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Remembering Capt. Mary Becker Greene

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    Remembering Capt. Mary Becker Greene

    Today, April 22, 2015 onboard the DELTA QUEEN we paid tribute to "Ma Greene" on this 66th anniversary of her death. Captain Mary Becker Greene, the first female steamboat captain and matriarch of the Greene family and Greene Line Steamers who brought the Delta Queen to the Mississippi River system making her the legend she is today. Captain Mary died 66 years ago today onboard her beloved Steamboat Delta Queen. While she lived in what is now cabin 109, she was moved to 106 a few hours before her passing to accommodate more visitors. Many believe that she still watches over the Delta Queen, and those of us who are stewards of the legacy take comfort knowing that her spirit is still with us. God bless Captain Mary! We hope that you are proud of our current effort to Save your Delta Queen. These photos show Captain Mike Williams and Cornel Martin placing her favorite red roses in cabin 109 and 106 in her memory.
    Attached Files

    #2
    *Remembering Capt. Mary Becker Greene*
    Steamboating colleagues,
    Phillip, many thanks for drawing our attention in your above posting RE: Capt. Mary Becker Greene on this the 66th anniversary of her death. The photos are great! Indeed she was the "matriarch of the Greene family and GREENE LINE STEAMERS." Again one I term a 'grand original.' I never met Capt. Mary nor her son Capt. Tom Greene but heard many anecdotes of her from my family whom had known her back to the year 1900. Capt. Mary loved flowers and growing plants with my grandmother way back giving her a large potted plant reputed to have been a 'century plant.' Mary B. Greene hailed from a family of dentists up in Ohio and later here in Cincinnati. The then renamed GREENE LINE moved to Cincinnati in 1904. She was also for a time honorary president, Sons & Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen.

    The pseudonym of "Ma Greene" was taken by her and the Greene family with grace while biting their tongues. It was a young newspaper reporter at the time who was reputed to have attached the name "Ma" to her in an article. The Greene family--and Capt. Mary in particular--were true originals in their own right without any so-called PR needed. The Greenes were one of the best known families in Cincinnati with their hospitality legendary generating their own PR.

    Those who knew Mary B. Greene never used the term "Ma." She was always called Mrs. Gordon C. Greene, Capt. Mary B. Greene, Mrs. Greene or 'Mame' by those who knew her the closest. And her circle of ladies as passengers on the Greene boats were always busy helping in cutting, hemmming, sewing pretty little aprons on deck or in the cabin on trips which she offered aboard the boats for sale or presented to benefit her church, Knox Presbyterian Church here in Hyde Park, Cincinnati. The late Mary Greene-Stewart, Capt. Mary's grandaughter, daughter of Capt. Tom and Letha C. Greene, giggled to me about the name "Ma." "We always felt like it pictured my grandmother as a kind of "Tugboat Annie"--which was far from the truth."

    When Capt. Tom Greene steamed his then new prize the DELTA QUEEN into Cincinnati spruced up, spic and span from her time at DRAVO, all the family, friends, invited officials, crew members politely, quietly stepped back so she could be the first to step over and aboard the DQ. Capt. Mary was shrewd, well-educated with a mind like a steel trap. There is an old record done of an interview with her years ago. I have a detailed interview done of her and her life written down in the cabin of the GORDON C. GREENE in 1948. Thanks for the photos and memory. You made my day. Again, what do I know?

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

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      #3
      Capt. Mary B. Greene at the wheel of her beloved husband's namesake, the Str. GORDON C. GREENE.
      Attached Files

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        #4
        Capt. Mary and son, Tom, on the GORDON C. GREENE
        Photo from the Murphy Library collection
        Attached Files

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          #5
          *Capts. Mary & Tom on the GORDON C. GREENE*
          Morning, Jim!
          Again, thanks for the above added photos taken on the GCG. The 2nd--one above--really caught my fancy. Here's Capt. Mary and son Capt. Tom Greene on the GCG no doubt on a summer 'trip.' Remember, back then it was always a 'trip' on a steamboat and never the term 'cruise.' Tom's spiffy jacket, hat, trousers sumpthin' else and he believe in presenting a good image. Steamboat 'forensics' tell me the photo above possibly snapped in late afteroon or leading into dinner later.

