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Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate
Reviewed by Nori Muster
This novel tells the haunting tale of five children who grew up in the Depression era on a shantyboat near Memphis. The Foss family was poor, but their parents made it work, and provided love and a feeling of security to the children. However, one night when the parents needed to rush to the hospital to welcome another baby, authorities kidnapped the children and put them in an orphanage.
The oldest of the children, twelve-year-old Rill Foss, tells the story of the children's journey. The Tennessee Children's Home Society included strict and cruel caretakers, and child abuse. My own father was orphaned in 1934 and spent part of his ninth year in an abusive Chicago orphanage. His older half-brother rescued him and got him into a better situation in a foster agency. Although my father had aunts and uncles on both sides, during the Great Depression, people were not looking for more children to support. The painful history of Rill and her siblings is beautifully told.
In alternate chapters, we meet Avery Stafford, a woman who lives in current times. She's born into a rich Southern family and her father is a politician in the midst of a re-election campaign. Avery expects she will follow in her father's footsteps. She takes up temporary residence with her parents in Aiken, South Carolina, to help her father through a health crisis.
While there, Avery strikes up an unlikely friendship with May Crandall, an elderly woman who has a mysterious connection with Avery's grandmother. Further, Avery has a connection to the Depression Era orphans that comes to light at the end of the novel. The fun is in the pursuit of the truth, which Avery pursues with a local man who inherited all the secrets from his father, a private investigator who "finds people."
The book is a matter of finding identity, holding onto identity, and realizing roots are precious, and truth is sometimes hard to bear. Due to her privileged background, Avery looks down on poor folks who grow up on shantyboats, and cannot exactly accept that her own roots may be much different than she was led to believe growing up. While on the track for the truth, she comes to realize she is torn over whether she really wants to know the truth.
The novel is based on a true story, a story shared by many who grew up as orphans during the Depression Era. The author, Lisa Wingate, is a masterful storyteller with more than twenty novels to her credit, and multiple awards. She says the history of Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children's Home Society inspired Before We Were Yours. She explains,
I wasn't familiar with the scandal surrounding the TCHS orphan houses of the 30's and 40's, but after stumbling across the story, I was shocked and horrified that such a thing was possible in this country and not that long ago. I wanted to tell the stories that hadn't been told - those of the thousands of children who became caught in Georgia Tann's web. I did travel for research. Visits to Memphis were invaluable, as was spending time at Mud Island and along the river, learning about the life Rill and her siblings would have lived on the family's shantyboat before they're taken to the TCHS orphan house.
We also thank Lisa Wingate for contacting us during her historical research, and we were glad to share pictures of shantyboats at this site in the Dave Thomson Collection.
Selected Mississippi Queen Blueprints Now Online
January 24, 2018
For years I had a link to a set of 253 Mississippi Queen blueprints (now offline: http://www.zenreproplanroom.com/). These were the real thing. At the time, I got the impression they wouldn't be there forever, so I made copies. After the link died, I received the following request:
On Apr 6, 2017, at 4:40 PM, AE wrote:
I would like to inquire about the blueprints of the MQ. Would it be possible for me to get a hard copy or digital copy of the plans? The MQ has a special place in my heart. I was seven when I witnessed her first arrival and commissioning at Cincinnati in 1976. So sad that she's gone. Do you know what eventually became of her hull?
Unable to email the large files, I eventually sent him a disk. In exchange, he promised to go through the blueprints and choose the best ones to post at the site. About a month ago he sent me his choices, and now they're posted! Click here to see selected blueprints of the Mississippi Queen.
2018 Steamboat Calendars are Here
Make 2018 a steamboat calendar year!
Delta Queen - click here & Sternwheel Towboats - click here
or scroll down
Mississippi Queen Memories
December 29, 2017
Earlier this week on Facebook, Travis Vasconcelos posted several photos from the Mississippi Queen Steamboat's first trial run. The first leg was down the river, which went fine. I arrived in time for part two - going back up the river to Cincinnati with the help of a towboat. One of the photos from Travis is this one of my dad and Betty Blake. Dad was just two weeks into his fiftieth year at the time.
Betty Blake and Bill Muster on the starboard wing of the bridge, Fourth of July, 1976, during the first voyage of the Mississippi Queen Steamboat. To access the Mississippi Queen Steamboat page at this site - click here.
