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Anniversary of Jimmy Carter Cruise

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Old 08-17-2011, 04:58 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Waukesha, Wisconsin
Posts: 50
Default Anniversary of Jimmy Carter Cruise

On this date in 1979, August 17, The Delta Queen departed St. Paul for St. Louis with 194 passengers, including President Jimmy Carter, First Lady Rosalyn Carter, and daughter Amy. Needless to say, this was no ordinary DQ cruise! Never before was the Delta Queen on such an international stage, and it lasted on the evening news every day for a whole week!

Even though I was working as a Sales Rep for Amtrak at the time, I had arranged with Capt. Jim Blum to get rehired for two weeks during my August vacation that I had planned. I got rehired as a Watchman on the same day that the President boarded, and I got my background checked by the Secret Service a week prior to departure.

Attached are some memories from that eventful trip:

1. The first night of the cruise was very foggy. We spent spent almost 4 hours in Lock #3. When we departed, we still ran at half ahead for a while. Just before Wabasha, MN, the fog lifted. Wabasha planned a big birthday party for Rosalyn Carter that morning on a temporary stage at the river. Here's the Carter's arrival at Wabasha.

2. The President visited the pilothouse a lot. On that foggy first morning, I was on the Texas Deck, watching the President on the Port Side wing. A deckhand came by while oiling the railings (I forget his name, but he looked like John Belushi..) I told the deckhand, "Wouldn't it be neat if the President waved at us while I took his picture?" With that said, the deckhand yells, "HEY! Mr. President!!!" I then grabbed this shot. It was pretty tacky for the deckhand to grab his attention that way, but I'm not complaining!

#3. On the 3rd day of the cruise, I was eating a dish of ice cream on the Starboard Side fantail, when all of a sudden a Secret Service Agent stepped out and politely asked me to leave the premises. That could mean only one thing! So I ran back to my room, and grabbed my camera. When I returned, there was Capt. Fred Martin, the President, and Amy watching the wheel which was put on slow ahead for their show.

Everybody on board had several opportunitiesto meet the First Family. Some took advantage of the opportunities, and some didn't. But it sure was a memorable trip!

-Denny Hamilton-
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