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Celebrities on steamboats:Dolly on NATCHEZ

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    Celebrities on steamboats:Dolly on NATCHEZ

    We evolved the Van Johnson obit thread into an interesting one about celebrities on steamboats, so I decided to start that topic in its own thread. I'm sorry I can't pinpoint Doc's Dolly Parton story that Jazzou mentioned, but here is a picture of Dolly during the filming on board the NATCHEZ in March 1988. The man in black is Pete Fountain, and those are some of his band members. I was sitting on the stairs watching the filming, this isn't a telephoto shot, we were allowed up close throughout the day. Note Dolly's dress neckline: in another post I mentioned that the microphone was attached on her dress to protect from the wind. You can see why usually nonplussed Vic and Doc were a little less nonchalant that day... I have better pictures from that day, but my pilefiling system isn't amenable to just hitting the 'search button', sorry.
    Attached Files

    #2
    Celebrities didn't seem that common on the DELTA QUEEN in the early 70's, but I may be wrong, because my efforts were concentrated towards keeping the steamboat functioning instead of star gazing.

    Two exceptions were Chief Justice Earl Warren and Grandpa Walton, Will Geer. We were hoping to see a lot of Grandpa on board, but for some reason, or another, he didn't live up to his expectations. Geer died in 1978, but I had always thought his demise was years earlier and the reason for his absence, but it must have been something else responsible for his sudden departure from grace. Anyone know?

    The Honorable Justice Warren spent his entire cruise playing cards with a male traveling companion in the dimly-lit Aft Cabin Lounge in the days before it was renamed for the same lady whose name graces the hooch bottle Judy possesses.

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      #3
      Judy, thanks for opening up this thread--I've been busy and have not been keeping up as I should. But last fall, Doc told me the Dolly Parton story--and I have it in digital format. Still transcribing 2 days of stories--one day, those files will be in a museum, I promise! But Dolly loved the whistle--of course, when they blew it while she was in the pilothouse, she wanted a turn! As I recall, after letting everyone nearby know it was for the filming, she did pull it--commented to Doc that it was really good exercise for the chest muscles! I think he kept his cool. But some of the local towboats wanted to know what all the fuss was about--when they heard it was Dolly, she wanted to go wave to them. Doc recalled that there was not a crew member of the towboat inside--not even, he suspected, the pilot!! All took the opportunity to wave to Dolly, and she graciously waved back. He recalled that she was thoroughly "down home" and friendly to all. More than anything, Doc is such a gift--steamboat pilot and master, and historian, storyteller and precious resource. Judy, I hope you are also writing down your wonderful knowledge--or at least, dictating it on digital format!

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        #4
        Oh yeah, now I remember the chest muscle bit...unlike so many trips with famous people aboard, that one was great fun, and Dolly's crew did not treat us with anything but respect, as did Dolly, Pete Fountain, and the other performers. Mary, I don't have any of my stuff down yet, but I have hours and hours of Doc on tape, not digital. I had planned to put out a book of these stories, but the transcribing was taking so long and I put it aside. Maybe someday. Roddy and I always talked about the fact that there wasn't a need to go way back to fill a book with steamboating stories and characters, that just our years on the NATCHEZ would do it. As to Shipyard not remembering many celebrities on the DQ in the '70s, the only one on one of my trips was Bob Ralston from the Lawrence Welk show. He was on with Richard Simonton and a theater organ group in 1976 or 77. And as to Shipyard saying he was busy keeping the boat running, well here's a shot of him as First Mate at Dubuque in July of 1978 - he weren't akidding!!!
        Attached Files

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          #5
          Funny how Shipyard Sam is so recognizable, even with goggles! Yes, it does take forever to transcribe--and I do have a book in mind some day. But, Judy, some day when you are just shooting the breeze with any steamboating folks, get it on digital. We need those stories! Some day, they'll get in written format--software is making it easier (too $$ right now!). If someone would pay me to do it, I'd spend forever transcribing, as it seems unlikely I'll be on my boat any time soon! There IS a book just in the Natchez stories alone--and Roddy is not here, bless his soul, to tell his version. So Please, Judy--get yours down!

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            #6
            Fly With Me

            Judy, as you once said of me, "you certainly cover the waterfront." Thanks for the pic. I got a big chuckle seeing myself in that get-up. I'm wearing a leather aviator's cap bought in a Bourbon Street "head shop" of the day that also proved especially handy keeping red hot sparks from the cutting torch out of my long locks. It seems that the emphasis on having celebrities steamboating on the river came about after the Miss-Cue (thank you Captain Roddy) came to be.

            Who remembers when Sybil Leek was considered a big-name celebrity on the DQ? Dale? Jim? Who was Sybil Leek?

