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new TWILIGHT offering

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    new TWILIGHT offering

    Today was the first of the Saturday 1 1/2 hour excursions the TWILIGHT will be offering on the 2nd Saturday of each month, minus August. Trips are at 11 and 1. The bar and gift shop are open, but there is no food service. However they have made arrangements with Jones' Cafe to provide box lunches which can be brought aboard to eat during the cruise. DK's chocolate shakes were the hot item at the bar on this hot day... If today was any indication, these trips are a hit - the first trip was 2/3 filled and people had to be turned away from the second cruise. I was privileged to get to help out in the Gift Shop.
    1) Passengers enjoy their box lunch as we leave the CITY OF BATON ROUGE and the LONE STAR.
    2) One of the many types of t-shirts available.
    3) It looks like they've restored the pilothouse to the CBR, but that is really the TWILIGHT's peeking over her wharf boat.
    Attached Files

    What a terrific idea, good for them. I like the fact that you can bring you own lunch on board. Back in my days on the BELLE we used to load the boat down with family's bringing their own picnic lunches, then selling them cokes (no beer back then). It was not unusual for those hot afternoon trips to have 800 people. Sometime or the other the powers that be decided the boat could make more money if picnic lunches were banned and the only food allowed was food bought on board. I don't know if it was more profitable for the boat but the crowds sure deminished.


      *Basket lunches on excursion boats*
      Steamboating colleagues:
      Thanks for Judy's initial posting 'New TWILIGHT offerings' followed by Jim's memories from the BELLE. Again, Jim was there THEN on the BELLE and the DQ prior as Purser. Judy's experience on steamboats also dating way back down to the present day.

      Jim, 'basket' or 'picnic hampers' of food on excursion steamboats goes way, way back. Judy would know more about this on the STRECKFUS boats. The last big ISLAND QUEEN here running from foot of Broadway up to CONEY ISLAND permitted 'hampers' of food by passengers to eat seated on deck benches. The boat also had extensive offerings of food items, fresh squeezed orange juices, candies. I don't recall seeing dogs or burgers sold as our family packed a hefty hamper with wood handles, Scotch plaid on the outside. Enough food to last for another big snack or meal up in the park at CONEY or swimming at CONEY's 'SUNLITE' pool--then the world's largest recirculating swimming pool. I remember being plunked down on the ISLAND QUEEN green painted benches to eat going up river: sandwiches, fruit or pickles in jars, apples, oranges, bananas, cake or pie. Other times fried chicken. There was the big Scotch thermos or two with coffee, milk or juices. I honestly don't remember mom, dad, family purchasing drinks but there was popcorn. Heck, that was a L-O-N-G time ago now.

      The ISLAND QUEEN toilets then dumped direct in the river below with you able to look down in the toilet, see the river water rushing by far below. I was scared to go in with dad or mom giving me the 'word' with dad there to reinforce me. After ORSANCO came into existence the river was cleaned up with new sewage faclities, boats order to stop dropping, dumping waste, 'gray water' in the river. Who here remembers the DELTA QUEEN being 'arrested' for dumping garbage in the river? Well, what do I know?

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


        A different time...

        Interesting thread! Yes, kudos to the TWILIGHT bunch for offering these excursions, both to give people a taste of what they'd experience on a longer cruise and to give the folks around LeClaire and the Quad Cities an excursion experience.

        Yes, times were different then. I do wonder: with the food service that was available on the ISLAND QUEEN, Streckfus boats, etc. and so many bringing their own food aboard, I wonder what the percentage was of folks who brought their own vs. those who bought it there? And, if most brought their own, how could the operators justify having (perishable) food available, paying staff to prepare and serve it?

        Thinking of how folks do today, I for one would not really want to prepare, wrap and package food to be carried if I knew good food was available there. More expensive, yes, but far less work on the part of passengers. And it's kinda like a hot dog at the ball park....yes, you can fix a hot dog at home, but there's just something about that ball park hot dog that tastes better!


          *'Different time/Economics of the day*
          Steamboating colleagues:
          Bob, you posted great observations and questions. Remember, there were then no real 'fast food' restaurants as we know today. The last ISLAND QUEEN was huge, immense able to load thousands of passengers for the run up to CONEY ISLAND and return. You could take the morning boat up, eat your hamper lunch aboard, spend the whole day returning in the early evening or even later after the fireworks. CONEY even had at night then a kind of show on the park mall with the man being shot out of the cannon, trapeeze artists, men on motorcycles in a big steel cage or the man in the cage who blew himself up with dynamite with him bouncing off the cage walls unharmed. Trick he knew was being at the very center of the blast with it blowing out around him. They also staged water shows, water skiing artists on Lake Como similar to those in Cypress Gardens, Florida. How many remember that?

