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Bob Reynolds 11-24-2016 09:28 AM

Thanksgiving with Ellis Mace...
 
I guess Ellis Mace of the L&C Line is no longer sending his annual Thanksgiving message. The old cheapskate.

Russ Ryle 11-24-2016 11:01 AM

re: Bob, don't eat to much turkey ....
 
Happy thanksgiving to all.

Keep your steam up!

Russ Ryle

R. Dale Flick 11-24-2016 11:43 AM

*Thanksgiving with Ellis Mace, Commodore Fred Laidley*
Steamboating colleagues:
Bob, no way we'd miss the annual Thanksgiving or Christmas steamboat story with Capt. Ellis Mace, Ole' Commodore Fred Laidley and even me the lowly 2nd Clerk aboard the Big Sandy Wharfboat. Remember, we've been working even today since early this morning unloading freight and passengers up from Louisville on the big CITY OF LOUISVILLE. Work never stops and the only day all the boats laid up is Saturday. Ellis and I got our heads buried in our ledger books here tabulating our IN and OUT freight and passengers receipts. More later. Stay tuned. YIKES! here comes Ole' Laidley now stomping up the office steps.

R. Dale Flick
Old Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.

Jim Reising 11-24-2016 12:54 PM

No Thanksgiving Dinner for us here on the Louisville wharfboat, got word the CINCINNATI broke a tiller line up near Beigs Landing. Tug WASH GREY had to run a new line up to them so the boat won't be in until after dark tonight....too late for turkey. Glad Laidley's up there with you folks, just wait until he hears he had to buy a new tiller line on Thanksgiving, Falls City boat had to call a man in special to get it out of their warehouse. And who knows what the WASH GREY will cost!
Enjoy your dinner.

R. Dale Flick 11-24-2016 02:46 PM

*Thanksgiving, 1908/Fred Laidley & the L&C LINE*
Steamboating colleagues:
With work here on the L&C LINE wharfboat, Ellis Mace and I just took a breather. This year, 1908, fairly good in the steamboat business but low water all summer and fall had us in a quandry. Business such Laidley has had his CITY OF LOUISVILLE laid up more than running to cut expernses. Just an hour ago the one phone in the office rang [There were only six phones on the PUblic Landing then] with a message to Laidley that his baby CITY OF CINCINNATI broke that tiller line near Beigs Landing. The Commodore went ballistic with all of us here heading over on the cabin of the CITY OF LOUISVILLE for a big meeting and Thanksgiving dinner with invited guests, local politicos, top shippers with us, Chamber of Commerce representatives and their families also to make the trip down to Louisville and back. Then the Chief came up with word about a "problem down below" to Laidley. "By darn! What more could go wrong on this day?!" Laidley snorted with little Mrs. Laidley calming him down. "Now, Frederick, we've been through a lot worse than this since the 1860s and we'll do just fine now." Chief Steward Mose and his cabin staff stood with backs to the cabin walls taking it all in.

Laidley and the Chief parlied with them finding the needed pump fitting buried back on the wharfboat. "Chief, take us a new tiller line down on the LOUISVILLE and we'll drop it off for the CINCINNATI. Stars and garters, do people think I'm a made of money?" he said returning to the main cabin for the big noon holiday dinner before we all steamed to Louisville at 5:00PM--Ellis Mace and me invited. "Commodore, in the year 1908 now, what do you see to the future of boats like this and your own career?" one Chamber of Commerce rep asked over dessert, coffee and cigars. The table fell silent with heads spinning down to the Commodore. "Gentlmen and esteemed ladies, I've been in this business since a' fore the Civil War and know the 1850s were the real peak years for boats like this. The 135 miles from Cincinnati to Louisville the busiest and most financially successful on any stretch of our inland rivers. This line the oldest in the nation dating back to 1818 or so--and that's a long time. But I say now there are changes...big changes...coming after this year 1908. The railroads been cuttin' in on us since the 1880s with their seven different categories of freight and I'm thinking of pulling out of the Cincinnati to lower Mississipi trade. Then these new motor machines may well fool all of us. They put these motors on bigger carriages and lorries and there goes our business. Another moment of pregnant pause. And then the Commodore spoke again.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are in the throes leading to the end of a great era. I tell you now that it may survive probably not longer than the span of my own life. I would give big time steamboating as I know it--and we carry on here--not longer than possibly 1925 to 1930 if then. Ellis Mace and Dale Flick here advise me to look more also into this new tourist travel and less accent on freight which moving from finished goods to heavy bulk. Ellis and Dale adivse me to pursue more on holiday and vacation passengers. Now, lift our glasses in a toast to steamboating, the sister cities of Cincinnati and Louisville, this fine holiday and to our family, friends, neighbors." Ellis kicked me under the table and whispered, "The old goat is right. Times changing faster than we think and it'll hit us both. I'm older than you and you've got long years ahead of you. Think you want to stick with steamboating?" Ellis finished.

