By Wally Kennedy
Globe Staff Writer
A front page of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, dated April 16, 1912, that chronicles the news of the Titanic's sinking is now on display at the Joplin Museum Complex in Schifferdecker Park.
The front page is part of a private collection of historic documents and papers owned by Allen Shirley, a Joplin resident who serves on the museum's governing board.
"I stumbled upon it about five or six years ago in a little flea market and antique store at the Lake of the Ozarks. It was an ugly piece of newspaper and not in the world's greatest shape, but it was authentic," said Shirley, who paid several hundred dollars for the yellowed newsprint. "I was very fortunate to stumble upon it. It was under glass and the guy was closing up for the season."
The copy features pictures of the Titanic, an iceberg and a St. Louis survivor of the tragedy, and Associated Press stories. Seven people from St. Louis were aboard the Titanic. All were rescued by the Carpathia.
Also on display is a copy of the British review board's account of the sinking. It includes the original death list from the ship, including the names of some of America's wealthiest citizens.
"I found that at a flea market in Muskogee, Okla. Every once in a while you will trip across someone with old books who has something interesting," Shirley said.
Much of the enduring legacy of the Titanic has been created by the media.
"I have seen some very interesting newspaper articles from that time. William Randolph Hearst did his part to vilify the owners of the White Star Line for not having enough life boats. He pushed that story through the American media," said Shirley.
Part of the legacy, he said, relates to the technological claim that the ship was thought to be unsinkable, but went down on its maiden voyage.
"The other part involves the people, who were amazed that something like that could happen to the rich. Things like that happened to the common poor guy, but not the rich," he said. "It showed that tragedy happens to millionaires as well. They are not immune to everyday world problems. They suffer they same tragedies as the rest of us. That's what keeps the story alive."
By Wally Kennedy