On the night of July 25, 1956, 14-year-old Linda Morgan fell asleep on the Italian ocean liner Andrea Doria thinking about New York, where the ship would dock the next day. When she awoke in the morning, Linda was bundled up on the deck of the Swedish liner Stockholm.
She has no memory of how she got there. At 11:10 p.m. the Stockholm and the Andrea Doria had collided off the coast of Nantucket. Linda was rescued from the mangled steel of the Stockholm’s bow. It had apparently scooped her out of her berth in stateroom 52 when it smashed into the Andrea Doria. Both of her legs and an arm were broken, but because she was alive, Linda was immediately called “the miracle girl” by the press.
The collision killed 51 persons, including Linda’s 8-year-old half sister, Joan, who shared her cabin, and her stepfather. Her mother survived the accident but died in 1968 of a stroke. (Linda’s father is the retired news commentator Edward P. Morgan.)
Linda, now 34 and the wife of San Antonio lawyer Phil Hardberger, says: “I’ve accomplished some things on my own since then, and I’d rather be judged on them than as some kind of ‘miracle girl’ of a generation ago.”
After graduating from Sarah Lawrence, she went to Washington and met Phil when both worked for the Office of Economic Opportunity. They were married in 1968 and moved to Texas, where Linda has been active in civic affairs.
In spite of her experience, she has no fear of the water. She is a canoe enthusiast and has gone on two cruises since then, the first to Europe before her marriage. (“I was a little nervous the first night out, but I decided, heck, it couldn’t happen again.”)
Still, she rarely talks about the disaster and has read none of the books about it. Recently, however, she saw a TV documentary on a new attempt to salvage the Italian ship. “I watched it with the interest of a history student,” she says. “But there were scenes of divers alongside the Doria underwater that I couldn’t bear to watch.”