From my office desk on Gravier Street in New Orleans, I could hear the sounds of the famous calliope of the Delta Queen as she prepared to leave her dock on the Mississippi and head up stream.
It was always a festive affair from jazz music and banjos to the fantastic sound of the paddlewheel as she began her outward journey. Memories of days gone by flashed through my mind of gambling boats which lit the night with gas lamps, the white gloved waiters and some of the best fried chicken afloat!
I’d cruised on this gingerbread steamboat several times out of St. Louis, and we had become friends. Suddenly, the years caught up with both of us and neither of us were considered acceptable in the new, modern world. She and I were shelved.
Now, the paddlewheeler would be temporariy moored as a hotel at Chattanooga, Tennessee. She was met by great fanfare on her arrival – a “hug” that she needed. If I could hug Harry Phillips (owner of Chattanooga Water Taxi and Fat Cat Ferry in Chattanooga) for having made the arrangements, I would.
As a hotel guests will be treated to jazz, the banjos will play, there will be concerts from the calliope (which played its heart out on arrival in Chattanooga), the white gloved family service in the dining room, “card sharks” showing how it’s done and all the trappings of a past time era. I will miss you, old friend. Bon voyage…