          My eyes slid over the hills in the distance, deck on the GCG. I noted those metal deck chairs instantly. Those chairs weren't all true 'rockers' but had the steel tube support system that let you sort of gently rock a bit. Those chairs lived a long, long life being moved over in time to the DELTA QUEEN. Who here remembers those chairs back in the earlier days? They served duty on the DQ being sanded, painted a number of times--usually always in either a gray or mostly that subtle GREENE LINE green paint. Then came the wood rockers on the DQ decks. Anybody know what happened to those older steel chair we see above? How many here also recall the folding canvas recliner deck chairs you rented for a small fee on sailing day that were put outside your cabin door or wherever you wanted them? Again, what do I know?

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

          Comment


            #6
            Delta Queen Rocking Chairs

            HI DALE SOMEONE SHOULD tell Cornell or who is in charge to BRING BACK THOSE GOOD WOODEN ROCKING CHAIRS.Never had the opportunity to set on one at the DQ but have used one at a famous restaurant with the letters CB an those were great. Instead of pins jackets hats they could put name on rocking chairs for donations. I think they might be doing so for some of the BIG SPENDERS Or for donation someone could buy an donate rocking chair as CB sells them out front an bet knows where to buy in larger quantity of more than 1.
            Carole Pompano Beach Fla They have them at CB in white navy an dark green an sort of a wood brown.Look well built and sturdy Woouldnt they look beautiful on the newly refurbished DQ? WOW....

            Comment


              #7
              The cabins at my family's resort had (still have) metal chairs made similarly. A few of them are true rockers, but most are not--however, the design is such that you can "rock" a bit in any of them--unless you're one of those 90lbs "wisp "o wind" folks. :)
              Neat photos. Now as an aside, here is my childhood Ma Green, spelled differently, she ran the cafe at the resort, 6 stools, two booths. Folks lined up on two long benches outside waiting to get in. She was written up in the New Yorker, and took a round-the-world cruise & friends to the Caribbean twice for that little place (and this was back when such trips were much more expensive (relatively) and rarer than they are now). I have her Model A Ford that she bought new--used to slide down the front fenders when I was about 4 years old! Not me in the picture of the A, that's on the "set" of "Baby Blue Marine" back in the 1970s. The car is now been restored longer than it was unrestored (I started on it in 8th grade, 1967)
              Just thought the name co-incidence is interesting.
              Attached Files

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                #8
                The wooden rocking chairs on the Delta Queen are still there. Some have been painted black, and some are still white. They will all be repaired or replaced as necessary and painted white. At the new Delta Queen Steamboat Company we very much appreciate the time honored traditions of "steamboatin" and one of those is to be able to sit out on deck in a genuine rocking chair watching the river go by. Have no fear folks....they'll be on deck waiting for you!

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                  #9
                  David,

                  Nifty photos of MA's Koffee Kup. The middle photo the 3/4 of the building, in the fat left lower quadrant a small slant roof "addition". By chance was that the WC?.......possibly with out the H2O in the W?

                  In the photo of the Model A, background is a partially seen wood sheathed (so it appears) boxcar turned into a crew "camp car". Would you be so kind as to illuminate the scene. RR Museum, tourist line, etc.? Thanks.

                  As to the metal tube frame chairs on the GCG & DQ. The GCG chairs seem to have wide, possibly 3 to 4 inch "slats". Would those be steel or fabric? If steel, keep the chairs out of the Sun!

                  The tube frame steel chairs on the DQ, on the forward Texas Deck-----up until possibly 81---had a solid seat with a die cut pattern. Since there were no back legs as such one could generate a bit of fore and aft motion.

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                    #10
                    *'Koffee Kup'/Model A Ford*
                    Steamboating colleagues,
                    David, your above photos and posted story great! Never fear here if something now and then isn't "pure steamboats." This and these postings to me like a letter from home. The steel chairs previously were, as you remembered, steel and not true rockers. The steel tube rounded legs let you sort of 'rock' or 'bounce' a bit. I saw rather 'hefty' ladies and men gently bobbing wondering if the steel tube struts would break. I think at one time or another off Main Street in every American village or town there were front porch rockers with family sitting, talking, sharing, watching life go by in chairs like those--or similar. We certainly were front porch sitters in my time on intricate cane/rattan settees, chairs painted white with cushions and a rattan flower box painted white with geraniiums and ferns. The big screened in back veranda porch behind the kitchen used on other days.

