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*Was it 'really' all that wonderful?*

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  • Jim Reising
    replied
    My grandmother was born in 1878 in Cannelton, Ind. She had relatives in Louisville so they traveled quite a bit apparently between those two places....about 110 river miles if my memory serves me correctly. The only way to do this back then was by boat. When she talked about it, she never mentioned whether the boats were magnificent, the food was good, the rooms comfortable; to her it was just what you did..."we came up by boat". The only outstanding thing she remembered is they were coming up to Louisville to attend a wedding and sometime during the night the boat ran aground on a sandbar so they didn't make it to the wedding. My point being that traveling by boat was so common people took the boat itself in stride, much like we do airplanes today.

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  • Bob Reynolds
    replied
    All very true, David! Changing tastes, and beyond that, changing expectations! The old, "how you gonna keep 'em down on the farm once thay've seen Paree?". Yes, the DQ was considered very nice in its day, especially out in California for a one night trip. Still very nice over here and an improvement over the GORDON C. GREENE, with the big dining room, air conditioning (such as it was), many private baths, etc. "Was it 'really' all that wonderful?" back in the day? Some things would be okay, some not. Myself, as a passenger I would no longer tolerate no private bath. As far as food goes, with modern growing methods and quick transportation of fresh vegetables and fruits (some exotic!), our expectations evolve. Nostalgia is fine, but there is a limit to what folks who pay money will accept.

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  • David Dewey
    replied
    It is very true that we often look at past things with rose-colored glasses on. But to use today's standards to judge things in the past just doesn't work. Food prepared before refrigeration was common was much different than food today. Also, folk's tastes change over time--look at what you get today in most restaurants--it's nothing like what was served even in my childhood (I remember MaGreen's (no, no relation to the Greenes, she ran the cafe at my family's resort) Chicken Fried Steak--you ordered it, and she would pound the steak right then, bread it and put it on the grill. Yes, It was very good!).
    As for "comfort" in travel, I suspect the bunk rooms on the DQ are as about as close as you could tolerate today to what was actually offered back in the day--I suspect that back in the day, they would be looked on as very Deluxe accommodations (No, I'm not complaining, I like 'my' cabin 338). Some years back I rode a 1914 pullman car being ferried to it's new home in a museum (no, we weren't supposed to be on board, but someone had to keep an eye on things). Now I own a 1915 automobile, so I can speak first-hand to this. The accommodations on board the 1914 car, that even in the day would speed along around 50mph were much more comfortable than bouncing along at 35 mph on bumpy dirt roads in an open car. Actually the accommodations on the 1914 Pullman car were better than today's AMTRAK, where space is carefully dolled out!
    But as a preservationist and historian, I welcome the closer look at what life actually was like, even if it bursts some nostalgic bubbles.

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  • Jim Blum
    replied
    Judy, No don't know anything about that. Would certainly bean interesting read.

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  • Judy Patsch
    replied
    My Streckfus history is printed

    I wrote two articles for David's first Reflector issues, one on the family history of the Streckfi, the second on the business aspect. And of course Streckfus history is in book form in the recent tomes by Annie Blum and Tom Dunn. Doc and Alan have a chapter in Moonlight too. Several years ago when EBay was fun I met several members of the Streckfus family as we were bidding on the same items. Someone said he was writing a history of the family. I don't know if that ever happened. If it did, I haven't seen it. Jim B., do you know anything about that? I think it was Pete Meesey.

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  • Jim Blum
    replied
    Jimmy, May I humbly suggest that the first Streckfus boat was the Str. Verne Swain purchased in 1889.

    The Str. Freddie purchased in 1891 and sold to the U.S Corps of Engineers in 1893 [& renamed Mac].

    From The Steamer Admiral and Streckfus Steamers, ISBN 978-0-9802002-5-6, St Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri St Louis 2012.

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  • Jim Reising
    replied
    That was a terrific answer, thanks. BTW you need to write what you know down. Send it to Keith so he can put it in the Streckfus file for future researchers. We are about the last who knew these people and when we're gone a lot of knowledge will be gone. That's why I posted it's such a shame that your DQ thread was not on here where it could be preserved.

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  • Judy Patsch
    replied
    Neither!

    John Streckfus started his river business right here in little old Rock Island, which is why I'm so involved in studying their history! His father had a grocery store in town and John delivered goods to Andalusia, which is 8 miles downriver, but he was delivering by land. He purchased a boat - and here is where there are 2 storylines, either the FREDDIE or the VERNE SWAIN, to deliver the goods via river to Andalusia. From that beginning came the Acme Packet Co., and later the big Streckfus Steamers excursion line. Their headquarters remained in Rock Island until 1915 when they moved to St. Louis, since that was where the boats operated from. Even after that though, the boats wintered up here in the slough behind Credit Island where Streckfus had a carpenter's shop, and this is where a lot of the conversions from packet to excursion superstructures happened. I believe they moved downriver totally about 1922.
    BTW, Capt. Bill Foley was from Andalusia, and I never met him until he started piloting the DQ in 1979...
    How's that for a 'short' answer?????

