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Old 10-26-2006, 03:22 PM
Keith Norrington Keith Norrington is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: On the "Beautiful Ohio" at New Albany, Indiana, opposite Louisville, Kentucky
Posts: 2,078

Thanks for the report Bob. Your "word pictures" portray a dismal scene and I certainly hope they can get the boat moved before she sinks or endures another "injury". Like you, I recall the boat looking "shabby" in her operating days as a steam sidewheeler at New Orleans, but certainly wish we could go back in time to that era once again. One of my favorite memories of the PRESIDENT harkens back to the spring of 1972 when I was a senior in high school and enjoyed a harbor cruise on the boat with my parents. My mother sat down in a old wooden captain's chair at a table on the mezzanine -- and the top part of it promptly fell off giving her quite a start! When I picked it up off the deck I noticed that across the back was stencilled STR. CAPITOL. Capt. Verne Streckfus was the master that day and Capt. Tijo Decareaux was the pilot who invited us into the pilothouse after learning that I was about to begin my second summer working aboard the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE and was a friend of Capt. Doc Hawley. Capt. Verne said if a fitting in the steam line hadn't been disconnected for replacement he would have let me play the calliope, as he always liked to hear it. Since I was a 17 year old skinny "weakling", I probably wouldn't have had the strength to play that instrument (I think it came from the Str. J.S. DELUXE) with the direct linkage to the whistles! No calliopist like the famed Fate Marable would I have been!!! I also recall how the PRESIDENT shuddered and shook as she cruised through the New Orleans harbor, threading in and out of all those big ships, and how her huge wooden dancefloor would "rise and fall". Even with the boat's "faded glory" it was a thrilling cruise and I still have the blue felt pennant and other trinkets I bought at the popcorn/souvenir stand on the top deck. And I'll always remember the immense engine room with those BIG steam engines driving her sidewheels. In 1978, shortly after she was dieselized, Capt. Lexie Palmore and I walked over to the PRESIDENT from the DQ to visit. Capt. Don Summers took us into one of the former wheelboxes (which looked like an elevator shaft!) to see one of the new Murray-Tregurtha "outboard motors"! My last cruise on the PRESIDENT was in September of 1989 at St. Louis. The Mercantile Library sponsored a "Ruth Ferris Day" cruise and, as one of the highlights of the tribute, took the boat above the Eads Bridge for the first time in over 40 years. Memories of a grand old steamboat!

Last edited by Keith Norrington; 10-27-2006 at 01:28 PM.
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