Monday, August 8, 2011
A New Passion
First, I have to admit that I am embarrassed. You know how much I love to visit historic places. Well, Marietta Ohio is only an hour or so from my house, and I have never explored there. Oh, I've been through the town several times, and about 30 years or so ago we took our boys there to take the cruise on the Valley Gem (or was there another boat there at that time?). But I have never taken the time to really appreciate the history that is practically on my doorstep. Shame on me.
And then there is the river--the Ohio River and her mighty past of flatboats, keelboats, steamboats, and now the diesel tugs that push loaded barges up and down the river. Until this weekend, I did not know the difference between a flatboat and a keelboat and did not have any idea of the importance and impact of the Ohio on the development of the United States. The river was a major highway, the way to get to New Orleans from points east, by overland travel to Pittsburgh, then down the Ohio to the Mississippi and on to New Orleans. Thousands of vessels made the journey, and it is still a major route for industrial shipping on the big barges.
And I was there to tell stories. I researched some new tales for this festival and mixed them with stories already in my repertoire to provide a lively mix of two intriguing steamboat stories from the area, some tall tales, a few ghost stories from communities along the river, and a few ballads. And now I want to learn more, to dig in deeper and find more stories about this beautiful river that I have long admired but from a distance only. I think I'll be returning to the festival next year to tell more stories, and I will be ready. Already three books are making their way to me via eBay. It's my new passion: the beautiful Ohio.