Seaport Museum receives Andrea Doria medallion
By Anindita Dasgupta
Jerome Reinert wasn’t supposed to be on the Andrea Doria ocean liner 50 years ago. He was supposed to fly on a plane from Italy to New York on TWA, but after meeting a pretty girl on a European vacation, he decided to trade in his plane ticket to accompany her on the ship. Twenty-one and carefree, he had no idea their voyage would be cut short or that after saving the lives of 12 children, he would watch the magnificent vessel sink.
Reinert and two other men spent their last few hours on the ship carrying children down swaying rope ladders between 25 and 30 feet below them to the safety of the lifeboats. After his 12th trip, at 4 a.m., the man in charge of their lifeboat told Reinert to stop because he was in a state of pure exhaustion.
Now 71, Reinert was one of the 1,660 who survived when the Andrea Doria and the S.S. Stockholm collided on July 25, 1956 off the coast of Nantucket Island. On July 22, at the 50th Anniversary Andrea Doria Survivors Reunion at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Fort Schuyler, Reinert presented identical 18-inch bronze medallions to the South Street Seaport Museum and the Genoa Maritime Museum to commemorate the ship’s sinking.
Der Scutt, chairperson and founder of the museum’s ocean liner council, accepted the medallion on behalf of the museum. He said the museum was chosen because of its extensive ocean liner collection. “[The museum] is very proud to have been considered for this memorable gift and we shall proudly display it,” he said. The medallion will be temporarily displayed in the museum’s lobby, and eventually it will be permanently displayed with the Der Scutt Collection at Monarchs of the Sea in the Italian ship section.
Reinert, Pierette Simpson, a survivor who wrote “Alive on the Andrea Doria,” and another survivor’s daughter, Angela Addario, spearheaded the making of the medallion. They wanted a permanent way to commemorate the legacy of the Doria.
Simpson decided to cast the bronze medallions as symbols of strength, with one for the Doria’s port of departure and one for her arrival port. They also cre-ated 120 limited edition three inch gold tone medallions, which were sold to fund the larger castings. Addario found Daniel Oberti, an artist in California who made the medallions.
Reinert said they also wanted to bring more of a public awareness about the ship. “I think the general public knows too little about the Andrea Doria,” he said. “I mean a movie was made about the Titanic!”
“I think there was a feeling of real pride in what we did in the rescue,” Reinert added. “It was just a general, wonderful camaraderie for the people who came to the reunion who lived through the event; to think about how fortunate we were.”