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Old 11-01-2012, 01:15 PM
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,567
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*'Potable H20/MQ memories*
Steamboating colleagues:
Keith's recollections of PORTABLE WATER a real classic. Variations on the word can differ. My Webster's Dictionary Unabridged edition enters it as 'po ta ble' from Latin 'potabilis' and French potare to 'drink.' It can vary and I've heard people from Great Britain even say 'po table.' Capt. C.W. Stoll recalled his memories of the steamboat SOUTHLAND pronouncing it, as others did, 'SOUTH LUN.'

In the birthing days of the then new MISSISSIPPI QUEEN the fresh water supply caused a number of headaches. On the 1st shake down cruise of the boat, somebody accidently turned the wrong valve dumping all of the vital potable water in the river. No water for drinking, cooking for a time. Betty Blake rose to the event in pure PR style opening the boat's bars aboard "on the house" for all of us. Fine to a point, but how long can you go without a cup of hot coffee? And then other things developed with potable water streaming down from overheads and bulkheads from leaking water fixtures. The then new pneumatic toilets didn't flush nor could we shower in cabins. A number of us slipped up to the boat's swimming pool with soap before dinner to take a quick bath wearing swimming suits.

Mrs. Letha Greene was aboard and on the delivery trip here to Cincinnati. We talked comparing notes. "What do you think?" she asked furtively. I replied how I liked the boat etc. and then, "Water will be a big issue on this boat." Mrs. Greene lowered her voice, "This boat is like a huge thirsty whale existing from one shore stop to the next. They'll learn their lesson." One droll passenger took magic marker and penned on a piece of paper at the Purser's Desk, "Drink like a fish water only."

One of the least of the MQ shakedown issues was that the plastic plates on the cabin keys in black and gold weren't permanent with the color rubbing off on our hands. "That's what this trip is for," Betty intoned later mumbling, "All of you guests are really guinepigs." The real kicker came in the MQ pilothouse when Capt. Harry Louden looked all around, with invited Coast Guard officers behind him, and said, "Hey, anybody know what all of these switches and buttons are for?" Well, what do I know?

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