American Queen

American Queen Riverboat 07-07-2013I see in The Missourian that The American Queen has stopped in Cape again. I shot her when she paused there July 7, 2013. You can click on the photos to make them larger.

Ambassador of the Boat

American Queen Riverboat 07-07-2013

There’s a security checkpoint at the gangplank to keep non-passengers from boarding. I’d like to nominate this guy as Ambassador of the Boat. He’s the crewman who has to tell folks, “No, you can’t tour The American Queen” and to answer hundreds of dumb questions from guys like me (and worse).

I looked at his name badge and said, “Your name is Ronald Watchman, right?”

“No, Watchman is my title; my name is Ronald Moore.” Watchman Moore retired from the Memphis fire service after more than three decades as a firefighter. After about a year, he was bored with retirement and applied for a job on The Queen. He was hired almost immediately as a porter.(A percentage of the crew must hail from the home port of Memphis.)

After a short period of time, the captain called him aside and said that his skills were being wasted as a porter, and he was promoted to work security.

He’s a good-humored fellow who enjoys chatting with people and seemed to know every passenger by sight. It was clear from the way they spoke to him that he was well-liked. If he’s typical of the rest of the crew, service must be first-rate.

“I’m a character”

American Queen Riverboat 07-07-2013Passenger Lesa Knight, center, said, “I’m a character.”

“Most folks I run into are characters, so I’m not surprised.” I replied.

“No,” she protested, “I’m REALLY a character. I wear a penguin costume at the St. Louis Zoo.”

I couldn’t argue with that.

Bikes on board

American Queen Riverboat 07-07-2013I spotted several fluorescent green bikes on the streets in Cape. It turned out that they were bikes carried on board for the passengers to use when the boat docked. I asked one passenger who was returning to the boat how he liked climbing the Broadway hill. He admitted that he had walked up the hill, but it was worth it to be able to see some of the landmarks in the Tour of Rush brochure.

I should have confined our conversation to biking. He didn’t share Wife Lila’s Uncle Ray’s opinion of Rush as a “horse’s patootie.”

Tour buses followed The Queen to all if its stops to take passengers sightseeing and shopping. If a passenger literally “misses the boat,” it’ll haul them to the next stop so they aren’t left on the riverbank, Watchman Moore said.

American Queen built in 1995

American Queen Riverboat 07-07-2013I was surprised to learn The American Queen was built in 1995. It reminded me of the Delta Queen docking in Cairo in 1968.

The company that built it went under (a bad choice of words for a steamship company), and it was laid up until 2008 when it was refurbished. Most of the reviews I read were gushingly favorable, but a few folks weren’t happy with various things on their cruises. It seems like most of those were in the early days when service and mechanical issues were being worked out.

Some folks can find fault with anything. The boat has to take on water from the shore more often than fuel. One of the last things the crew did before shoving off was to disconnect the hose feeding Cape water into the storage tanks. A non-passenger on the shore commented, “I’d never sail on that boat. I saw them drop the water hose into the river when they were pulling it in.”

“Do you realize that up until recently all the drinking water in Cape came out of that river?” I asked.

Stacks lower

American Queen Riverboat 07-07-2013Because the level of the river fluctuates, some stops have to be bypassed when the water is either to high or too low to dock. The stacks are designed to lower if they need clearance to go under some bridges.

Rooms open onto decks

American Queen Riverboat 07-07-2013Some of the cabins have private balconies, but most of the reviewers liked being able to walk directly out on the decks to mingle with other passengers.

Boat has elevators

American Queen Riverboat 07-07-2013Unlike early riverboats, The American Queen has elevators to make the boat handicapped accessible. Since it sounds like there are a lot of passengers in their 70s and 80s, that’s important. Getting onto and off the boat can be a bit tricky for those with mobility issues, the review warned.

Good view from the top decks

American Queen Riverboat 07-07-2013This view from the Common Pleas Courthouse shows how The Queen towers over many of the downtown buildings.

 

 

First National Bank Gone

Dance in bank parking lotI usually complain when an old building in Cape is turned into a parking lot, but I never had much of a feeling one way or another about the First National Bank, which later became the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In fact, the only photos I took of the building at the corner of Broadway and Main might have been the night the Teen Age Club was rocking so hard the dance was moved to the parking lot of the old bank.

Lynch and Baughn covered the history

Site of Old First National Bank - Broadway - Main 07-05-2013Missourian bloggers Fred Lynch and James Baughn did a good job of digging up the history of the bank, which was built in 1956. You can go to Fred’s blog to find all the links and photos, including recent ones taken while it was being razed. By the time I got to town, it was pretty much all over. This was taken July 5, 2013.

American Queen nice surprise

American Queen riverboat 07-07-2013When I went down to pick up an order at Broussard’s on July 7, I saw a reason not to lament the loss of a rather nondescript bank building. Anyone parking in that lot in the future will have a great view of riverboats like The American Queen. The Buckner building on the corner is vacant now.

(I’ll have some shots of The Queen later. You can click on any of the photos to make them larger.)

What Is Going Into Lang’s?

126 N Main - Old Lang Jewelers 07-19-2013I was walking down Main Street shooting store fronts when I noticed the door at 126 North Main was open. That address belonged to Lang Jewelers from 1916 until last fall when the store closed. Here is an earlier story about Lang’s.

Building permit on door

126 N Main - Old Lang Jewelers 07-19-2013I stepped in to take a look around, but nobody answered my call. There was a building permit on the door issued to C+R Renovations and listing plumbing and electrical contractors. A plaque from Old Town Cape giving the history of Lang’s mentioned the store featured its original tin ceiling and wooden wall display case.

I didn’t see the case, but it might have been removed for the renovation. Looks like the tin ceiling is going to be covered with a drop ceiling.Or, it might have had a drop ceiling installed over the tin ceiling and the renovation will expose it again. I didn’t feel comfortable taking a closer look at the blueprint on the floor.

Old Town Cape to carry calendars

Ken Steinhoff 2013-2014 CalendarSpeaking of Old Town Cape, the Old Town Cape folks are going to carry my 2013-2014 Snapshots of Cape Girardeau calendar. They are located at 418 Broadway, next to what used to be the Rialto Theater. You can call 573-334-8085 to make sure they haven’t sold out.

Lang Jewelers photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the sides to move through the gallery.

 

 

Slushy Main Street

Cape Main Street c 1965

This shot down Main Street looks like one of those ugly winter days when the pretty snow has turned into that annoying slush that passing cars splash on you and that you drown your shoe in when you step off the curb. It’s cold enough that there are icicles on the store awnings. Christmas decorations are up, but I don’t know for sure when it was taken. I’m going to guess 1964 to 1966. It had to have been taken before April 1967, because that’s when the St. Charles Hotel was torn down.

Business signs

I see signs for Ross Young & Sons clothing, Oklahoma Tire & Supply, Osco Drug, Wards, Al’s Shop, Personal Loans, Zickfield’s Jeweler, Irvin’s, Penney’s and the St. Charles. Zickfield’s is the only one of the businesses that has survived. Here’s a story with lots of Main Street links. You can make the photo larger by clicking on it.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.