Ask Your US Representative to Save the Delta Queen Steamboat
December 12, 2017
A new article in the Louisiana Weekly outlines the continuing struggle to pass HR 619 in the House and save the Delta Queen Steamboat. As the article reports, American Cruise Line owner Charles Robertson is lobbying against the Delta Queen bill. It's difficult to understand why a two hundred passenger ship poses any threat to his company, which is building multiple gigantic cruise ships for the Mississippi River system.
Rather than fight the Delta Queen, Robertson would be better off to embrace the historic steamboat that will draw positive attention to river cruises on the Mississippi. Read the article, then ask your US Representative to call for a vote on HR 619. Read now: louisianaweekly.com
December 4, 2017
Photos from John Fryant show one folk art model and one that's a scale model of a real boat. Here at Steamboats.com we love 'em all!
The Queen City folk model.
The Betsy Ann scale model.
New 2018 Delta Queen Calendar Available!
December 4, 2017
John Weise printed a new Delta Queen calendar for 2018. It's a limited edition, so get your order in as soon as possible. - Editors
On Dec 4, 2017, at 2:48 PM, John Weise wrote:
Get your order in before they are gone.
This is the eleventh year in a row that it has been published!
The photos were taken between 1959 & 2008.
The price of the calendar $15 remains the same & The price of mailing $3 remains the same.
Or by e-mail @ jrweise @ fuse.net
Or by snail mail
5552 Dry Ridge Road
Cincinnati, OH 45252-1800
New 2018 Sternwheel Wall Calendar Available!
November 14, 2017
Back by popular demand, the 2018 calendar features early photos of sternwheel towboats. The calendar contains 13 large photos printed on heavy card stock, suitable for framing.
NEW & IMPROVED !!
This calendar is our best yet, with higher quality images, extra images, and added color throughout!
Each month features a specific boat along with its history, and a complete calendar page, with holidays marked. The boats featured for 2018 include:
ODD FELLOW No. 252
R.T. HOUKE III
The 2018 calendar marks our 17th year of wall calendar offerings!
Calendar Price: $15.95
Plus Shipping: $ 4.50 for one calendar.
(add $1 for each additional calendar)
Please mail check or money order to:
41 Ems W32
North Webster, IN 46555
Online credit card ordering is available on our web site: www.draftware.com/calendar
Below are images of the calendar's front and back covers:
Delta Queen Update
October 9, 2017
[transcript from The Delta Queen Steamboat Company's Facebook post last night]
HURRICANE NATE UPDATE: The management team and dedicated crew of the DELTA QUEEN spent the day yesterday getting her ready to ride out another hurricane. The boat is safe and secure. We will be doubling our watchman rounds for the duration of the storm. With the latest predictions we expect minimal impact on the DELTA QUEEN and our thoughts and prayers go out to those closer to the path of the storm.
Show Your Support for the Delta Queen Steamboat
Time to Call Your US Representative
September 17, 2017
This week is a great time to call your US Representatives to ask them to add HR 619 to the calendar for a vote. HR 619 will give the Delta Queen permission to return to the rivers. There will be plenty more work to do after that, but getting the bill through Congress is the essential next step.
In April, the US Senate passed S. 89, the identical Delta Queen bill, so we're waiting on the House. This is the bill:
H.R.619 - To amend title 46, United States Code, to exempt old vessels that only operate within inland waterways from the fire-retardant materials requirement if the owners of such vessels make annual structural alterations to at least 10 percent of the areas of the vessels that are not constructed of fire-retardant materials and for other purposes.
Media coverage (House): telegraphherald.com * mariettatimes.com * postbulletin.com * newsandsentinel.com * stripes.com * mariettatimes.com * bna.com * labortribune.com * usabreakingnews.net * timesfreepress.com * recordnet.com [Senate media coverage, click here.]
St. Louis History
September 17, 2017
Correspondent Chris Novak sent these wonderful old photos of boats in St. Louis. Visit Facebook for more St. Louis history, landmarks, and vintage photos - Editor
This last one, the City of St. Louis, is featured in other areas of this site (search).
Congo Paddle Steamers Research
September 4, 2017
Steamboats.com received a request for photos and information on Congo paddle steamers.
On Sep 4, 2017, at 8:58 AM, Randle M Biddle windships @ earthlink.net wrote:
Seeking information on stern wheel River Steamers c 1890's built for use on the Congo in Africa. Photos, builders plans, machinery catalogues, contemporary depictions in books or magazines and similar. Objective is to gather sufficient data to construct an accurate scale model. Of particular interest is the steamer named DELIVRANCE, some photos of which have been found in the Smithsonian Institution archives. Thank you.
