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  1. #1

    Default There is no cure

    John Howard was a younger brother to James Howard, founder of the shipyard. John worked in the shipyard alongside his brother until James tragically drowned in 1876; after that John and, James' son, Edmund, jointly ran the company for the next ten years. Around 1885, John left the boat building business and with several other local businessmen purchased French Lick Springs. French Lick was a natural spring where people would come "to take" the waters. It was very popular. For the next fifteen years John managed the property while his son, Dr. John Howard, Jr., was the medical director. (French Lick still exists today as a gambling and golf destination), Around 1901 John decided to retire, he sold the Springs and moved to Louisville. In his retirement several times each week he would walk to the Louisville wharf to watch the comings and goings of the boats and to meet with other retired rivermen to talk steamboat. (I imagine as these retirees met, the boats got bigger, faster, more elegant, the perils got more perilous, and the men in the stories got more manly). John did this up til the week before he died. It just goes to prove that no matter how long you're removed from the river, once you get mud in your blood you can never get rid of it. Sorry, there is no known cure.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default

    *No cure/I'm hooked.*
    Morning, Steamboating colleagues,
    Jim, the above account RE: John Howard has me hooked and hooked good as only you can do. Sure, I've had the Fishbaugh book on the Howard family and yards on my library shelf for years. I'd only heard snippets RE: French Like Springs previously. Then in later years something about the Howards [Jim and Loretta?] involved in a roller skating rink. Didn't James Howard's "tragic" death come when his wagon and horse went over and into the river from the ferryboat? I thought somebody told me a legend that the reason he went under and drowned he reputedly had gold on his person from the bank. Legends, myths abound for certain. Remember, "never let facts ruin a good story." I can only wonder what John received in payment for the French Lick property in 1901 and what the same worth today? I love a good story, but also like 'to follow the money.' I'm waiting patiently but with baited breath for more from you. Keep it up.

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

  3. #3

    Default

    It appears that even the famous Pluto Water of French Lick fame could not take care of the, "mud in the blood," and as all would have known from when that famous spring water was stocked on many a pharmacy's shelf, "What nature won't Pluto will!"

  4. #4

    Default

    Yes, Dale Jim and Loretta had a skating rink in Columbus, Ind. before and after their wedding (they were married in Columbus). They ran the rink for about four years. Jim thought that a rink in Columbus would be a money maker; roller skating was extremely popular in the early years of the last century. Loretta managed the rink on a full time basis and Jim would come up on the weekends. Loretta lived in a boarding house for ladies and Jim would stay in a hotel. As Jim said in his later years......"if the rink had a good week I would rent the $1.25 deluxe room, if the week wasn't so good it'd be the $1.00 standard room", Loretta must have been a good manager because they paid off the bank loan in about a year and a half. After they were married, they bought a house in Columbus where they lived until the shipyard business picked up requiring all of Jim's time. They dismantled the rink....shipped the maple floor to Jeff and used the wood on boats they were building.

  5. #5
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    *Boarding House/Skating rink*
    Morning, Steamboating colleagues,
    Frank, you've got me rolling on the floor here with "Pluto Water;" Jim, you have me hooked on your next story. This the stuff another great American novel or biography could be written. I understood Loretta and Jim's early courtship, marriage had some friction, bumps at first with the family. Loretta not only a very lovely lady all her life, but possessed with whit, charm and a very keen mind that served the Howards and the yards well in due time. You and Kenny Howe probably knew her longer than any of us as you were kids hanging around the then mansion, assisting in photo projects etc. I also met Loretta as a young teen. She handed me free gratis some of those fine photo reproductions and a little pencil kit used for desk work over in the old shipyard office. She said, "I simply can't understand why all of you young people today are so interested in all of this old steamboat stuff." That said it all. I remember my first 'peek' in the old Carriage House out back looking in seeing steamboat wonders never dreamed: old stateroom doors, cabin arches, furniture, relics from boats stacked here and there. It was like looking in a telescope to the past. Loretta was hooked on steamboats and so were we. Keep it up, Jim.

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

  6. #6
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    *Jim & Loretta's marriage date/Maple floor*
    Morning, again, Jim. I ruminated after posting my last above. The story of the maple skating ring floor being used for other boats at the yards a good one. They also employed the ethic of what Alan Bates later wrote in his "Do it Yourself." Every penny saved was a penny earned. What year were Loretta and Jim married--about 1906? Years ago, Loretta loaned me that memoir, manuscript with the history of the yards titled 'REMINISCENCES by John C. Howard - July 16, 1903." Incredible information I retyped with some 29 Pgs. I swiftly returned to Loretta the original document that had been typed on then a kind of thin onion skin paper. There is no notation on who typed it but I bet it was done in the mansion on that vintage typewriter now on display. The narrative stopped short at the bottom of the one page with no additional pages continuing. Literally stopped in midstream. I wondered why it wasn't finished or, perhaps, other pages had been lost? I imagine now I may have one of very few--or the only surviving copy. If it was put on deposit at the university in Indiana or the original lost in the fire, I have no idea. Are you aware of this? Back then I was at University of Cincinnati when I transcribed it. I sent a copy off to Capt. Fred Way, which he gushed it, "Was pure gold!" but I don't think he ever used it in any of his REFLECTOR writings. I misplaced my copy here when moving to my then new house. After Fred's death, I inquired about it to Woody Rutter. In days he found it, popped in a large envelope and mailed off to me. Fred Way never threw one thing away. John's first paragraph begins with, "My first trip down the Mississippi was in the summer of 1854...I went to Memphis on the FANNY BULLITT on a collecting tour." I presume in business language of the day "collecting tour" could have referenced his collecting payment for work on boats the yard built. Then, with the prevailing national shortage of currency he 'could' have collected in gold, silver. Then the U.S. recognized and allowed use of even foreign coinage and specie. Well, what do I know?

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

  7. #7

    Default

    They can no longer sell "Pluto Water". Sometime in the late 50's or 60's the govt. analysed the water and found it contained high levels of naturally occurring lithium and declared it unfit for human comsumption. The spring is still there. Did you ever taste or smell the stuff? It was a lot worse than the item that Pluto Water will worked on.

  8. #8
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    *Pluto Water/Unfit to drink*
    Afternoon, Jim,
    Yes, I heard something about 'Pluto Water,' chemicals, minerals etc. but not the whole story. We've been to 'French Lick' several times with friends for weekends enjoying the amenities. I never drank 'Pluto' there so assume it was off the table by our time. The food was really great, I remember. Rooms were very large WITH TWO full baths, lavatories in case, I guess, two in a room once got 'hit' with the water at the same time. Correct me, but I heard then that one famous food was developed there with it possibly tomato juice. [?] I don't think it was Gazpacho as that was from either Mexico, Spain or someplace. I did use the gym, immersed in the hot mineral water with it smelling like you say. The springs are cold and not hot volcanic with them heating the spring water in a big system. It was nice but even then appeared to need a full renovation. Aren't there now condos?

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

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