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Thread: Alan Bates and Me 3

  1. #1

    Default Alan Bates and Me 3

    Some background......some of this is my opinions and its all what I remember Alan telling me. I did not know Alan's father, he had died a few years before I met Alan. Apparently Alan in many ways was like his father, neither of them lived by the "program". Rita said the first time she saw Alan's dad he was in the backyard wearing nothing but a Hindu diaper doing some kind of Hindu ritual. Apparently the depression really effected the Bates family fortune. During the depression Alan's father somehow bought an old WW1 biplane. On Sundays Alan's dad would sell airplane rides. In order to intice people to buy a ride, Alan's mother would stand in the crowd with little Alan and she would "buy" a ticket, go for a short ride. After they landed safely, Alan's dad would address the crowd saying "this lovely young lady and her baby just flew in my plane; see folks it's perfectly safe"'.
    Alan was fond of telling the story that his father was an electrician and decided to take on Alan as his apprentice. The first day on the job, Alan's dad was on a ladder wiring something up while Alan was on the ground acting as his gofor. His dad ran into some problem and muttered "son of a bitch" Alan thought he said "flip the switch" which Alan promptly did. The jolt knock Alan's dad off the ladder, he landed flat on his back....the first word out of his mouth after he recovered was "YOU'RE FIRED". Alan used to laugh his shortest profession was as an electrician.
    Alan and his brother and sister were raised in a wooden victorian house in the Highlands section of Louisville near the corner of Grinstead Dr. and Ray Ave (the house was torn down a number of years ago, the site is now occupied by an office building). By coincident Alan and I had the same first grade teacher, Miss Rudell, although Alan was 20 years ahead of me....I was raised in the same neighborhood (so was C.W. Stoll). When Alan was a teen his family moved to big farm house in Lyndon, a suburb on Louisville's east end. When Alan and Rita returned from California after Alan got out of the Army, they built their house on part of the property.
    I did know Alan's mother when I was a Sea Scout. I don't remember much about her except she was crippled with arthritis. She used to write cross word puzzles and she had several published in the NY Times.
    The reason Alan was able to do all those really interesting things such as draw steamboat plans, establish the Howard Museum, transform the AVALON into the BELLE was because he didn't work at a regular job. Alan didn't suffer fools lightly and, it seemed to me, that all the bosses Alan ever had he considered fools, so he could never really hold a regular job for long. His independent architect business never flourished, his main source of income was playing trumpet in dance bands and Rita's work as the head of a school cafeteria. Alan was an accomplished musician and played in bands all his life, ending up when Alan was in his 70's in a German ompah band. It was music that brought Alan and George McBride together when they were in high school. It was George who introduced Alan to the river, before that Alan was a railfan.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
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    *RE: Alan and me 3*
    WOW! Jim, you've got me hooked and good now. Keep it up! I agree with you RE: the influence the dark days of the Great Depression had not only on Alan but untold millions of others then with evidence existing today with many. YOU were there THEN with all of US here NOW. Thanks!

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

  3. #3

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    Alan's wife Rita was Alan's equal, she kept him balanced but at the same time she let Alan be Alan. They were married while Alan was in the Army stationed in California teaching calculus to artillary recruits. Rita's brother, Charlie Ashbacher, was our assistant sea scout leader. Even Charlie admitted that he was hardly a good role model for a bunch of teenage boys; if you look up "good time guy" in the dictionary you will see Charlies picture.
    George McBride told this story at Alan's memorial; before the war George and Alan were in a dance band together. Alan was in Speed engineering school at the time. The draft board was breathing down the necks of all of the band members. An Army recruiter told them that if the band would all join up together he would see to it that they would stay together as a band and would not be deployed overseas. Alan and George didn't trust his promise (I'm from the govt and I'm here to help you) and waited to be drafted. Alan ended up in California teaching math and George ended up as a second engineer on a liberty ship. The rest of the band all signed up together and ended up playing for military functions and dances at Ft. Knox and in Louisville for the duration of the war. The recruiter had been true to his word.

  4. #4
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    What great stories - please keep 'em coming.

  5. #5

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    I am certainly enjoying these Alan L. Bates stories, and sure do look forward to more.

    Alan wasn't known to ever be at a loss for words, but it can and did happen at least once. My father purchased a set of Alan's drawings for the OMAR, and as anyone is wont to do, Dad read the accompanying history of the boat. In that brief history Alan stated that the OMAR had Nordberg machinery which she did not. In fact she had Marietta Manufacturing Corporation engines just like her two sisters. Dad and Alan were conversing up at Marietta before 1982 and Dad mentioned that Alan was wrong about the OMAR's machinery. "WHAT! How do you know what engines were on the OMAR?" Dad's response was, "I was her Chief Engineer." At least for a moment Alan was silent.

  6. #6
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    *Alan and the OMAR*
    Steamboating colleagues,
    Frank, your above account is a dandy. Agreed, that none of us want to be proven wrong but, alas, life is like that. Alan, in my memory, hated hearing the word "No" even if it was for his own good. Yet, I have to give him more applause than warts. Your own dad one of the most level-headed, non-pushy guys I know and I'm sure his simple statement above was all needed. Alan had his 'opinions' of more of us here than people know and in rereading his letters I cringe with how candid he was. Jim Reising, Kenny Howe possibly the two now closest to Alan I can think of back then. Alan was of the old school in composing, writing, putting a letter with a drawing in an envelope with a stamp to mail--any of you remember those days? And each of his letters here beautifully written with thought. If you had a question, Alan could give you darned good answers with supporting material and data. Alan several times wrote about errors in judgment, actions on his part. Then, when the modern marvel of the internet age, E=Mails came along, Alan embraced writing E=Mails--even if he bit his tongue in the process.

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

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