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Alan Bates 11-19-2006 04:13 PM

Picture of the Week
Young dance bands are the bane of excursion boat crews. By the time musicians reach the age of 30 years they are willing, even eager, to quit on command. The young WANT to perform as ego salve or simple enthusiasm. Excursion boat crews want the people to get the heck off the boat so they can go home. Thus mates and young musicians are not compatible.
We used to tell young band leaders when to stop and flatter them by saying, "Professionals know when to quit." That seldom worked. However, there was a main switch in the engineroom that controlled the bandstand outlets. When the kids would start another tune we would flip the switch and suddenly there would be an unaccompanied drum solo. Since 1960 this was a fail-safe system, for guitars and electronic pianos don't work without juice.
The next time the same band played aboard we didn't have to tell them.

R. Dale Flick 11-19-2006 05:21 PM

Hi, Alan:
Judy's 'Pic o' the week' is a dandy and there's a lot more going on in that photo than you'd think. No doubt it's World War II years as evidenced by the number of young guys in navy and army uniforms. The clothes fit the era for sure. Any of the young gals in the shot wearing a 'snood?' Looks like a slow dance to me at this point--no 'Jumpin' at the Savoy' or 'Tuxedo Junction.'

R. Dale Flick

Judy Patsch 11-19-2006 05:24 PM

One of the 'threats' used on the NATCHEZ when there is such a band on a charter: we'll be switching to shore power shortly after we dock. That might affect (blow out) all your electronic stuff. That works. And of course, on any last trip of the day when its announced "Ok Chief, switch", and the lights go out momentarily while the shore power is connected, the passengers think its just a 'hint' for them to leave. Whatever works! Regarding that pix of the ADMIRAL's dance floor: I remember how cold the AC was in there in July, the blueish/gray bulkheads, and the 3rd deck balcony ice cream parlor. Does anybody recall bands that played on there in the late '50s? I know Bob Kuban had the house band in her last years, but am blank before him.

Ann Blum 11-21-2006 02:39 AM

This is Annie Blum. The picture of the Admiral's ballroom brought back good memories. It was called the blue salon because the glass in the windows and in the doors was tinted light blue. The original ceiling was painted to resemble the midnight sky. That was before my time. Hal Havird and Johnny Polzin had played for years on the Admiral. When I came on the scene in 1962 Hal was playing in the daytime and Johnny was at night. Hal died suddenly and I think it was in 1963. His band did finish the year. Then Johnny Polzin changed to days and Dick Renna was at night. Bob Kuban appeared about 1976. He played at night and Dick Renna took the day. There were also rock bands on the fourth deck at night. I am typing from my memory. If anyone is interested, I can pull out my notes and be more specific. I believe that everyone knows that the Streckfus family understood about providing good music that people would likie. Bands played for all trips on most of their boats, going way back.

Alan Bates 11-21-2006 04:59 AM

Dale, while Stompin' at the Savoy was fast, Tuxedo Junction was very slow, about 72 beats per minute. Nobody jitterbugged or did the Charleston to Tuxedo Junction. You stand corrected.

R. Dale Flick 11-21-2006 07:34 AM

Hi, Alan:
Thanks for the correction on 'Tuxedo Junction' with beats etc. What was I thinking? Perhaps my snood was on too tight. I'll have to pull those old 78s out and refresh my ears. And so with that....

R. Dale Flick

Judy Patsch 11-21-2006 09:10 AM

More on the ADMIRAL
While most of the board posters are Ohio River oriented, I'd sure like to know more about the ADMIRAL, and I'm sure they would like to broaden their horizons too. I suspect one reason the ADMIRAL hasn't acquired a higher place in steamboat history is the fact that she never tramped or even changed locations occasionally, save for the couple of NOLA stints we've documented already. If you think about it, how many excursion boats of any size worked only one harbor? While the ISLAND QUEEN is tied to Cincinnati history, she went upriver and played Pittsburgh for a couple of weeks each year, and of course that is where she met her demise too. Before the PRESIDENT took up residency in NOLA, she tramped the Upper Miss. Did she ever go on the Ohio? What was the HOMER SMITH's territory? And back to the ADMIRAL, her streamlined aluminum-enclosed design also set her apart from her predecessors. She was built on the 1907 hull of the railroad transfer ALBATROSS, but did she also use its machinery? And my final puzzlement: it seems they claimed she never went upriver because she couldn't get under the Eads Bridge. But she was completely built above it, so she had to clear it at least once. She was built after the Locks and Dams system, so that shouldn't have affected the clearance, unless the newer Chain of Rocks L&D and canal did....Who on this board has ever ridden on the ADMIRAL, or even seen her in person? I suspect the number will be quite low...

Frank X. Prudent 11-21-2006 01:43 PM

I was on the ADMIRAL one very hot and sticky summer day the last year she ran under steam. The air conditioning wasn't working, so not much time was spent looking up at the ceiling in the ballroom and admiring the signs of the Zodiak painted above. I can't even tell you if a band was playing. I can tell you Jim Blum was pilot, "Popeye" and "Wimpy" were in the engineroom, and a real neat arcade machine on the main deck recreated the race between the NATCHEZ and ROB'T E. LEE. I haven't set foot on her since.

Tom Schiffer 11-21-2006 05:10 PM

Judy: Some thirty years ago, I took my family to St Louis. The company that I worked for at the time sent me. They had a plant/office at 2220 Washington St if I remember correctly. It was the first time that I had been "at large" in that city. I remember seeing the BECKY THATCHER (nee MISSISSIPPI) and the ADMIRAL both but went aboard neither. Each time that I go to Denver and cross the Mississippi, I look north to see if I can see her and usually do, if it is daylight. When not driving, I try to snap a picture and have one or two of them. However, I have never been aboard either the BECKY or the ADMIRAL.

Bill Judd 11-21-2006 05:11 PM

Passed her on a regular basis, both at dock and out on trips, in the middle to late 1950's. Rode her twice, once in 1964 and again with my 4 yr. old son in 1967 or 1968. He was much more impressed with going to the top of the Arch. I was on her, dockside, once more in '76 or '77 after the M&T units were installed. I'm sorry to say, other than her size, she never impressed me.

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