EDHS News and Updates

"Survivor Story": Aida Woods

Chicago, Illinois -- Aida Woods was 3 years old when she, her mother (about 35 years old), her brother (5 years old), and two family friends boarded the cranky ship.

Charles W. and Hannah Wilhelmina (nee Larson) Woods had two children: Robert Williams, born on October 25, 1910, and Aida Charlotte, born on May 17, 1912.

Aida provided her experience of what it was like to be on the Eastland on that fateful July day:

"My mother, Hannah, my brother, Robert, and I left in the early morning hours for the ill-fated Eastland trip. We were accompanied by our two household friends, Miss Nellie Peterson and Mr. Hines.

"Upon boarding the ship, we first went below deck to hear the orchestra playing, and then we went up to the top deck. We sat on folding chairs and I had trouble sitting because the chair was sliding, so my mother held onto it. Before long we all slid across the deck and into the river. Mr. Hines, who could swim, rescued all four of us and set us on the overturned railing of the ship. Here we waited until a small boat came by and took us to a fire tug where we were able to dry out. While on the fire tug, one of the firemen gave me a plum or an apple to eat. Once dry we then went home on the Elevated train, all of us without shoes. We must have been a sight!

"We lived in a neighborhood near the Western Electric Company, the area of Kostner Avenue and 22nd Street. I remember my mother commenting later that there was hardly a house in that neighborhood that did not have a crepe on the door, which was customary in those days when a family member passed away. Though being only three years old at the time, it was a tragedy that I will never forget."

Aida married Francis P. Watson and lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico until she passed away at the age of 93 on January 28, 2005, Las Cruces, Doña Ana County, New Mexico. Robert moved to New Port Richey, Florida.

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