Collision Snatched Girl From One Ship To The Other

Andrea Doria Survivor Still Reluctant To Talk About Death In Family

April 27, 1997|By Ernest F. Imhoff

The "miracle girl" of the Andrea Doria tragedy, Linda Morgan, is today the chief curator of the highly respected private McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas.

Now Linda Hardberger, she has developed an expertise in theater arts in her 13 years there. For seven years before that, she worked at the San Antonio Art Museum.

The loss of two family members and serious injuries of her mother and herself resulted in her declining interviews about the tragic night in 1956, said her husband, Phil Hardberger, chief judge of the Fourth Circuit, Texas Court of Appeals, in San Antonio.

But this week she talked briefly about the aftereffects of the dramatic episode in which as a 14-year-old she was catapulted from her cabin in the Andrea Doria and presumed dead until found alive in the wreckage of the Stockholm's bow.

"At 14, you think you live forever," she said. "I learned otherwise earlier than most. The accident made me more cautious in the physical things, but less afraid of growing old and more adventurous in the mental things."

Ms. Hardberger said, "I was pleased when we moved from Washington, where people live such public lives, to Texas, where people accept you for what you are and do.

"I never understood the attention I got because I didn't do anything, I just survived," she said. "I was once given a life-saving award, but I didn't save any lives. I just survived. I couldn't take credit for anything."

Ms. Hardberger, now 54, loves to read contemporary novels, gardens, knits and sails with her family. She and her husband met in the 1960s while both worked for an anti-poverty program in Washington. They were married in 1968. They have one daughter, Amy Hardberger, 24, who is embarking on a career in hydrogeology.

"I've been fortunate to be married to Linda," Judge Hardberger said. His wife said,"I feel the same way. We've had a good life."

In the book "Saved!" by William Hoffer, she said: "My husband's a pilot. We fly all over. We hike and canoe and climb. I feel life is to be lived to the fullest. Life is precious. There's a very thin line between when you're living and when you're not."

Linda was traveling with her family to New York for a vacation on July 25, 1956, when the Stockholm's rammed the Andrea Doria in the area where Linda's family's cabins were located.

Linda's mother, Jane Cianfarra, and her stepfather, Camille Cianfarra, a correspondent for the New York Times in Spain, were in cabin 54. Linda and her step sister, Joan Cianfarra, 8, were in the adjoining cabin 52.

Joan and Camille Cianfarra were killed in the accident. Jane Cianfarra was severely injured.

For a few minutes, in the turmoil and wreckage, Linda was missing and feared dead. Her father in New York, Edward P. Morgan, a well-known ABC radio broadcaster, was assembling news of the crash for a broadcast when he was told she was dead.

The ships, temporarily fused by the accident, separated. Moments later a Spanish-speaking sailor on the Stockholm heard a voice calling, "Donde esta Mama" ("Where is my mother?").

It was Linda. In his book, "Collision Course," Alvin Moscow wrote: "She was alive because the Stockholm bow miraculously had swooped beneath her bed and had catapulted her from Cabin 52 on the Andrea Doria to the bow of the Stockholm."

Linda became a dramatic story for the press. Her personal suffering was private. Her sister and stepfather were dead. Her fractured kneecaps and other injuries kept her hospitalized for months. Her mother was more seriously hurt, never fully recovered and died in 1969.

Judge Hardberger is somewhat of a celebrity in Texas for his out-of-court exploits.

In 1977, during the 50th anniversary of the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927, he flew a small plane along Charles Lindbergh's route to Paris and great acclaim. Last year, sailing his 42-foot sailboat, he won a yacht race in the Gulf of Mexico.

Pub Date: 4/27/97

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