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Monday, January 21, 2013

LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI Chapter 5


Courtesy free clip art
 
After getting under way from St. Louis, Captain Jack had a little time on his hands to show Lee around the boat.

There were the cabins, the main dining hall, and the saloon where the gamblers hung out most of the time, and the promenade deck he was yet to see.

Lee also wasn't allowed to go down to the lower deck as of yet.

Some of the passengers below were immigrants from the East.
 
They had got as far as the Mississippi river, and decided not to go any farther west, but to seek work along the Mississippi.

Captain Jack didn't want Lee mixing in with them until he had settled in on the boat and was more familiar with his way around. The life on the lower deck was going to be a rough trip for those beneath, and tempers were bound to get riled.

It was going to take from ten days to two weeks to make the trip to New Orleans, and being out in the weather wasn't going to be pleasant.

There were about a hundred settlements and towns along the river they would pass; but the stops would be few and far between, and only to conduct some business.

The crew had their own dining area, and the lower deck people could eat with them, but would have to pay extra.  Most of the deck people didn't have much money and couldn't pay to eat with the crew so they would buy some cheap food at each stop.

It was a mad scramble to buy things people needed or things the venders sold along the pier.  When the warning whistle blew, it was a rush to board quickly and try to find a comfortable spot.

So far Lee had been interested in seeing the people who lived along the shore, and waving to them, but his attention span was short. 

After a day on the river he wanted to get on with his education about the river and the boat itself.

The older pilot was Morgan and the other was Sam and neither was too excited about having a kid to baby-sit.  Their main focus had to be on the river and its changing moods.  

It didn't take long for anyone sailing on the river to figure out who was in charge for the river seemed to be alive, and you had to respect it or you would be in trouble.
 
Experienced pilots like Morgan and Sam could sense the changes in the river as it would respond to the changes in the weather.

Since Lee was living in the chart room it wasn't long before he was trying to understand the charts, and where they were on them.

At first he was just a nuisance to Morgan and Sam but as time went on they realized he wanted to learn and not just waste their time.  
 
Usually it was quiet in the wheel house, but every now and then it was one question after another unless they told him to be quiet because they had to watch the river.

During one of the allowable questioning periods Lee wanted to know where Morgan and Sam were from, and if they were born on the river.  

He thought that would be wonderful to be able to say "I was born on the river on a steamboat."

As they steamed down the river the thoughts of his mother and Club Louise became less and less, and he was ready for new experiences.
 
To be Continued

 

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