Sometime after midnight, a thumpÂ—loud and jarring. A torpedo slams into the side of our ship, flinging me out of my bunk. The ship is tr ansporting thousands of troops and hundreds of nurses. It is December 1942, and our country is at war. I am Margaret Bourke-White, the only woman photographer covering this war. The U.S. Army Air Forces has handed me a plum assignment: photographing an Allied attack on the Germans. I wanted to fly in one of our B-17 bombers, but the top brass ordered me to travel instead in the flagship of a huge convoy, headed from England through the Straits of Gibraltar towards the coast of North Africa. It would be safer than flying, the officers argued. As it turns out, they were dead wrong. Beneath the surface of the Mediterranean, German submarines glide, silent and lethal, stalking their prey. One of their torpedoes has found its mark. I grab my camera bag and one camera, leaving everything else behind, and race to the bridge. I hear the order blare: There is not enough light and not enough time to take photographs. I head for Lifeboat No. 12 and board with the others assigned to it, mostly nurses. WeÂ’ve drilled for it over and over, but this is not a drill. My mouth is dry with fear. Our lifeboat drops into the sea. The boat is filled with water from the torpedo splashback. We use our helmets to bail. The rudder is broken. All around us in the water people are
struggling to survive. We rescue some, lose others. A voice cries in the darkness, Â“Help me! IÂ’m all alone!Â” We try to row toward that desperate voice, but without a rudder we can do nothing. The cries grow fainter. Then, silence. I take my turn rowing, my arms aching and my hands blistered. Someone in a nearby lifeboat begins to sing, Â“You are my sunshine.Â” We all join in. Even off-key, it makes the rowing easier. We watch silently as flames swallow our wounded ship. The rest of the convoy has scattered, to keep from giving the German U-boats another target. In the bright moonlight I see that a single destroyer stays behind, and we wonder if it will come to pick us up. But noÂ—they drop depth charges to try to get rid of any remaining German submarines. Someone is shouting into a megaphone, but we canÂ’t make out the words. Maybe heÂ’s wishing us luck. The destroyer sails on. Now we are entirely alone. The moon sinks into the dark sea. I think longingly of the chocolate bars, emergency rations IÂ’d tossed out of my camera bag to make room for extra lenses. The hours pass. IÂ’m wet to the skin, wet and cold. Hungry, too. I could do with a bite of chocolate. Dawn comes slowly, the pale colors blooming in the eastern sky. I wonder again if I will survive, if any of us will. Irrationally, I mour n the loss of my elegant cosmetics case, covered with a beautiful ostrich skin and filled with ivory jars from Hong Kong. I canÂ’t imagine why it matters. ItÂ’s December twenty-second, someone reminds usÂ—the winter solstice. No wonder the sun is so late making its appearance, and we cheer when finally it does, rising majestically from a flat gray sea. I get out my camera and begin taking pictures. We look miserable and bedraggled, but weÂ’re alive.
One of the nurses jokes that sheÂ’s ready to place her order for breakfast: two eggs, sunnyside up, no broken yolks please. Â“And hot coffee!Â” adds another. Â“Buttered toast!Â” In midafternoon someone spots a flying boat, a large seaplane. It flies low over us, waggling its wings, and we all wave back, assuring each other that help will come soon. The sun sinks lower, lower. There is no sign of rescuers . It wonÂ’t be long before darkness descends, and they wonÂ’t be able to find us. Wet, cold, exhausted, crowded in with dozens of others, all wondering what will happen to us, if we will live or die, I remember my home, my parents, those early years when I had no idea where life would take me, only that I wanted it to be bold and exciting, anything but what it was then.
No card playing. No gum chewing. No slang. No silk stockings. Why is it better? VotÂ’s der dum-goozled idea?
good perfect. ironic
IÂ’m sheÂ’s isnÂ’t wouldnÂ’t
No nicknames. Heterodon platirhinos.
jar of pickles
the next day
too The yellow dog was tired and hungry and also very dirty. Was The dog trotted wearily down the dark alley, searching for somethingÂ—anythingÂ—to eat. Stickers matted his filthy yellow fur.
I had won! The Frog Book, The Moth Book, The Reptile Book
Should women be granted the right to vote?
I am Sir Oracle, and when I ope my lips, let no dog bark. A daughter of the gods, divinely tall, /And most divinely fair. Her glorious fancies come from far,/Beneath the silver evening star,/But yet her heart is ever near
Margaret B. White. Nickname: Peggy. Ambition: Herpetologist
had other school class
Our Red and Gray weÂ’ll neÂ’er forget, /WeÂ’ll always to our Class be true. /What eÂ’er we do thruout our lives /WeÂ’ll keep unstained the Red and Blue.
different. do From now on everything will be different,
that a mature and intelligent young woman!
When he kisses me?
Should I have bought him a gift? But what would have been the right thing to buy? Should I go to the ladies room and put on more? Or wait until after IÂ’d eaten? Bonsoir, mÂ’sieur et mamÂ’selle poulet, poulet potage dÂ’oignon vol au vent potage mousse au chocolat demitasse de cafÃ©
Shall I ask him to sit down?
boysÂ— men pala inky.
If you should decide to pay me a visit.
The Michiganensian Ensian Â’Ensian
Is this the wallflower who never got asked to dance even once in all the time we knew her?
you quite quite
I want you all to myself.
The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heav'n. Two roads diverged in a wood, and IÂ— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
someone I never want to see you again.
I never want to see you again.
Cornell Alumni News
All my love?
The City of Buffalo
me real Margaret Someday IÂ’m going to have my studio there.
terrible. Actinic value?
woman . Rainbow Endeavour. Rainbow
Tobacco Road Tobacco Road
Life Life Life Life.
Courier-Journal ThereÂ’s no way like the American Way Life.
You Have Seen Their Faces. Life.
Life Distributor . Distributor
Distributor Distributor period
Life, LifeÂ’ completely Distributor
North of the Danube. Life Life, Aquitania
North of the Danube You Have Seen Their Faces not
Lurline North of the Danube,
Life Life PM Life PM Life Life
Russia at War
you Life Life
Flying Flitgun. Flying Flitgun, Flying Flitgun
Life Life had Flying Flitgun, grande dame
Abandon ship! Abandon ship!
Girl with a Camera Life Â—
Â“Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly,Â” Life Life