...he floated past with his head underwater...
L. W. Miller, employed in Western Electric's stationery department, was one of four young men who escaped in the same way as Mr. E. W. Sladkey.
He and the other three -- John Peterson, E. H. Peterson, and William Lessuenhop -- climbed to the dry starboard side over the stern just in time to save the life of a small, red haired boy whose name they did not learn.
"The kid was about 6 years old," said Miller. "We saw his legs kicking as he floated past with his head under water and grabbed them. He was very much alive after we got him. An empty life boat was floating past and we threw the boy into it, because we thought he would be safer there. I think the life boat was on the port side of the Eastland and had been lifted off the davit hooks when it hit the water."
"The other fellows and myself went aboard the Eastland at about a quarter past 7. The boat was so crowded then that it struck me funny they were letting any more aboard. I looked for a man counting the passengers at the gangway but didn't see any."
"The boxed-in lower decks were so crowded it was certain there wouldn't be room for dancing, and that looked wrong, too, for a lot of us had figured on dancing all the way over to Michigan City."
"I hadn't been on board the boat long before I noticed she was swaying, first to one side and then to the other. When they let go the line at the stern she stopped swaying and began to lean over to the side away from the dock. There weren't many who seemed to pay any attention to the list. The orchestra kept on playing some ragtime thing and lots of people were singing and whistling to the music. It wasn't until the chairs started sliding down the deck that the music quit, and it finished up in the middle of a bar."
"It was not until then that some of the crew started yelling to the passengers to 'get over.'"
Copyright © Ft. Dodge Daily Chronicle
reprinted from the Ft. Dodge Daily Chronicle