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Delta Queens Captains Log Excerpts

Posted 01-10-2012 at 03:00 PM by Capt Mike
Sunday, August 17th, Paducah, Kentucky

We arrived and tied off uneventfully at the Paducah City front about 2:30 am this morning, having locked straight through Kentucky Lock without a delay. I was able to get the kind of rest a Captain can get when his vessel is tied securely in a safe port in fair weather and tended by a competent crew.
I arose at 7am, showered and dressed for the day, and after my usual rounds of the boat I made my way to the forward cabin lounge to have coffee and chat with our guests. The usual atmosphere of a steamboats lounge greeted me, folks sitting about at tables and on the sofas sipping coffee and tea, waiting for the morning shore tour busses to be boarded. As I sat at a table with friends, a young couple came up the forward stairs from the bow with a little girl about 10 years old; they stopped a porter and asked where they could go to locate their parents who were aboard for the trip. Before he could respond, the young couples' parents spotted them and embraced them and their grand daughter, whom they apparently hadn't seen in over a year. I smiled as I watched their happy reunion, and thought of how this wonderful old steamboat had hosted many happy family gatherings and was reminded of my own very special reunion on the Delta Queen...
I had come from a broken home, the middle child of 5 boys, with an alcoholic father who would come home only a couple time a week, usually drunk, and sometimes slap my poor mother around. She was a good, devoted mother who earned 2000 dollars a year as a waitress, a paltry amount even in the late 60s. My father finally abandoned us completely, leaving mom struggling to provide for 5 boys, ages 15 to 3. She did her best, often having to leave us to fend for ourselves all day while she worked long hours trying to support us. Finally, the strain and the burden was too much, the house was being foreclosed on and the state stepped in and took custody of my 4 brothers and I. A quick court hearing ensued and legal parent rights were signed over to the state, and all 5 of us were sent to the Missouri Baptist Childrens Home outside of St. Louis. My 2 older brothers were separated and soon shipped off to other homes far out in the country, I was sent to Kansas City to live with a family whose 12 year old red haired son had died the year before from cystic fibrosis; I was 12 years old with red hair...My 2 younger brothers Danny, 10, and Jimmy, 3, were soon adopted and sent away from the home, I still have the clear memory as the last of my brothers, 3 year old Jimmy, was led away up a tree lined path by a social worker holding his hand, as the colored leaves of fall gently fell around them. I felt so alone, abandoned, frightened and hurt. Little did I know that many years later, I would be led to to a place where joyous reunions were celebated and broken hearts were healed, a very special place called the Delta Queen.
Many tumultuous years passed, and the struggles of my youth had only tempered and strengthened me. I had found my way here to the Delta Queen and knew it was where I was meant to be, that it was sincerely my destiny. I had plunged into the world of steamboating and had worked my way up to the position of first mate, not knowing what the river of life had in store for me but certain that I would confidently steam onward aboard the Delta Queen. As the pieces of my life began to come together on this old steamboat, I was constantly aware of parts that were missing. Indeed, I had been blessed with the DQ and a career, and had been reunited with the 2 older brothers, Dave and Tom, and one of my younger brothers, Danny mostly due to the insane pesistance of
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