(To my never-to-be-forgotten memories of life along the Suwanee River)
Written and Contributed by FROG SMITH
260 Poe Street, Fort Myers, Florida
While sitting alone beside the Suwanee
On one moonlight summer night
I dozed and drifted back to childhood
There to see a wondrous sight.
From around the bend up-river
I heard the clear notes of a bell
Soon I saw an old-time steamer
That in childhood I knew well.
My drowsy eyes grew wide in wonder
As the white ship steamed along
Years had passed since I'd last seen her
I wondered where she'd been so long.
There was music on her fore-deck
Where I saw dancers swing and sway
In the red glow from the furnace
So dimly lighting up the way.
I could see the fiddler playing
A smiling negro, old and gray
With head bent low above his violin
So gently did his body sway
Then I heard the engines puffing slowly
And saw the big wheel going 'round
But icy fingers chilled my heart
When I saw the boat was going down
Soon the big wheel ceased it's turning
Until she drifted with the stream
Before the water drowned the boilers
In a hissing cloud of steam.
When the river water flowed over the deck
I saw the fire-light dim and die
While the dancers reeled on in the flood
Not one for help was heard to cry.
No more the firelight from the boilers
Upon the water danced and played
Instead a Silvery Light from Heaven
Seemed to light the river way.
Soon she slipped beneath the river
With one low heart-rending moan
The strangled death-cry of the whistle
On Suwanee's Ghost-Ship, Going Home.
(In 1902 I saw four steamers tied up side by side on Suwanee, all under steam and ready to go. The Sam Pyles, That is Shepperd and City of Hawkinsville).