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Fred Way's Wit and Genius

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    Fred Way's Wit and Genius

    Tom Schiffer quoted a bit from Capt. Fred Way's entry on the KENTUCKY in the Packet Directory but I'd like to reproduce the entire entry here. Who else could have made a reference book of over 600 pages and 5900 entries so enjoyable and entertaining as well as informative? I think this KENTUCKY entry is one of his best...

    from p. 270 of the revised edition 3268 KENTUCKY

    "Stw p wh b.Madison, Indiana 1907. 185 x 33 x5. Engines, 15's-5 ft. Three boilers, 38" by 20 ft. Machinery and boilers came from the LEVI J. WORKUM. Ran a great while in the Cincinnati-Madison trade, frequently Cincinnati-Louisville. She drove away more business and made more money than any boat of her size and time. For some abstruse reason her cabin was designed in a long wedge shape so that the lengths of the berths got shorter as you proceeded aft, some of them barely 5'6" long, and added to this novelty she one time got in a 'breeze' and the cabin was shifted out of plumb and leaned in a uniform stagger creating an optical illusion seen nowhere else except in a "Fun House" of a pleasure park. She was proverbially slow, sloppy, and if her smokestacks ever stood straight I never heard of it. Her redeeming feature was in economy of operation. No money ever was spent on her and it is told a carpenter once was employed aboard and two years later, when asked what he did, said he was saving up to buy a saw and hammer. In several of the after rooms it was possible to look from a berth to the floor and see machinery working in the engine room below. This scapegrace was pawned off on an unsuspecting public without one whit of apology from the management, nor any warning to brace the unwary, and plodded along making enemies and money. Finally the Louisville & Cincinnati Packet Co., who had owned her, went out of business, and the Greene Line took her over and quietly chloroformed her. She carried three whistles in her time: came out in 1907 with the TELEGRAPH whistle, swapped this for the old BONANZA whistle when the CITY OF CINCINNATI sank. Later she had an imitation of the T.N. BARNSDALL whistle. Some of her equipment went to building a little towbo at named ECLIPSE."

    Wow, they don't write like that anymore! Can't you just hear the glee in his voice and see the gleam in his eye as Capt. Fred would relate that to an enthralled listener? Did anyone else besides me have to look up 'abstruse'?

    #2
    His description of a typical gasboat on page xix of Way's Steam Towboat Directory equals that one. It was first published in the 1961 Inland River Record, the he plagiarized it into the Towboat Directory.

    I cannot imagine reading all of Way's Directories. I'll be happily reading about some boat and the word 'see' distracts me onto a chase of related subjects that never ends. It is like reading while on a pogo stick, but fun all the way.

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      #3
      We seldom think of Cap'n Way without remembering the time that a movie projector was stolen by the operators of a XXX theater. After they got it back he said, "We sent it to the repair shop. . . .to be cleansed! His audience howled with laughter.

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