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Author: Subject: Congress Tries To Capsize A National Treasure On Our Riverways- The Delta Queen

Zen Peach





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  posted on 8/9/2007 at 03:12 PM
The historic and magnificent river, the Delta Queen, has been there for my whole life. Growing up on the Ohio River in both West Virginia and Ohio, I have found myself onboard a few times, and ecven was offered a job on the boat one day when I went to see it while docked in the port of Cincinnati back when I was 20 years old. I had an hour to decide whether to take the job, the employee whose job I would take couldn't leave trhe boat in good standing unless he found a replacement, and if I did take the job I would have had an hour to go and get my clothes and get onboard. I didn't take it.

Later in life, I got to know many musicians as well as riverboat captains and workers who have a history with this great boat, mainly through my friendship with the late, great musicians John Hartford. Now, this Congress is attempting to end the run of cruises on our great waterways that the Delta Queen is known for. Below,



quote:
http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070804/NEWS02/ 708040309

All aboard the Queen? Maybe not anymore

By Greg Paeth
Post staff reporter

After 40 years of navigating the sometimes treacherous waters of Congress, it appears the historic Delta Queen has run aground on a stack of Coast Guard regulations.

The Queen will end some 60 years of cruising the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers next year because Congress won't renew a special waiver that allowed the Queen to operate for the last 40 years, said the sternwheeler's current owner, the Majestic America Line.

Steamboat enthusiasts have launched a campaign to convince members of Congress to support an extension of a special waiver that had been approved six times in the past so that the Safety at Sea Act of 1966 would not deep-six cruising on the Queen.

The boat has deep ties to Cincinnati.

For nearly 40 years, from 1946 until 1984, the Queen's home port was Cincinnati and "Port of Cincinnati" is still painted on its stern.

The Queen, built in 1926, was used for 20 years on the West Coast, and then steamed to Cincinnati through the Panama Canal after it was acquired by Capt. Tom Greene and his company, Greene Line Steamers. In 1984, after a series of ownership changes, the boat's home port became New Orleans.

But many Greater Cincinnatians still consider the Delta Queen a Cincinnati boat, a 285-foot-long link to the city's historic roots as a trading port on the Ohio.

"It is very sad to see the end come for a boat that has a lot of history and still has a lot of life left in her," said Virginia Bennett of Covington, who had worked for Greene Line Steamers for 16 years in the payroll department and three years aboard the boat.

"It was really a great old boat to ride on and I hope they sell it and that someone else buys it," said Bennett, whose Covington apartment overlooks the river.

"It's a national landmark - a historic landmark and you can hardly get a ticket on the Delta Queen," said Wayne Rassman, whose home in Warsaw has a view of the river and the boats that use it. "I just hope that they (Majestic America) don't give up on it altogether," said Rassman, a Delta Air Lines employee and riverboat enthusiast.

"We've gone through some struggles with Delta and I'd hate to see another transportation company pull up stakes," said Rassman, who said he's already sent letters to his representatives in Congress urging them to support the waiver.

One of the provisions of the Safety at Sea Act prohibits passengers from remaining overnight on a ship like the Delta Queen that has a wooden superstructure or frame.

Todd Lindgren, communications manager for U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-1st District, said the waiver for the Delta Queen had been attached to a Coast Guard re-authorization bill when the proposed legislation was sent to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

But when the bill emerged from the committee, the waiver for the boat had been deleted. Lindgren said the full House has not yet acted on the bill.

He also said the waiver has been attached to a similar bill in the Senate that has not yet been discussed in committee.

"It's still early in the process. It seems like it's kind of premature," Lindgren said of Majestic America's announcement that it has, in effect, given up on its effort to secure the waiver.

Chabot and U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R.-2nd District, both were listed by the company as members of Congress who had supported the waiver.

It's unclear whether the Majestic America Line would continue to operate the "DQ" even if it received a waiver that would extend beyond the end of 2008 - the "farewell season."

A spokesman says the company believes it did all that it could before deciding that 2008 would be the final year for overnight cruises on the Queen.

"The company has been working on this since they acquired the vessels. They have spent a lot of time lobbying Congress and talking to all of the important decision makers. We feel we have turned over every stone," said Ann Marie Ricard, a spokeswoman for Majestic America Line, which is headquartered in Seattle. The company also operates the Mississippi Queen, the American Queen and four other boats.

"We are incredibly disappointed by this decision, but we are extremely grateful to those who worked tirelessly on behalf of the Delta Queen to preserve her place on the Mississippi River," Joe Ueberroth, President and CEO, Ambassadors International, which owns and operates Majestic America Line, said in a prepared statement. "This includes many Congressional leaders...thousands of loyal guests, our hard-working travel partners and Delta Queen enthusiasts like Steamboats.org."

The company said it is planning a series of commemorative events next year for the final cruising season of the Delta Queen.

But the company did not encourage steamboat fans or anyone else to get involved in an effort to convince Congress to grant another waiver.

Ricard said she could not comment about whether the company would support such an effort. She also said she would not speculate about whether the company would operate the boat beyond 2008 if it received the Congressional waiver.

She said those questions would have to be answered by top executives who were immersed Friday in the company's annual shareholders' meeting.

The 174-passenger Delta Queen is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is classified as a National Historic Landmark. The boat also has been inducted into the National Maritime Hall of Fame.





[Edited on 8/10/2007 by DerekFromCincinnati]

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/9/2007 at 03:16 PM


quote:
http://cruisemates.com/articles/feature/DeltaQueen-Muster-81307.cfm


Losing the Delta Queen
By Nori Muster
August 13, 2007
This article is written by Nori Muster, daughter of the man who helped save the Delta Queen 40 years ago. Nori maintains a web site dedicated to the boat and similar steamboats called steamboats.com to this very day. In a coincidence, she is also one of CruiseMates' editors' Paul Motters' dearest friends from childhood.

