Titanic
Merie Weismiller Wallace/Paramou—moviestillsdb.com
By Cady Lang
April 13, 2017

A locket salvaged from the ruins of the Titanic carries a real-life love story that’s more heartbreaking than the cult-status romance between Jack and Rose from the eponymous movie about the doomed cruise ship.

The 18-carat gold locket engraved with the initials “VC” belonged to one Virginia Estelle McDowell Clark and is a new addition to an ongoing exhibit in Las Vegas about the 1912 sinking of the luxury cruise ship; the locket and other items were added as part of a commemoration of the 105th anniversary of the tragedy.

According to an interview with Today, curator and vice president of collectons for Premier Exhibitions Alexandra Klingelhofer said that Virginia was a first-class passenger on the ship, returning to the United States from a belated honeymoon in Europe with her husband Walter Miller Clark; the couple decided to cut their trip short so they could go home to Los Angeles in time to be with their 2-year-old son for his birthday.

After the iceberg hit the ship, Walter helped his wife to a lifeboat, but didn’t board it himself.

“When they got up to the boat deck, they were still separating men from women and children and he placed her in one of the lifeboats,” Klingelhofer said. “The boat was supposed to pick up additional passengers as it got lowered down each level but logistics prevented that from happening. So the boat ended up on the ocean surface with many other seats available. Had they known earlier, Walter could have gotten on to the boat with her, but he did not. He stayed with the other first class men and bravely went down with the ship.”

The locket was discovered in 1994 at the Titanic’s wreckage site, along with some other personal items belonging to the Clarks. Virginia died in either 1957 or 1958; her son died before the items were identified as his parents’.

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.

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