13 months ago I brought up this topic, and this afternoon, by accident I came across a letter my grandmother Leona Bulgrin Zahn wrote to my folks about her 1st days aboard the DQ with President Carter, et al...it is written on DQ stationary and is postmarked Aug 20th, 1979...and I have typed it out EXACTLY as it was written...which was a challenge!! I figure it appropriate giving recent discussions on presidents on steamboats!!
We drove in rain friday from about 8am to 10:30, after that no more rain, but slightly foggy.
On arrival we had to go to certain hotel to leave our bags, and attend a snack buffet and cocktail hour. Later the bags were taken to the boat and we were all bussed to the boat too.
The area all around the river and city streets down to the boat were roped off to the public. I never saw so many people in my life. By that time it was almost 8pm. Everyone was on deck waiting the arrival of the Pres. & family. They came after a truck of baggage with their things plus many large cartons-even Amy's teddy bear wa on the boat! Then came police, cars of S.S. men, etc., sirens on police cars, lights flashing came past the boat & up thru the downtown of St. Paul. At last, they came back & we saw the Pres., Mrs. C & Amy getting out. They waved at us on the decks & surronded by S.S. men, cops and aides, went on to the crowd on land and shook hands with the people. I'd have been afraid to that had I been a Carter! Of course, they had a few men trailing behind, but no doubt there were plenty of cops or detectives in the crowd keeping watch. At last, about 9pm, the Carters came on board and with the calliope bleating, bell ringing & boats' horn blowing, the Delta Queen took off and we had a very nice dinner buffet, rib roast, etc. - the Carters had eaten earlier on their airplane. Before we went down to eat, the carters went along the decks & shook hands - thatis, some folks had not gone down to eat as of yet. Now get ready for the surprise -
Your Mom got to shake hands with you know who! I don't know where Dad was, or the girls, but there I stood with some others & the Pres came to me and I said "How do you do Mr. President" & he (listen to this) took my right hand in his & and his left arm went around my waist in back, gave me a squeeze with it and said "where are you from?" I said Wisconsin and I said "you certainly had a large crowd of people in St. Paul waiting to see you!" How's that?? The picture of us was taken but its not good, as I was leaning over too far. Its good of him - the professional photographer took the picture. Amy came along and I told her I'd like my two granddaughters to her one of these days & it pleased her. She is real nice. The next day I had a chance to introduce the 3, so I did.
Today Dad & I were talking to a Milwaukee Journal press man when Mrs Carter came along with a S.S. man. She stopped to talk & was really a nice woman, plain dress, no make-up, but perhaps a bit of lipstick. You'd think we all were friends. The Milwaukee Journal man said, "Mrs. Carter, I know today is your birthday, would it be out of of place if I asked if the president gave you a birthday present this morning?"- She said "absolutely not, he gave me something I have always wanted- a fishing coat & hat." She and the rest of us laughed over it. I don't think Dad has had a chance to speak to the pres. He doesn't want to push like some of these people do. I did tell Mrs. C. our granddaughters said they wished they could play cards with Amy. She didn't say they could but after lunch I went downstairs & saw them playing cards together with a S.S. man sitting by himself at a table, two from them. They (the girls) were laughing & having a good time. Dad said later he saw them & Amy was teaching them a new game & her arms were waving around tryingt o explain it, He took a picture. Just before lunch time I went downstairs & saw a girl talking to V & K. Taking a second look, I saw it was Amy with a red h.kerchief on her head & in a blue bathing suit! Time to go to dinner, will finish this tonight.
Well we had steak and green beans, NOT AS good as yours.
Many people like I didn't like the idea of having the president's family aboard, for fear of spoiling their trips, but now I am glad I was here as they bothered no-o, but were fascinating to speak to, very common and ordinary, also very gracious and down to earth. It was a pleasure to be on this trip and something different everyday. Boats of all kinds were on the river, sailboats, houseboats, fishing, and Coast Guard's boats along the Delta Queen day & night & government boats too.
This A.M., about 6AM, we heard heavy footsteps upstairs as tho joggong. When mentioning it to Mrs. C. this A.M., she said it was jimmy and 2 other men. Dad said "so he is the one who woke me up!" She laughed!
I presume I have forgotten something, but just want to let you know its interesting!!! Tell Peter there are no boys his age here, also no other girls his age except Vicki, Karen and Amy of course!!! They hit it off with Amy fine, especially Karen as they are the same age. Amy asked K. if she would like to have dinner with her family tonight, but K. told her she should eat with her a&G - I presume her parents (Amy's) said she could ask Karen. SAy Hi to Judy, Jeff & Peter. Much love to you all! G&G
p.s. The Mil. Journal man asked Dad what he thought of the trip with the P. aboard. He also took Dad's and my names and what we did before retiring, etc., so perhaps we might make the Mil. Journal!""