Steamboat historians around the world started the month with the sad news that our reigning monarch, the S.S. Delta Queen, has reached the end of her cruise ship career. She is one of the longest-running authentic paddle wheelers carrying overnight passengers on the Mississippi River, and for many years, the only boat of her kind offering overnight cruises. The eighty-one year old boat has finally fallen fell prey to unfair laws that lump her in with ocean-going cruise vessels, as the sword of her demise had been hanging over her head for more than forty years.

How Delta Queen Became a Registered National Historic Landmark


In May 1966, the Safety of Life at Sea Act (SOLAS) passed the U.S. House of Representatives and came before the Senate. The Act, if passed by both branches, would have forced the Delta Queen out of operation. Richard Simonton, owner and CEO of Greene Line Steamers, consulted with Maryland attorney William Kohler, then flew in his numbers man, Bill Muster, and Board Chairman E.J. Quinby.

They met in a Washington hotel to plan their strategy, then my father borrowed a typewriter from the desk clerk and stayed up all night typing Quinby's testimony. They were successful. Quinby offered convincing arguments on the floor of the Senate and the Delta Queen received an exemption from the law. However, the exemption was only for two years and based on the condition that Greene Line build a new boat to replace the Queen. The Delta Queen's tragic flaw: she is built of wood from the water up. The Safety at Sea Law stipulates that overnight passenger vessels must be made of steel.

My father had never seen the Delta Queen before that, so after the Senate meeting, he and Quinby drove to West Virgina, where the boat was due to dock that day. They parked on the riverbank and my father recalled how this incredible hulk of a machine came straight toward him out of the fog and blew its whistle. He was hooked. He loved that boat so much, he gave up everything to save her. Every two years through the rest of the late nineteen-sixties and early seventies, my father was back in Washington to ask for another exemption.

Congress gave the exemption every year easily and with honor, confident that the owners kept the boat in perfect condition and would take all precautions for passenger safety. Even after Greene Line later completed the Mississippi Queen (the boat they promised to build to replace the Delta Queen), Congress allowed the older boat to continue operating. It was only right, considering that it was a registered national landmark and a stunning relic of American history.

The only year Greene Line had problems was 1970, when Congressman Garmatz, head of the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, demanded a bribe. My father refused to pay, so he and Betty Blake, the company's P.R. person, started a nationwide letter-writing campaign and petition drive. By year's end, an estimated 250,000 American citizens participated by contacting their government representatives, the media, or signing petitions.

Betty Blake was quite a publicity hound and coverage snowballed throughout 1970, thought to be the Queen's final year of operation. Covering the story were: CBS Evening News with Roger Mudd, the NBC network news, an ABC TV special ("This Land is Mine"), a CBS special ("America," featuring John Hartford); the Today Show, Life and Newsweek magazines, and a second-time front-page story in The New York Times.

Johnny Cash urged his ABC-TV audience to help save the Delta Queen and sang a song he wrote about her. An Oklahoma rock band called Carp wrote Save the Delta Queen and recorded it on the Epic label. Jazz musicians held a Dixieland funeral for the boat as it pulled into New Orleans for the last time. Congress pushed through the exemption at the end of 1970 and the boat was saved. The full story is posted at my website (steamboats.com/museum/deltaqueen3.html) At that time, the Washington Post and newspapers from nearly every state, including Alaska and Hawaii, covered the story. Three movies and documentaries resulted, including one by National Geographic.

Growing up with the stories - I was ten in 1966 - has left an indelible mark on my life. The first time our family went for a cruise was in 1967 and I continued to have summer vacations on the boat every year until I was fourteen. Since then, I have visited occasionally, including a cruise for my fortieth birthday, and the boat has always remained in my thoughts.

My father died of cancer in 1989. Knowing that he had only months to live, in 1988 he arranged to donate his Save the Delta Queen documents to the Cincinnati Historical Society. It was the boat's homeport when Greene Line owned her, and her presence was important to the history of the city. My dad hired me to compile his papers for the archive, which involved months of sorting through dozens of cardboard boxes that he kept in the attic of his office. He and I worked together to pick out the most important documents relevant to the history. I even made trips to the UCLA law library to photocopy pages from the Congressional Record. The collection includes correspondence, news articles, and letters to and from legislators. I recall my father looking through the documents and stating that if he had it to do over, he would never write a letter that was longer than one concise page.

The documents have been on file at the Cincinnati Museum since 1989; an index to the documents has been online at Steamboats.com since 1998. The reason I first registered the domain name Steamboats.com was to post my father's papers. Steamboats are my hobby and the Delta Queen and her twin, the Delta King, are my favorite ships. Every year or two I travel to Old Town Sacramento to see the Delta King and have stayed onboard a number of times. The Delta King was brought back from the brink of death in the 1990s to become a great asset to Old Town Sacramento.

The two boats were fabricated on the River Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland in 1926, and shipped to Stockton, California, for final assembly. For nearly twenty years they ran between San Francisco and Sacramento, passing each other daily. During World War II they were drafted into the U.S. Navy fleet to carry and care for wounded soldiers in San Francisco Bay. In 1947, the boats were decommissioned. The Delta King remained in California, but the Delta Queen was sold in an auction to Tom Greene, then owner of Greene Line Steamers. He arranged to tow the boat five thousand miles from San Francisco, through the Panama Canal, into the Gulf of Mexico, and to the Mississippi River.

In 1958, Richard Simonton, a California businessman (my father's boss), bought a controlling interest in Greene Line Steamers to save the company from bankruptcy. Simonton used his Hollywood connections to increase the boat's popularity. He arranged to get the captain on "What's My Line," a 1950s TV game show, and "Queen for a Day," another show, offered cruises on the Delta Queen for prizes. Simonton quickly turned the company around, got it in the black, and everything went along fine until 1966, when the Safety at Sea problems started.

