On May 1, 1915, Dorothy Conner and her brother-in-law, Dr. Howard Fisher, sailed on first class tickets on the British luxury liner, the RMS Lusitania. They were headed for World War I hospital work in Belgium. Dorothy wrote to her mother near Jacksonville, Ore., that it would be a very boring crossing, and she hoped something exciting might happen on their last day. It did.
At lunchtime on May 7, passengers heard a loud explosion as a torpedo slammed into the liner. They rushed to the deck as the ship began to list. Fisher scrambled to find life vests, and Conner watched as two life boats hit the water and flipped over. When Fisher returned with the vests, the ship righted itself, and a crew member announced the ship was not sinking. He was wrong.
The Lusitania sank in 18 minutes, with a loss of 1,195 of the 1,959 passengers aboard, including 123 Americans. Conner was sucked under and entangled in ropes and debris before being rescued. Fisher also survived.
After several months on the front line in Belgium, Conner returned to her home in the Rogue Valley, her wish for excitement more than fulfilled.