you so much for the invite! Your dinner party sounds divine and left me wondering two questions: (1) What are you planning to serve at this historical dinner? and (2) do all fiction writers suffer from a mild case of maladaptive daydreaming?

    My “ultimate dinner party” guest list will require some thought, but it promises to be interesting, that’s for sure. I’m off to check the others on your guest list! Thanks again!


    • Q #1: What are you planning to serve at this historical dinner?
      A #1: Hmm, that would be a hard decision. Most likely an assortment of different things but nothing formal. Let’s see, a good old country dinner and for dessert maybe pecan pie, cheescake and some fruits. Not sure. After all there is so much to choose from!
      Q #2: do all fiction writers suffer from a mild case of maladaptive daydreaming?
      A #2: My thoughts exactly, since it requires quite a bit of imagination to write a fictional story. But Nightingale’s was a very severe case of maladaptive daydreaming. Hey, I’ll bet if she hadn’t gone into nursing she could have become a novelist.

      Thanks for your comment and I’m so glad you accepted!


  5. It would be interesting to do one of these! I was a history major in college so I have a few historical people who I would love to be able to spend an evening with in conversation. I may just have to do this on my blog too even though my blog is mostly about the adventures of my dog! 🙂 Thanks for the idea!


  6. You made some interesting choices. I have always been enamored by Titanic. I have studied it for years. I really like your choices of Moody and Phillips. I am also intrigued with Henry Tudor VIII too 🙂

    I hope you don’t mind if I reblog your link on my reblog page?


    • Oh no, go right ahead. I’d be pleased for you to do so.

      Yeah would like so much to have a talk with each one of these individuals. Can you imagine? It’s a history nuts dream come true. 😉 Thanks for your comment.


  7. I like the addition of Flo. The capt and I argue about the Titanic all the time. I am adamant that he never be the captain who makes sure everyone else is safe before he cares for himself and he says he has to be that guy–he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t do the right thing, and I say I don’t care, he’d be alive. !!!


    • Yes, she was such an interesting and complex personality.

      That’s a bit of a conundrum! While I understand your position, I also realize the captain’s position. It’s a difficult thing. So many captains ended up being called cowards in the past (even when they weren’t) just because they survived a sinking. Here’s hoping you all never have to go through anything like that!


    • I hope so, too! Tugboats are inherently dangerous places but he’s not the capt of a passenger carrying vessel anymore, altho he still has a crew to care for. He’s a very safe navigator, so I don’t have all that much to worry about.


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