            Sybil Leek - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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              #7
              Dolly parton

              Captain Roddy gave me a photo of Dolly with Don Haughton before Don was a Captain on The Natchez. It's a good photo and I'll try to find it to post. After she filmed on the Natchez Roddy and I saw her on Bourbon Street at Cafe Lafittes in Exhile. She was not wearing her ususal wig and make-up. I guess she did not want to be noticed. I also ran into her once more at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City where I worked for 10 years in the security department. She came into my Gallery.
              PEACE.
              Danny Gray

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                #8
                Judy, you should write a book. It won't earn you a nickle, but it is worth the time and effort, take it from one who knows. You should do it, too, Mary

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                  #9
                  I agree. You probably have more than one book in you to begin with. And if you do, I wouldn't worry about a misplaced comma or semicolon to hold you back or put it off. The only people who care about that kind of stuff more than the CONTENT are the academics and the librarians like the ones I work with everyday. So do it! Anyway, you know where the commas and semicolons belong in the first place.
                  Shipyard, you are another one that needs to write one.

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                    #10
                    Captain, I haven't lived the stories--if they will let the boat run again, I assure you, I'll be there til they can throw my ashes into the river from her decks. But I do feel a strong mission to keep the stories out there, and get the ones down that have not yet been recorded. Judy not only has stories, but a terrific historical knowledge, which should be written down--Judy, just publish some of the wonderful photos you've collected (or photos of the THINGS you've collected), with the information you have about them. At least get it all scanned (All of you who are reading this should be listening) in a digital format so that researchers in the future will be able to access it. You can get a decent digital recorder for under $200, and if you don't have a scanner, my computer printer is a scanner--I think I paid $150 for it. With a camera, a scanner/printer and a digital recorder, you will be preserving history. This is for all you river rats! Let me know--I'll come get the stories you haven't written down--though few can beat the tongue-in-cheek style of Captain Bates!

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                      #11
                      Judy, Shipyard, Mary, Dale, Jane, Ted, Jim, etc...I agree with Alan. Having written a book I can tell you he is right...about the money and the satisfaction. In my case I had to DIG up the history, You guys lived it! In my case I got to meet a lot of fine folks that I never wound have met otherwise. In your case, you can make them live again! And, like I told Jane, I'll buy your first book! Cap'n Walnut...

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                        #12
                        Oh, my, Judy! That is certainly an interesting pitcher. As a steamboater, I'm always interested in rigging. It is obvious that Miss Dolly had early on learned what P&G learned years ago...the value of packaging! As far as the rigging goes, if all of them there stays was to let go, there wouldn't be a window left in the pilot house! Whew! Bow thruster an' all. Now, Judy, you just go and dig up the rest of them pitchers! You hear now? Cap'n Walnut

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                          #13
                          Indeed, just about anybody who has worked on steamboats could write a book about the river characters and daily experiences of life afloat. My mentor, Miss Ruth Ferris, encouraged me early in our friendship to "write everything down while it's still fresh". Ruth carried little notebooks with her and when she rode the GOLDEN EAGLE, GORDON C. GREENE, TOM GREENE, ALABAMA, Streckfus excursion boats, etc., she notated every detail, as well as taking many photographs. She boarded the Str. BETSY ANN at the St. Louis levee one day and wandered around as the deck crew was loading a cargo of sugar. When she reached the pilothouse, the pilot was just awakening from a nap on the lazy bench. Seeing the camera and notebook in Ruth's hands he asked warily, "Are you a newspaper reporter?" She assured him that she was merely a steamboat enthusiast, but inquired about his question. The pilot responded, "The captain doesn't want the railroads to know how much freight we're carrying!"

                          Heeding Ruth's advice, I snapped hundreds of photos and slides and kept logs of the six seasons I worked on the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE and of my time on the DELTA QUEEN, as well as other happenings in the 40+ years I've been a steamboat fanatic. I have a file of "drafts" regarding various experiences and people -- but some of them probably need to either have their names changed or wait until all concerned have passed on to the great steamboat in the sky!

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                            #14
                            Somewhere, I have a videotape copy, courtesy of Judy, of that trip Miss Dolly made aboard the NATCHEZ and it's a dandy program. She visits Vic Tooker as he plays the calliope and thinks the instrument is "kinda scary"! There's also a scene where Doc lets her blow the whistle and she squeals with delight as the whistle roars. As I recall, the program opens with Dolly dancing down the ganplank singing "Down by the Riverside". Judy sent me pictures,too, but that was 20 years ago and the photo pilefiling has become deeper and more dis-organized! If only I could teach my cat to file!

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                              #15
                              Yeah, Keith, put your cat to lookin' for it too! Cap'n Walnut

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