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A Nation of Scofflaws

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    A Nation of Scofflaws

    The second show in Ken Burns' series Prohibition on PBS entitled "A Nation of Scofflaws" has a short film clip of the GORDON C. GREENE steaming along at a pretty good clip. Also one of the old black and white photos used in that production is a shot of people sitting around a table with drinks. It sure looks to me as if that photo was taken on the hurricane roof of a steamboat.

    #2
    *RE: Scofflaws/Prohibition/GCG*

    Hi, Frank & Steamboating colleagues:
    I also noted the clip of the GORDON C. GREENE in the Ken Burns documentary on 'Prohibition - 1921-1933 [Speak easies, basement gin, the green door, 'Tell em' Joey sent you,' bath tub beer etc]. If you've missed the series then tune again when repeated. As the narrator said, "Regulate something and a guy will step up and whisper, 'Hey Mack, step around the corner--I've got just what you want.'" 'Scofflaws' from 'scoff' as found in the Old Testament Book of Habakkuk 1:10 "And they shall 'scoff' at kings..." The GCG was a dry boat after President Roosevelt, and other wet vs. dry groups, trounced Prohibition in 1933 several years before entering GREENE LINE service. The GCG was a BYOB boat with passengers hauling on their liquids in luggage, knitting bags etc. Am I wrong in recalling a five cent slot machine on the GCG? The big European steamship lines then got into 'booze cruises' for Americans out of our ports/jurisdiction at the time. A virtual river of booze flowed down to the states from Canada.

    Lots of booze was sneaked across the Ohio River here from Kentucky. One famed spot was on old Route 8 in Kentucky under the hills by Fort Thomas, KY over to/near the mouth of the Little Miami River just west of Coney Island in john boats, scows etc.

    What went on aboard the DELTA KING/DELTA QUEEN during those years on the Sacramento River discussed here several years ago. Memories, letters, articles conflicted but Capt. Anderson and the C.T. Co. claimed it didn't. Stan Garvey focused on this in his book 'KING & QUEEN of the River.' To do so would have involved the boats being laid up with big legal issues. Today cruise boats/ships count on big revenues from their bar trade.

    The desperate years of unemployment during the Great Depression also fired the trade. Another during those years was stealing of coal from docked barges. I interviewed an old timer some years back who laughed telling of his 'All Profits Coal Co.' here at Coal Haven until the towboat/coal companies mounted company 'bulls' with bird shot to shoot. 'Remus' the great boot legger here made close to a billion dollars in running booze in today's currency rate. He cornered nearly all of the local drug stores who still had legal right to deal in spirits. Well, what do I know?

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

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      #3
      The GCG slot machine

      You're right Dale about the slot machine on the GCG. I posted a picture of it a while ago, I'll see if I can find it again. Our ferryboat, the WJ QUINLAN, had 3 slot machines on it, according to my dad. A couple of years after Louisiana started riverboat gambling, they authorized slot machines in bars. The management of N.O. Steamboat (not the Dows) got all excited about putting some machines in the Texas Bar. Not only was there the expense of getting all the wiring, communications, etc. for them, but their presence meant kids couldn't come in to buy soft drinks - and just imagine that hit on hot summer days with families sitting out on the Texas or Hurricane decks. It also turned out that about the only business the machines got was from the crew during breaks between trips. The machines were gone as soon as the year's lease/license was up.

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        #4
        *RE: 'Slots on GCG*

        Hi, Judy,
        I figured you'd have proof positive RE: the slot machine on the GORDON C. GREENE. Heard plenty about it over the years. Seems Helen Prater let son Dick play the slot on her once when he was a kid and he won! I must have missed your photo back when posted.

        Dale Flick

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          #5
          I have heard from a reliable ownership source some years ago that the DQ & DK had slots in the Sacramento/SF trade until the heat got too hot from the local law folks. Must have been close to the end of service from what I was told as the lost revenue contributed to their demise.

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            #6
            I seem to remember seeing a deck plan of the DQ after she entered service for the Greene Line that showed slots in what is now the stateroom on the starboard side mid-ship on the cabin deck...the room right by the middle door to the deck, the room opposite Capt. Mary's room. Anybody remember this or know anything about it? Or am I simply wrong?

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              #7
              *RE: Bar on DQ's midships*

              Hi, Bob:
              Indeed you are correct with the mention of the midship bar on the DK's starboard side. I've old plans here showing such down to the curve of the bar with stools and sitting areas around. I never got on the DK until about 1955 and certainly rememember the present deck configuration, but no bar to my recollection. The DK/DQ dining rooms were behind the Purser and notions shop with cabins being added later. The newer starboard bar behind the present Orleans Room didn't come until years later with many here on this web recalling it.

              Slot machines on the DK/DQ something I don't know much about being one question I failed to ask John Burns, son of old Jim Burns who built the boats, when he was a guest here in my home. Once again a day late and a dollar short. One major factor that prolonged the life of the boats in the latter 1930s was the big Golden Gate International Exposition. The slots may have added to the 'kitty' but certainly not enough to keep a dying proposition going. The great Exposition lost millions of dollars with the boats not doing much better. Yet, every red cent to the good. Well, what do I know?

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

              Comment


                #8
                My father mentioned that the ISLAND QUEEN too had slot machines on her balcony.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Of slots and bars...

                  I've gone through 2 albums and a file folder of GCG pix, and naturally the one showing the slot machine is missing. I tried searching for it in my postings, also to no avail.
                  Now, as to bars on the DQ: Richard Simonton showed me the remains of the standup bar on the ceiling in the forward cabin lounge. It is on the port side, forward of the Pursers Office. This was in the California days. It shows on the deck plans in Saga pp. 26-27. It was in the Smoking Room. The area to which Bob and Dale refer was the Pantry in California days. When the DQ came out on the Ohio, the Gift Shop was in the area just aft of the midship hallway on the starboard side. In our day I believe it was room 112. There is a famous postcard of Happy Briscoe behind the counter there. I have that PC, but it too is MIA and strike three, the deck plan won't upload as an attachment for here....parents: don't let your children grow up to be disorganized steamboat memorabilia collectors!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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