All the history and intrigue about the boat has shaped my worldview. My father used to come home from his Delta Queen related business trips with amazing stories; like the time he met a Mafia-like strongman who gave him a choice between accepting a new union on the boat or a concrete overcoat and dip in the river. Another amazing tale was when the English witch, psychic, astrologer, and prolific author, Sybil Leek cursed everyone on the boat for revealing her alleged romantic affair with one of the pilots. The curse worried my father, so he bought a book about the occult to study up on it. The boat reached into every corner of my father's life for ten years and he had to resign three times. He had a strong bond with the boat, and it might have been some sort of destiny. My dad was born in 1926, the same year as the boats, and our first house in Los Angeles, where he ultimately came to work for the Greene Line, was built in Dixie Canyon.

With all its crazy ins and outs, the most astonishing story was the one about the dishonest congressman. I grew up knowing that people in high places were sometimes less than honest. In August 1977, Garmatz was indicted on bribery charges, but the charges were dropped because the Congressman had cancer and not much time left to live. By that time, my father had already stopped working for Greene Line Steamers and the battle had been won, so he didn't care. He felt sorry for the old guy. It is ironic that if he had gone to trial, it would have been in a courthouse named after him in his home state of Maryland.

The Save the Delta Queen campaign and the assassination of John F. Kennedy were probably the two most formative events of my early childhood. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I learned early on to recognize when a situation is not what it seems. Rep. Garmatz and his cronies at the Coast Guard said the Delta Queen was unfit and that's why they would have to put her out of business. Garmatz even drew a pair of skull and cross bones on a piece of legislation, then threatened members of Congress that the blood would be on their hands if the Delta Queen ever sank. I have posted a copy of his drawings at my web site (http://steamboats.com/museum/deltaqueengarmatz2.html).

My dad and his adventure saving the boat taught me that the world is unfair sometimes, but that you have to fight back fair. The Save the Delta Queen campaign was as much a struggle to save the boat (and the company) as it was my father's way of expressing his revenge against a dishonest politician. He was angry, but channeled it into something that was ultimately rewarding for him and the boat. His efforts bought the boat what now amounts to a thirty-eight year reprieve.

Betty Blake was another good sport. I remember her joking after the fact that someone in her office had labeled a file folder "Garmatz Bribe" and stuffed it with paper. Betty's father was Senator Blake of Kentucky, a long-term incumbent. She grew up on the campaign trail with her family and she knew how things got done in Washington. She was instrumental in planning the Save the Delta Queen strategy; she was especially good at getting the media to make her point. In the lobby of the Delta Queen, she set up a petition that was on a roll of newsprint. In every town where the boat stopped throughout 1970, she invited the throngs of town's people aboard to sign the petition. When the roll was filled with signatures and pleas to save the boat, she brought it to Washington and unfurled it on the steps of the Capitol building. A picture can speak a thousand words, and that one surely did. She was brilliant and a good representative and friend of the boat.

It is painful to have to witness the end of the Delta Queen's life as a river boat. It is as though she has received a death sentence in her golden years. She will be sorely missed by many. My father once told me that boats die and that it can be as sad as losing a person. His words ring in my ears now. The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if someone failed to grease the right palm, or if there is some new law (in particular, the international treaty, SOLAS) that has prevented our legislators from granting this year's exception.

Whatever the reason for this tragic milestone, the Delta Queen enters her final season in 2008. Where are Betty and my father? I shake my head and remember that both died in the 1980s. But we need them now if anything is to be done! The Save the Delta Queen campaign did not invent and implement itself, but it did not take a lot of people, either. It was just two people from Greene Line, plus a cadre motivated legislators like Rep. Leonora K. Sullivan of Missouri, the boat's patron saint, who traveled on the boat and campaigned side by side with Betty and my dad.

Majestic America Line, the current owners, announced August 1 that despite tremendous efforts by the company, the U.S. Congress has decided that the Delta Queen should not continue operating on America's rivers beyond 2008. Although Majestic has only owned the boat for about a year, it has fallen to them to preserve the Delta Queen's legacy and place in American history.

Majestic notes that the Delta Queen was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 (my dad's and Betty Blake's doing), then in 1989, she was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of Interior, and finally, she was inducted into the National Maritime Hall of Fame in 2004.

Majestic further noted that the ship is rich with art and antiques, such as original Tiffany-style stained glass windows, hardwood paneling, brass fittings, the only Siamese ironwood floor aboard a steamboat, a much-photographed Grand Staircase, and a ship's bell that sounded out landings for the steamboat that Mark Twain rode down river in 1883.

The ship also has an 1897 steam calliope, thanks to Richard Simonton and E.J. Quinby. After acquiring the Delta Queen in 1958, Simonton sent Quinby to locate a steam calliope over the protests of the Greene family, who worried that the loud noise would be offensive to people living along the shore. By April of that year, Quinby tracked one down. It had been aboard the Island Queen steamboat, which sank in 1936. The boat's calliopist, "Crazy Ray," retrieved the instrument and it passed along to a circus couple, who then offered it to Greene Line Steamers for $1,000. By June, Quinby made a $100 down payment. Greene Lines purchased it in 1959 and installed it on the boat in 1960.

David A. Giersdorf, President, Majestic America Line, said, "A journey on board the Delta Queen is a true American experience, providing guests with an authentic glimpse of our country's culture and a time in our history when steamboats ruled the rivers." He promised: "We will make every sailing in 2008 a special event, allowing every guest, like so many before, the opportunity to share in the Delta Queen's legacy and honor the last chapter in her service on the river."

Majestic is planning special commemorative events and cruises, and commemorative gifts that will mark the farewell season. With just twenty-four cruises planned in 2008, passengers are encouraged to book early. For more information, go to DeltaQueen.com, MajesticAmericaLine.com, or call the reservation line at (800) 434-1232.

