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Old 08-28-2008, 10:11 PM
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Dubuque, Iowa
Posts: 269
Default AVALON Anniversary

Today, August 28th, is the 50th anniversary of my very first steamboat ride. At 2:30 on the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 28, 1958, my dad and I were aboard the steamer AVALON as she backed away from the Municipal Landing below the mouth of the Ice Harbor on her afternoon excursion at Dubuque. Little did I suspect what that innocent ride on an old steamboat would lead to! I still remember that afternoon like it happened yesterday, so powerful were the impressions it made on a 10-year old boy's heart and mind. The sweet smell of molasses in the air as we passed the barge unloading facility of Inland Molasses Co. on the riverfront . . . the colored pennants flapping in the afternoon breeze from up on the boat's roof (the only season she sported those pennants, and only on the Upper Mississippi, for those of you who look for little things to help date photos of the old girl) . . . the scare of my life as that beautiful mellow whistle unexpectedly let loose with three blasts as she backed out into the channel, dripping me with condensate as I stood on the hurricane roof below . . . and those mysterious letters painted on the bucket boards as they splashed the muddy Mississippi: "VISIT OUR SOUVENIR STAND," a marketing and advertising ploy of owner Ernie Meyer. He knew that 10-year olds would stand hypnotized at the stern, watching that wheel turn, with that subliminal message registering with each revolution of the wheel. And it worked! My Steamer AVALON balloon (which popped during the trip), my AVALON decal (which went on my favorite drinking glass when we got home), and my two AVALON postcards were part of the loot from the souvenir stand during that first trip. Posted below is the faded, yellow newspaper ad from the day of my inaugural trip, a shot of the wide-eyed 10-year old who didn't have a clue what he was getting into, and a portrait of the veteran steamer up at Prairie du Chien three weeks earlier. Unfortunately, I didn't know how to use a camera, and taking any pictures never occurred to me that day. But boy, did I ever remedy that on my trips the next three years. And then, suddenly, she never came back to Dubuque after that last summer of 1961. But I did meet her ladyship, the DELTA QUEEN, for the first time in September of 61, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Thanks to my friends on this messageboard for allowing me to indulge in memories of how this all started. How can it be a half-century already? Do you remember your first time?
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Last edited by David Tschiggfrie; 08-28-2008 at 10:14 PM. Reason: Post thumbnails
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