Rose Before Titanic
Rose , Ruth , and Cal had boarded the Mauritania for a European vacation . Ruth had recently found out that her husband left her and her daughter Rose in debt after his untimely death. Ruth hastily arranged for Rose to meet Caledon Hockley. Hockley was taken with Rose and proposed marriage within 3 months.
However, Rose was having second thoughts, and asked to go to Europe before going through with the wedding. Rose stayed in the stateroom during much of the voyage and read her dime novels. Ruth spent a lot of time gossiping about others and the wedding plans with the society aboard the ship. Cal spent time cigar smoking and bragging about Rose like she was a prize racehorse. Cal obliged his fiancée and future mother in law and took them to Europe. Rose wanted to go to Paris again. She had many good memories of her last trip as a 13-year-old with her father.
Ruth was anxious to meet with a Parisian dressmaker to get a wedding dress for Rose, and get new bridesmaids gowns with the measurements taken down. Rose wanted lavender, but Ruth detested the color. The gowns would be light blue instead which Ruth liked but Rose detested.
The ship docked in Cherbourg, and the Hockley party took a train to Paris. Rose loved the French countryside. She saw many people enjoying themselves. The conductor announced that the train had arrived in Paris. Rose, Ruth, and Cal got off.
He immediately signaled to the maids and his valet, Lovejoy to find people to take their trunks to the Hotel Champs-Elysees. A maroon Renault pulled up next to the baggage claim area. Cal helped Ruth and Rose into the car. He sat next to the driver. A black Renault followed with the luggage and the maids and valet. As the car was driving, Rose saw many young people painting and drawing pictures. She wanted to be free but knew it was not possible for her.
"Mr. Hockley, we need to go the dress shops after we check in." Rose’s mother said. "Alright, I need to get some gifts for the wedding party and engagement gala", Cal said in a voice of command. The Hockley party checked into the hotel. They would stay there for 2 weeks, then go to London, & Southampton, England, then home to America.
The wedding was scheduled for May 1, 1912. Cal also had to book passage back to America. Rose and Ruth went to the large dress shops. Cal had given them a great deal of money so that they would be all day shopping for new clothes for spring and summer.
"Mother, I am going to the Mon Cherie store next door because I need to get some accessories and hats." Rose said. Ruth peeled off several hundred dollars and handed them to Rose. She told Rose to be back in 2 hours. By then, Ruth would take her to the Boursee shop for a final fitting of her wedding dress.
Rose walked into the Mon Cherie shop. She saw many things. The saleswoman approached her and asked if she could be of assistance. Rose spotted several pieces that she wanted to look at further. The saleswoman placed a beautiful art deco style butterfly comb on the counter with some other pieces of jewelry.
Then Rose examined many of the hats, purses, shawls, and shoes on display. She purchased the following items: jade green butterfly comb, 2 hair cages with rhinestones, 3 formal diamond-style necklaces with matching earrings in 3 different styles, a white Belgian lace and silk shawl in ivory, a dark blue purse, a white purse, a string of pearls, a pair of black and a white shoulder length satin gloves, and a large purple hat to match a purple and white dress she got in Milan, Italy. Then Rose got several pairs of shoes and a long Australian woolen pink coat suitable for an ocean liner promenade. The saleswoman boxed everything, and Rose asked that the items be delivered to the hotel. Rose tipped the saleswoman generously, and went back to the store where Ruth was waiting patiently.
Then they went to the Bourge store for Rose’s final wedding dress fitting. It was an Empire and Princess style. It also had a veil made of Belgian lace. Rose obliged her mother by smiling during the final fitting. She did not really love Cal, but knew that she could not marry for love. Her mother had told her many times that love comes after marriage. The dressmaker boxed the dress and veil carefully and would arrange for it to be sent to the hotel. Then Rose and Ruth went to the hotel f for dinner.
Cal had returned and was finishing a cigar. He gave Rose and Ruth an hour to prepare for dinner. Then he took them to a restaurant along the Seine River. Then they went back to the hotel. Tomorrow was another day of sightseeing and shopping.