In an August 1, 2007 press release, Majestic American thanked the people in Washington who tried to save the boat this year:

Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA)
Congressman Charlie Melancon (D-LA)
Congressman Don Young (R-AK)
Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY)
Congressman Gene Taylor (D-MS)
Congressman John Tanner (D-TN)
Congressman Kenny Hulshof (R-MO)
Congressman Lacy Clay (D-MO)
Congressman Marion Berry (D-AR)
Congressman Richard Baker (R-LA)
Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI)
Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH)
Congressman Timothy Walz (D-MN)
Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO)
Congressman Zack Wamp (R-TN)
Congresswoman Bettie McCollum (D-MN)
Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R-OH)
Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO)
Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO)
Senator David Vitter (R-LA)
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA)




[Edited on 8/9/2007 by DerekFromCincinnati]

 

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  posted on 8/9/2007 at 03:25 PM
This is a real shame. I always planned to take that river cruise. I guess I put it off too long.
Derek, thanks for the article.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/9/2007 at 03:40 PM
FRom an interview I did with one of the first women to front a bluegrass band - Katie Laur,

quote:
Did you ever catch any flak for being a female in a bluegrass band?

" Well, one time (in the 1970's) when we were working up in Clifton and a guy came in and spat on me. He just spat on me. And he said, 'You don't have any business…there's no reason for women to be in bluegrass.' And, I was traveling around with men I wasn't married to or involved with, and so it was a different kind of circumstance. Eventually I wanted to play some of my own songs. I wanted to write some and I wanted to take some songs that I thought were good and sing them and the Appalachian Grass just wasn't into that. So in 1975 I met John Hartford and I went on this bluegrass cruise with him and about 14 other musicians. We flew over to Saint Louis and took the Delta Queen back to Cincinnati. We played 24-7. I remember Doug Dillard (He was part of the Darling Family on the Andy Griffith Show) was playing banjo on the trip and his fingers would swell up so bad he couldn't get the picks off of them. So we would say, well, 'if you can't get the picks off you might as well play some more'. That’s what we did."

Did Hartford ever have a woman in his band back then?

"He didn’t have a band for a long time. He was a solo performer. But, I sang with him sometimes. He and I wrote a song. Anyway , that was the year I met John and I came back all fired up after that Delta Queen trip."




John Hartford, who was not only a legendary performer who made his millions with the song "Gentle On My Mind," but was also a licensed river boat captain who worked as a mate on Delta Queen back in 1970,




quote:
http://www.swampland.com/articles/view/swampland/62


Where Does an Old Time River Man Go?
John Hartford Remembered

By Derek Halsey
December 2001

In the cool autumn air the sounds of the riverboats were everywhere. There is nothing like the whistle of a ship like the Delta Queen blowing as it comes up river and into port. In October of 1988, at the port of Cincinnati on the mighty Ohio River, there were the sounds of over twenty riverboats in port at once. Steamboats were in town from all over the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and all points in between. It was a festival called Tall Stacks. There also were many bluegrass, jazz, and country musicians in town for the festival as well. One artist in particular would not have missed it for the world as he was a licensed riverboat pilot as well as a musician and that was John Hartford.

John Hartford, songwriter, banjo and fiddle player, has probably recorded more music about the river and riverboats and river life than any other 'modern times' musician. On the banks of the Ohio River that fall he was definitely in his element. He was up on the stage with his instruments and his 4 by 4 piece of plywood. The miced plywood, with a little sand thrown on it, was what he did his shuffling on. He would play the fiddle or the banjo while at the same time keeping rhythm with his feet on the board. As he played on the open-air stage the steamboats would be off in the background behind him. When he would stop playing for a second and turn and wave to the boats the captains and pilots, most of whom he knew, would see him from the river and blow their whistles and it was great. He was a one-man show, in the tradition of all the old traveling minstrels and musicians that played the river ports of this country for hundreds of years.


I had not seen John for a long time. I was trying to remember what bluegrass festival I first saw him play live at. All I know is I remember seeing him first as most of us middle age ex-hippies did on the late sixties TV show "Glen Campbell's Good Time Hour." He was the hippie with the 'banjer'. The one who wrote Glen Campbell's hit song of the day, "Gentle on My Mind" in about twenty minutes of absolute brainstorm. It is still to this day some of the best lyrics ever written. The crowd that night recognized that song above all of the other songs and clapped as he started it. It was a crisp October night. There was a river full of steamboats. John Hartford had the crowd in his favor.

After he finished his set he would always greet what people he could backstage. I stood back and let him talk to the other fans before I went into my recollections and musical questions and such. As I was standing off to the side I overheard some of the older ladies talking. They were amazed at how he could dance and shuffle his feet to the rhythm on the plywood for such a long time. They approached him for an autograph but seemed too shy to ask him about it. So I brought it up in front of the others standing there and walked right in to the dry wry humor that was John Hartford. " So John, how is it that you keep your legs up like that?" "Well", he answered without missing a beat, "They are attached to my hips I guess".

John's classic song "Gentle on My Mind" should, as picker Ricky Skaggs said about it, "encourage young songwriters out there to write that one mega-classic hit." As Ricky further explains, a song like that could "set you up for your children and your children's children". And so it was for John. 'Gentle on My Mind' is the second most played song in the history of man, second only to the Beatles "Yesterday." It has been played over 6 million times on radio and television. Over 300 people have recorded it. Such entertainers as, and I am not joking here, Frank Sinatra, Aretha, Burl Ives, Lawrence Welk, Lou Rawls, and Elvis! After John's appearances on the Campbell show and the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour he was even offered a detective show on television but turned it down to head back east and south. Hollywood was fun for a while but there were not enough rivers in California to suit him.

