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*A Thnksgiving steamboat story of long ago*

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Old 11-27-2013, 04:47 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,573
Default *A Thnksgiving steamboat story of long ago*

Steamboating colleagues:
On this the eve of Thanksgiving, 2013, let me heartily extend my wishes to you and yours wherever you may be or are traveling for a safe, pleasant holiday. We all here may not always agree or see eye-to-eye, but we agree to disagree and share with postings like a 'letter from home.' Some years back, I posted a memorable story from the notes and pages of Capt. Ellis Mace collected from his own memories and those of his friends and correspondents. Permit me here to again share that story. If familiar, then feel free to skip on to the next as Franz prompted here previously.
* * * * * *

Thanksgiving found a large sidewheeler--possibly one of the famed ANCHOR LINE not identified by name in Mace's writings--bound on a November trip south to New Orleans from St. Louis. Thanksgiving aboard would be celebrated with an unusally fine meal of turkey and all the trimmings from her cook house prepared by talented cooks, served by attentive cabin waiters. Many passengers aboard heading south looked forward to the great repast lasting more than a few hours. Many were aboard for pleasure, business; some families; invited special guests who were steady shippers with no sense of being on a pleasure cruise. That's the way it was then.

Early Thanksgiving morning the captain heard an urgent, persistent knocking at his cabin door. There stood head steward Mose, a trusted employee of the line, with a shocked look on his face. "Why, Mose, what is the problem?" the captain inquired. "Cap'n...all the turkeys I had up on the roof pecked, unlatched, got out and plumb flew de' coop! What I goin' to do?" Mose exclaimed. "Now, Mose, let me think a bit," the sage captain said dressing, looking out at the Mississippi shore on the Arkansas side taking down his shot gun ricked above his cabin door.

Down below in the main cabin, the captain held a meeting with a number of the crew and male passengers. In November many men of the hunting sport took the boats down south to shoot game birds, ducks, pheasant, quail--even deer in the southern hunting camps of the day. These men, usually a tad better 'heeled,' were on a holiday of their own.

The great boat landed on the Arkansas shore with the male passengers and some crew with their guns and burlap game bags climbing up the bank and into the woods to the west. In time those aboard heard the crack of rifles here and there again and again in the distance. The men returned to the boat carrying several bags or branches from trees dangling many wild turkeys free for the taking with no hunting licenses required. Such was the still near virginal country then teeming with game relatively free for the shooting by locals.

The turkeys were handed over to Mose and his cook house crew to be cleaned, dressed and prepared for the big dinner later that day. The boat sounded her whistle, backed out heading on down stream. Thanksgiving aboard with long tables set with gleaming cutlery, china, glasses, white table cloths, napkins with fruits and nuts down the center, was declared by all to be one of the most memorable and finest in their memory. Pray for those in distress, illness, poverty, men and women far away aboard vessels of war on sea and land. Think of those on river vessels conveying much needed materials and resources. A BLESSED THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY TO ALL!

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