Editor's note - contact Randy directly if you can provide information:
10623 W Wild Iris St
Star, ID 83669
windships @ earthlink.net
Disneyland's Mark Twain Steamboat Back in Service
September 3, 2017
After being closed for a year and a half, Disneyland sent the Mark Twain for a test run on June 8. It turned sixty-two on July 19, then started to carry passengers again July 29. The Mark Twain runs on steam power that propels the paddlewheel. See the test run here: Youtube.
New River Views Of Mark Twains 62 Today
Disneyland - Looks as good as she did on July 17, 1955 - July 17, 2017
Published on Jul 19, 2017
Mark Twain Grand Reopening July 29, 2017: Youtube
Photos from the Sprague Family
September 2, 2017
Marilyn Sprague McCoy, great-great niece of Captain Peter Sprague, sent her family photos to post at Steamboats.com. The last time she saw the Sprague was in 1976.
The Sprague, 1959.
Marilyn's father, George Sprague, the great nephew of Peter Sprague, Pittsburgh, 1959. Marilyn says, "Although the tickets were only 25 cents, we got on for free because of our family connection."
George Sprague in the Pilot House, Pittsburgh, 1959.
Marilyn by the burned Sprague, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1976.
Model Boat Recovery
September 2, 2017
Rupert Wenzel found this model boat and wanted to share the "before" photos with us. Rupe said, "Sure, it is in rough shape right now. I'm in the process of cleaning it. Will probably take some time." We always love to see a good model restored!
1918 Steamboat For Sale
July 19, 2017
The SS Puff'N, built in 1918, served the lakes of Northern Idaho for many years. Some years ago, a new owner acquired the boat and put her up on blocks next to a private lake. Paul Stolz and his wife, friends and neighbors of the late owner, are charged with finding the boat a new home. Paul is contacting maritime museums and historical societies, hoping to find the right buyer for this unique piece of history. If you are interested or have any leads, please contact Steamboats.com and we will forward your email to Paul.
Mystic Seaport Restores Steamboat Sabino
July 15, 2017
Official statement from the Mystic Seaport website: Sabino's first official cruise will be to lead the parade of boats down the Mystic River during the Museum's Antique & Classic Boat rendezvous July 23. She will return to regular operation beginning August 2, with one 30-minute cruise to start each day followed by two downriver cruises. The boat will also be available for private group charters.
Read the full story: stories.mysticseaport.org
Like them at Facebook - Mystic Seaport and watch the video.
Video also posted at Youtube.
Mississippi Queen Penny Bank
July 15, 2017
Found on eBay by a steamboats.com correspondent, this penny bank was available in the Mississippi Queen Steamboat's gift shop in the 1980s.
Information Request - Dixie Queen
June 5, 2017
C.J. Freeman came into two lights from the old Dixie Queen, the original steamboat from the Thames River in London. There is a current Dixie Queen modeled after the older boat. Here are two photos showing the lamps, which are still in working order. If you have any further information about the boat, or possible history of these items, please send it along and we will forward it to C.J. Freeman. - editors (contact)
Editor's note: a reply with more information:
On Aug 1, 2017, at 9:31 AM, Alistair Deayton wrote:
I have just come across your query about DIXIE QUEEN in London. This vessel was formerly in Stockholm and is a fairly recent conversion of a Swedish open-decked car (auto) ferry built in 1968, 60 metres long, ad carries 625 passengers.
I don't think the lights would have come from the DIXIE QUEEN in London, they look too old.
Editor's Note: I think there was a previous Dixie Queen in London, the namesake of the newer Dixie Queen. If anyone can help us straighten this out, please email.*
Information Request - Copper Etching
June 5, 2017
On Apr 7, 2017, at 4:26 PM, Keith M. wrote:
I came across an amazing old copper etching of a Civil War Era (I think) ship.
I attached a photo. Could you recommend how I can go about identifying the vessel?
I think it may be a military vessel.
Thank You so much.
This is a pressed copy.
Editor's note: if you have any information, send it in and we will share it with Keith (contact).
Ancestry - The Greenbrier 1946
June 5, 2017
On May 8, 2017, at 4:02 PM, Tammy Wooding wrote:
My Grandfather Benjamin Samuel Wooding served on the Greenbriar. According to his love letters to my grandmother, he was on the Greenbriar in 1946.
