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Elaine Santangelo 04-03-2007 04:55 PM

Kites not steamboats but interesting
This is for David Dewey


Be sure to have the sound on too. It was emailed to me recently and now that I had time to look, I started to laugh because I thought of that kite flying business on the boats.


Shipyard Sam 04-03-2007 05:16 PM

A Steamboat Tradition
Unless someone can prove to the contrary, kite flying aboard "the boats" can trace its roots to 1970, or so, when my deckhands and I flew large garbage bags off the fantail of the DELTA QUEEN. [B]Mariam Edgar[/B], the Queen's hostess, seeing the potential for increased passenger entertainment, brought back some kites from a five-and-dime "uptown" at the next shorestop. Soon after that when the idea became a regular activity, Captain Betty Blake had brightly-colored kites printed with that cute little steamboat logo and the DELTA QUEEN name, and another steamboat "tradition" was born.

However, I would not be surprised that kite-flying aboard the GREENE LINE boats could have been a regular activity long before the boys flew the clear, plastic, drum liners high above the spray off the old paddlewheel. Dale? Richard? Anyone?

R. Dale Flick 04-03-2007 05:59 PM

Hi, Shipyard:
Good seeing your post on 'kites' on the DQ. Richard Stewart, Bob Reynolds, Jim Reising, Kenny Howe, you and a few others who, "were there then, and we're here now." I recall all of the big PR Re: kites on the DQ then. I saw it, flew a few, but heard 'Capt' Betty Blake laid her claim--and blessing--to the concept. It hit the papers and national travel magazines. Another 'hook' in a 'niche market' that paid off well. Well, it was/is fun and Betty got a lot of PR mileage out of it. A lot of great concepts and ideas from the crew and steamboat fans ended up on Betty's desk--with her taking credit. That's the way it was then and now in corporate America. More than a few passengers packed their kites carefully in luggage and took home at the end of their 'trips'--not 'cruises'--in old steamboat jargon. Bridges and power lines, as I recall, were the big problem during kite flying along with erratic winds. Thinking of Benjamin Franklin, and his kite with the key, more than a few novices were jokingly told to string a metal wire up to their kites on the DQ. OUCH! Well, what do I know? Thanks for the memories.

R. Dale Flick

Lil Smith 04-03-2007 09:02 PM

Thanks, Dale ... it's nice to know that there is still someone else out there who still calls them trips and not cruises. I cannot call a trip on the DQ a "cruise" to save my life. It is a trip, has always been a trip, all of my life, and always will be. That's just what everyone on the river called them back then. The word "cruise" just jars me and connotes a ship at sea to me. If my grandparents were here today and heard the word "cruise" associated with a trip on the DQ, they would probably keel right over. I guess it's because I am older than dirt, and it's just what I grew up with. I don't even know when the word "cruise" first became associated with a trip on the river. Anyone know? I don't think THAT one came off Capt. Betty's desk.

Another old steamboat term that often, these days, becomes interchangeable with a blue-water counterpart is pilothouse vs. wheelhouse. In my older-than-dirt steamboat world, a pilothouse is where the pilot is, where the pilotwheel used to be, now long since replaced by levers. The wheelhouse, on the other hand, was the term for the covered area containing the paddlewheels on a sidewheel steamboat and had absolutely nothing to do with the pilothouse containing the pilot or with steering the boat. I am aware that some -- maybe a lot of -- towboat people now refer to the pilothouse as the wheelhouse, much as they do on ships at sea. These folks obviously came along on the river a long time after the days of sidewheelers and didn't have grandparents like mine, the Greene family, and other assorted river luminaries to teach them by osmosis. So I guess I am a dinosaur, having trouble shifting gears. I'll try to do better.

I am happy that someone at MAL has the gumption to rip out those dreadful miniature mobile homes that were installed on the top deck of the MQ. Those things destroyed what few lines the boat had, were a hazard for the pilots, and prevented anyone from ever walking around the deck, one of the main reasons our family never goes on the MQ. The company has wonderful operations on the boats on the west coast, is doing some really good things, and I do want to try to cut them some slack while they break things in and we see how things shake out. But I am, as I said, older than dirt, set in my ways, and I really do want a table back on the deck outside my cabin on the DQ. It means my mother and I don't always have to walk so far. And I would hope that someone in the company would learn to stop bucking common practice on our rivers with our boats and would show a bit more respect for our rivers' traditions in their PR terminology. Perhaps they don't realize how much they are ridiculed and how much they irritate and antagonize the very people they should be courting. I will NEVER adjust to those folks calling our boats "ships"!

