Greetings From New Orleans ,
Sometimes when Iam alone or going down the river or just going through some old box in my attic and I come accross a forgotton relic from my steamboat days , seldom do I not think of some of the old pilots that were my mentors that always made an impression on me and for that matter not necessarly always a good impression at that . I was so fortunate to be on that old steamboat to witness the passing of what I consider the Golden Age of Steamboats and just as important the passing of genuine and authentic Steamboat Pilots . One of my favorite and unforgetable CHARACTERS and Scoundrals of that day was Capt. Howard Tate , affectionately known as " Tow-line Tate , The Very First Mate " ! I still carry with me a more than vivid image of him either behind the sticks of the DQ , spitting into a brass spitoon or better yet one time when the boat was laying in Memphis and he and Capt. Wagner , were sitting on the bow of the boat , throwing craps , while passengers were boarding . How well do you think that image would go over today in this world of incredibly and redicuilus political correctioness . In a sad way I am glad that these giants are no longer with us and don't have to deal with these absurd new rules of social correctness . I remember Capt. Tate telling the story of when he took his boat over and through a broken levee to rescue stranded farmers on the roof of their farms during the flood of 27' . I remember Capt. Tate gambling and cleaning house with the crew in the crew mess , I remember Capt. Tate teaching me how to make a Monkey Fist and then throwing a heaving line that deckhands a fraction of his age could not do , I remember Capt. Tate propositioning some new and unsuspecting maid and sometimes getting lucky , I remember Capt. Tate telling me the worst thing the company could do was to install a radar on the Queen , I remember Capt. Tate telling me how to " run " behind Towheads , I remember Capt. Tate teaching me that when " rounding up " a steamboat you want to back the stern into the wind , I remember Capt. Tate talking to passing towboat pilots and them thanking him for everything he taught them . In my opinion Capt. Tate was not only one in a million but was also a unique member of a steamboat pilot faternity that we will only now read and dream about . My hat is off to you Capt. Tate , Long May You Run !
Smoothe Sailing !
Ted Davisson