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Keith Norrington 10-27-2008 07:05 AM

"A Brave Front Put Up For A Sad Occasion."
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Although several others have posted great accounts of the events on the Louisville waterfront Friday, I wanted to add my remembrance, as well as a few photographs from the very memorable occasion.

After a day of dark clouds, pouring rain and chilly temperatures, the rain stopped and the sun came out just as I was leaving my office to head down to the riverfront. There were MANY people there and it was so good to see dear river folk I haven't visited with in quite a while. It was especially nice to see Capt. Gabe & Cindy Chengery, whom I last saw at Natchez several years ago. Gabe handed me one of the orange SAVE THE DELTA QUEEN - KEEP STEAMBOATING ALIVE buttons from the 1970 campaign and we both expressed disbelief that nearly four decades have passed since we last fought a battle to save the boat. Also "on deck" were Capt. Alan Bates, Capt. Pete O'Connell, Pat Traynor, Barb Hameister, Jo Ann Schoen, Gayle Hindman, Katie Blackburn, Ruth Guenther, Travis (who played a fabulous calliope concert!) James Hall, Jim Reising, Pat Carr, Jim Herron, Suzanne & Richard Martinez, Phillip Johnson (who was celebrating his 23rd birthday) Dave Morecraft and his son Zach, Jerry Hay, Gerry Swarts & Judith Reed (Lucy Stoll's daughters) and their husbands, Chuck Parrish, Capt. Mike Fitzgerald, Capt. Mark Doty and the list goes on and on. I took a slow stroll around each deck, taking pictures and just "remembering" past days and dear people from my era on the boat. I thought of Bruno when Pat, Phillip, Barb and I enjoyed hot dogs and drinks in the Texas Bar! Down at the gift shop, gracious purser Pat Taylor was doing a brisk business selling DQ tote bags, sweatshirts and other souvenirs (for almost giveaway prices) bearing the boat's picture and THE LEGENDARY DELTA QUEEN - 2008 on them. Also visited briefly with engineer Fred Carmichael. Sorry I somehow missed Dave and Linda Dewey!

All too soon, the big roof bell tolled that departure was drawing nigh and it was time to take my leave. The BELLE OF LOUISVILLE, beautifully bedecked in lights and emitting glorious clouds of steam, departed on a charter cruise but turned around above the bridges and came back down to await the DQ's departure. It was impossible to count the people down there, but it easily was in the hundreds, not only on the wharf, but up on the Belvedere. The passengers lining the railing were holding SAVE THE DQ signs and were throwing souvenir doubloons to the crowd, who frantically scrambled to catch them. Phillip was even stopped on the wharf by a man who wanted to know if he'd sell something, ANYTHING with the boat's name on it, from his bag of gift shop purchases! Kelly Gream, marketing director for the BELLE and another B/L staff member, enlisted Phillip and me to help unfurl and hold up a huge banner proclaiming [B][I]THE DELTA QUEEN IS SPECTACULAR! [/I][/B] A lady who recognized me from the Howard Steamboat Museum came up, introduced herself and said her family first took a trip on the DQ in 1952 and that her first name is "Queen", named for the steamer ISLAND QUEEN which her mother often rode. She said, "I know I'm going to cry my eyes out when the boat departs, but I just HAD to be here tonight!" The crowd also joined the passengers in chanting "SAVE THE QUEEN" and "LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!"

And then, it was time. The dreaded hour had arrived. I thought I could be a brave little soldier, but when that beautiful, melodious whistle began to blow, reverberating around the riverfront in the chilly autumn air as the boat slowly backed away from the wharf, I simply "lost it" -- BIG time! Seeing the DQ, with the BELLE waiting out in the river next to her brought back a flood of memories of bygone days and many precious people who are part of both boat's histories, quite a number who have since departed this earth. I certainly saw a multitude of "river ghosts" floating before my eyes! With Capt. Gabe presiding at the calliope console, the first song, appropriately, was "My Old Kentucky Home". Many thronging the levee joined in singing along, but a lot of us were too choked up to sing! Both steamboats processed grandly upriver, exchanging whistle salutes and the DQ calliope serenading the BELLE with a rendition of "Avalon", before the DQ turned above the bridges and came back down. As she steamed majestically under the Second Street Bridge with her lights shimmering on the water, we heard (this time with Bill Wiemuth at the keyboard) "My Old Kentucky Home", "Beautiful Ohio" and "You Are My Sunshine" as the grand lady of the river disappeared into the Louisville and Portland Canal. I called Judy to give her a "live from the levee" report and so she could hear the calliope, but I could barely speak at that point -- and neither could she. To say that it was an extraordinarily emotional moment would be an understatement!

