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Ind. man passionate about all things Titanic |

Ind. man passionate about all things Titanic

MUNCIE, Ind. (WTW) — One hundred years ago, late on April 14, 1912, the “unsinkable” S.S. Titanic struck an iceberg and shortly thereafter, alas, sank.

Interest in the doomed ship and its terrible fate? That, apparently, will float forever.


“It’s more of a fascination with me,” agreed Greg Peckinpaugh, a self-acknowledged history buff, when asked whether his interest amounted to an obsession. “Interest has not waned at all. … The ship itself is more what I’m interested in.”

As he spoke, he was seated at a table in what he calls “the Titanic room” of his northside Muncie house, a place where about 75 Titanic-related books crowd a bookcase, Titanic-related documents were tucked neatly away in a filing cabinet, and reproductions of the Titanic’s third-class dinnerware rest in a display case.

For the 48-year-old Peckinpaugh, a Southside High School graduate who works at Diamond Plastics, interest in the Titanic began in junior high school

“I saw the movie ‘A Night to Remember,'” he recalled, of what sparked it.

Why is the story of its sinking so captivating, that the word Titanic is one of the most recognized words in the English language?

“The human tragedy,” Peckinpaugh answered. “It piques interest in everybody.”

Among Peckinpaugh’s Titanic papers are transcripts of testimony into the disaster.

“And he has files on the passengers,” said his wife, Betty, who added to his trove of Titanic-related pieces by completing a paint-by-number rendering of the event for him.

Hang around Peckinpaugh, and sooner or later you are going to become interested in the Titanic, too.

“I’ve dragged Betty all across the country,” he said with a chuckle, noting some of the places where they have visited Titanic exhibits include Branson, Mo., Las Vegas, Chicago and Chickopee, Mass.

With framed reproductions of newspapers telling of the tragedy and a painting illustrating the tragedy on his home’s entranceway wall, it’s not surprising that Peckinpaugh is a 15-year member of the Titanic Historical Society, which joins him with other like-minded buffs.

“They’re all nuts about the Titanic,” he said.

So, to whom does he lay the most blame for the tragedy? The owners of the Titanic, not for allegations such as they cut costs by using weaker steel than the design called for, but for only putting 20 lifeboats on a vessel that was equipped to carry 48 of them.

Another point he makes is regarding the glancing blow that the ship struck the iceberg, causing about 300 feet of rips in the side of the hull.

“Had they hit it head on,” he said, “it probably never would have sunk.”

Whatever the facts of the tragedy, another one is that the Titanic is now wasting away on the ocean floor.

“It’s pretty far decayed now,” Peckinpaugh said, adding that in time, and not a great deal of time, she will disappear. “It’ll be like an iron ore deposit.”

That bleak fact notwithstanding, he added that, like many folks passionate about the Titanic, he had been looking forward to the days leading up to the 100th anniversary of its sinking.

It is the heightened interest and memorials he is relishing, not the least of which will be one conducted at sea where the Titanic went down.

“The U.S. Coast Guard is going to go out and drop a million-and-a-half rose petals,” he said.

Other observances, though, amount to more like parties, including a cruise to the spot where passengers are going to be dressed in period costume. Peckinpaugh was even invited to go along.

“I just blew it off,” he said.

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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