                    The Model A Ford is a beauty along with the bumpers you slid down. And don't forget the wide running boards also. My family had old Hudsons and Fords with running boards I used to stand on with my grandfather holding me, driving with one hand for what I thought was a long ride from the garages down to the street over the cinder drive covered with what was scraped out of the big, old WILLIAMSON coal furnace in the basement. Even 'Bo' my grandfather's dog knew how to ride the running boards. Again, with me, that was a LONG time ago.

                    You tripped your hand on your age with "I started on it in the 8th grade, 1967." By that time I was graduated, out of University of Cincinnati here slugging with a Marine Corps pack, rifle and medical kit on my back. Yep, them was the days!

                    Another memory I have here was when Mrs. Letha C. Greene would have her car driven from the GL wharfboat over a special wide ramp [not the bow stage] on the bow of the DELTA QUEEN when the boat 'tripped' out of Cincinnati. Mrs. Greene would ride the boat down the river remaining on for dinner and a formal welcome to the passengers. The name 'Orleans Room' wasn't even thought of then. Some trips she'd get off along the way, drive her car back to Cincinnati at night. Other times all the way to Louisville and back. Many a time Mrs. Greene met the boat in Louisville or Madison for the last day or so of the trip to greet the passengers for the last night party. The Greenes had that warm, personal touch that drew fans by the droves. More than once she tossed me her stateroom key saying, "Here's my key. I'm not staying on and the room is yours." I'd catch the boat in Madison for the night run up to Cincinnati usually getting off just after midnight and then back to the house here. Other times I'd board in Evansville or Louisville with a room aboard to Cincinnati for several days. If there was fog or bad weather the boat would land in the wee morning hours. Those are memories we never forget. That was even LONGER ago. Well, what do I know?

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

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                      #11
                      Jim,
                      I had forgotten all about that little shed. No, it wasn't the WC, they were in a separate building about 25 feet to the left out of the frame. They were also restrooms for the vacation trailer spaces. I was thinking maybe the water heater, but the sink was on the other side of the building. I do remember putting my wood skis on the shed roof one fall to warm them up--we were putting on the patented "T-Tape" ski base and the adhesive (on the tape) needed to be warmed up (we waited to long in the fall & the days weren't warm enough). This was back in the days when you'd get out your old equipment and prepare for "ski season", oil the ski boots, sharpen the ski's edges & re-do the base to make them slippery(er).
                      The Model A background is in McCloud, CA. The old outside braced boxcar turned into a caboose was being used as the ticket office for the train, as the original beautiful log-cabin sided two story station had burned down the year before. Log-cabin siding was a product of the McCloud River Lumber Company, very popular in the 1930s. The caboose, and the tracks were still there a few years ago, but may be gone now. Most of the Railroad is gone (another loss of childhood places), but the steam engines live one, one in Virgina City, NV, one up in Oregon, in use.
                      Here's a picture of the model A in the summer of 1971 when I first had it running--the building in the right background is right where the car sat for a decade. Then one showing the porch chairs (with my nephew repairing the screen door)--in earlier times they'd share the porch with an icebox, but now the electric refrigerators are on the back porches, and then the A back when I'd slide down the fenders--after Mr. Green died in 1954, the car just sat right there. unfortunately Ma Green never saw the finished car.
                      Attached Files
                      Last edited by David Dewey; 04-24-2015, 04:10 PM. Reason: small addition

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                        #12
                        David, Thanks for the additional photos and update on the Railroad in the background.

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                          #13
                          Jim, Here's some pictures on that Railroad, back in 2004. No tracks exist now where these pictures were taken, and the water tank was pulled down a few years ago (When this picture was taken, a friend and I had just gotten it back in service--it's 3/4 filled in the photo). :(
                          Not me in the photo, & I forgot his name, I was just on the footplate as a guest.
                          Attached Files

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                            #14
                            Dale, we never had money enough to rent the canvas, recliner deck chairs so we were stuck using those steel deck chairs, most of which came off the GCG after it was laid up.
                            Rocking chairs were nonexistent on the boat back then. I wonder if the heavily painted canvas decks could hold up under constant rocking?
                            As you say, "what do I know."

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                              #15
                              DQ rocking chairs

                              The current embodiment of the rocking chairs on the DQ started near my final bigtime years, probably around 1982. I personally didn't care for them, not only from the comfort level, but they were easy to trip over in smaller areas. Of course, I had my own chaise lounger that I brought on board and kept stored by the smokestack in the Officers Quarters, so that was my perch for about 14 hours a day.

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