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Old 11-22-2007, 04:06 AM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Ashland City, TN (near Cheatham Lock)
Posts: 44
Default Hello from New Member

I am new here. I have been perusing the forum regularly for a few news now, but this is my first post. I am a writer (books, magazine articles, news, etc.) but my real job is teaching school. I am a lifelong fan of the Delta Queen. Here is my "Delta Queen story."

I first "met" her in 1973, when I was a youngster growing up on the Tennessee River / Kentucky Lake (mile 86). It was about 11:30 PM when a horrible storm came out of nowere, blowing our front patio furniture everywhere and blowing one of our living room picture windows completely out. No storms had been in the forecast.

My father and I stood behind a storm window and watched as a gigantic vessel slowly came into sight, tossing, turning and ploughing its way to the north. There wasn't anywhere to moor, so I guess that's why the vessel kept sailing. It was unlike the barges and towboats that frequently passed the house; this boat was huge -- the biggest I had ever seen. Despite its great size, it rocked and rolled on the rough water, twice getting blown sideways where the bow was headed east (toward the shore) instead of north. To visualize, imagine the helplessness a styrofoam cup floating on a whitewater rafting stream!

But despite the obvious, I never sensed that the boat was in any danger; whenever the weather dealt a severe blow (no pun intended), the boat's captain seemingly dealt an opposing blow with even greater force! My father remarked several times, "I know this river, and I know boats; and whoever is at the wheel of THAT boat has got to be the most capable captain I've ever seen. That man knows what he's doing and he's a pro."

My father grabbed his binoculars to take a closer look (the channel ran through the middle of the lake, a half-mile from the shore and our house). "That's the Delta Queen!" he exclaimed, twice. I was dumbfounded; at about seven years of age, I had never heard of the Delta Queen. He told me about the boat as we watched it slowly disappear into the wind and darkness as rode out the storm. Just to be sure of what we had witnessed the night before, my father called a friend up in Paducah, Kentucky the next afternoon, who confirmed that the Delta Queen was indeed docked there, having just returned (only a few minutes late) from a Tennessee River trip.

So that was my first experience with the Delta Queen. It wasn't the boat that earned my respect (remember, it was dark and I couldn't see anything but lights); it was the man DRIVING her who got my attention and respect. It was hard to believe that ANY boat could have sailed through that storm without incident. I had witnessed many towboats and barges get blown all over the lake -- and detached -- in lesser storms. I didn't know who was at the wheel of the Delta Queen that evening -- and I probably never will know -- but he was a genius in my opinion. His manuvering of the boat was what drew my attention to it, and my interest in the boat has grown ever since.

In the 34 years since that stormy night back in 1973, I've been lucky enough to catch (see) the Delta Queen only once. Even when I would look at the schedules and try to catch it somewhere for a picture, things never worked out; it was -- and still is -- nearly impossible to catch the DQ in the act of sailing. But notwithstanding, I've been a very loyal fan of the boat and I have many old brochures and postcards with her picture on them. Ironically, I now live just west of Nashville, on the Cumberland River, and I still haven't managed to catch her sailing by!

I am very concerned about the exemption issue, and I plan to write a column about it in my town's newspaper. As of my last account, the bill was still "in committee." With the committee's Chairman being strongly opposed to the legislation, the only way in which the committee members will override his recommendation would be if they (the members) receive enough direct letters from loyal supporters.
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