The royalties from 'Gentle' enabled him to pursue the music he really wanted to play. And thatâs when the album entitled "Aereo-Plain" came out in 1971. This is the album to start out with if you are new to his music. The album, now CD, featured John playing with Tut Taylor on dobro, Norman Blake on guitar and mandolin, Randy Scruggs on bass, and the great fiddle player Vassar Clements. John did not play just traditional music. With this album especially he set into motion the idea that bluegrass string music could be strange and progressive as well. One listen to "BOOGIE" and "Steam Powered Aereo Plane" played loud and you will see what I mean. Yet the instrumentation was smoking.

Other songs to look for on other albums of his would be, of course, "Granny Wontcha Smoke Some Marijuana" from the "Nobody Knows What You Do " album, 1976. Also on that album is a song called "The Golden Globes" which is the best song I have ever heard in tribute to the fairer sexes wonderful female protuberances. Crazy. Or you might try finding the 1977 album he made with the Dillards of Andy Griffith show fame (on the show they were called the "Darlin's"). Look for a tribute to Bob Marley entitled "Two Hits and The Joint turned Brown". You never knew what you were going to get with Mr., Hartford. And you southern rockers should look for a self titled album by Vassar Clements on the Mercury label, 1975, which featured John and others such as Charlie Daniels, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, members of Barefoot Jerry, and Marty Stewart.

The next time I saw John was in 1991 or '92 at the next Tall Stacks celebration. I ran into him sitting out a steady rain in a vehicle with Cincinnati-Kentucky musician Katie Laur. He recognized me after a few seconds and invited me in the car to talk and wait out the rain as he was supposed to play if it let up. I gave him a tape I had made for him of unusual music I had found such as 'Lillie Mae and the Dixie Gospel-Aires' and other cool stuff. The next day after the rain brought in a cold front behind it I saw Katie and John at the outdoor stage where banjo legend J.D.Crowe was playing. It could not have been more than 45 degrees outside and you players out there know how rough it would be to get your fingers to move right in such conditions. So J.D. tells the audience that if they have any requests to yell them out and if they could they would play it. John, way in the back, disguises his voice and yells out "Train 45", which is one of the hardest, fastest picking songs you could play. The band gets this collective frown on there faces, look at each other, look at their hands and instruments, and after a few seconds J.D. looks out into the crowd saying, "Hartford is that you?" J.D. finally figured out what was up. John was laughing hard, but J.D. and his band played it any way.

The last time I saw John was in 1999. It was the last of the three Tall Stacks and it was known through the grapevine that John's health was not good. John had been fighting Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma for 20 years and it was finally wearing him down. I had found a country cookbook written by Ronni Lundy of Louisville titled "Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes, and Honest Fried Chicken" which featured a picture of John taken of him in 1958. I wanted to show it to him and have him sign it. He got a big kick out of it. The second I saw him though I knew he was in trouble. I walked away from him that day praying and stunned at what I had seen. It's amazing how things can change someone for the worse from one time to the next.



He kept on playing until April of 2001 when in Texas, in the middle of a run of shows, he lost control of his hands. In the days leading up to his death in early June of 2001 he had a parade of visitors to his Madison, Tennessee home overlooking the Cumberland River. Though he could not play himself he had others such as Earl Scruggs and Bela Fleck play for him. His wife Marie put his bed where he could see the river. As John said at an earlier time, "You look out at the river and it looks like its full of crushed diamonds·. I can't be anywhere else."

After his death on June 4, 2001, an amazing thing happened. On his web site, 'Johnhartford.com' (which he originally wanted to name 'Delusions of Banjer'), a message board was started for people to share their stories about John. As of November 2001 there have been over 1,500 postings. There are postings from Germany, Italy, Brazil, New Zealand, Netherlands, Bolivia, Canada, and all of America. The stories are touching, unusual, and goofy.

One recurring story is of John at the Skyline Music Festival in Ronceverte, West Virginia. Back in 1977 some idiot burned down the barn that held all the generators that supplied all of the electric for the stages. According to attendees Jan Worthington and Austin Troxell, whose picture you see with this article, after it got dark John invited people to the stage anyway. People gathered around and surrounded the stage with their camping lanterns and witnessed as good and as unique a show by John as you could ever want to see. Plywood and all.

Even near the end of his life John never lost his sense of humor. The radio show called "Live at Mountain Stage" wanted to do a tribute for him while he was still alive. Many great musicians came and played many of his songs and it was released as a CD as well. At the end of the concert John came out to play a short set. He started by talking to the audience and the other musicians telling them that, "If I'm going to be true to form, I got to tell you like it is·I know why everybody's here. They think I'm going to croak." He went on to say that if he was going to do his part then he should croak within about three weeks so it would still be fresh in every ones mind. The problem with that was, as he put it, " We got the whole month of October booked".

I am sure the irony of what happened to his career at the end of his life was not lost on him either. In 2000 there was a hit movie that came out entitled "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?," starring Kentucky native George Clooney and written and directed by the Coen Brothers. The music in the movie was an integral part of the story that was set in Mississippi circa 1930's. The Coen's hired T. Bone Burnett to gather up some real 'old time music' musicians to create the critical soundtrack to the movie. He brought in Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss and Ralph Stanley, and others. And John Hartford. The soundtrack of "Oh Brother" sold more than two million copies. It sold more than any other country CD sold in 2000. It topped the charts smoking all of the other so-called modern country artists.

There is a movie out there now called "Down From The Mountain" that is a documentary of the musicians from "Oh Brother" coming together for a concert in celebration of the music of the movie, of the south, of the mountains, of the delta, of America. It is hosted by John Hartford and should be in video stores shortly. It is now part of his legacy as well. A hit song in the beginning of his career and a hit CD at the end of his 63 years here on earth. But there is also a bunch of wonderful music in between for us to explore and enjoy and have fun with and to learn from.

