Titanic, 100 years later: Titanic museum a hidden treasure

Edward Kamuda and his sister

By Philip R. Devlin and Michael Hayes - Darien Patch

Edward Kamuda, founder of the Titanic Historical Society (THS) and curator of its Titanic Museum in Indian Orchard, MA, remembers well how he first got hooked on the story of the Titanic.

He was in junior high school in Indian Orchard, a part of Springfield, MA, in the early 1950s, and his teacher required the class to read an essay and write about it. Ed chose “A Great Ship Goes Down,” by Hanson Baldwin. It was about the sinking of the Titanic. The experience changed his life.

Edward S. Kamuda started the Titanic Historical Society’s collection of survivors' artifacts in the early 1960s, and he and his wife, Karen, have been caring for it ever since.

The collection is housed in the back room of his family’s jewelry shop at 208 Main St. in Indian Orchard. Titanic survivors donated many of these artifacts to Ed himself.

The collection is diverse and includes an original blueprint for the ill-fated ship from its builders, Harland and Wolff, in Ireland, Mrs. John Jacob Astor’s lifejacket, a 9-foot-long, remote-controlled model of the ship, the ice warning message that never made it to the bridge, menus from the ship, various letters and postcards from the Titanic, a wooden breadboard, a piece of a railing and a deck chair picked up as flotsam from the site, photos, many books, film posters, and sheet music, among many other interesting items.

The museum also has artifacts from other ships, such as the bridge bell of the Titanic’s sister ship, Olympic, and a bronze bell from the cable ship Mackay-Bennett, a Halifax vessel dispatched to pick up the frozen bodies floating near the site of the disaster.

Something you won’t find at Ed’s museum are any artifacts that have been collected from the bottom of the ocean since the location of the ship was discovered in 1985.

As far as Ed is concerned, that site is a burial area and should never be disturbed: “Protect the Wreck!” is his motto.

In fact, Dr. Robert Ballard—the explorer who discovered the wreck and a man Ed knows well—and his team placed a bronze plaque on the Titanic for the Titanic Historical Society in memory of those who lost their lives.

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