Steamboating colleagues:
For some time I've shared fictional accounts with Shipyard Sam and Tom Schiffer focusing on the life of Commodore Fred Laidley, L&C LINE; a millionaire making his fortune in salt mines, steamboats, meat packing etc. His fine mansion still stands in Covington, Ky. now restored to it's former splendor. Laidley, as Shipyard heard, was tight fisted but could be fair and "...a fine man to work for" according to Capt. Ellis Mace. Opinions varied.

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Yesterday Ellis Mace and I were working in the wharfboat office here in Cincinnati with me, lowly 2nd office clerk, tending to the books and freight shipments. Ole' Laidley, back from his luncheon and card game up town at his club, stormed up the steps, slammed his office door. Just the day before he fussed with me over using too much coal in the big pot belly office stove along with keeping all the mail stamps in his own desk handing them out one by one when needed. "Ya'll burn those old busted up wood crates first. Coal costs money and Dale you been sneaking up a bucket from the pile over on the LOUISVILLE. "Ya'll think I'm made of money?" Ellis whispered, "Ever see that nearly 400 piece sterling silver set he has in the mansion over in Covington?" after the Commodore returned to his office.

His office door opened and out he stomped waving a food order bill in his hand heading over to the LOUISVILLE loading freight; up the stairs to the cook house. He had the Chief Steward and the cabin boys in a tizzy. "Smoked turkey for Thanksgiving on the boat! That costs me fifty cents extra for each. Can't you doctor em' up...make em taste like smoked turkey? You boys think I'm made of money?" Isaac, the long trusted Steward, didn't back down standing tall. "Commodore, suah,' you signed the food order yo' self...lookie heah," he said pointing to the bottom line. Laidley looked 'got' for a moment. "Ummm, err...guess I did Isaac...mmm, you go ahead and cook em' up. Ahhh, get a nice cask of oysters up town too. We have lots of freight going down along with passengers who like traveling on Thanksgiving...some of our best shippers too with their families. Freight pays the bills." He came back over from the boat, looked around, rubbed his hands. "Dale! Ellis! Cold in heah,' hit the stove with some coal--only two scoops now." His office door slammed again.

In an hour Laidley came out, looked around at all of us. "Ummm, look, the LOUISVILLE goin' down Wednesday night. Thursday Thanksgivin' but business on Friday. I want you all to bring your families for the trip. Mind you, back in the office when she lands for work Friday mornin.'" Mrs. Laidley the children and I stayin' at home. Ya'll have a nice Thanksgiving," he said with hands in his vest pocket. Ellis and I dumbfounded. "He's mellowing, don't you think?" I whispered across the office. "Could be...could be. He's bound to put the needle to us over something after the weekend," Ellis replied. In wonder I put my visor on, black arm protectors to keep wet ink from staining my white shirt, opened my big docket and set to work. 'Wonders never cease,' I thought. A safe, peaceful Thanksgiving to you all.

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