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continued "The Captains Log"

Posted 01-10-2012 at 03:04 PM by Capt Mike
...due to the insane persistance of my next- younger brother Danny. He had relentlessly hounded social workers at the home, seeking information about the where-abouts of his brothers, and finally one near retirement relented and told him where his older brothers were and who had adopted our youngest brother, Jimmy. It turned out that brother Jimmy had been adopted by the President of a large southern Missouri college, and was living in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Danny made an appointment to see the University President, only telling the secretary that he wanted to speak to the President about an investment he had made several years earlier...The day of the appointment arrived, and Danny drove to the University and waited in the office for his meeting. Soon he was ushered into the Presidents office, where he introduced himself as Daniel Howard, (his adopted name). The President sat behind his big desk and stared at Dan for a moment, then reached into a desk drawer, took out a framed photo, handed it to Dan and said, "Here's a picture of your little brother." Finally, the last lost brother found! The president saw the resemblence to his adopted son immediately, and told Dan that he had wondered if and when his brothers would come looking for him. He said that he would help reunite his son, (our little brother Jimmy) with us, his brothers, but asked if we could give him some time, as young Jimmy at age 16 was going through some difficult times as he grew, and his dad didn't want to put any more emotional strain on him until he felt he was ready. Dan agreed, and told the rest of us brothers about finding Jimmy, and we all waited patiently for our little brother to mature.
A year passed, and as the Delta Queen steamed the rivers we would occassionally stop at Cape Girardeau, each time torturing me knowing that I was so close to the last of my lost brothers; but I impatiently waited and hoped for a call from the President saying he felt that Jimmy was ready to be introduced to brothers that he did not remember. The call never came. Finally, after almost 2 years of waiting, I became upset and called the University and got through to the President. I explained to him who I was and that we appreciated his concern for his son, but that his brothers desperately wanted to see him again. I told him when the Delta Queen was going to be at Cape Girardeau again, and he agreed to bring my little brother Jimmy down to the boat to finally see me!
A couple of weeks later, the day had arrived, and we tied the Delta Queen off at the Cape city front. I was about to burst with anticipation, but told no one about my impending reunion. I was in the pilot house at 10 am, when the watchman called from the bow. "Mike, theres a couple of guys out on the landing to see you." This was it! I flew down the steps and onto the bow, and asked the watchman where they were, he pointed out to the end of the gangway. I composed myself and walked out to the 2 men, one obviously the President, a tall well dressed gentleman and a tall, thin, t shirt clad teenager with curly blond hair, who looked unmistakably like me! I introduced myself to the President and he extended a hand to shake but I never heard his words, I was staring with tears in my eyes at my little brother, whom I hadn't seen since that fall day 14 years ago! He said hello, and looked me in the eyes, seemed a little uncomfortable, but I didn't care, I grabbed him and wrapped him in a bear hug! I apologized to the President for ignoring him, but he was very gracious and understanding. We made our way aboard the Delta Queen and up to the Aft Cabin lounge, where we exchanged stories and I told him how we had never given up on finding him. Jimmy quickly became at ease, as we talked and shared stories about what had happened in our lives since we had been apart.
As the Delta Queens departure time neared, I hugged my little brother again and we agreed happily to get together again every time I came into Cape on the boat. This glorious day ended as the Delta Queen eased away from the landing with a rousing blast of the whistle and my little brother waving back from the shore! I can only imagine, somewhere deep in the spirit of the old boat, someone was smiling...
The Delta Queen cruised down the Mississippi River through the night, and turned up into the Ohio just after dark, upbound for Paducah. We arrived at Paducah city front before dawn, and the deck crew and I secured the old boat quickly. I had the deck hands hook up the water line to shore, then went to the pilothouse, I had a phone call to make. This was a couple of years before anyone had cell phones, so all calls from the boat were made via marine operators over the vessels marine radio. You simply called on certain channels for the local marine operator, give her the number, and she would dial it and connect you. It was about 5 am, and dawn was just beginning to show in the east when I called the Paducah Marine operator and asked her to dial my mothers number. A couple of minutes passed and then the pleasant sounding operator lady said, "Go ahead, Delta Queen, your party is on the line." "Hello, mom, are you there?" The radio crackled and then, my mothers voice..."Yes, I'm here son." "Mom, sorry to wake you so early, but I couldn't wait to give you some good news!" She replied "That's ok, what's the news?" I paused, the keyed the mic and said, "Well, I had a couple of visitors down to the boat yesterday in Cape Girardeau." Oh?" she replied. I paused a moment and then said, "Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I put my arms around Jimmy." A long pause, and I already had tears streaming down my face when the radio crackled again, and my mother said, crying, "Oh thank you God, thank you, now we can begin to heal", she was sobbing. I told her that I loved her and would call her from shore soon to update her, and finished the very expensive marine call, thanking the listening marine operator and telling her I was done. The marine operator finally responded, "thank you, uh, Delta Queen, Thank you, over." She was crying. Almost immediately, there were other calls to me from others on towboats, (who often listened in on each others marine calls) saying god bless, and congratulating me on the good news; this was one time when I didn't mind others listening in!
So here I am, at Paducah Kentucky, in the present, sitting in the Forward Lounge of this wonderful old steamboat, sipping coffee, watching hearts be healed, while the spirit of the old boat just smiles and pats her foot...
Total Comments 2


Here I am all these years later "listening in" to your life, Mike. I admit I'm a bit choaked up too listening to such a touching story. Thanks, Mike, for sharing...yes, thank you very much.
Posted 01-25-2012 at 11:30 PM by Frank X. Prudent Frank X. Prudent is offline
Years have passed since I last read this entry to your blog, and let me say, Mike, my reaction is the same tonight as when I first read it those few years ago. Thanks once again, Cap!
Posted 06-14-2015 at 01:47 AM by Frank X. Prudent Frank X. Prudent is offline
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