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Old 04-07-2009, 04:58 PM
Jim Reising Jim Reising is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 770

In the early days of the BELLE, Tex was a deckhand before he graduated to the firebox. During winter lay-up Tex would fill in as night watchmen, but most of the time he held forth at the Rush Inn, a tavern within walking distance of his home since Tex never got a drivers license. At the Rush Inn Tex and the guys would buy, sell and swap guns all winter long, but Tex mostly dealt in back powder muzzle loaders. One Friday night in the dead of winter I dropped by the BELLE to visit with Tex who stationed himself in the galley of the RENOWN where he had a fire going in the coal fired cook stove (the BELLE was tied on the outside of the RENOWN and you had to come aboard the RENOWN to get on the BELLE so the watchmen mostly stayed on the RENOWN). Tex said "looky at what I bought today" and he pulled out a 12 gauge double barrel muzzle loading shotgun from behind the stove. "Lets see what this thing sounds like" he said, so he proceeded to load the gun with black powder and toilet paper wadding. Now no measuring of the powder, he just poured it down the barrell until he thought he had enough. We went out on the guard of the RENOWN, Tex pointed the gun toward Indiana and pulled both triggers at once., smoke and burning toilet paper shot at least two hundred feet out over the river, about two seconds later the concussion came bouncing back from Indiana BOOM,BOOM only five times louder than the original, then came the returning concussion off the downtown buildings even louder yet BOOM BOOM BOOM all this while flaming toilet paper continued to fall from the sky and smoke enveloped the stern of the RENOWN. Tex and I looked at each other and in unison said "OH S--T". I made a quick getaway to my car, but poor Tex had to stay on the boat but luckily nothing happened. Apparently our midnight mini Thunder Over Louisville didn't even wake-up the guard who was on duty in the Coast Guard station's tower. Tex and I laughed over this incidence the last time I saw him.
Yes, it was with a heavy heart that Alan Bates, Kenny Howe and I went to the funeral home to pay our last respects and say Good Bye to a good friend.
Perhaps Alan will write the story about how Tex saved the BELLE from destruction.
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