Wichitan Julianne McLean told The Eagle in 2006 that she couldn’t forget the sounds. More than half-century ago, she was crossing the Atlantic on the ship Andrea Doria. She and friends were having a drink in a lounge shortly after 11 p.m. on July 25, 1956.
"The orchestra was playing and then there was a tremendous sound of steel tearing, crashing and crunching," she said. "It made your skin feel prickly."
The lounge floor rose at a 45-degree angle. McLean was tossed like a toy among the tables, chairs and other passengers.
"I lost any sense of balance. Everything went up," she said. "I had to kick my shoes off and we held hands and went to the high side to be on the upper outside of the deck. We couldn't imagine what had happened."
The SS Stockholm had rammed the Andrea Doria in dense fog less than 50 miles off Nantucket Island, Mass. Fifty-one people would die — 46 from the Andrea Doria and five from the Stockholm.
McLean, a graduate of the Kansas City Conservatory and the Juilliard School, was coming home on the Andrea Doria after spending a year studying music and competing in Europe.
Her first thought after the crash?
"My Lord, if I get in the water, that's it!" she said.
A priest came along, McLean recalled, and gave the passengers absolution.
"We were up there on the left side, the starboard, and there were these lifeboats swinging like mad and there was nothing that could be done," she said. "We had to go to the low side, and there was all this luggage that had been put there for off-loading."
She remembers sitting on the luggage and waiting. The stench of fuel oil was in the air as the fog began to lift.
"I saw people that went off the side of the ship on those giant ropes," she said. "One fellow thought he'd save himself that way and on the way down, took all the skin off his arms. When he landed in the salt water, he was in agony."
At 3 a.m., McLean saw her rescue ship, the Ille de France.
"Every light was on, it was the most beautiful thing you can imagine," she said. "They sent their lifeboats over, and I got in."
On board the Ille de France, she wrapped a blanket around herself and stood on the deck and watched as the Andrea Doria sunk beneath the waves.
Question: What has Julianne McLean done as a profession?
Answer to Wednesday’s question: Harold "Buddy" Siegel made exhibition dives at Sandy Beach from the beach's 152-foot, 6-inch tower, setting both himself and the water on fire.
Check back at Kansas.com on Friday for the answer to today’s question.