The Interesting Month of April

Ogden Nash

April has been the subject of many great writers from Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Robert Browning, T.S. Eliot to Edna St. Vicent Millay, to name a few.  But, for me, the zany Ogden Nash, summed April up best with his poem, Always Marry an April Girl (which I did!):

“Praise the spell and bless the charms,

I found in my April arms.

April golden, April cloudy,

Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy;

April soft in flowered languor,

April cold with sudden anger,

                                                            Ever changing, ever true —

                                                        I love April, I love you.”

Nash is famous for his short poems and observations; the one that speaks to me the loudest is:

“You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely.”

He also came up with:

“Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.”

And, he also offers up some really good poetic marital advice:

“To keep your marriage brimming with love in the loving cup,

Whenever you’re wrong admit it, whenever you’re right shut up.”


“There is only one way to have a happy marriage, and as soon as I learn what it is, I’ll get married again.”

Here’s one he wrote many years ago, but is apt today:

“I hope that someday we will be able to put away our fears and prejudices and just laugh at people”

Lots of other things happened in April, but before we leave Mr. Nash, an interesting factoid is that the city of Nashville, is named after his forebearers.

Many famous and infamous people were born in April, from William Shakespeare to Adoff Hitler; and of course, the most famous to me, my wife, Linda!

RMS Titanic

But what I really wanted to write about this week, was a great historic event that occurred exactly 112 years ago, on April 15, 1912, the sinking of the Titanic.  It took over 70 years to find her as she lies 12,600 feet under water.  Of the 2,224 passengers on board, 1,496 died, in part because the ship was supposed to have 64 lifeboats on board, but only had 20, and those ended up being filled to only 60% capacity!

Aside from the 13 couples who were celebrating their honeymoon on board, there were several famous people who died, John Jacob Astor, the wealthiest man on board and Benjamin Guggenheim, along with several other titans of industry in the day.  The luckiest people were those who purchased a ticket for the Titanic’s maiden voyage, but ended up having a conflict that kept them from getting on board – Milton Hershey, who gave us the Hershey Bar, J.P. Morgan and George Vanderbilt to name just a few of the eight very wealthy men who luckily didn’t make it on board.

Not the iceberg’s fault?  Recent evidence has shown that a fire of 1800 degrees had burned in the ship’s hull for three weeks prior to the ship’s departure, thus weakening the hull and ultimately was responsible for the hull splitting when it hit the iceberg.

The longest living survivor of the disaster was Millvina Dean, who was the youngest survivor on the Titanic at two months old. She died at the age of 97 in 2009.

Hoping your April is more Nutty Nash than Tragic Titanic!



I love history – both generally and specifically as it relates to our family.  Last year when I was studying some of the Sparrow history I was fascinated to learn that our grandparents were married the same week that the RMS Titanic sunk.  In other words, that ill-fated ship and the Sparrows are commemorating a 100th anniversary this week. Of course, our grandparents have been dead for decades.  But our family celebrates everything without much provocation.

All the hoopla around the Titanic anniversary, including the re-release of the movie by the same name, has made me wonder what our grandparents thought about the disaster, or if it in any way affected their honeymoon. I suspect that I’m not alone in wishing that I had asked my parents and grandparents more questions before they died. Typical things mostly – what attracted them to one another, what their first job was, what mom was thinking when she chose that wedding dress, or, in this case, how did a major catastrophe affect their lives.

I suspect that in my grandparent’s case, it affected them very little. Theirs was something of a scandalous marriage at the time so they had their own personal ice floes to navigate (and, yes, I’ll write about that in a future blog). Something that happened thousands of miles away to strangers would have been interesting, but not necessarily all-consuming.  I suspect that they read about the Titanic in the newspaper over breakfast and then said something like, “Please pass the Devonshire cream”.

Contrast that to what might happen if the Titanic sank today. One can only imagine the news coverage: helicopters flying over the site, news anchors broadcasting from both Southampton and New York, and inevitably Geraldo Rivera would be clinging to an ice berg, wind whistling through his hair, looking for lost treasures. We would be inundated with “expert” analysis and live interviews with people who had a third cousin once removed who went to grammar school with the porter on the third deck.  I don’t even want to think about Twitter and Facebook.  The Food Network would be our only place of refuge.

And all this leads me to wonder: are our lives improved by constant, overwhelming news reports?

I realize that in a broad sense we are all part of the “human family” and sometimes news coverage gives us a better understanding of an issue or a situation. And certainly there is a human interest aspect to every major story.  But so much excessive coverage also leads to stress. We can hardly breathe for all of the information that comes our way. The news channels seem less interested in providing us with the salient facts than in out pacing their competitors in the minutia race.  The result is a LOT of “noise” and the inevitable annoying person at the office who has to be the resident expert on every breaking news story.

Sometimes I think the generations before us had it better in this respect.  They got the pertinent news, usually once a day, and unless it affected a friend or relative, they then went on about their business.  Somewhere between 1912 and 2012 we’ve misplaced the happy medium.

Oh, one other coincidence between the Titanic and the Sparrows:  there has been many a “morning after” when someone in our family has suggested that they were hit by bad ice.