NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

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April 8, 2012

Matriarch's survival story inspires Pa. family

(Continued)

HERMITAGE, Pa. —

"They shielded him with their night clothes so that the sailors wouldn’t see him," Sharon said. "If they had, they would have shot him."

Because their lifeboat was one of the last to leave the ship, they were only half a mile away when Titanic sank beneath the icy water around 2:20 a.m. This meant they were one of the closest lifeboats to the Titanic and could hear the screaming of those left behind.

After her rescue, Shanini was reunited with her two daughters at a train station in Youngstown.

Shanini didn’t dwell on her Titanic experience, except for filing a $150 claim for her lost luggage. She resumed her laundry washing and eventually earned enough money to bring Joseph, then Albert, to the United States, said Sharon.

Still, within a year of the ship's sinking, 38-year-old Shanini’s beautiful black hair turned completely white. She would also have nightmares to the end of her life and wake up saying she could hear the ship sinking and the screams of those left behind.

She went on to work for the family's ice cream cone company, which still exists today. Sharon is now the director of quality control at Joy Cone Co. in Hermitage, Pa.

“Without her, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you,” she said. “If she had not made it on the Titanic, my aunts would have been adopted out, and my grandfather probably would never have made it to America. Without her there would be nothing. It’s an honor for all of us that we have a biological piece of her; that part of her blood is in our blood.”

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