Over the weekend I got out an old log book that my dear friend and steamboating mentor, Miss Ruth Ferris, kept while she was curator of the riverboat museum aboard the Str. BECKY THATCHER at St. Louis. She had an entry for the DQ's October, 1970 "Goodbye Forever" visit to St. Louis in which she noted that Capt. Ernie Wagner invited her and Capt. Bill Carroll, master of the Streckfus Str. ADMIRAL, to have coffee with him aboard the DQ just before the boat departed on what was, at that time, thought to be her final cruise. Ruth also noted how much she admired Capt. Ernie and his stalwart crew for being so stoic, and that the Cahokia High School band, in brass button uniforms, played a moving farewell concert in tribute to the boat, joining a huge crowd on the levee. Ruth's final sentence for the entry was, [B][I]"A BRAVE FRONT PUT UP FOR A SAD OCCASION". [/I][/B] And those same words pretty much sum up the mood on the Louisville landing Friday night.


Photos: (1) DQ & BELLE from Belvedere. (2) Travis "Wizard of the Whistles" Vasconcelos playing a concert with "all the stops pulled out"! (3) Keith with Capts. Gabe Chengery and Alan Bates.

Keith Norrington 10-27-2008 07:22 AM

3 Attachment(s)
Several more images to share:

(1) Phillip, Pat and Barb in the Texas Bar (2) Pat Traynor holding a SAVE THE QUEEN sign (3) The DQ departure whistle.

Bruno Krause 10-27-2008 08:21 AM

Keith, very nice description, leaves a beautiful vision. Boy, did Deb and I want to be there, but ya know...

We got a few wonderful phone calls from Pat Traynor the past couple of days. It's a very hard to hear the words as it is extremely obvious that both the passengers and the townfolk in the background are being as enthusiastic as possible, but you can get the gist. Yesterday, Pat called as the DQ was leaving Henderson, and between the whistle, the bell and everybody yelling back and forth Thank You's, to and from shore, you can feel the love through the cell phone. Pat held up the phone in what I envisioned as the Forward Cabin Lounge and everybody screamed HI DEBBIE AND BRUNO, and then the phone was passed around. Obviously in addition to Pat, I got the pleasure of talking to Joanne Williams(who last I heard was not going to be on board and I mistook her for JoAnne Schoen, gotta e-mail her with an apology), Suzanne Martinez who advised me that big boys DO INDEED cry and Deb and I should really be there, that emotion shouldn't be a part of this, Barb Hameister, Dave Dewey, who I told was famous again with pictures on and being a non-employee how was he allowed on the roof?, and his wife Linda. I hope I haven't missed anybody that I talked to. Then Pat followed Capt. Gabe up to the calliope for a listen to wonderfully long concert (which I sang along to, "cruising down the river on a Sunday afternoon..."). With the concert over she put Capt. Gabe on the phone who also advised that Deb and I should really be there but that he understood as he was also having a very hard time with emotions just like us. Asked Pat if she saw Bill Wiemuth to thank him for the wonderful choice of words for his interviews on TV, to which she handed the phone to him and I thanked him in person. He hadn't heard the CNN cell phone interview and I told him it sounded great, especially the phrases "we are the curators of history" and "we aren't asking Congress for a single dime, just permission"...

I was surprised, very surprised at how good [B][I]THE[/I][/B] whistle and the calliope sounded over a cell phone. Though it was hard to understand conversation, the whistle and the calliope were quite clear and, what is the word?, [B][I]recognizable[/I][/B]. Even 1000 miles away, through the ether, the whistle raised the hair on my arm, just like it does when I'm standing on the Sun deck forward, basso profundo indeed. Just to close my eyes and absorb it, and I don't know who was blowing it, probably Findley, but thank you for blowing it every few minutes! I don't get the significance of a long and THREE shorts, though, gotta Google and see about that. And it was very cool to hear car horns on shore and the Legendary One return the salute.

