THE ROOTS OF A RUMOR ABOUT THE SINKING OF AN OCEAN LINER:
Some papers yesterday printed news that the liner Campania (above)
had sunk, which would, of course, be a terrific tragedy. The reports were entirely false. The root of the rumor goes back to a cable that came from Cape Lion, Costa Rica, to New York at about 5 p.m. Wednesday. It read, in its entirety:Port Limon, C.R.
Harbaker, New York
Post luckless credulity.
Here's what happened to that information:
1. The address was unclear, but a cable operator recalled that someone named Harbaker worked in a dry-goods importing house in New York. So, the cable went there.
2. Workers there knew that Harbaker had left for Europe six days earlier on the Cunard liner Campania.
3. The workers decided the cable must have come FROM Harbaker.
4. They used a commercial cipher-code book
and decided the message meant this: Port Limon, C.R.
Harbaker, New York: Mail total loss. Crew saved.
5. They interpreted this to mean that the Campania -- en route to Queenstown -- had gone down, with the only survivors being -- astonishingly -- the fortunate Harbaker and the crew.
6. A look at maps led them to assume the "C.R." referred to "Cape Race," and guessed that Port Limon was a fishing village that was too small to appear on any map. The survivors must have somehow reached land near Cape Race.
7. The workers then went home at the end of the work day and talked about the tragedy with their family and friends.
8. The rumor grew. By midnight, the tale had grown large enough so that the following report ended up at various news rooms around the city: The Campania has gone down off Cape Race. Only the crew, the mails and one passenger saved. Only news received in a wireless dispatch from Cape Race to a Broadway dry goods firm.
9. At some newspapers, responsible journalists decided to check things out -- by getting out of bed, for example, a Cunard official, who said nothing of the sort had happened.
10. Other reporters checked with the dry goods firm and decided that Port Limon is really in Costa Rica.
11. BUT, some papers went ahead and printed the wrong story. The Times says, "Two newspapers, by printing the rumor in its incomplete form so alarmed the friends of passengers on board the Campania that the office of the Cunard Company here was deluged by messages of inquiry all day long."REALITY:
The original cable was meant to go to "Harbaker, Philadelphia," meaning a shipping firm called Franklin Baker & Co. The firm had chartered a ship called Post, which had gone down Oct. 1 off Bluefields, Nicaragua. The shipping firm already knew about the loss of the Post. In this message, the captain wanted to let the firm know that the crew had safely reached port.SUNKEN FRENCH SUBMARINE IS FOUND:
Two torpedo boats, four tugs and some small boats from British warships dragged an area off the coast of Tunis and found the French submarine Lutin yesterday morning about 9:30. The French say that two officers and 14 sailors were on board when it went down. The cause is not known, but investigators speculate that the sub went down at too great an angle and somehow acids were released so fast that nobody could release safety weights or a telephone buoy. It will be raised soon. The illustration above, showing the recovery attempt, is from the French Petit Journal
.WOMEN WITH BIG HATS BETTER READ THE SMALL PRINT:
For a while now, female patrons (would that be patronnes?) of the Astor Theatre have been reluctant to remove their hats when employees ask them to take them off -- so other ticket holders can see the stage. Now, the back side of the ticket has a message: "This ticket is sold with the understanding and agreement that if a lady uses the same, she will remove her hat upon request of any employee of the management."
A small article on the front page of today's New York Times explains that recent court decisions indicate that a ticket is a contract between the purchaser and the management. And it doesn't matter how much the hat cost.