I thought E. J. Quinby was on the DQ that day when they had the 'Calliope Duel' but didn't want to commit an error. Heck, that's a long time ago. I recall it was windy and cold with watery sun--can't remember the exact date now--think it was a Saturday. Possibly linked to the DQ departing for Mardi Gras [*?]. Anyway, I was driving a big old FORD with fins and google eye tail lights and was about 18. It was dad's and I felt 'cool.'
I never met Mr. Stocksdale you write about but seems his name crops up now and then relating to river music. Doc Hawley could tell us tons about Homer Denny and I 'think' Denny died way, way up in his 90s. The Dennys were remarkable as a family: music and inventions. His nephew, father to Dexter my friend, built one of the first electric lawn mowers out of a steel carbage can lid, roller skate wheels, blade and something like a vacuum cleaner motor with a plug in electric cord. It got great press and I recall the newspapers coming out to take photos and interview him. I don't think he ever realized a penny from the project. Heck, Homer Denny was an old gentlemen when I was a kid. On the ISLAND QUEEN he wore dark trousers, white shirt, dark tie (black?) and a traditional crew cap. Man did that calliope ever roar out! As a little kid it really hurt my ears. On warm summer nights the ISLAND QUEEN would steam up to CONEY ISLAND. You could hear her coming from Dayton Bar to Coal Haven whre we lived. Her lights glistened and danced on the water and, if the wind was right, you could hear the dance orchestra aboard. I've heard some old timers claim they could hear the ISLAND QUEEN'S whistle and calliope all the way to Norwood, OH.
'Fast food' wasn't all that big then and most all moms packed a big picnic basket to take on the boat to CONEY. You ate on top and watched the river. Not much dancing during the day; that was mostly on the 'moonlite' runs. I was little at the time but came from a river minded family who exposed me to all of these things and reminded me to listen and pay attention. River talk was always along with dessert after dinner. All of that talk and those memories from your elders and their friends swirled around your head. It was great.
R. Dale Flick
PS> On her last year of her life somebody in the crew painted the face of a leering clown on one of the ISLAND QUEEN'S pitmans in yellow, red, blue, white. To kids it looked almost alive as it rotated round and round. I didn't like it.