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Out of The Past

“The moment we were under way I began to prowl about the great steamer and fill myself with joy. She was as clean and as dainty as a drawing-room; when I looked down her long, gilded saloon, it was like gazing through a splendid tunnel; she had an oil-picture, by some gifted sign-painter, on every stateroom door; she glittered with no end of prism-fringed chandeliers; the clerk’s office was elegant, the bar was marvelous, and the bar-keeper had been barbered and upholstered at incredible cost.”

– Mark Twain

On my way to cover a Palm Sunday prayer rally at Memphis City Hall, I found myself driving along the Mississippi with thick fog banks hanging over the water. I caught my first glimpse of the American Queen steamboat docked at Beale Street Landing. The Great American Steamboat Company made Memphis their headquarters about a year ago. I hoped my assignments would eventually bring me downtown during one of the few times in the year the American Queen was docked so I could get a look at this slice of our cultural past.

The fog surrounding the steamboat gave it a haunting quality. It appeared that the veil of time lifted briefly and I stared at a Memphis riverbank from over a century ago.



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