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Alan Bates 02-18-2008 05:40 AM

The Sprague thread has brought out descriptions of grumpy behavior in steamboat officers. In being a leader, whether a steamboat officer or foreman of a two-man ditch-digging crew, one must make up his mind that sooner or later he will be obliged to be a cross-grained, obstinate, (how I wish I could hurl in an expletive or two!) demanding martinet. Even the gentle Captain Jesse Hughes, who it is said never cursed, had to occasionally crack down. Things must be done just so, and ideas from the crew are neither wanted nor needed by masters, mates, pilots, engineers or even pursers.
Those of you who have ambitions to become steamboat officers should etch this in heart and brain before applying.

Bob Reynolds 02-18-2008 08:57 AM

Indeed what Alan says is true. The one with the most deft touch for this I have ever seen was Capt. Ernie Wagner. When he lit into you, you knew you'd been lit into. Two minutes later? Laughing and joking around again! But, you know you'd better not do whatever it was that got you in trouble in the first place. And, unless you were ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY SURE it was a joke, don't ever laugh at something he said. Woe to those who did!

Shipyard Sam 02-18-2008 10:17 AM

When you really got under the BIG E's skin he would start spitting little bits of tobacco from his cigar out the side of his mouth and give you that cosmic death ray stare that could cut a steel stanchion in two. But Cap had a big heart, and he was as kind as he was stern.

I don't know if Cap was "grumpy", I reserve that distinction for a few pilots and a Chief Engineer, or two, that I knew. The most pleasant steam Chief I ever worked with was Kenny P. Howe, Jr.

Edward O'Connell 02-19-2008 04:45 PM

After almost 27 years of working on the Belle of Louisville, I agree with your opinion of Chief Kenny P. Howe Jr.
I have yet to hear a harsh word spoken from him, he's neverthrown a pipe in my direction in anger (I've had more than a few over the years.) and was never completely ignorned by Chief K P Howe Jr., least not yet!

Keith Norrington 02-25-2008 09:14 AM

Indeed, in 40 years of friendship, Kenny is one of the most affable people I've ever known and "keeps his cool" under the most trying of situations. I especially recall all that he did on that chaotic Sunday morning in 1997 when the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE sank at her landing. Always friendly, down to earth and one who gets things done, I am DELIGHTED that Kenny is now the Howard Steamboat Museum board member chairing the exhibits committee! Those who attend the annual S&D meeting in September will be in for a treat when Kenny is the guest speaker. It will be his "debut" at an S&D gathering and he is a great speaker too!

R. Dale Flick 02-27-2008 06:55 AM

Steamboating colleagues:
The 'Grumpy' thread initiated by Alan is a good one. I never worked on any steamboat but saw a number of the personalities listed above at their jobs from a distance or up close. When any man or woman makes the big step from dry land to the deck of a boat or ship it's a whole new world of duty and responsibility and there is bound to be personality changes. I've had more experience directly with officers on navy and passenger ships observing this change. In the days before 'human resources executives' officers accomplished many chores from hiring to assigning duties, managing and, if needed, firing. All of that was--at times--far from the eyes of the home office and many in management positions. As a kid Capt. Jesse Hughes would question me about my schools and more than once say, "Your duty is to duty...always."

Some years back Capt. Fred Way did an article in his sage S&D REFLECTOR with photos showing Capt. Tom Greene, Capt. Jesse Hughes, 'Stogie' White and others working on the then new GORDON C. GREENE undergoing renovations with tools and paint brushes in hand wearing overalls with paint daubs on hands, hats and clothes. Fred later posted a letter to the editor in which a correspondent commented innocently, "I didn't know captains and pilots were expected to paint and work like that." Need I say more?

R. Dale Flick

Alan Bates 02-27-2008 11:13 AM

I may be unique in that I have been chewed out by Kenny Howe. I showed up at Jeffboat wearing street shoes, which is a strict no-no around there. Although I bled, I soon healed.
I would have loved to have seen him in action the day he drove one of his bosses out of his engineroom. Yes, it happened. The guy is lucky he didn't get thrown overboard as he so richly deserved.

Shipyard Sam 02-27-2008 11:33 AM

Roast Duck in the Pitman Well
Now that you got me to thinking.... There was the time he bawled me out for dumping the garbage into his pitman well. Yes, fiolks, there was the time that all Her Nib's garbage went to feed the fish and other creatures dwelling beneath the waves.

As pressure mounted to conceal our dirty deeds from spying eyes, orders came to dump the refuse into the starboard pitman well with the intention of flushing it into the wheel and out of sight. But, before the garbage could be hosed completely out of the well, we had to stop for a lock, and by time the locking was done it was watch change and my boys went on to breakfast and their racks and forgot about the roast ducks and rotten cabbage reposing in the pitman well.

On my way past the engine room, KPH, Jr. met me with a wail, "LOOK AT MY PITMAN WELL FULL OF ROAST DUCK!"

Actually the chewing-out was delivered in a humrous manner, and Ken and I still recall when my deck crew left his pitman well crammed with the soil of the previous night's banquet.

Edward O'Connell 02-27-2008 10:48 PM

K.P. Howe
You got me to bite the hook, can you please set it with the tale of tossing the boss out of the engine room?

You can change the names to protect the innosent! (Sorry..I couldn't resist)

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