There is a song by John from the "Live at Mountain Stage" CD called "Old Time River Man", where he asks the question;

"Where does an old time riverman go
After he's passed away?
Does his soul still keep watch on the deep
For the rest of the river day?
Does he then come back as a channel cat
Or the wasps that light on the wheel?
Or the birds that fly in the summer sky
Or the fish swimming under the keel?"

 

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  posted on 8/9/2007 at 03:42 PM
quote:
This is a real shame. I always planned to take that river cruise. I guess I put it off too long.
Derek, thanks for the article.





Your welcome, Ruthelane. Number one, they are still booking cruises for 2008. Number two, the fight with Congress is not over. Send an email.

Thanks again.

Derek

 

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  posted on 8/9/2007 at 03:46 PM
I loved John Hartford too. They don't make them like him anymore.

 

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  posted on 8/9/2007 at 03:50 PM
Once a few dozen other Congressmen and women get their chance to hang a few billion in earmarks on a bill that includes extending the DQ's license, it will probably find no trouble getting reauthorized.

 

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  posted on 8/9/2007 at 04:04 PM
This was just reported in our local paper. Sad day on the Mississippi.

 

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  posted on 8/9/2007 at 04:43 PM
I believe I've been on the Delta Queen, back in my New Orleans days. There is another riverboat out of NOLA called the Cajun Queen, so I could be mixing up the two, but I think I saw the Radiators on the Delta Queen once.

I've told many people that there is nothing like seeing a great show on a riverboat If the cabin gets a little crowded, you just step up on the deck, and Hey! We're on a boat! The breeze is in your face, the lights of New Orleans twinkle off in the distance, and you can still hear the music because they have speakers on the deck. These riverboat shows are usually pretty pricey, but worth every penny. My wife's favorite part of Jazz Fest this year was the Greyboy Allstars on the Cajun Queen.

It's a shame that the company doesn't seem interested in fighting for the Delta Queen. Maybe it will get sold to another company that will make a stronger effort to keep it afloat.

 
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  posted on 8/10/2007 at 08:45 AM
quote:
Congress Tries To Derail A National Treasure On Our Riverways
Not true. "Tries to Capsize," maybe.

In high school I subbed on piano with a Dixieland band that played on board a small paddlewheeler that cruised a section of the Mississippi between dams. It must really be something to cruise the "open water" all the way from Cincy, past Cairo and Memphis, and on down to New Orleans.

Nice comment, Derek:
"His wife Marie put his bed where he could see the river. As John said at an earlier time, 'You look out at the river, and it looks like its full of crushed diamonds.' "
I don't know the Ohio well, but I've seen that very thing alongside the Mississippi and even standing on the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River. The latter even works at night, with the hundreds and thousands of lights up in the buildings sparkling off the water.

 

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  posted on 8/10/2007 at 02:47 PM
quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----
This is a real shame. I always planned to take that river cruise. I guess I put it off too long.
Derek, thanks for the article.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----



Your welcome, Ruthelane. Number one, they are still booking cruises for 2008. Number two, the fight with Congress is not over. Send an email.

Thanks again.

Derek
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----



Why don't you set-up an on-line petition that we could all sign?






quote:
http://www.steamboats.org/save-the-delta-queen-2007.html

Save the DELTA QUEEN
According the the DELTA QUEEN's owners, Majestic America Line, congress has denied further exemption for the DELTA QUEEN from SOLAS regulations. This means 2008 will be the last season for this great, historic steamboat as an overnight passenger vessel.

If you feel like we do, that is "THIS CAN'T BE": Please support the campaign to SAVE THE DELTA QUEEN actively. At least take a moment of your time and send an e-mail of letter to your local senators and representatives (how to contact them- http://www.steamboats.org/#list) and sign our online petition. Express your feelings about how important it is to preserve the DELTA QUEEN as an overnight passenger vessel.

But please, if you can, do more than that. See the "It's not over" posting on the steamboats.org message board for action you can take to help saving the boat.

Save the Delta Queen 2007 Campaign - Online Petition

We strongly support issuing a new exemption of SOLAS regulations for the steamboat DELTA QUEEN. We wish to see this beautiful boat preserved for not only us, but for generations to come. Allowing her to continue will not endanger the public. It will continue the great American legacy known as the steamboat. This is the only way to guarantee our children and grandchildren get to see and physically enjoy this grand tradition of our American history. With out her, the cry "Steamboat a comin" will become a museum piece and a way of life will disappear never to return.


http://www.steamboats.org/save-the-delta-queen/gbook.php


quote:
http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/news/070809/queen.shtml

..............and how the rare Siamese ironwood floor in the dining room was originally built to carry cars as an overnight ferry from Sacramento to San Francisco.

The Delta Queen, replete with ornate décor, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its tiffany lamps, antique furniture, hardwood paneling, brass fittings and 1864 steam-powered calliope make it a working museum.

The Overstakes fear all that makes Delta Queen special will end after 2008, even if the riverboat becomes a permanent museum or restaurant, as Majestic reports is the initial interest of potential buyers.




http://www.save-the-delta-queen.org/

 

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  posted on 9/4/2007 at 04:33 PM
Fallen soldier also a riverboat captain here in Cincinnati;


quote:
Widow Of Fallen No. Ky. Soldier Shares Her Loss



Reported by: Lance Barry
Photographed by: Eric Clajus


The body of a local soldier killed in Afghanistan returns to the Tri-state Saturday morning.

Staff Sergeant Nicholas Carnes died from enemy fire last weekend.

On the eve of his return, his wife spoke to 9News about her husband's sacrifice.

"We talked for about an hour, we were planning the rest of our lives," said Terri Bernstein Carnes. "Sad when you look back at it."

It was the last time Terri ever talked to her husband.

Twelve hours after that phone call last saturday, 25-year-old Staff Sergeant Nicholas Carnes was dead.

She recalled to 9News the moment that all military wives dread – when uniformed officers came to her door at her Northern Kentucky home.