Editor's note: we welcome people to share their steamboat ancestry. If you would like to contact Tammy Wooding, we will forward your emails (contact Steamboats.com)
Resurrected U.S. river cruise
industry continuing expansion
May 9, 2017
A great story on how we went from zero paddlewheel steamboats in 2010 to what we have now - and the possibility of getting back the Delta Queen Steamboat. Travelweekly.com, by Michelle Baran, May 10 issue.
Delta Queen Steamboat Exemption Sails Through Senate
April 3, 2017
The Delta Queen won the vote in the Senate eighty-five to twelve. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, then to the White House. The steamboat community offers a hearty congratulations to the Delta Queen Steamboat Company and everyone who has worked tirelessly to bring us to this point. Many thanks to the Senators who voted yea.
To learn more about the history of the Delta Queen at this site, go to steamboats.com/museum
Media coverage (Senate): stltoday.com * arkansasonline.com * helena-arkansas.com * newslocker.com * topix.com * dailycomet.com * gallatinnorthmissourian.com * iheart.com * bestynews.com * canadianews.org * feedblitz.com * foreignaffairs.co.nz * news60seconds.ddns.net * thecourier.com * todaylatest.online * altamontpress.com * bizjournals.com * cincinnati.com * citybeat.com * courier-journal.com * courier-journal.com * crossroadstoday.com * mtfca.com * natlawreview.com * oldsaltblog.com * rypn.org * scoopnest.com * stltoday.com * topix.com * wcpo.com * wopular.com * townhall.com * portman.senate.gov * workboat.com
freerepublic.com * rypn.org * myleaderpaper.com * rollcall.com
Steamboat Books for Sale
March 15, 2017
On Mar 15, 2017, at 8:07 AM, Lois Porter wrote:
I am sending a listing of a couple older steam boating books that belonged to my husband (I am a weaver so have no need for these). I used to sell art and textile related books (before Amazon came along). I have others also that I can send later. Let me know how this works. Thank You, Lois Porter firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Captain Frederick Way, Jr. THE LOG OF THE BETSY ANN & Way's Recent Reflections from Ohio River Magazines. OH, 1966-67. Autographed, 4 copies. Soft cover, staples are rusting. 70 pp. each $20.00 post paid
2. Rev. Chester D. Berry. LOSS OF THE SULTANA and REMINISCENCES of SURVIVORS. Darius D. Thorp, 1892. Worn hard cover with gilt lettering. 426 pp., frontis illus. of the Sultana, with lithos of several survivors. $70.00 postpaid
3. STEAMBOAT DISASTERS and RAILROAD ACCIDENTS IN THE UNITED STATES. Published by Warren Lazell, Worcester, 1843. Rebound hard cover. 408 (foxed)pp., several engravings. $75.00 post paid
4. THE BIOGRAPHY OF T.C. COLLINS WRITTEN BY HIMSELF. PART ONE 1832-1873. Compiled and edited, with preface by Herbert L. Rouse, Sr. Gate Way Press, #249 of 750 copies, autographed. 1986. Hard cover, dust jacket, 302 pp. plus index. $30.00 pp.
5. THE ADVENTURES OF T.C. COLLINS - BOAT MAN. TWENTY FOUR YEARS ON THE WESTERN WATERS. 1849-1873. Compiled and edited, with preface by Herbert L. Rouse, Sr. Gateway Press, #249 of 750 copies, autographed. 1985. Hard cover, dust jacket. 250 pp., page edges foxed. $25.00 pp. #4 and #5 together $50.00
Editor's Note: If you are interested in any of these books, email Lois directly: books72001 - at - yahoo.com.
Delta Queen Steamboat Supporters Speak Out
March 11, 2017
The News and Tribune of Southern Indiana makes a case for passing Delta Queen legislation in its February 23 article, "FULL STEAM AHEAD: Southern Indiana residents push to get Delta Queen back on the water." Reporter Danielle Grady cites personal stories and urgent messages from Jo Ann Schoen, Travis Vascncelos, Keith Norrington, and Phillip Johnson.
If you hesitate on whether to call your Senators and Representatives - read this article. Then call.
Read the article: newsandtribune.com
Support the Delta Queen Steamboat
March 5, 2017
The Delta Queen needs our help. Call your Senators to support Senate Bill S. 89, and contribute to the Delta Queen to help with maintenance while she's waiting to go back to work.
Contact the Delta Queen Steamboat Company to support the Delta Queen.
