“Lights of the Carpathia are now visible from the Battery,” so chatted the brass-tongued sounder of the telegraph equipment in the Evening Journal office Thursday night as Patsy cut in upon the Associated Press circuit, for what was to be one of the most exciting nights in the newspaper history of the world.

As the operator, tired from a long, hard day at the wire, hung his coat up, translating the clicking of the instruments, word by word to us, it made a dramatic opening of the labor of giving to the people of Lewiston, Auburn and central Maine the first complete and accurate account of the wreck at sea of the magnificent new transatlantic liner Titanic. It told the waiting editors and reporters that the greatest news story since the firing upon Sumter would soon be ticking off the same little sounder and that in a few hours it would be common knowledge in every hamlet of the globe whether the men of the Titanic went down in stoic, silent heroism, or in panic and fear. As the story was unfolded later it was different than had been expected. The one thing which stuck out, unchanged from the first meager wireless dispatches, was that the old law of the sea, “Women First,” was lived up to, even though at times it was necessary to invoke the authority of a pistol’s muzzle.

For hours before the Carpathia docked in New York, every editor worthy of the name had known that once she was safe in harbor, the great story would be upon them. When would it come? Not a man of them, not even those in Park row could accurately forecast. Throughout the day on Thursday, the time was constantly changed.

At first it was said that 10 in the evening would see her in port, then it was placed at 11 o’clock and by the time “73” or good day was given on the telegraphy circuits for the evening papers, it seemed to be settled that the earliest possible hour at which the rescued ship could make port would be 1 a.m. on Friday.

Just before the close of the day service, the Associated Press sent to all paper the following dispatch:

The front page of the EXTRA published by the Lewiston Evening Journal after news arrived from survivors of the sinking of the Titanic.



NEW YORK, April 18 — On the arrival tonight of the Carpathia, all available matters will be sent E.O.S. and therefore for immediate publication in both morning and evening papers. M.E. Stone, G.M.

The E.O.S. meant extraordinary service and signified that the usual regulations as to hours when papers served the great news gathering organizations can issue special editions containing AP reporters were cancelled for the time being.

Carpathia Is In.

It was just after 7 o’clock Thursday evening when the managing editor of the Lewiston Journal received a telephonic message from W.C. Jefferds, Maine agent of the Associated Press in Portland telling him that the eagerly awaited Carpathia was nearly to dock. That showed the story was to come earlier than anticipated. It meant that the story of the horrid disaster was to be ready for the world hours, yes, a day earlier than had been expected.

Friday was a holiday. The Journal had announced no edition.

Only an extra edition could give the people the news promptly. The extra edition was ordered.


Editors, reporters, telegraph operators, Linotype operators, compositors, stereotype foundrymen, pressmen, circulation manager and make-up men were notified. For many minutes, the telephone from the managing editor’s house was one of the busiest in the two cities. Editors and writers were ordered out for immediate duty. Compositors and Linotype operators, make-up men and others of the composing room were told to report at 4 o’clock Friday morning, while the balance of the mechanical fore were ordered to duty at 6.

Be it said here that each woman and man, as he or she received the order, responded heartily, “All right, sir, I’ll be there.” They were there, were there much in advance of the time, for the exigencies of the night made it imperative they be called hours earlier than at first thought necessary, but everyone came into the office with a cheery “good morning” and a jolly smile.

The Journal wishes at this time to thank those who so promptly and willingly responded to the call and to say that it is this earnest, hearty and ready cooperation and personal interest of the staff which makes it possible to give to the public splendid news service which this paper furnishes.


Before 8 o’clock, part of the staff of editors and writers were in the office and at work preparing stories of other wrecks and laying out the plans for the night. It was about 8:45 when P.J. O’Connor, the expert telegraph operator who receives the Associated Press dispatches for the Journal came in. He hung his overcoat and hat up, turned to the switchboard and pulled the plugs. Instantly, the little instrument which was to play so important a part in the night’s labor began to talk.

As he removed his coat, Patsy read to us the words which open the story.

The coat hung up, he pulled the typewriter stand beside the table on which the instrument was, seated himself and began to put on paper, in neatly typewritten characters, the translations of the sounder’s clicks.


It was a long, hard night, which started then. With but two brief pauses to give the operators opportunity for refreshments, the wire was busy until 6 o’clock the next morning and O’Conner was ‘taking’ stuff for more than two hours after every morning paper in Maine had cried quits and closed up, and for three hours after any paper outside of Maine on the Northeast Circuit had stopped.

As the sheets of copy came off the typewriter, they were taken by the editors on duty and made ready for the Linotype operators. New paragraphs were made, subheads as the small heading used throughout the story to bring out striking features are known in the newspaper office, were written in.

The scheme for the ‘make-up’ of the extra was figured upon and the headline written so that when the mechanical force began work, there would be nothing to hinder it.


As Patsy finished the last word of his first dispatch, and we, to all practical purposes, thanks to the efficacy of the telegraphic service of the Associated Press, were dropped down upon the Battery in New York, where through the eyes of that great association we were to witness the docking and landing of the survivors of the great ship Titanic and hear their stories as their own lips related the incidents of the terrible tragedy, a feeling of relief came upon the three men seated in the little room of the telegraph editor.

“Now we’re going to know about it. The suspense is over,” said the managing editor.

It was the sentiment of all of us.


“Captain,” said Patsy, translating from the wire and not writing.

We waited for the next word, and then he went on.