"Hollywood finally got something right," she told 9News. "They come in, they say, 'Terri Bernstein, wife of Nicholas Carnes,' and that is about all I heard."

The Ludlow resident and 2000 grad of Dayton High was killed in the Afghanistan town of Ghazni, when enemy fire struck an artery in his leg.

Sergeant Chad Conrad heard the call over his military radio and rushed to the scene.

"When I got there, I knew it wasn't good," said Chad.

Sgt. Conrad and Specialist Brian Sawyer were both in Carnes' Army National Guard unit.

Both from Northern Kentucky, now they are home again – with the daunting task of burying a brother.

"You go through a lot of different things over there," said Brian, "but this is probably the most difficult thing you can go through."

With headlines from Iraq dominating the news, the men say the best tribute anyone could give to Carnes is not forgetting about troops stationed in other places as well, including Afghanistan.

"I think everybody should know there are soldiers out there, every single day," said Chad, "putting their life on the line for our country, and for the country they are in."

Terri now wears her husband's dog tags, a tribute to a man who died a hero.

"He absolutely loved it," said Terri. "He was doing a great job, he was happy to help a country in need of help and they liked him being there."

In his civilian life, Carnes worked as a boat captain for BB Riverboats, where he met his wife.

An honor guard will pick up Nicholas Carnes' body at the airport Saturday.

People are encouraged to line the motorcade route that starts at Tower Drive, goes on to Donaldson Road and ends at Dixie Highway.

Carnes' funeral will be held Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. at Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption on Madison in Covington.


©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

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  posted on 10/24/2007 at 02:14 PM
quote:
Stand alone bill in favor of the Delta Queen is on its way!

Join the H.R. 3852 Press Conference this Friday

The Save the Delta Queen campaign has taken a turn for the better in the last week. This Friday at approximately 11:30 a.m., Congressman Steve Chabot will hold a press conference at the Steamboat Memorial on Cincinnati's river front. If you live there, or nearby in Newport or Covington, Kentucky, or anywhere within range, please attend the press conference.

Double check the time of the press conference with Congressman Chabot's office, (513) 684-2723 or (202) 225-2216. Steamboats.com will post the exact time when it is confirmed.

Oct 18, 2007

There is great news: Congressman Steve Chabot of Cincinnati, Ohio has introduced a stand alone bill to save the Delta Queen - that is, granting her a new exemption fom the Safety at Sea Act. Co-Sponsors of the bill are, so far: Representatives W. Todd Akin (MO), Richard H. Baker (LA), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO), Jo Ann Emerson (MO), Kenny C. Hulshof (MO), Ron Kind (WI), Jean Schmidt (OH), Timothy J. Waltz (MN), Zach Wamp (TN), Ed Whitfield (KY).

Now is the big moment where the efforts of the whole steamboater’s community need to be combined, supporting this bill, H.R. 3852. - http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.3852:

Now it’s your turn, Contact your local politicians, city councils, Congressmen and urge them to support the bill. We need their help, so please be polite, but let them know how important it is for you and your community to keep the Delta Queen running.

- If you know a Representative willing to co-sponsor the bill, please contact Rep. Steve Chabot’s office in Washington (Anna Rack (202) 225-2216). The more support the bill gets, the better the chances to get it through the Congress.



[Edited on 10/24/2007 by DerekFromCincinnati]

 

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  posted on 10/24/2007 at 03:00 PM
That would had been a cool job Derek. I would consider the Delta Queen a national treasure like our State and National Parks and Forests. What are the folks in Congress thinking? We will never know. They sure will keep the railroads and airlines afloat.

[Edited on 10/24/2007 by rottinpeach]

 

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  posted on 10/25/2007 at 01:06 PM
A Riverboat Could Be Cruising to the End of the Line
By SEAN D. HAMILL
Published: October 25, 2007

ON THE CUMBERLAND RIVER, Tenn. — Looking out over the Delta Queen’s wooden paddle wheel kicking up frothy trails of white water, Don Mauger could scarcely contain his disappointment.
When Mr. Mauger and his wife, Dixie, reserved their spots for this seven-day trip on the country’s last original paddle-wheeled, steam-driven, overnight passenger boat, they received a depressing letter with their tickets.

It said that 2008 would be the last year for the Delta Queen, an 81-year-old riverboat. The owner, Majestic American Line, said it could not get Congress to grant an exemption from the 1966 Safety at Sea Act, which prohibits wooden boats from carrying more than 50 overnight passengers. (The Delta Queen, which has a steel hull but a wooden superstructure, carries up to 174.) . . .

Depending on whom you ask, the reason Congress has opposed granting the Queen its 10th exemption since the federal law was approved is either a legitimate fear of fire on a wooden vessel, or special-interest politics.

“It’s a revered and historic structure — but it’s wood,” said Representative James L. Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat who refused Majestic’s request for an exemption in his position as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “I see no compelling case that can be made to move an exemption.”



Travis Vasconcelos, center, plays the calliope on the Delta Queen, whose cruises attract retirees. (Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times)

But Majestic’s owner, Ambassadors International, says the real issue is opposition from the Seafarers International Union, which represented most of the steamboat’s employees until last year. At that time Majestic bought the Delta Queen and two other riverboats for $40 million and forced the union off the boats.

Joseph McCarthy, general counsel for Ambassadors International, said the company had offered to let the union back on the Delta Queen in return for the union’s support for the exemption, but the union would not budge unless it was welcomed back onto all seven of Majestic’s boats.

Mr. McCarthy also said the union told the company that it “could help change” Mr. Oberstar’s position, as well as opposition from Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Democrat of Hawaii and chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. . . .

The company declared 1970 the Queen’s last season; New Orleans jazz musicians even had a funeral parade for the boat when it pulled into port.

