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Wish she were here to ask..........

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    Wish she were here to ask..........

    As a teen I knew Loretta Howard quite well. Oh how I wish she were still here so I could ask her one question; "Why didn't John W. Cannon have Howard's build the RO
    BT. E. LEE? Why was it built in New Albany? Cannon had Howards build him boats before the Civil War and they built him more boats after the LEE was built. When James Howard tragically drowned on that cold, drizzly October afternoon in 1876 the ROBT. E. LEE ll was on the blocks in the shipyard. Cannon was one of James Howard's pall barrers. There must have been some compelling reason that sent Cannon to New Albany. Was it too soon after the war? Was Howard too busy to complete the boat when Cannon neede it?
    Any ideas?

    *Loretta Howard/Lee/Cannon*
    Morning, Steamboating colleagues,
    Great question, Jim, you would pose to Loretta Howard--and you along with Kenny Howe--probably knew her better than any of us in the present generation. She was a great lady for sure and I was fortunate to meet her the times I did. You worked hard at the Howard Museum [mansion] for sure seeing/hearing lots. Our late Capt. Alan Bates also sat at the elbow of Jim Howard with questions seeking information. I have a fine 35 mm. color slide I snapped of Loretta and friend Jesse Hoyt at a long ago S&D of Pioneer Rivermen weekend. Once Loretta handed me a clutch of classic Howard steamboat B/W photos and a period pencil box/kit from the old shipyard office. She said once, "I just don't understand how you young people today are so interested in all of this old steamboat stuff."

    As to why Cannon chose New Albany something I hadn't considered. Even with "Cannon one of James Howard's pall bearers" doesn't mask the fact of how cantankerous Cannon was with, I understand, a penchant for an argument or fight drop of a hat. Could have been 'Southern sympathies' or financial issues. Those guys back then, friendships aside, were hard nosed with financial matters giving no quarter or asking for one. Again, it was not, as thought today, 'a wonderful, romantic, warm and fuzzy, cuddly era with whistles, banjos, calliopes, dancin' and singing on the levee' for sure.

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