LONDON - Millvina Dean was only 2 months old when she was wrapped in a sack and lowered into a lifeboat from the doomed . Now 96, the last survivor of the tragic sinking is selling mementos of the disaster to help pay her nursing home fees.
Rescued from the bitterly cold Atlantic on that April 1912 night, Dean, her 2-year-old brother and her mother were taken to New York with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Before returning home to England, they were given a small wicker suitcase of donated clothing, a gift from New Yorkers to help them rebuild their lives.
Now, Dean is selling the suitcase and other Titanic mementos to help pay her nursing home fees. They are expected to go for $5,200 at an auction of Titanic memorabilia Saturday in Devizes in western England.
Among the items are rare prints of the Titanic and letters from the Titanic Relief Fund offering her mother one pound, seven shillings and sixpence a week in compensation.
But the key item in the sale is the suitcase, said auctioneer Andrew Aldridge. "They would have carried their little world in this suitcase," he said Thursday.
Dean has lived at Woodlands Ridge, a private nursing home in the southern city of Southampton — Titanic's home port — since she broke her hip two years ago.
"I am not able to live in my home anymore," Dean was quoted as telling thenewspaper. "I am selling it all now because I have to pay these nursing home fees and am selling anything that I think might fetch some money."