Your July 1993 issue brought back splendid memories of the Delta Queen . In the mid-sixties I grew up in New Albany, Indiana, where the local steamboat favorite was the Belle of Louisville , the only other active steamboat on the Ohio River.
Every year during Kentucky Derby week, the Delta Queen and Belle of Louisville would race, and the civic pride of Cincinnati and Louisville were on the line. Unfortunately, the Delta Queen almost always won.
My fellow grade school students and I hid our shame by inventing excuses: the Belle got stuck in mud, the Belle had too many passengers, the Queen’s captain cheated. The painful truth was the Delta Queen was a stronger boat, and I hated her for it.
This all changed one summer day in the second grade. My family was out for a drive, and we parked along the tree-lined Ohio. It was a nondescript spot on the river, and my attention was soon focused on the snake holes and other curiosities along the bank.
Suddenly I heard a dull throbbing and my Dad said, “Look!” Around the bend came the hated Delta Queen , gracefully and forcefully steaming down river, snow white in the twilight. I was speechless from the majesty of the passing boat. Two passengers waved at us from the stern, and I waved back. The Queen slipped around the bend like a passing dream. I could never hate her again.