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The Titanic and “Famous Ships” for $400

Published 9:22am Tuesday, April 10, 2012

This is the centennial week of the maiden and last voyage of one of history’s most famous ships. A hundred years ago, on April 10, 1912, the RMS (Royal Mail Ship) Titanic sailed from Southampton, England, bound for New York City. The huge passenger liner, the largest and most opulent of its day, could carry more than 2,200 people and was, supposedly unsinkable.

I am not an aficionado of Titanic information and have never stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, so you probably know more about the Titanic than I do. I did not even see the movie!

I did, however, get a chuckle out of all the hoopla surrounding this unique 100-year anniversary of its sailing and sinking. The reason for the laugh was the emphasis on those who were going to board another passenger liner and retrace the exact voyage of the Titanic.

The media, of course, ate up the anticipated excitement of the experience. Me, I could not help but imagine how “exact” they wanted the voyage to be. Would they like the experience of hitting an iceberg at precisely the same time and in the same place as the original trip?

For the record, more than 1,500 people died as a result of the wreck. Among them were some of the world’s richest people, including John Jacob Astor IV, who built the famous Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City.

In honor and memory of this august week of maritime interest, let’s play Jeopardy. “Alex, I’ll take Famous Ships for $400.” As an aside, when I first started watching Jeopardy, this category of Double Jeopardy started out at $20.

Are you ready? Hand on the buzzer? Here is the first answer in our Double Jeopardy Round for today. The category is Famous Ships.

“I left England in September, 1620, with 102 holy-rollers, later to be known as Pilgrims, and headed for the mouth of the Hudson River, now New York City. During the winter, I was blown off course and ended up landing in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, 66 days later.”

I know many of you hit your buzzers before the first ten words were said, but the question needed to be finished for all. If you answered, “What is the Mayflower?” give yourselves $400 in Monopoly money. That’s all I have.

“Alex, I’ll take Sports Heroes for $400.” You dummy, you can’t have that category. It doesn’t fit with this column. It will be Famous Ships for $800 or you can go across the hall and play The Price is Right!

“Okay, Famous Ships for $800.” Alex read the answer.

“I was Christopher’s favorite. The other two were named The Pinta and The Santa Maria. I was originally built to sail the Mediterranean, but chosen to make one of the most famous voyages in all of history. The most famous year of my life was 1492.”

“What is The Niña? Famous Ships for $1,200.”

Ding, ding, ding! The Daily Double!

Alex says, “You’ve hit the Daily Double. How much will you wager?”

“2.99. It’s probably a trick question and I want to keep my money.”

Trebek wonders where did we get this guy; I need to speak with the producers. “You’re supposed to wager at least $5. Here is the answer.”

“I was the first ship to circumnavigate the globe. It took three years and I sailed 42,000 miles. My Captain was Ferdinand Magellan and he did not make the complete journey. He was killed in the Philippines.”

“May I ask a question, Alex?”

“No,” Trebek replies. “I ask the question and you give the answer. Time’s a wasting.”

“What does circumnavigate mean?”

“The answer is The Victoria. You lose $5.”

“But I only wanted to wager $2.99.”

Alex sighs and thinks, “Will Final Jeopardy ever get here?”

The set lights up and the signs for Final Jeopardy save an exasperated host. “Players, you are now entering Final Jeopardy time and you know the drill. Make your final wagers and the category is Famous Ships Songs.”

The answer is “I was written and sung by Johnny Horton in 1960 and reached No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. I was inspired by a movie of the same name and my subject was a World War II German battleship. What’s my name?”

Hear the music in the background and take yourselves back to long ago. If you have answered, “What is ‘Sink the Bismarck,’” give yourselves a pat on the back if your arthritic arms can reach it.

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