Thread: Bert Fenn
View Single Post
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 04-16-2008, 08:59 AM
R. Dale Flick R. Dale Flick is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,573

Thanks to Alan and Shipyard for two incredibly well written 'memories' of the late Bert Fenn. Bert was one in a million...a grand original...and those unfortunate not to have met him missed a real treat. Bert's deep, rumbling voice could well have carved him a career as a narrator of PBS 'Masterpiece Theater' epics. In his steamboat programs, complete with fine slides, he would coax the audience to stretch their imaginations with his word pictures to experience old time steamboat life---warts and all. Bert's similies in his talks were classic. He once compared the sound of steamboat whistles to, "Warm, melted chocolate." Flashing the color picture of a preserved southern plantation, he contrasted another black/white period photo of the interior of one of the giant cotton packets. "Now," he rumbled, "you have an idea of the fine warm furniture, bright carpeting, white tinted with gold, gleaming oil chandeliers hanging from above, long dining tables set with china, silver and linen." The audience would gasp. He balanced steamboat 'romance' with hard, cold 'reality.'

One year during an S&D meeting in Marietta, Bert piled the late John Bickel in his new car for a spin up river to view the scenery. Just out of town a deer darted in front of Bert's new car. BANG! Oh, dear...poor deer. While standing surveying the damage a route driver in a big FRITO-LAY truck came along, slammed on brakes and jumped out. "Hey, you guys want that deer?" They shuffled in the negative. The guy threw open the back of the truck, tossed in the fresh deer and headed on down the road with visions of venison in the oven or crock-pot on his mind. I never open a bag of FRITO-LAY snacks to this day without remembering that incident.

Shipyard's recollection of Bert 'tipping' DELTA QUEEN crew members with TC furniture is a good one. The late Warren Stichtenoth, Cincinnati artists and illustrator, did a series of paintings and graphics for the GREENE LINE and later DELTA QUEEN STEAMBOAT CO. here for art shows. One of those fine charcoal/ink drawings shows Henry Mitchell seated in one of the TC chairs on the front of the DQ after a long, hard day serving passengers to catch the cool evening breezes. Shipyard recalled a number of those people who worked on the boat. They also ranked as 'grand originals' and I 'think' Mamie Davis dated back in old GREENE LINE service to the days of Capt. Gordon C. Greene. Thanks for the memories Alan and Shipyard. You brightened a day here and gave letity and light to the web.

R. Dale Flick
Reply With Quote