After breakfast the next day, Ruth chose to stay in. Cal took Rose to a jewelry shop so that she could select her wedding jewels. Rose selected a pearl and diamond wedding ring with a matching necklace. Cal said, "Sweetpea, look around, I want to get your gift for the engagement gala for when we get back home." "Alright, I want to the art shop next store, take your time, darling." Rose said.
Cal handed her some money, and she went to the store to look around. She saw Renoir, Picasso, Monet, and Degas. She was intrigued and wanted to get several paintings for the new house that Cal was having built back in Philadelphia. She continued to browse in the shop, and knew that Cal would come back to get her.
The jeweler showed Cal a beautiful sapphire and diamond necklace. The pendant was shaped like a heart in blue surrounded by small diamonds with a diamond chain. The jeweler told Cal the entire necklace was diamonds. It would cost $15,000 but Cal told the jeweler that Rose was worth it. He was told that it was "Le Couer de la Mer – The Heart of the Ocean." and Louis XVI wore it. The jeweler was astonished at the fact that Cal plunked down the cash to get the necklace. He filed an insurance policy with his name and his father Nathan’s on the necklace so that if anything happened to it, they could get the value back. The jeweler boxed the necklace in a separate box and wrapped it in paper. He placed the wedding jewels in a separate red velvet box with Rose’s name engraved on and her future initials "R.DB.H." for Rose Dewitt Bukater Hockley. Cal walked out of the shop.
Rose had purchased several paintings, which Cal said were a waste of money but were cheap. She had gotten several of each: Monet, Degas, and Picasso along with several unknown artists. She arranged for them to be sent to the hotel so they could shipped easily.
Cal placed the jewels in his large green safe for safekeeping. Rose was told not to touch the safe because he had a gift for her that was a surprise. The next few days were devoted to shopping for the return trip to America.
Rose got many new dresses to take back that were the latest styles. Ruth did not approve of them, but since Cal was paying, she reluctantly allowed Rose to get them. She got 2 different red and black formal gowns, a black and white formal, a green lace and silk dress, a blue velvet with lace on the front, a chiffon Empire style, a green silk with Belgian lace dress, a white formal dress, a black and white tea style dress, and a new purple dress with a matching hat. She also got matching accessories and shoes.
The Hockley party went to Milan and Rome in Italy, then to Monaco before heading north in France for the coast to go to London. Rose loved Italy, and the art she saw although Cal did not like it or have any appreciation for it. Rose would write of her European trip and her life in her journal after she settled in California during the summer of 1912:
April 1, 1912
Today we are leaving France, and going to London to see father’s relatives. I miss my father dearly. He was the only one who understood me. The wedding plans are making me crazy. I don’t love Cal, but he showers me with expensive gifts to show his love. If I were to break the engagement, my mother would disown me. Cal and I received a set of silver flatware and dishes from Harrod’s for our new home from Grandmother Bukater. Grandfather Bukater wired $10,000 into an account as his gift. We toured Paris and the Rivieria. Cal went to Monte Carlo to gamble at the Casino Royale. Mother and I just admired the churches and did some shopping. We also to Milan and Rome after that then back to France, then go to England to visit relatives.April 2, 1912Let me tell a bit about myself. I was born on September 15, 1895 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the only child of James and Ruth Dewitt Bukater. I was christened Rose Dewitt Bukater on October 1, 1895. I have always been more of a daddy’s girl. My dad always spoiled me rotten with lots of beautiful dolls from around the world. I still have them still a reminder of simpler times. My mother sent me to the best schools in Philadelphia and New York to learn all of the academic subjects plus deportment and French. I have traveled to Europe several times. My favorite nation is France with Italy as a close second. Both nations have great food, wine, and clothes. Mother has been a domineering person always and in control of everything in the household. Some days, I want to run away from home and leave everything behind. Enough for now, I will continue the story the next day.
