Titanic Survivor becomes Principal of Ames High

"How little did that happy group, who with reverent thoughts, were worshiping God, realize that within a few hours the majority of them would meet him,” Albert Caldwell said in his book, recounting the Sunday night service aboard the Titanic before its sinking. Only two years later would he become principal of Ames High school, staying from 1914 to 1917. The future Ames High administrator boarded the Titanic in Southampton, England as a second class passenger along with his wife, Sylvia and his infant son, Alden. On the night of April 14, 1912 Caldwell and his family were awakened by the ceasing of the engines. They went up on deck to see what was wrong but a sailor told them there was no need for alarm. They returned to bed but later heard a pounding on their door and someone telling them to get on deck with their life belts. The Caldwells didn’t expect to leave the ship when they left their room. Once on deck they joined the other confused passengers. Everyone was calm and resisted getting into the lifeboats at first. Most people aboard the Titanic first refused the lifeboats because the ship didn’t seem like it was sinking. They thought it was safer on board instead of in the tiny lifeboats which could be pushed and rolled around in the cold water. Caldwell shared the other passenger’s sentiments and held back along with his family. However, as the ship began to show signs of sinking, Caldwell got his wife Sylvia into a lifeboat and handed their son to a man in the stern of the same boat. As it was lowered down the side of the ship, Caldwell managed to jump in and join his family. “The lights on the Titanic burned until a few minutes before she sank. She tipped, headfirst, lower and lower into the water, until all that we could see was the stern of the boat outlined against the starry sky. She hung as if on a pivot and then, with a gentle swish, disappeared from sight.” Lifeboat number 13, carrying the Caldwells, was rescued by the Carpathia along with the other lifeboats. Out of the 2,200 passengers on board, around only 700 survived. Who would have known the future principal of Ames High would be one of those 700.