The two TV interviews made me misty, very! As you say Keith, I have [B][I]lost it[/I][/B] many times, ever since the first "save the Delta Queen" videos came out on YouTube, and then there is the time we got off the first one this year in July. I find that I'm so sad and so angry at the same time, sometimes it's very hard to deal with. Deb keeps asking me why I'm so distant lately...she knows why, she just wants to force me to talk about it...

But I still have hope!

The phone call from Pat didn't make me sad at all, I was afraid it would, as did she. It just made me feel warm inside.

inactive user 02 10-27-2008 02:19 PM


Thank you for the great pictures! What a day it was aboard the DELTA QUEEN last Friday. It all happened so fast and there were so many great friends there, I barely had time to realize what was happening. All I know is the last 3 days have been very reflective and quite melancholy.


When that cheer went up on the wharf, I was shocked to hear my fellow Louisvillians chant along with the passengers. It warmed my heart in these times of uncertainty and change people would cry out in the night to save our beloved steamboat.

Someone put a video on youtube where you can clearly hear about a emotional moment!

Here is the link to the video

[url=]YouTube - The Delta Queen's Final Voyage[/url]

What an appropriate thing for Miss Ruth Ferris to have said about that situation and how fitting it is even today. You are like many of "Ruthie's boys" who knew she had her finger on the pulse of steamboating and a warm, ever present desire to educate all about it....we could use a great river intellect like Ruth Ferris about now!

Keep up steam!


Bruno Krause 10-27-2008 02:58 PM

OK, not like I'm a little bit sensitive right now...First, Travis my friend thanks for the video, anything with the DQ right now is heaven, thanks...

But, I gotta ask Majestic this...The friggin' calliope Aurora Effect (Ohhhh) is lit up like a Christmas tree in this video, but the Paddlewheel is [B][I]DARK?[/I][/B]

Either somebody turned the breaker off, or somebody is being [B][I]REAL[/I][/B] cheap. How 'bout some new halogens for the two floodlights? Need some, I'll write you a check, you got my e-mail, I'll spring for the 12 bucks, I mean come on guys...


inactive user 02 10-27-2008 03:39 PM


I think they just forgot to turn them on. 'Cause we replaced alot of the Aurora Effect lights earlier in the day.

Yeah, I think we are all on edge and rather depressed about it at this point. We just need to renew our energies and get the fight back on track and get her saved from the law and the owners!


Dave Morecraft 10-27-2008 03:53 PM

[QUOTE=Travis Vasconcelos;13315]Keith,

Thank you for the great pictures! What a day it was aboard the DELTA QUEEN last Friday. It all happened so fast and there were so many great friends there, I barely had time to realize what was happening. All I know is the last 3 days have been very reflective and quite melancholy.

Thanks Keith,, and so good to see you again,,

I must echo Travis's thoughts here,,..
It never hit me till we got home "about 5:30 SAT. morning,,,
the DQ'S whistle, and the crowd chanting "Save the DELTA QUEEN" still ringing in my head,,,...


While strolling the DQ decks Friday gave my time to reflect on
my first trip with my Wife LINDA ,over 24 years ago,,
If yall haven't read, Please do,, the DQ memories at Save the
ID better shutup now or the tears will start again,,..

Thanks everone, and so good to see everyone Friday,,,...


Carmen 10-28-2008 01:26 AM

Here´s another video where you can hear the crowd on the levee!

[url=]YouTube - Farwell to the Delta Queen[/url]

By the end of this clip the crowd is joining the calliope singing "My Old Kentucky Home".


Keith Norrington 10-28-2008 05:20 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Maybe the lights were OFF because of the shameful condition of the wheel. I have NEVER seen it look so shabby. When I walked to the stern and saw it, I was shocked --- and couldn't help but think that if Capt. Ernie Wagner could see it, he probably would spit halfway across the river! And please don't anybody misunderstand; I'm not blaming the CREW for this negligence!

[I]The Legendary Lady [/I]deserves [B]FAR[/B] better!

Dave Morecraft 10-28-2008 08:52 AM

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