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Alan Bates 06-25-2010 08:02 AM

The "death" of overnight river passenger service is but one that I have witnessed in nearly 90 years. Here are some: the steam locomotive, the mechanical calculator, the adding machine, railroad passenger service, true airline service, hand-drafting of plans, sticky tape, true postal service, inner tubes, telegrams, line shafts and belts, the cash register, packet boats, telephone party lines, elevator operators, the year 'round three-piece suit, derbies and silk tophats.
There are many more and some are still in the final throes of resistance. Many are unmourned, quite a few are welcomed suicides and a couple of them such as the Queen steamboats are murders. It is hard to accept the finality of these, but final it is. They will be mourned, but they will not return.

Barbara Hameister 06-26-2010 12:00 AM

Simply couldn't let this pass without a comment regarding "true airline service". Having grown up in an airline family, (my dad worked for TWA for 38 years) I very much remember what that was like. (I guess transportation had always been in my blood, so when I rode the D.Q., she hooked me on steamboats and the river.Yes, I also like trains.) Living in Dayton, Ohio, I got a "double dose" of airline saturation. My dad got to meet such worthies as Charles Lindbergh, Orville Wright, and Amelia Earhart, not to mention one rather eccentric company owner named Howard Hughes, who helped design my personal favorite plane, the "Connie". I am so grateful that Dad shared these stories around the supper table, and this has kept those times alive for me-a touch to the past. We do the same on this web site, in our gatherings, in your fine old boat column, in the S&D. I sincerely hope we have not seen the end to overnight steamboating, but we must continue to treasure and share our memories,as well as support the excursion steamboats we still have.

Bob Reynolds 06-26-2010 07:49 AM

Shoot, Barbara -- you beat me to the punch! As I flew home yesterday, the same thing occurred to me, that Alan had left airlines off his list!

Judy Patsch 06-26-2010 08:12 AM

Airlines and steamboat lines
Ozark...Republic...Southern...Braniff...TWA...Northwest...PanAm...Eastern... Allegheny...
I fly them, they go under.
Now here's a related one on steamboats, off the top of my head without doing any thinking about it: were there mergers of steamboat lines/companies, if so, who? Did any packet lines evolve into today's towboat business?

Alan Bates 06-26-2010 12:00 PM

Mergers often happened during packet boat days and are still being made today. Ingram is one of the biggest conglomerates and if I recall rightly they absorbed lines from the Green River like Hines 'way back when.

In my diatribe about death I meant whole systems that have passed into the nether world. Alarm clocks were not needed when every factory in town blew whistles. I'd say about 85% of today's churches have no bells or even towers to hold them. Have any of today's office accountants ever worked a comptometer? When is the last time any of us pumped gasoline by hand? How many of us can actually row a boat and do it with style and efficiency? And so on. . .

Judy Patsch 06-26-2010 12:59 PM

Bells and whistles
Our church still has a bell and uses it each Sunday - much to the chagrin of some of our neighbors. I remember the 2 factory whistles on the old Sash and Door Works on the river. One blew at 7AM, the other at 8AM. I'm sure they blew at other times, but those were what I could hear from home. When they demolished those buildings about 15 years ago, I could see the whistles still high above the rubble, but I don't know who managed to 'acquire' them, it wasn't me. Here's another thing dying rapidly: the key. Probably aren't any skeleton keys still used already, but the programmed cards hotels use now, and now push-button starters on cars - this one I don't get, as you still need to have the key in proximity. I'd rather just insert it into the keyhole instead of laying it down somewhere where I can forget it. Progress? And of course, the key to the lock which the new deckhand would have to go find as the boat approached the lock...

Lexie Palmore 06-26-2010 05:03 PM

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The first airplane I ever rode on was a Constellation, which by the time I did so, these aircraft had been relegated to the charter industry. Other things that have gone, or are going, south: linotype machines, hard wired telephones (and the good connection that goes with them), handwritten letters. Staging something of a comeback: Vinyl records (as far as some of us are concerned, they never left) Still popular, for some strange reason: Bicycles

Jim Blum 06-26-2010 06:59 PM

Ah yes, the Linotype machine. Sam Clemens lost great bucketsfull of money on a mechanical type setting machine. He got tied in with a machine that was far too complicated and failed miserably. The hot type setting machine that triumphed was quite a mechanical fire breathing machine in itself.

The last operating one I saw in regular everyday service in a print shop was in Cairo, IL in a small building right behind the floor wall just a few hundred feet upriver from the entrance through the floodwall where the passenger boats used to dock.

I was in Cairo a couple weeks ago and am sad to report that Smith & Groves is gone, building heavily vandalized.The print shop is closed, building still standing but it too heavily vandalized. For a few seconds considered looking through the broken down plywood used to board up the entrance to see if the linotype machines were entombed but decided in favor of the air conditioned vehicle.

If we thought downtown Cairo IL was rather desolate in the late 60's it will make one cry today.

Tom Schiffer 06-26-2010 07:18 PM

My least favorite "improvement" is business that does NOT have a live person to answer the phone! Poking and pushing numbers and finally talking (?) to someone who can barely speak your language. Cap'n Walnut.

David Dewey 06-26-2010 09:38 PM

ROFL!! I suppose the new kitchen help was sent to the engine room to get some "stuffing" for the turkey too. . . . (Hmm, or it could be the other way 'round, send the new oiler to the kitchen for some stuffing. . . .)
Anyone been huntin' Snipes lately?
David D.

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