April 3, 1912
When I was 15, my mother sent me to Switzerland to finishing school. I would be there for a year, then I was to be enrolled in an university, then find a husband, and get married before I was 21 years old. My mother had my life all mapped out. Being in Europe did me good for the year. I attended school daily, and attended society parties at night. In the spring after I turned 16, I got to go to Italy and Greece. I really enjoyed the art of the great Italian masters. In June, I went home, I found out that my father was very sick. He died a few weeks later. I miss him dearly. At the will reading, my mother discovered he left us in debt. There was only enough money and possessions to keep us afloat for a year or two. That is when I was introduced to the young heirs to industrial fortunes. They were not told anything about my misfortune.
April 4, 1912
We are in London. Mother and I did some shopping with father’s relatives and seen some of the sights of the city. Cal and I went to an expensive London restaurant for dinner, and gave me a beautiful new emerald and gold necklace with matching earrings. The color brings out my eyes. Then, we went for a carriage ride along the Thames. The sunset was beautiful. Cal does not appreciate those things that have no price tags. The bridesmaids’ dresses are dreadfully baby blue, and they look horrendous. Oh well, I have no control now over the wedding plans. The engagement gala has been set for April 25, 1912 in Philadelphia. My wedding day is May 1, 1912 at the Cathedral of St. John, my hometown church.
April 6, 1912
I went to a society party in the summer of 1911 at the Widener home when I was introduced to a young 30 year bachelor named Caledon Hockley. He told me a bit about himself: an heir to his father’s steel fortune and company, loved racehorses and cigars, and traveling. I admit that I was a bit attracted to him but he showed some of his colors when I was talking to another young man at a different party, he pulled me aside to humiliate me. He apologized for the incident. He turned on the charm very well. There was some friendship but my mother told that I was to be the perfect Edwardian geisha and woman. He brought me flowers once a week, and took to the park for picnics. He was also my escort for parties and dinners. He proposed marriage on Christmas Eve 1911. I was told by my mother to accept the offer. I was given a beautiful diamond ring that is at least 3 carats. It is the envy of my friends.
April 7, 1912
The Philadelphia ran a large article on my engagement: "Mrs. Ruth Dewitt Bukater announces the engagement of her daughter, Rose to Mr. Caledon Hockley. Rose is the daughter of the stock market tycoon, James, that passed away in June 1911. A wedding date of May 1, 1912 has been set. They plan to be married at one of Philadelphia’s cathedrals. The bride to be attended private schools in Philadelphia, New York, Paris, and Geneva before graduating at age 16. The groom is a graduate of Yale University, and is the Vice President of Hockley Steel. The newlyweds plan to live in Philadelphia." It was a bone-chilling thing to read but the engagement picture turned out well. Mother is being a pain with the wedding plans, whatever I desire is not to be. She wants it to be like her wedding.
April 8, 1912
Cal announced that he pulled some strings to get us back to America sooner. He has booked passage on the Titanic, a new liner. The accommodations are the best in the world he has said. I am not impressed but I figure that once we get to America, maybe I can postpone the wedding. I am having a lot of second thoughts about the wedding. Tomorrow, we are taking the Special to Southampton then staying the night at the Southwestern. Titanic departs on April 10, 1912 for America. I read the brochure about the ship. Personally, it doesn’t look any better than the Mauritania. Trudy and Alice packed the trunks for the trip. Mother has 12 trunks plus 2 valises and 4 hatboxes. I have 10 trunks, 2 valises, and 3 hatboxes. Cal has 8 trunks, 4 valises, and his 2 safes. They (maids and valet) were kept up until midnight to complete the packing.
April 9, 1912
We left London for Southampton on the Special. I looked out the window the whole time. Mother was very happy to be going to America so that the final wedding plans would be made complete. She is working out the details of the engagement gala, rehearsal dinner, ceremony, and reception. Since Cal is paying, she is sparing no expense but Cal does not care. He thinks that spending a lot of money on me makes me happy. It does not matter. I would rather marry a pauper or poor artist, and have a simpler life with no parties, cotillions, polo matches, yachts, and debutante balls to be worried about. I must go to at least 1 gathering a week, sometimes two. I was told that many prominent people will be sailing aboard TITANIC. 500 invitations have gone out for the wedding. The secretary back home sent my mom a letter in London confirming the guest head count to be at least 1,000 people.