Tragedy hit close to home


It was a Wednesday morning 90 years ago, April 10, 1912, that two Italian brothers boarded the R.M.S.Titanic docked in Southampton, England, poised for her maiden voyage across the Atlantic.

Alberto and Sebastiano Peracchio were among more than 2,200 passengers and crew who had signed on to the "unsinkable" British luxury liner that was just hours away from its noon departure.

The ship was expected to make New York harbor within a week.

The Peracchio brothers had hired on with White Star Lines as assistant waiters or "cameri`ere" as they were called in Italy assigned to serve in the first-class "a'la carte" restaurant on the ship's B-deck.

Alberto was just 20, his birthday falling three days before he embarked on the ill-fated journey.

Sebastiano was a month shy of turning 18.

The two young immigrants were the first cousins of my maternal grandfather.

They came from Fubine, a village in Alessandria, a medieval city of tree-lined boulevards located 563 kilometers from Rome.

They left home for a chance to see the world beyond by working on the huge British liners.

After arriving in England, the pair took a room in a building on Dean Street in London's Italian colony not far from the docks where the Titanic was moored.

I have a sepia-toned picture of these legendary distant cousins, taken perhaps just before they sailed on the "ship of dreams."

Sebastiano stands next to his older brother, tall, his head a thick mass of dark, wavy hair, parted on the left, coming to a widow's peak in the middle of a broad forehead. He's a handsome boy, square jaw set, dark eyes framed by thick brows.

He's dressed in a tailored dark suit and vest, starched collar and knotted silk tie, the chain of his pocket watch stretched across his powerful chest.

Alberto is seated, slender and fine-featured, with small dark eyes, his hair lighter than his sibling's, but slicked straight back to reveal the same peaked hairline.

He, too, wears a trim, three-piece suit, starched collar and cuffs, and a bold polka dotted bow tie. In his long-fingered hands he clutches a gold leafed book.

The Union Democrat
This image is copyrighted.

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