But a grass-roots effort backed by hundreds of thousands of letters to Congress, and the support of the singer Johnny Cash, helped win the Delta Queen a reprieve — an effort fans hope to repeat.

“From the first time I put my foot on her, I felt a tie,” said Franz Neumeier, 39, a steamboat enthusiast from Munich, who created a Web site, save-the-delta-queen.org, to gather petitions and push for a new exemption. “I think it would be an extreme shame to ground her for what I would call ridiculous reasons. She is living history.”

{Whole article 3X as long,
includes audio slide show:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/25/us/25delta.html?th&emc=th

 

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  posted on 1/3/2008 at 04:20 PM


quote:
Our 2008 Steamboat Calendar featuring
"Excursion Boats" is still available!


HSPS, Inc (a 501.c.3 non-profit) publishes a Steamboat calendar
each year, with proceeds going toward maintenance of the 1923
sternwheel towboat BARBARA H. Our 2008 calendar features
early photos of steam excursion boats. The calendar contains 13
large photos printed on heavy card stock, suitable for framing.

Each month features a specific boat along with its history, and a
complete calendar page, with holidays marked. The featured
excursion boats include:

ISLAND QUEEN (1st)
J.S.
IDLEWILD
J.S. DELUXE
WASHINGTON
ISLAND QUEEN (2nd)
SAINT PAUL
HOMER SMITH
CAPITOL
W.W.
SIDNEY
W.J. QUINLAN




This is the Historic Sternwheeler Preservation Society's seventh
calendar, with all proceeds going toward the maintenance of the
sternwheel towboat BARBARA H.

Calendar Price: $15.95
Shipping: $4.50 for one; (add $1 for each additional calendar).

Please mail check or money order to:
HSPS, Inc.
11 Ashland Cove Road
Vevay, IN 47043

Online credit card ordering is available from
our web site's giftshop at: http://hspsi.org




 

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  posted on 8/5/2008 at 04:50 PM
quote:
Hello All,

Senator George Voinovich of Ohio has promised to introduce a Delta Queen exemption bill in the Senate when Congress reconvenes after Labor Day. We owe this happy development to Ohio State Senator Joy Padgett, who met with Sen. Voinovich in Washington on Tuesday and told him we needed his help.

This is proof positive of two key facts of political life: All politics is local, and the most effective contact is personal. During the month of August, when Senators and House reps will be home, please call their District offices and schedule appointments to meet with them in person. And take as many fellow DQ supporters with you as you can. Urge the Senators to co-sponsor Sen. Voinovich's upcoming bill and to have their Legislative Directors contact Lauri Hettinger, who is Sen. Voinovich's LD. House members can refer their LDs to Kim Betz, their counterpart in Congressman Steve Chabot's office. Kim and Lauri, like most congressional staffers, will remain at work in Washington during the recess.

If you live in a state where the boat travels, please also urge your Governor to remind your two Senators and every House member that the Delta Queen is important to your entire state, not just to towns along the river.

As always, feel free to give my contact information to anyone who would like to help the cause.

Charge!

Vicki

Vicki Webster

The Save the Delta Queen Campaign

335 W. Fifth Street #401

Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

(513) 381-3571

vjw@olypen.com


 

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  posted on 8/5/2008 at 05:37 PM
Great tune made popular (at least to me) by Leftover Salmon, featuring Drew Emmitt on Vocals, Mando and Slide. The long live extended versions are the best .....but aren't they always.

 

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  posted on 8/5/2008 at 08:19 PM
I have the Delta Queen on my fishing tape I made when I lived back in Ohio. She sure is a beautiful boat, I hate to hear all this about her. I'll pass that one link along to them boys back in the hills to get it ciculated a little more. Dang shame it is..
Derek, do you remember the Delta Queen and another boat racing? Happened awhile back.

 

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  posted on 8/5/2008 at 10:09 PM
While I lived in Cincy I remember one of the Tall Stacks events was riverboat racing Skypup. Whether the DQ was involved I don't specifically remember.

I'm telling you Derek; just find one Democratic congress person who can latch a few billion in earmarks to this and it's a done deal!

 

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  posted on 8/5/2008 at 10:40 PM
In my opinion, we have to save the Delta Queen. We are losing so many landmarks in Cincy. I took the Delta Queen to Memphis in 90 with my ex. It was a wonderful trip. Why would they even consider having Tall Stacks here again without this riverboat. Our city needs to put up some money to save her too. They make a bundle during Tall stacks.

 

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  posted on 8/6/2008 at 10:02 AM
The Delta Queen was docked at my hometown of Ironton once and I got to look at it up close. It is a beautiful boat to say the least.

On my fishing tape I was fooling with my friend's video camera panning the river and the Delta Queen just happened to come tugging along down the river.

Cincinnati's riverfront is something else. I have a friend in Dayton that bought a boat this year and he's always writing to me about the river. Do they still have that big fireworks display every year?


 

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  posted on 8/6/2008 at 01:54 PM
quote:
Cincinnati's riverfront is something else. I have a friend in Dayton that bought a boat this year and he's always writing to me about the river. Do they still have that big fireworks display every year?



yep... it's sunday of labor day weekend every year - supposed to be the largest labor day fireworks display in the country.

we love the riverfront here - always something going on... i did a trip from louisville to cincy on the delta queen following the KY derby weekend there... a very cool thing to do...sorry some of you will never get the chance.

 

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  posted on 8/6/2008 at 02:02 PM
quote:
yep... it's sunday of labor day weekend every year - supposed to be the largest labor day fireworks display in the country.


*brainf*rt* Wasn't it called the WEBN fireworks something or other?

 

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  posted on 8/6/2008 at 04:20 PM
quote:
quote:
yep... it's sunday of labor day weekend every year - supposed to be the largest labor day fireworks display in the country.


*brainf*rt* Wasn't it called the WEBN fireworks something or other?

That is it!! It gets bigger every year.

 

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