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Working on the boats. Just a job?

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Old 02-06-2012, 05:15 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Copperas Cove, TX
Posts: 530
Default Working on the boats. Just a job?

There has been a discussion going on in the Facebook page for the AQ about why working on the boats is more than just a job. I wanted to share my take on that question with my .org friends.

When I first got aboard in 2000, it took me awhile to "get" it. I mean, it was a great job with (mostly) nice people but at the time I was doing fine with my career elsewhere. I looked around and saw folks with whom I had trouble identifying in regard to their desire not to lose the gig. I would think, "Well, if this doesn't work, I can just go home, or back to Florida and pick up where I left off." But, and I don't know exactly how it happened, brown water finally found its way into my blood stream.

It was the crew, my steamboating family who have remained in my life ever since. One of the most comforting sights I ever had was looking down to the back of the church at my mom's funeral in 2009 and seeing Jazzou Jones and his wife, Diane. They had driven all the way from Maine to Boston to be there for me.

But in a very tangible way, it was the AQ herself. How could a hunk of wood and steel work its way into my heart like that? I still cannot explain it.

But I can tell you WHEN it happened.

I was brought back in 2002 after the bankruptcy and assigned to the DQ as Assistant Steamboatin' Director. I went to NOLA to begin rehearsals for the DQ shows with Wes Payne. My first night in NOLA, Bob Stevens asked if I'd like to go to Robin St to see the AQ. She was tied up and would not be back in service until the next season. I figured, "Yeah, sure. Why not."

He drove down to Robin St and let me out of the car, sayng he was going to park it. That left me alone in the garage. I looked through the arches and saw her there. Who could miss seeing her, right? Going out onto the dock, I turned the corner and suddenly saw her entire port side from the bow to the paddlewheel. She took my breath away. Not just figuratively. I literally gasped. So beautiful, so quiet. I went aboard, walking past the Gentlemens and Ladies Lounges to the Hotel Lobby. Everything was as we left it in St Louis in September of 2001. Even the entertainers' pictures were still on the wall. As I looked around, the deathly quiet was unnerving. I had the feeling that she was asleep and I did not want to wake her up. So, I beat feet back onto the dock.

THAT's when it happened. THAT's when I knew what it means to miss New Orleans.

This afternoon, the Grand American Queen has completed her return to NOLA. Even as we speak she is tied up at Perry St Wharf for final detailing and installation of the paddlewheel. She is ready to wake up. She is ready to work her magic on pax and crew alike.

And it will be something to see.
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