David Dewey 04-05-2007 01:19 AM

Thanks! Unfortunately my 19K dial up won't download the movie--or it will take an hour to do! Next trip, I will have to pack a bunch of kites to hand out--and then I will have space in the suitcase for more booty!! :)
David D.

Keith Norrington 04-05-2007 07:28 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Thanks Lil! I have no idea when the word "cruises" started being used in reference to riverboat trips, but I do have some old Greene Line brochures for the GORDON C. GREENE which have [I][B]GREENE LINE STEAMBOAT CRUISES [/B][/I]emblazoned on the front, as well as some for [I][B]STEAMBOAT VACATIONS[/B][/I]. Several brochures and cards for the GOLDEN EAGLE proclaim [I][B]GLORIOUS RIVER TRIPS[/B][/I]. However, I have a large framed poster (see attached photo) for the Eagle Packet Company advertising [I][B]RIVER CRUISES [/B][/I] in huge black and red lettering for the GOLDEN EAGLE which sank in 1947, so the term apparently does go back a bit.

There's currently a 1960 DELTA QUEEN brochure on EBAY which has [B]RIVER CRUISES[/B] on it. I'll take a look through my collection of brochures and advertising from other older boats to see if we can determine when the term cruises came into use on the river. Regardless of whatever term is used, it's a sure bet that all of us never fail to have a fabulous time when aboard a steamboat!

As you said so well, many of us "older folks" grew up with different terminology. When I was on the BELLE, it was always amusing when passengers tried to impress the crew with their "nautical knowledge" and used lingo (e.g. wheelhouse, helm, above, below, crow's nest, etc.) that just didn't apply to that grand old sternwheeler steamboat. The most common one was "Where is the HEAD?" One night a man charged up to the purser's office and (judging from his movements and crossed eyes he was obviously in great need!) bellowed that question. When I pointed toward the bow of the boat, he screamed, "Don't play games with me son, I've got to [B]GO[/B]!" I replied, "Sir, you'll find the restrooms on this deck at the stern of the boat, but the HEAD is where you boarded the BELLE this evening!" He uttered some curse words and hastily ran aft through the cabin, zig zagging through the crowd on the dancefloor!

Bruce MacCullagh 04-05-2007 08:18 AM

[QUOTE=Keith Norrington;4827] I replied, "Sir, you'll find the restrooms on this deck at the stern of the boat, but the HEAD is where you boarded the BELLE this evening!"[/QUOTE]

This could be interesting when my dad is on the AQ this summer. When he says "head" he means that thing down the hall that has pipes that go into the ground and connect to the city sewer system. When he was a high ranking officer in the Navy, everyone wondered why he laughed when someone said that he needed to attend another Department Head meeting.

He was laughing because he pictured walking into the restroom and all of the toilet seats snapping up to Attention, and he never got this picture out of his mind.

Paul Penta 04-05-2007 10:37 AM

[QUOTE=Bruce MacCullagh;4829]He was laughing because he pictured walking into the restroom and all of the toilet seats snapping up to Attention, and he never got this picture out of his mind.[/QUOTE]

Hi Bruce,

And your story gave me a chuckle because I rememberd the scene in "No Time For Sergeants" where Andy Griffith's character greets the company commander entering the latrine, salutes and steps on a wooden pedal, rigged to make the toilet seats "snap to attention".

Now, not to disillusion anyone, but the crew ALWAYS calls them "cruises". That's what all our internal paperwork calls them. And as I recall, that's what they were called on the old DQSC web site.

Bottom line is that you take a "trip" on one of our "cruises" and hopefully, you have a great "vacation".



Lil Smith 04-05-2007 04:11 PM

Gee, I guess you're right, Keith. I do recall that Tom tried to market the DQ when she first came out as a Greene Line boat as the S. S. DELTA QUEEN, as well as a few other things to try to shake her out of her river niche in other people's eyes. But when the Greenes and the Hugheses were talking, they weren't cruises they were talking about. It was the Mardi Gras trip, or a Kentucky Lake trip or a St. Paul trip (all trips departed from and returned to Cincinnati). Maybe the cruise thing came from that older-than-dirt song, "Cruising Down the River On a Sunday Afternoon".

Lil Smith 04-05-2007 04:19 PM

Paul, I know that's what they call them now, and have for some time. I was talking about long, LONG ago, in the 1940's, long before DQSC, when it was Greene Line Steamers, sadly proving my point about how ancient I am.

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