Shine and the Titanic (Titanic #14)
DESCRIPTION: Recitation. Shine is aboard the Titanic when the ship hits an iceberg. The captain's daughter asks Shine's help; he says, "Pussy's good... but this is one time I'm gonna save Shine's ass." The captain receives the same reply. Shine survives the wreck
EARLIEST DATE: 1959 (recording by anonymous artist)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Recitation. Shine, a black man, is in the hold of the Titanic stacking sacks when the ship hits an iceberg. The captain's daughter asks Shine to save her; he says, "Pussy's good, while it lasts, but this is one time I'm gonna save Shine's ass." The captain offers him money; he gives the same reply. "The last time I seen Shine, he was dead drunk upon a airline"
KEYWORDS: sex request rejection help rescue ship drink disaster wreck recitation worker Black(s)
April 14/15, 1912 - Shortly before midnight, ship's time, the Titanic strikes an iceberg and begins to sink. Only 711 survivors are found of 2224 people believed to have been aboard.
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 213-214, "Shine Reel" (1 fragment, 1 tune, mentioning being "Alabama Bound" but also mentioning some being on a boat that sank, so it might be part of this. Shine -- a name Scarborough connects with [shoe]shine -- is not mentioned by name)
Unidentified reciter, "Shine and the Titanic" (on Unexp1)
The Titanic Toast
NOTES [298 words]: Paul Stamler suggests that the Shine of this song is the same as that of "Po' Shine," "Ain't No More Cane on this Brazos," and "Travelin' Man." If so, he had more lives than a cat.
For the record, while Captain Smith of the Titanic did have a daughter, she was born in 1902 (see Stephanie Barczewski, Titanic: A Night Remembered (Hambledon Continuum, 2004, p. 163), so Shine would have had a significant problem had he touched her. But she wasn't aboard the Titanic anyway.
Nor could Shine have survived the wreck by swimming, as is found in some versions; the water at the time the ship sank was at a temperature of 28 degrees Farenheit, and exposure to it was fatal within minutes.
In any case, although historians have tried hard to find a Black aboard the Titanic, it appears that there were *none* on the ship. Zero. Quite certainly no American Blacks. (See, e.g., Steven Biel, Down with the Old Canoe: A Cultural History of the Titanic Disaster, Norton, 1997, p. 112).
According to Wyn Craig Wade, The Titanic: End of a Dream (revised edition, Penguin, 1986), pp. 318-319, this recitation was collected at least 15 times; he cites Sandburg to the effect that Black soldiers knew and recited it in World War I. It appears the name "Shine" was well-known at this time (presumably for shoe shiners or the like); according to Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994, there had been a popular 1910 song, "That's Why THey Call Me Shine" by Cecil Mack and Ford Dabney.
For an extensive history of the Titanic, with detailed examination of the truth (or lack thereof) of quotes in the Titanic songs, see the notes to "The Titanic (XV)" ("On the tenth day of April 1912") (Titanic #15) - RBW
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