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  • Jim Reising
    replied
    Judy....did the Streckfus start in the river business in St. Louis or were their roots in Nola?

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  • Russ Ryle
    replied
    I've been receiving increasing number of invitations for other FACEBOOK sites.

    Morning all,

    Yep, data mining. Your personal info is now available "pay-for-play" to others.

    Steamboats.org is reasonably secure from unwanted electronic intrusions into our lives.

    Keep your steam up!

    Russ Ryle

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  • Judy Patsch
    replied
    Immigration through New Orleans

    Jim, great point about the numbers of people who entered the U.S. through New Orleans and then headed up the Mississippi. Our German American Heritage Center in Davenport has done a lot of research on that, particular to our area which was populated by Schleswig-Holstein/Hamburg immigrants. One notable river family comes to mind without delving deeply: the Kahlkes. They arrived in New Orleans and actually set up shop there for a while before a couple brothers came upriver and established the Kahlke Boatyard here in Rock Island. I don't know the path of the Streckfus family to the Midwest, but I suspect it was via this same route.

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  • R. Dale Flick
    replied
    *More of the 'story' to come*
    Morning, steamboating colleagues:
    Jim, your points excellent in your follow posting but at this point I've not told the whole story. "Flimsy construction" will be explained along with period accounts, records of cabin service, food. Read my two lower postings and you all will see either disclaimers or a statement leading to more information. The story is fascinating and you, Jim, know more than most with your close association for years with Mrs. Loretta Howard and the Howard Steamboat Museum. My reference to Alan Bates' comments and his opinion on steamboat food more tongue in cheek with more to follow. Alan's comment always was, "They could make anything taste good with lots of lard, sugar, flour." Then again, Alan bristled at a lot of things when he heard the word "No."

    The "immigrant on lower decks" true as you say but I've not finished yet. Even then the U.S. Government began investigations on conditions, safety, food and even warm, dry shelter. Also laws forbidding immigrant womem working as cargo handlers, wood for fuel. Naturally the steamboat owners and captains did all the could to avoid the new regulations. These regs and statistics already compiled by the 1830s. The 1850s statistics showed that decade the biggest in the history of steamboating. I want to make sure I post right with clarity to avoid 'corrections' or 'knock offs.' Stay tuned as it may get better or worse. I thought I was doing right stepping up with history. Again, what do I know? Cheers!


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

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  • Jim Reising
    replied
    I must take exception

    Dale, I must take exception to some of the points you brought out in your posting. You're right packets were not "romantic", they were a tool. A uniquely American invention without which the American heartland would not have been settled as quickly as it was. You site flimsy construction, they had to be built lightly in order to both handle tons of materials and still navigate on the shallow, twisting rivers of the West. Remember until the late 1870's, packets were pretty much built and operated by the individual captains, ie..the Cannons, Leathers who individually financed their boats without a lot of capital to spend.
    Deck passage seems almost cruel today, but without it the swarms of immigrants that flooded into the heartland could not have done so without cheap passage. I would think my ancestors and perhaps yours came up the Mississippi "on deck". Remember until the Civil War more people came into this country through New Orleans than through New York because it offered cheap and easy transportation to the heartland because of deck passage on steamboats.
    You mention the food served on steamboats. First let me say this Alan Bates never rode on a packet so he got his information from what he read. I think that the captain/owner of the old packet boats tried to provide the best food they could. All food back then was greasy, heavy on pork and light on beef. Without the best food they could provide a captain/owner wouldn't be able to attract passengers or keep a crew. By today's "refrigerated" standards or a gentrified European of the day, the food probably was very bad.
    Romantic...no they weren't. I draw parallels to something we know about...trains. If you read the ads for the crack trains of our youth, they look very "romantic" but how many people today would ride in a pullman berth? Like steamboats as soon as something better came along, people abandoned trains, only to be looked back upon with fond nostalgia.

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  • R. Dale Flick
    replied
    *Wrong interpretation*
    Hi, Judy,
    Nothing could be further from the truth here. I'm back on board with you all for sure and .org indeed "wonderful." The posting categories great as at first it appeared just all DELTA QUEEN needing diversity. Again, if it hadn't been for you at S&D years ago with your lap computer, I wouldn't have known beans about Steamboats. org. You set your computer up with me walking over. "What is this?" And you explained.

    I agree with you all above. I've been receiving increasing number of invitations for other FACEBOOK sites. Great stuff but no way I could devote time to all of them. Winter a good time for this before spring, chores, outside work. Cheers!

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

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  • Judy Patsch
    replied
    Bad sequencing

    Unfortunately the sequencing of these threads on the title page make it look like you are referring to .org as not being all that wonderful. I was glad to read that you were referring to something else.

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