          Personal income then was but a fraction compared to now. People during, after World War II were thrifty with food. Judy could correct me about the STRECKFUS boats being in some cases appealing to a higher class of passenger willing to pay for meals served on the boats. Even then the excursion boats hired PR photographers using attractive, well-dressed models in slick ads or even brochures. Sound familiar? Even the big CINCINNATI adversited on her long passenger trips the appeal to "a higher class of people." That concept continued until the L&C LINE hit the skids, the boat laid up and sold becoming the PRESIDENT. They [excursion boats and passenger cruise boats] also did a big business in school proms, graduation excursions with students dressed to the 9ns. Naturally different river towns, cities on 'tramping trips' saw a wide variety of passengers, economic levels, social levels. Not politically correct today but true. My parents, family, friends dressd up a bit for the ISLAND QUEEN with dresses, nice shoes, slacks, shirts and ties at times. One bag contained swimming suits, towels etc. Many older men I saw wore white shirts, ties or open necked with old fashioned straw hats. When was the last time any of you saw men wearing white or cream straw hats with the dark band? Kids wore better shoes and not gym shoes if I remember. Back then when there was a family death men wore the somber black arm band on their left arm over their long sleeved white shirts or suit jackets.

          And, as Bob states, "something about that ball park hot dog." By 1947 ridership on the last ISLAND QUEEN was slacking off due to the family car, moving to the expanding suburbs. Many rode the boat only one-way returning back to town on the expanded buses operated by 'Cincinnati Transit Co.'

          When the ISLAND QUEEN went KABOOM! September, 1947, Ed Schott of CONEY already was seeing the hand writing on the wall on the boat's bottom line in the ledger books. The disastrous loss of the boat turned him off to any thought of building a new one. Speculation was the IQ 'could' have been rebuilt to run again. Then the AVALON picked up the slack for a time.

          Years later a sort of 'revival' of the idea to build or convert a boat for CONEY was discussed--and I sat in the casual meeting hearing it all. *But that's another story for another time here. No doubt Capt. Bill Judd knows about that bright idea. No, operating a big, expensive steamboat isn't just a 'fun' or romantic concept. It's hard, cold financial facts and projections. Again, what do I know?

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


            Food, the 'direct' route, etc.

            I remember looking at the river through the AVALON's toilets. And I remember the canvas stall 'doors' which existed well past the direct route system... I remember Mary Bill Bauer arranging the box lunches for us on the BELLE Madison trips in October. Now as to the TWILIGHT situation: Saturday is the only day off for the crew (3 two day trips a week), so Kevin resisted the Chamber of Commerce requests to run Saturday excursions until this year. But he did so with the idea that with no food service most of his crew could still have the day off. So they arranged the box lunch deal with a local restaurant, but passengers weren't limited to that food only. They could bring their own aboard. The only stipulation was no coolers. Water, iced tea, and lemonade was provided free. So the trip was quite a bargain, and they got their money's worth cruise-wise too. The 11:00-12:30 and 1:00-2:30 cruised exactly those times. It allowed about a 5 minute turnaround between trips, but there was little debris to clean up as is the case when food service is available. As to the Streckfus boats and food, here's one of my guesses: locals brought picnic basket lunches while tourists were the main purchasers of the boat food. I know when we rode the ADMIRAL in the late 50s, we had no means of making meals during our vacation to take aboard. I can't remember if we took a basket aboard the AVALON or not in the '50s, but I do remember sitting up on the Texas stern at the tables rather than down in the sun. This Streckfus food situation sounds like a good question for the Blums, Joy Manthey, John Carroll.....


              Of course I do realize many families who felt they could spring for a boat ride and a trip to Coney would also be looking for ways to cut costs, and that often meant packing a lunch to take. Things were a bit less hectic then, too, and that had a bearing on it.

              Not "steamboats", but even I am old enough to remember when there was not a McDonald's at every other exit on the Interstate. We as a family, on vacations, would often pack snacks for the car with a cooler for drinks, but would usually stop in a town for lunch. That, however, was not always easy, and not always easy to find a place where you knew you'd get something decent. I remember my father saying once about eating at a Holiday Inn, "Well, it's not the best food, but you know what you're gonna get." Very true.

              My thinking about the big excursion boats was that they might have prided themselves on decent food at a decent price and tried to build a reputation, catering to middle range prices. Again it's great that the Stiers are offering these trips and allowing folks to bring a basket aboard.

              One last thing: I always chuckle at the story of the passenger on the AVALON telling Capt. Wagner, "Captain, I'll give you five dollars for a good, hot hot dog". When Wagner got it good and hot and served it to the man and got his five bucks, Wagner said, "Hey, where's the quarter for the hot dog?!?" ;-) You gotta love it!


                We forget that back then, eating out was considered a luxury, not often done in most families. If we had dinner out once a month, that was rare--and there was a cafe on the family resort grounds (which is where we would usually go). Packing a meal to eat on an outing was normal. On trips we would eat lunch "on the tailgate." If we had our "travel trailer" (an 18' job that would sleep 5 with a stove and an icebox!) we would have groceries (or buy them enroute) and eat in the trailer, or use the trailer as the kitchen and eat at a picnic table.
                Packing a hamper of food on a family outing was just normal back then; even in the days of 15ยข hamburgers!