| September/October 1978

  • The paddle wheel
    The paddle wheel in action on the Ohio River.
  • The Delta Queen
    The Delta Queen arriving at Stillwater, Minnesota on a cloudy, windy day.

  • The paddle wheel
  • The Delta Queen

Route 1, Box 309, Frederic, Wisconsin 54837

Being retired, is in a sense a privilege, and with all my hobbies, I seem pressed for time. We thank our Good Lord for every day He gives us strength to enjoy this version of freedom. 'Hobby-farming' gives a chance to play with 'old iron,' disking ground or threshing oats with my old 10-20 Titan, sawing stove wood with a 5 HP Galloway, etc., all in fun, good exercise and something accomplished. Going places has a lot of priority, though I have this continuous yen to look at old thresher catalogs and copies of 'American Thresherman.' I also have complete sets of hobby magazines, 'The Iron-Men Album,' the 'Gas Engine Magazine,' 'Engineers and Engines,' and 'Western Engines.' The winters may be long by the calendar, but I just scratched the surface on reading these 'collected items.'

In so doing, I came to the July-August 1971 issue of 'I.M.A.' This issue is in memory of our beloved founder and publisher of Stemgas Publishing Company, the Reverend Elmer L. Ritzman. From a humble beginning in 1947 to 9,000 subscribers in 25 years. His inspiration, was in reality the beginning of the steam shows, and his efforts have preserved the past for the present and the future. I feel very honored and grateful for having known him as a personal friend. Certainly his acquaintance, his faith and love of people has added much to the life of those who knew him. He was indeed, a great and humble man.

In this July-August issue, is an article by Ted Knack of St. Paul Park, Minnesota. The story of another passing, or so it was designated by Congress, to terminate a boat's career. This 'Great Lady,' none other than the majestic riverboat, the 'Delta Queen.' My one fantasy had long been to some day board this boat and cruise down Old Man River. Since that article came out, through the efforts of Delta Queen fans, and Senators Robert Taft (of Ohio) and Hugh Scott (of Pa.) they sponsored a bill that exempted the steam paddle wheeler from provisions of the 'Safety at Sea' law. Thus the veteran of some 50 years is still cruising the waters of the Mississippi and Ohio from New Orleans to Pittsburgh, and St. Paul. At any rate, it was this article by Ted Knack, that prompted me to add another chapter.

My wife, Hazel, and I, having had the opportunity to board the Delta Queen on two occasions, will say that those relaxing adventures are moments never to be forgotten. In '76 we cruised down the Mississippi River from St. Paul to St. Louis (July 29-August 3). In '77 we were again fortunate to get reservations in our same cabin, number 336, on top deck. This time we went aboard at Cincinnati and cruised up the Ohio River to Pittsburgh, and back (September 16-23). This cruise was indeed a historic trip. A bus tour through Pittsburgh was highlighted by a ride up the Monongahela incline railway, constructed over 100 years ago. It was quite a contrast to the 64 story, all steel building, 841' high, in downtown Pittsburgh. We were really impressed by the old river towns, stopping off at East Liverpool, Marietta, and Parkers-burg.

The friendly people and the leisure atmosphere are typical of the Delta Queen. The food was generous and excellent. We were assigned to table #23 for this trip; together with another couple from Canton, Ohio, Paul and Donna Kutcher. It was a thrilling occasion on September 23, when the Kutchers were surprised by the gift of a fancy 35th wedding anniversary cake 'on the house' 'boat house,' that is. Congratulations were in order and it was a picture-taking event. Upon landing in Cincinnati, the Kutchers were gracious to drive us to the airport. Thankful we are for friends like that. We harbor hopes to meet them again, just maybe on the Delta Queen.


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