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Sea of Memories: PRINCESS MATOIKA

Built by Vulcan, Stettin, Germany
10,911 GRT
540 x 60.2 ft
Twin screw
15.2, max 16 knots
Passengers: 327 1st class, 103 2nd, 80 3rd class, 1,700 steerage; crew: 230

KIAUTSCHOU (Hamburg America Line) launched 1900
PRINZESS ALICE (NDL) 1903
PRINCESS MATOIKA (US Government) 1917 chartered to US Mail SS Co 1921
PRESIDENT ARTHUR (US Lines) 1922, (American Palestine) 1925
CITY OF HONOLULU (II)(LASSCO) 1926, broken up 1933

Rachele Lozzi:

I found the (Maritime Matters) site through a search engine and simply typed in "Matoika" hoping to find what I did.....the ship (PRINCESS MATOIKA) which my grandmother and mother sailed on to America in 1921. I actually have a full photo of the ship sent to me by the Steamship Historical Society of America. Some of the historical information listed is incorrect. Among the exciting history of this ship one can find an account in the New York Times, front Page of February 27, 1921 where the ship bound for New York hit what was thought a berg or an old wreck off Cape Race, Newfoundland and rendered helpless by damage to the steering gear. After drifting for seven hours it was brought under control. The PRINCESS MATOIKA was ordered to port at Boston for anti-typhus examination.

When I was a child, my grandmothertold the story of the ship hitting the "berg" in detail, but she was a good story teller so I did not take her seriously... Only a few years ago, I looked up the date and found the account on microfilm at the Los Angeles Library. My grandmother's name was Rachele Ficca Damario and my mother was Aurora, 13 years of age. They were the last of the family to immigrate.... they joined the family in Brooklyn and went on to live long and wonderful lives in this country. My grandmother died in March of 1950 and my mother in May of 1988. I am forever grateful to them and their courageous effort in starting new lives here.

I have also inquired of the Boston Globe for any photographs when the ship docked in Boston on February 27 or 28, 1921 after the experience on the 24th with the iceberg... My grandmother was quite exact about recounting the incident. She and my mother were in steerage and her wisdom told her that something was serious amiss, so she took what belongings she could carry and with my mother made her way to topside... she was stopped and told to return downstairs---when she asked what was the problem they told her that the ship had stopped to greet another ship passing in the night---"Well then I would like to see that" was her response and continued her way up. When she arrived on deck she could see that the life-boats were being lowered and that all passengers from first class were awaiting instructions. She could also see the iceberg looming close to the ship. She immediately put herself close in that group waiting for the lifeboats. A woman told her that she was not allowed there and must go downstairs. Her response was "You are out of your mind---I waited 15 years in my small mountain village to join my family in America---If I must I'll get on that Iceberg instead of going down with the ship". The story according to her is that they managed to disengage the ship from the iceberg and arrived at the decision to continue to Boston instead of New York. Her passage was Naples to New York, so the newspaper account that they stopped in Boston for quarentine is not correct. After all, they had Ellis Island which had quarentine facilities. So there must be more to this story than we have had the opportunity to know.

Sincerely, Rachele Lozzi, Los Angeles December 1999

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