Friday, December 3, 2010

Raise the Titanic

by Lois Jamieson
Gerry came to StarShine as an 8th grader. He arrived as an introverted boy with a terrible stuttering problem. With the help of the very caring StarShine teachers, by the time he was a junior in high school, he spoke very clearly and had been elected student body president. I became a friend to Gerry when he developed a great interest in the ill-fated luxury liner, the Titanic. He stopped by the library in search of a book about the ship. We didn’t have one,
but I told him about a book written by best-selling author Clive Cussler; who by the way lives in the Phoenix area. The name of the book was Raise the Titanic. I explained it was a novel, but was based on the true story of the Titanic. He was very interested in reading it and so the next day I hustled to the nearest bookstore and luckily found a paperback copy. I bought the book and decided I would make it a gift to Gerry.
Gerry’s face lit up in astonishment when I handed him the book and told him it was his, he could keep it. Gerry was so grateful that he rushed out of the library hugging it to his chest. The next day Jan called me to say that she had received a very interesting note from one of my admirers, Gerry. Let me share it with you:
Dear Mrs. Shoop,
I think you should know what a nice thing our librarian did for me. She knew of my interest in the Titanic and bought me the book Raise The Titanic, at Barnes and Noble bookstore, for $6.95 USA. I think you should give her a raise, or at least slip a few extra dollars in her paycheck this week.”
Apparently, Gerry didn’t know I volunteered my time at StarShine and did not get a paycheck. He didn’t know that, not only was I the volunteer the librarian, but I was also the Principal’s mother! But, that is not the end of the story. At Christmas time that same year, Gerry surprised me with a gift. With Gerry and Jan both looking on, I opened the package in the library. I was amazed to find a brand new autographed copy of Mr. Cussler’s new book. This terrific kid, without a lot of stuff of his own, learned that the author would be appearing at a book-signing at a local bookstore in Scottsdale. He went to the signing, bought the book for me, and had it inscribed, “To Mrs. Jamieson, a lovely lady”.”
This time, I was the one who was astonished and hugged the book to my chest. I will keep it forever.
During the summer, after graduation, and before enrolling in Phoenix College, this enterprising young man continued his fascination with ships. With money he had saved from his job and a month’s unpaid vacation, he purchased a Greyhound Bus pass, good for one month’s travel anywhere in the United States. His first trip was to California where he visited the RMS Queen Mary Hotel. His next stop was Las Vegas to see the Titanic Exhibition. Then he took the longest bus ride in his life, but that’s another story you’ll find later in our book.