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'Titanic' Was a Movie Record Breaker. But How True to History Is It?

Also: Community gardens in the United States. And music by three British singers popular on this side of the Atlantic: Lily Allen, Corinne Bailey Rae and Amy Winehouse. Transcript of radio broadcast:


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. This week on our show:

We answer a question about the movie "Titanic" ...

We also have music by three British singers who are popular in the United States ...

And we look at the growing interest in community gardens.

Community Gardens


There are thousands of community gardens in the United States. Some are planted in parks. Others are on top of buildings -- anyplace where space is available. As we hear from Barbara Klein, people share these gardens to grow food, flowers and friendships.


Community gardens appeal to people who not only love to make things grow, but also enjoy learning from other gardeners. Shared gardens also give people the outdoor space they might not have where they live, especially if they live in cities.

The National Park Service operates a community garden in Washington, D.C., near busy museums and government buildings. Across the street is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

On a warm recent Saturday, Keith Goodman is working in his space in the garden. He rode his bicycle from the nearby apartment building where he lives. He says most of his vegetables are doing fine. Not far away from his cucumbers and carrots are three shades of red roses being grown by someone else.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, community gardens produce more than one and one-half million dollars worth of food each year. The gardens are planted on city land that was once empty and going to waste. People in Philadelphia are growing four hundred sixty-five vegetable gardens and one thousand flower gardens this summer.

In Chicago, Illinois, residents and neighbors are continuing a tradition of growing gardens at the Vista Homes apartment building. That tradition goes back at least sixty-five years. The land they use for their flowers and vegetables was once planted with Victory Gardens.

Almost twenty million Americans planted Victory Gardens in the nineteen forties during World War Two. These gardens helped feed their families, friends and neighbors. That way, more food could go to the troops fighting in Europe and the Pacific. During the war, Victory Gardens provided as much as forty percent of the American food supply.

Titanic, The Movie


Our listener question this week comes from Burma. Tharr Naing wants to know about the historical truth in the movie “Titanic”.

The nineteen ninety-seven movie “Titanic” is a record breaker in several ways. Ten years ago, it was the most costly movie ever made. "Titanic" has earned more money than any other movie in history. And, it received eleven Academy Awards.

The film tells the tragic story of the huge British passenger ship that sank in nineteen twelve. The Titanic was built to be a fine example of modern technology. It was the largest ship ever made. It was considered unsinkable. It was sailing on its very first trip from England to New York with many rich and famous people on board. The Titanic hit a huge piece of ice near Newfoundland, Canada. The ship sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

More than one thousand five hundred of its two thousand two hundred passengers died. Many movies, books, and plays have been produced about the disaster.

The movie "Titanic" is loosely based on historical facts. The director James Cameron worked hard with the movie crew to recreate historically correct clothing and rooms. Experts helped recreate the ship and the action of its sinking in as truthful a way as possible.

The images of the shipwrecked Titanic at the bottom of the ocean are real. And several of the people in the movie were real people, such as the boat’s captain and Molly Brown, who survived the disaster. She later became known as the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown. It is also true that the watchman did not see the large iceberg in time to save the ship. And it is true that there were not enough lifeboats on the ship to save all of passengers.

What most people like best about the movie is its love story. But the two lovers, Rose and Jack, were not real people. There was also no diamond called the Heart of the Ocean.

However, another small love story in "Titanic" is based on fact. The movie shows an older man and woman who chose to die together instead of being separated. Isador and Ida Straus were offered a place on a lifeboat. Isador would not get in the boat as long as there were women on the Titanic who could be saved. So, Ida refused to leave her husband. Witnesses remember hearing her say to her husband, “Where you go, I go." The two were last seen sitting side by side on a chair on the ship holding hands.

Three Hits By Brits


Today we tell about three young women from Britain whose music has become very popular in the United States. Lily Allen, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Amy Winehouse make music that is filled with great energy, imagination and skill. Katharine Cole has more.


Twenty-one-year- old Lily Allen sings smart, popular music that captures the lifestyle and feelings of young people. Allen combines a sweet sound with a sharp, street-wise spirit. Her album “Alright, Still” is influenced by the many kinds of music she likes. Fans love her rebellious actions, wild clothing, and often surprising songs. Listen to the reggae beat of “Smile." In this song, Lily Allen tells about being happy about ending a relationship with an unfaithful lover.


Corinne Bailey Rae first started singing in her Christian religious center in Leeds, Britain. In college she worked in a jazz club where she was sometimes permitted to sing. Now she is twenty-eight years old. Her first album has sold millions of copies. She says she did not want to make the words to her songs sound literary. She wanted her songs to sound as if she were talking with someone. Listen to Corinne Bailey Rae's warm voice singing the hit song “Like A Star.”


Amy Winehouse has a deep, rich voice that is not what you would expect from a singer who is only twenty-three. She is known for acting wildly, drinking Champagne wine and saying whatever is on her mind. Her second album “Back to Black” is influenced by popular music from the nineteen fifties and sixties. Amy Winehouse says she likes how the songs from that time were simple and direct. Her expressive voice and songs tell about the good and bad experiences of love. We leave you with “Wake Up Alone.”



I'm Doug Johnson.

Send your questions about American life to Be sure to tell us your full name and where you are from. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.

Our program was written by Dana Demange and Jerilyn Watson. Caty Weaver was our producer. Transcripts and audio archives of our shows are available at

I hope you can join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.