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    #16
    Steering Time

    Captain Charlie loved to spend much of his off-hours dancing away down on the ironwood deck, so when he came on watch at midnight, he was bushed. After awhile he'd say, "I'm going to take a little nap, here on the lazy bench. You take her, but if you need me just say my name or touch me." Consequently, I got lots of steering time, often with Watchmen Jamie Hansel and Greg Menke, alongside, calling off the names of the upcoming navigation lights from the Light List.
    Last edited by Don Sanders; 11-22-2006, 07:02 AM. Reason: Add Italics

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      #17
      The ADMIRAL was truly an amazing vessel and I have been aboard her numerous times. I especially recall being on a night cruise in September, 1972, the final cruise of the season. It was a rather cool night and the temperature in the ballroom must have been below zero as the AC was on to "cool off" the crowds of dancers! It was thrilling to stand on the top deck during the departure, as the huge boat swung toward the Eads Bridge and pivoted gracefully around to head downstream for the 4 hour+ cruise to Jefferson Barracks. The engineroom was a delight to visit with its sounds and smells of hot oil and steam -- and it was awesome to watch the pitmans, lettered WIMPY and POPEYE, turn the big sidewheels. At that time, the ADMIRAL used the four barrel whistle of the steamer J.S. DELUXE, and it resounded with authoritative blasts! The calliope was from the Streckfus steamer CAPITOL and it was usually played during the trip when passing the nursing homes on the bluffs. Sometimes song requests were phoned to the Streckfus office for certain days for resident's birthdays and special occasions. The big arcade on the main deck was a popular spot for children and I remember the Steamboat Race game, which featured plastic models of the ROBT. E. LEE and NATCHEZ. I've often wondered what became of the paintings of the old Streckfus steamboats that were, I think, hanging in a bar near the dance floor.

      I've seen many photos of the ADMIRAL under construction above the Eads Bridge and, for a time, the letters of her name were scrambled, to keep people guessing at what the name of the new boat was going to be. At the time the ADMIRAL came out new in 1940, after having been rebuilt on the hull of the railroad ferry ALBATROSS, there was mixed sentiment about her. Some said she represented neither the past nor the future. Much of her design was by a woman, Mazie Krebs. St. Louis' beloved river historian Ruth Ferris once told me about a newspaper editorial which sarcastically stated that "A maniac with a can opener must be loose on the St. Louis riverfront!" Many others saw the new vessel as one of the world's wonders and were delighted with it. Streckfus Steamers published a profusely illustrated magazine devoted to the new ADMIRAL with everything looking absolutely pristine and "state of the art" for the time. The late Capt. Bill Carroll, who was master of the ADMIRAL for many years was very proud of the boat and saved many artifacts from her, which now are preserved at the St. Louis Mercantile Library in the Pott Waterways Library. I have a small balsa wood life float from the ADMIRAL as well as a few souvenir items.

      No, the ADMIRAL was not a typical twin stacked, gingerbread laden excursion boat, for which Streckfus was so famous, but she was a STEAMBOAT and certainly left her mark on river history, affording literally millions of people a ride on the mighty Mississippi. Well done thou faithful servant!
      Last edited by Keith Norrington; 11-22-2006, 01:46 PM.

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        #18
        Streckfus had the HUCK FINN built in, I think, 1965 to run one hour cruises. These were popular with folks who didn't have the time to take the longer excursions on the ADMIRAL -- and many of these short trips went up to Chain of Rocks to give passengers a glimpse of the canal and locks. Later, Streckfus also added the SAMUEL CLEMENS, rebuilt from the excursion barge THUNDERBIRD. They also purchased the little excursion boat MISSISSIPPI BELLE from Frank Pierson, who owned the Str. BECKY THATCHER and GOLDENROD SHOWBOAT. This vessel, formerly the LAKE QUEEN, burned while tied up at the Streckfus wharfboat in 1974 and was scrapped. In the summer of 1970, I rode the Streckfus excursion boat TOM SAWYER in Tampa Bay. Streckfus certainly covered the waterfronts!

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          #19
          Annie and Jim:
          I have always felt the Admiral lost it's soul when the engines were removed. I feel that the hulk now using the name of Admiral should probably be allowed to go it's own way and we remember the boat when it was truly a boat.

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            #20
            In the early 1970's when I was on the BELLE, we had a nice couple from Indianapolis who faithfully rode the boat on the Saturday night dance cruises. But every other Saturday evening they drove to St. Louis to ride the ADMIRAL because they also loved her BIG dance floor and the bands. Barney and Treva would come aboard, both dressed to the nines, looking like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers -- and they were fine dancers, gliding over the Belle's dance floor with grace and elegance. Many St. Louisans "grew up", I'm sure, on the ADMIRAL just as many river town kids did on the AVALON and later the BELLE which, hard to believe, has now been a Louisville icon for 43 years! I've been aboard the ADMIRAL several times in recent years and it is sad and dismal with hardly a vestige of her operating days. What a comedown to be relegated to a life of noisy gambling machines and thick, acrid cigarette smoke permeating her decks where once happy excursionists abounded! Indeed, as others have posted, her glory days ended when those big steam engines were removed, taking with them the sights, sounds and smells of a living, breathing STEAMboat!
            Last edited by Keith Norrington; 11-22-2006, 01:48 PM.

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              #21
              Keith: So what happened to the steam engines? They were left in the PRESIDENT when she was converted. Are the boilers still there in the hull?

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                #22
                Tom: I'm not sure just what happened with the engines on the ADMIRAL or exactly when they were removed. Six Flags converted the boat into a stationary entertainment center in the 1980's and the engines might have been removed then, but I don't know for sure. I doubt if the boilers were removed from the hull but am not certain. I do know that in 1987 you could visit the pilothouse and the main deck was filled with shops. The big bell was still mounted on the bow, but I'm not sure it came from the ALBATROSS and I have a dim recollection that it was from a St. Louis church. Capt. Jim and Annie Blum surely can answer these questions for us.

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                  #23
                  Annie Blum here. I must admit that I do not know what happened to the steam engines. As soon as Jim gets home from work I will consult with him. He might remember since he was there the winter that the Admiral was dieselized. That process took place in 1973. I do know that the diesel engines went to John Connelly in the boat when he bought her in 1981. He took them out before selling her back to some St. Louis men in 1982. Please be aware that after 1979 I learned what was happening to the Admiral only because I read it in the newspaper.

                  Those of us who love her sometimes wish that she had done herself in back in the early 80s instead of being slowing and painfully destroyed.

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                    #24
                    Thanks, Annie. It is painfull to watch...good money after bad, many times pulls some of the well-intentioned right along with them. If they were cheap to own, maintain and run...a bunch of us would have one bigger than my little MISSIE.

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