..."Suddenly the boat listed and I fell against the railing"...
Marion Eichholz had just turned three years old on July 12, 1915. She told her recollection of the Eastland Disaster to her sister, Shirley Eichholz Clifford.
"July 24, 1915, was a very tragic day in Cicero. It was the day of the Eastland Disaster. I remember only a few incidents of that day. My mom, Anna Eichholz, and my dad, Fred Eichholz, were seated on the upper deck, and I was standing by Mom's chair. Suddenly, the boat listed and I fell against the railing. Mom pulled me back to her side. Mom began yelling, 'Run to the other side of the boat!' People began to panic, and women were running and screaming. Dad picked me up in his arms, stood on the railing, and jumped into the river. I believe he told Mom to go to the other side of the boat, but because there was so much panic, Mom stayed in her seat. When the boat went over, she floated from the seat into the water. Someone threw her a rope, and she was rescued. I remember Dad swimming with me in one arm. I was crying, and my strap slippers were dangling from my ankles. We were picked up by a tugboat and brought to shore. I do not remember this at all.
"Some of those who were rescued were brought to some of the buildings near the river. Dad brought me to one of them, and left me there while he went back home to put on dry clothes. He also planned to come back and look for Mom, as he was not certain whether she had survived. While he was getting into dry clothes, a car pulled up in front of the house, bringing Mom home. She went to bed to get warm and rest after such a trying experience. Mrs. Lainge went with Dad downtown to get me and bring me home. Someone had sat me in a chair and put a man's suit coat over me. Here I fell sound asleep. But I do remember waking up when Dad and Mrs. Lainge came. I do not remember the trip home at all, but I remember walking into the bedroom and Mom saying, 'Hello, Marion,' and she sounded happy to see me again. Mrs. Lainge stayed for a short while to talk, and I played with her purse.
"After this, a doctor from the Board of Health came several times to give us innoculations against typhoid fever. Once I saw him coming and ran to hide in the bedroom. But he was so nice and soothed my fears.
"In those days, it was customary for the funeral director to hang a crepe on the front door where there was a deceased person. Pastor McCarrell said it seemed as if there was a crepe on almost every door in Cicero. The gates of the Western Electric Company were draped in black.
"A reporter came from one of the newspapers and took my picture in front of 4821 W. 23rd Street. They wrote "Rescued" at the bottom of the picture. However, I do not know whether the picture ever appeared in the paper."
Marion was the last known survivor of the Eastland Disaster. She passed away at the age of 102 on November 24, 2014. Click here to read more.