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Jim Reising 07-15-2017 12:01 PM

No sleeping late on the GCG....or any other boat
I was looking at a picture of meal time in the GORDON's main cabin which got me to thinking.....What would it be like to be in one of the rooms off the main cabin? I would imagine breakfast was served from about 7 til 9:30. This meant the wait staff would start setting up around 6:30 with the accompanying clatter of dishes, shuffle of chairs, etc. The only thing separating a sleeping passenger from all this clatter was a 1" poplar board.
If you awoke after breakfast began, you probably couldn't come out of your room directly into the main cabin, you'd have to go out on the guard and walk around.......not very convenient for a man with a 72 yr. old prostate who's first thought upon awakening is relief.
This same commotion would go on again at lunch and dinner.
I use the GORDON as an example only because I have a picture of it, but this went on on most boats.
No wonder Tom Greene wanted the dinning room on the DQ relocated downstairs on the main deck
Sorry for some reason it wont let me upload the picture.

Jim Reising 07-15-2017 12:04 PM

1 Attachment(s)
let me try the picture again......
It let me do it this time.

Bob Reynolds 07-15-2017 01:00 PM

You are so right, Jim. That may be one of the reasons the Texas deck commanded higher fares...

Jim Reising 07-15-2017 01:59 PM

On the old "floating palaces" the foreward end to the texas was white crew territory, the stern end of the texas was for the colored stewards crew and for black servants and black passengers. Jim Crow laws were much in effect. I wonder if they had a separate dinning area up in the texas somewhere?
Picture is the main cabin all set up for dinner on one of Anchor Lines beautiful lower river sidewheelers, the CITY OF MONROE.

Jim Reising 07-15-2017 02:04 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Let me try again if at first it doesn't succeed, try, try again

R. Dale Flick 07-16-2017 02:36 PM

*GCG cabin/Creature comforts etc.*
Steamboating colleagues,
Thanks again Jim for your thought provoking topic involving "no sleeping late...cabin of the GORDON C. GREENE." Steamboats/ships back then had breakfast, lunch, dinner meals punctual and you missed it that was it. No constant buffets or snacks aboard like now; no cabin service delivered with a phone call. Yet I do remember ages ago on the DELTA QUEEN some of us going back to the galley behind the dining room [No 'Orleans Room' then] where an obliging cook was on duty watch to whip up a ham sandwich etc. upon request. And no designated spaces for an on board gym to work out. Passengers 'walked' the decks or vigorous walks ashore when the boat made port.

The cabin of the GCG wasn't the only short-coming the boat had in spite of her cadre of loyal fans who ignored most: no air-conditioning, bare light bulbs in cabins, no showers/lavatory facilities in cabins. You're right RE: the "poplar board" between sleepers and activity in the cabin. Capt. Tom Greene also knew the vulnerability of the GCG on the wide Mississippi River subject to high winds in spring and fall. Letha C. Greene commented to me, "My first trip on the DQ impressed me with her size, weight and power like a battleship." Tom's idea was to upgrade, modernize his GREENE LINE for the then just emerging cruise business minus then steamboat nostalgia or 'Steamboatiana.' That accent came years later. Several recalled questions then as to "Why didn't the Greenes just build a whole knew boat from scratch." That would have been crushingly expensive just after World War II along with Tom picking up the DQ as U.S. Navy Surplus. And Capt. Tom did comment to Capt. Fred Way early on, "...perhaps both of them" meaning both the DELTA KING and the DELTA QUEEN.

Take another long look at those seemingly wonderful, beautiful, ornate steamboat cabins in old photos. Lovely to look at, delightful to behold but in most cases it was far from that. How was it really?

On 'Freedman Bureau' days the Black passengers were housed separately, fed separately. Same for the Black and White crews. Old GCG veterans I talked with remembered as passengers the Black maids, porters, wait staff, cook house crew always eating their meals much earlier than the passengers seated at their own tables in the rear of the cabin. Others down below ate when they could from tin pans. The late Virginia Bennett recalled a kind of picnic table down on the main deck by the engine spaces where the crew could eat in good weather. I could go on but will mercifully stop here. Again, what do I know?

R. Dale Flick from the northern shores of mighty Lake Michigan.

Judy Patsch 07-16-2017 03:59 PM

Another reason for early rising on the DQ...
My first room was 131, over the Engine Room. The jingling of the bells for a first timer was something that kept me awake and wondering what was happening. One night the noise ceased and I went out on deck to see tree branches practically hanging over the boat. I thought we had run aground...turns out we choked a stump - it was a Dick Billings State Bank of East Moline charter and we traveled in daylight. I have to laugh at my ignorance back then - not that its completely cured :-) About 5 AM the smells from the galley wafted up to my room too, so that was that for sleeping anymore.

R. Dale Flick 07-22-2017 08:33 AM

*Great memories well presented*
Morning, Steamboating colleagues,
Judy, your above 'word picture' of your "first room...131, over the Engine Room" most descriptive and almost exactly like my first experiences way, way back now on the DQ. The "5 AM smells from the galley" woke up a lot of people. Now, do you recall the waiters, maids, porters, cooks etc. having their early morning Bible reading and then great spiritual songs from way down below? They would sing also a spirited 'clap juba' that was rousing. I understand in later years, and with the crew compliment changing, that disappeared. The Greenes had crew members sweeping, hosing down the decks each morning, washing off the deck railings. Yes, those were the sights and sounds [smells too] from the old days we never forget. Steamboats--and ships also--have those unmistakable number of sounds and movements; smells of wax used in cleaning, smoke from the stack, steam, muddy river water you never forget.

Our late Helen Hughes Prater [Daughter of Capt. Jesse Hughes] recalled years and years later living in Washington, D.C. when husband Bernie was a career military man, walking down a busy city street there. Helen said she stopped dead in her tracks when she smelled roofing tar being used on a building that instantly brought back memories of the crews repairing/tarring the roofs of the steamboats she traveled on when young.

R. Dale Flick home at old Coal Haven, Ohio River, Cincinnati.

Jim Reising 07-23-2017 10:57 AM

And, Dale, the sounds wafing up from the main deck of the Friday afternoon crap game after the crew had been paid.
Capt. Paul Underwood was a stickler at keeping the boat spic and span clean and polished.

R. Dale Flick 07-23-2017 06:20 PM

*DQ payday/Crew music etc.*
Steamboating colleagues,
Jim, you bet I remember "Friday afternoon crap games." The old GREENE LINE always paid in cash with crew money in white envelopes. Paul sat in a high back chair down on the bow handing out crew pay envelopes looking like a grand signeur. I also remember the crew on the lower bow deck at night playing their little instruments, singing, dancing with passengers leaning over the rails above listening. In time the old crew gang retired, moved on, took other jobs with that disappearing. I also heard that new managment with later owning companies discouraged it. In the summer the boat was hot down in those quarters with the crew seeking some relief catching the evening breeze. I wonder now how many new/potential crew would sign on living and working in those same conditions if/when the DQ is re-entered in service? They better think about that.

Paul Underwood's old tradition handing out pay on the deck the way he did was near antebellum to witness. Purser Bob McCann also did the same thing. When Betty Blake joined the company witnessing her first 'pay day' old GREENE LINE style she was appalled. "I didn't like it and put a stop to it instantly," she said to me with flashing eyes, chewing her cigarette. Again, what do I know and witness then?

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

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