Go to: dqsteaboat.com
Good news from the Delta Queen Steamboat Company
January 25, 2017
UPDATE: The recently introduced bill in the U.S. Senate by Senator Claire McCaskill was just passed by the Senate Commerce Committee to be considered by the full Senate for a vote. Now would be a great time to contact your U.S. Senators urging them to support Senate Bill S. 89 allowing the historic DELTA QUEEN to sail again!
Read more: lebanondailyrecord.com - workboat.com - hiawathaworldonline.com - workboat.com - stlpublicradio.org - nola.com - abcnews - stltoday.com (editorial) - lasvegassun.com - wn.com - beaumontenterprise.com - ktts.com - wevv.com - travelagentcentral.com - Congressional legislation filed by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and now co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tom Cotton (R-LA). - publicnow.com - bizjournals.com (Louisville) - bizjournals.com (Cincinnati) - portman.senate.gov (press release) - mccaskill.senate.gov (press release) - courier-journal.com - dailycomet.com - latimes.com - kmov.com [the article is there, but not the video] - wvxu.com - Delta Queen backers say Coast Guard safety worries will be addressed: stltoday - hannibal.net - semissourian.com - newsandtribune.com
Delta Queen 2017
January 29, 2017
On Jan 29, 2017, at 10:39 AM, Jo Ann Schoenwrote:
YES!!! For those of you who do not know there is a renewed effort in Congress to pass the exemption the DELTA QUEEN from the Safety of Life at Sea Act (SOLAS) that she needs to run again, Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri has introduced Senate Bill # S 89 with 6 co-sponsors and Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio has introduced House Bill # HR 619 with 8 co-sponsors. A very SPECIAL thanks to these two who have and are working so hard to keep our dream alive!
Due to the overwhelming support from Senator McCaskill, the senate bill has already been passed by the Senate Commerce committee and is expected to successfully pass the senate soon. It is hopeful for similar results in the house.
So again, I am asking you to PLEASE contact your Senators and Representative. If you don't know who your Representative or Senators are - as we've had an election and some of us have new folks in Washington representing us, simply type in US House or US Senate - you can then click members and search for your Congressmen that way.
The best way to contact them and make sure your voice is heard is to call their Washington office. If you can get to the aide in charge of Commerce, Science and Transportation in your Senators office and the aide in charge of Transportation in your Representatives office the better. However, many times they will want to just take a message. So that is fine. Or if you can't call during working hours, many allow for voice mails to be left.
If you can get a conversation going below are highlights that will help them know you are educated on the issue.
I know there are still rumors out there that she is not safe to run, so I will highlight the arguments below:
1) She does not go to sea! She is always within sight of land and therefore can put into shore very quickly.
2) She will have a COI from the Coast Guard, who will make a thorough inspection before granting the Certificate of Inspection.
3) Her new owners have actually been in discussion with the Coast Guard as to what they will require in order to pass that inspection. So when she is getting her makeover - she will also have many systems upgraded.
4) She will have a Coast Guard trained fire fighting crew.
5) Per the new bills - the new owners will "make annual structural alterations to at least 10 percent of the areas of the vessels that are not constructed of fire-retardant materials".
6) She has a fire prevention and suppression that is monitored 24 hours a day.
7) She has a watchman walking the boat, that keys each station from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
8) She is a National Historic Landmark that educates folks to what life on the river was like decade ago and brings history alive for your and old.
9) She is the last fully steampowered, sternwheel overnight passenger vessel left on our inland rivers today.
10) She was nominated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation list of America's Most Endangered in 2016.
THANK YOU again for your continued efforts and support.
2017 the Year of the QUEEN!!!!
- Jo Ann Schoen
Save the Delta Queen in 2017
January 12, 2017
Good news for the Delta Queen Steamboat came out of Washington, DC, on January 10. US Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced S.89, a bill to put the historic vessel back into service.
S.89 - A bill to amend title 46, United States Code, to exempt old vessels that only operate within inland waterways from the fire-retardant materials requirement if the owners of such vessels make annual structural alterations to at least 10 percent of the areas of the vessels that are not constructed of fire-retardant materials and for other purposes. 115th Congress (2017-2018)
You can track the bill here and sign up for alerts: congress.gov.
Call your two US Senators to tell them you support S.89 because you support the Delta Queen Steamboat. Read more at St. Louis Today: stltoday.com.
Rabbit Hash General Store Set to Reopen this Spring
January 12, 2017
The Rabbit Hash General Store, destroyed by fire last year, is now on track to reopen this spring. The store was a fixture in Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, since 1831. To read more about the renewal, go to Kentucky for Kentucky - kyforky.com
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