Smith (pause) shot (pause) himself (pause) just (pause) before (pause) the (paused) ship (pause) went (pause) down!!


That was the comment of the telegraph editor.

And then we discussed it. With death a certainly, why should he have done that unless his mind had become affected? It seemed the only explanation. So we talked and worked on the copy.


Again, Patsy was speaking.

“Hold bulletin of Capt. Smith shooting himself. Not authenticated.” That was the instruction which came that time.

Once more we discussed the captain and edited the copy. By this time, the copy was growing and we’d begun to have an idea of the front-page display and were working on the other pages, for the night was going. Was going altogether too fast for us.

“It’s different from what I had expected,” but just who said it would be hard to say. That was the sentiment of the workers and it was brought by one of the story relating how the ship’s band played “Nearer My God to Thee” as she sank.

“Did you read this?” said the managing editor. He held in his hand a long strip of the story of the wreck as told by Mr. Beaseley of London. “It’s the most dramatic, interesting story I’ve ever read,” he continued.

At midnight, we went out to lunch.


It wasn’t one of those swell feeds, starting in with soup and fish and ending up with pie, cheese, ice cream, nuts, coffee and cigars. Not that, but it was substantial and the sort we had time to eat.

The first course was a hamburg steak trilby. Don’t know what a hamburg steak trilby is? Visit the Owl carts and they’ll show you it is a hot hamburg steak sandwich garnished with a slice of raw onion. The managing editor reneged on the onion and when the second course, which was more trilbys, came, refused and took a “hot dog” for him. Then there was a wedge of apple pie. Coffee was served with every course, after which we had the cigars. In fact, the cigars were necessary throughout the night.


There was a crowd in Owl Cart and all were talking of the great disaster. There were expressions of sympathy, but for the greater part, the talk took on the form of a discussion as to whether the ship had actually sank to the bottom of the ocean. By some, it was questioned.

“They say the sea is two miles deep,” said one of the debaters, appealing to the managing editor.

“That’s my understanding” was the answer.

“Then,” said his interrogator, who was chewing the stub of a cigar and who spoke with an air of finality, “I don’t believe she went to the bottom. She couldn’t do it. Before she got down there, the water would be so dense she couldn’t have sunk through it.”


“She’s be whirled around by different currents,” said another.

“Well, she never went to bottom, did she,” reiterated the first debater, glaring at the managing editor.

“So you say.”

“Well, she didn’t, did she.” The glare was more pronounced.

“You say she didn’t,” said the managing editor, “and I don’t see as there’s the slightest use debating it.”


It was a bit after three when “Con” came in. Con was grieved, because it is his rule to be the first person on that floor every day. However, after he had seen the managing editor, he had a more cheerful smile. No time was lost by him so that when the rest of the crew came, their machines were ready.


Anna was the first of the Linotype operators to arrive and in a very few seconds after her arrival, water dripping from her umbrella but her face wreathed in a good-natured smile, she was putting the leads of the first page stuff into double column composition at record-breaking speed.

After that, for the next 15 minutes, there was a constant procession of new arrivals.

Girls and men came in laughing and joking about having to work on a morning paper and then went to work to clean the copy which was piled up high. It looked as if they were buried, but the story was interesting, the takes were long and the entire crew determined. The sheets of typewritten copy melted away and before the announcement ‘clean’ was made, that meant there wasn’t a line ahead of them. From that time until at 6:18 the order was given to shut down, it was clean. There were not waits.

As the operators were arriving, so too was Henry and his crew of head setters. They put the big seven and two and three column heads, as well as the big seven column head for the front page and countless smaller ones into type and then had them ready long before the make-up men were prepared to start.

Lester and Conley were clearing the forms and at 5:20 Friday morning the work of putting the type into the pages began. Never were four pages of newspaper made up quicker or with less difficulty than that. Everything went as specially arranged for the time and condition, and before 6:30, the last of the quartet was in the stereotype room and at 6:46 the last big plate was bolted on and the big press in the basement was turning the thousands of copies of the paper which were needed to meet the demand of eager, anxious reading public.

Such is the story of how the big extra edition Friday morning was made and the making of the second extra issued at 4 in the afternoon would be but a repetition of it, with the addition that besides the Associated Press service, there were the special telegraphic dispatches from New York coming throughout the afternoon.



But there is still another story of the extra which is interesting. It is how it was gotten to the public. Among those notified early Thursday evening that an extra was to be issued was the circulation manager. Immediately, he got in touch with all his carrier boys, who like others connected to the paper responded with cheerful alacrity. He telephoned to the out-of-town agents and told them what was coming.

In the morning, the boys were on hand and rushed to all parts of the two cities while great bundles of the extra were sent out on the first trains and trolleys leaving the city to all points in central Maine.

In the afternoon, the boys were gathered together by messenger and telephone, but as the hour for starting the press drew near, there were three who could not be found. A message was sent to the Empire Theater on the chance they might be there.

The message was flashed on the screen by the stereo-opticon and give minutes later, three excited lads were on the job in the Journal circulation room.


That the extra made a big hit was demonstrated by the enormous sales. In the morning, it was necessary to start the press several times after the first run in order that the demand of the people should be met.

It was the latest thing in a newspaper. No paper circulated in Maine on Friday morning contained so much information or so late as did the Journal extra. The Boston papers which came to Maine that morning had no news later than 1 o’clock and no Maine morning paper had a word of the story sent out of New York after 4 o’clock, while the Journal had everything up to 6 o’clock. It was the latest and most complete account in Maine of the disaster.

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