R. Dale Flick
Old Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati

Jim Reising 11-24-2016 03:22 PM

Laidly's coming to Louisville? Oh, my I don't want to be around here when he hears the rest of the story. Up in the coal fleet at Pumpkin Patch there were a couple of bad leakers so when the WASH GREY left to get the tiller line for the CINCINNATI, they had to get a crew in and raise steam on the FULTON to keep the syphons going. They want to charge us for that.
Also when the boat got in about 9:00 there wasn't a rouster left on the wharf. they'd laid around all day waiting for the boat until someone got a couple of jugs of wine. So we had to go up under the railroad trestle and get them up. They refused to work unless we paid them $.15 an hour rather than the usual dime. But we did get the boat out at 1:00 this morning, only about seven hours late.
Think I'll take tomorrow off if Laidly's going to be here.

R. Dale Flick 11-28-2016 08:04 AM

*Laidley's Thanksgiving 1908 No. 2*
Steamboating colleagues:
Jim, you were so right RE: the comedy of errors on Thanksgiving Day with the CITY OF CINCINNATI broken down with a bum tiller line, Laidley's baby CITY OF LOUISVILLE up here with a busted pump. The Chief got the pump repaired, running for our holiday departure to Louisville at 6:45 PM--later than scheduled. The LOUISVILLE's captain and pilot laid the steam on with her tearing down through the lower Cincinnati harbor with Laidley standing behind them in the pilothouse checking his big gold watch. Her legendary power--and wake--also tore up a number of coal barges, smaller vessels with no small about of damage, yellin,' runnin' around. And did she ever shake and quivver with her wheels rolling all the way down. The next week Laidley met with a delegation on the whafboat with their estimate of damage and lawyers. Next morning early, Laidley, Ellis Mace and I up early in the dark pilothouse seeing the CITY OF CINCINNATI already towed over, laid up at HOWARD's for tiller line replacement. Laidley just huffed, "By Jimminy, we hauled that new line down from Cincinanti and the Howard boys got all under control now. What in tarnation is this going to cost me?! Do people think I'm made of money?!" he barked with his chin Billy goat whiskers flapping in our faces. We made a quick stop dropping off the carpenter from the LOUISVILLE and me at Howards to check on the work, me examine, pay Howard's their bill. The CINCINNATI passengers not as riled up as expected with most being taken over to Louisville with luggage on the ferry.

The Howard boys did a fine job and fast that post Thanksgiving Friday--but it costs us a pretty penny. We landed the LOUISVILLE in Louisville unloading passengers, freight with the CINCINNATI coming over later to unload. With the next day being Saturday, all the L&C LINE boats laid up for the day to rest the engines, clean boilers. Laidley paced the deck with Ellis and me at his elbow. "Well, this mess got us a fly in the soup. Look, with all these regular passengers getting off her, and the Thanksgiving guests aboard, we got to load, fuel up, turn the LOUISVILLE around and head back to Cincinnati tonight so's we can unload freight, passengers, cool down and clean 'bilers. We'll have the CINCINNATI come up in the morning and do a quick job on her later Saturday," he stated. "Ah, Commodore, the boys going to be testy over that. You know how they all look to their Saturday night off in Ragtown. Chief on the CINCINNATI and his gang exhausted with that tiller line mess. The rousters also belly aching, grousing around over a pay increase. Another big change in the steamboat business going to be base wages after 1908. The labor unions coming on strong and you know what that means. Ellis and I suggest you consider a now rate of 20 cents per hour--possibly up to 25 cents," I advised.

Laidley chomped his cigar, spit over the rail and huhrumped. "Not by my leave! I own this company and these boats! This rate I'll be run outta' business, laid up sooner than even the year 1912 or so. Not that way in my early years steamboatin'. People think I'm made of money or what?!" he stormed. Ellis stepped back rolling his eyes having heard it all before. I stood my ground. "Commodore, my ledger books and bills received and paid show it and I'll show you. These wage benefits going to hit everybody hard from steamboats to railroads, factories, businesses--sign of the times. Isn't like the years you've known 30, 40, 50 years ago. Even now people watching what the German Emperor has on his mind preparing building his big fleet, growing his army, fussing with England. We have a big war in another few years and I guarantee you everything will change forever," I spoke.

Laidley fell silent, looked down at the deck and across the river in the early morning dark light. "Boys, I'm seein' and hearin' things I don't like. Christmas and 1909 on us within a few weeks. Dale, when we get back to the office next week I want you to do me an audit and update of current and anticipated expenses with comparison to the last five years--you heah' me?"
Ellis cornered me later. "You told the old goat what I've been saying for several years. He's got to be shown the facts and jolted good."

R. Dale Flick
Old Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati

Bill Judd 11-28-2016 01:38 PM

I am sure glad Capt. Bob Reynolds of the good ship Magnolia got the attention of that L & C clerk, Dale. As I set retired on my porch, getting all the whistle salutes from those young pilots passing by I really enjoyed hearing what "old grump" Laidly was up too.


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