...How many young ladies would leave the comforts of their home and strike out with their husbands on a wilderness adventure such as this? Lydia had done so not once, but twice. When Roosevelt had first broached the idea of steam travel to New Orleans, he knew that a preliminary journey would first be required, by more conventional means, in order to determine the feasibility of such an endeavor. Most new wives would have objected to such an excursion, which would take him away from their home for the better part of a year if, indeed, he was able to return at all.
Not Lydia. She had approved enthusiastically and insisted (to the horror of her family) on accompanying him. She had also entered wholeheartedly into the planning of the excusion, adding a number of design touches to the keelboat that was being built to take them on their downstream adventure. As a consequence, the boat had separate quarters for the couple and for the crew, a galley for meal preparations, a deck with chairs for enjoying the summer evenings under the western stars, and an awning for shelter from the sweltering Southern sun.
She was also pregnant on that first trip downriver, but the hardship of arrying an unborn child and delivering it in the wilderness had not discouraged her then, nor did it discourage her on this, their second journey. When at last Roosevelt had cinvinced his backers of the feasibility of his ultimate experiment, she was once more by his side, a full and enthusiastic partner in his enterprise.
Building the steamboat was a much more complicated task than building the keelboat according to their needs and desires. For the steamboat, there were backers to consider, notably the formidable partnership of Robert Levenson, one of the signers of the Constitution, and Robert Fulton, the man widely considered to be the nation's reigning expert on steam transportation. Roosevelt was responsible for building and operating the boat, but it was Fulton who specified how the boat would look.
Fortunately, neither Levinson nor Fulton was present in Pittsburgh, where the New Orleans was constructed; their homes and commercial interests were in the east. So Nicholas--and Lydia--did the job in the manner they felt appropriate and sent the final bill to their backers.
The total came to $38,000, an unbelievable sum for that time. The backers were aghast. Outraged. They threatened not to pay. Much of it, in fact, they did not pay, which created financial problems for Roosevelt later. But the New Orleans was
launched and on its way to the city for which it had been named.
The comet that appeared in the sky in those days was widely considered a harbinger of terrible things to come.
By Clyde Linsley
Long before the time when we celebrated Old Man River in 1950, there is a much more daunting tale of what it took for man to conquer rivers in order to make them usable for man's needs. Some believed that the meandering of the water was at the discretion of God and if it chose to relocate and flood in areas, destroying property, well, that was The Will of God...
This book moves from the past to the present, but, as you read, it feels like you are merely reading two books at one time. One book provides the story of what actually happened in the 1800s as men tried to harness the river. The book spotlights the genius inventor and steamboat captain of much of these endeavors, Henry Miller Shreve. In itself, it is an interesting, exciting historical story that is enjoyable in itself...
However, one man looked at all that had been done and saw something totally different from many of us studying the river's role in our past. In fact, I challenge that the author even deceived readers in the telling of his story...But, then, why not? It certainly kept this reader trying to...understand...why murders were now occurring...apart, but within the area surrounding Old River...
So while you are beginning the historical ride on the rivers surrounding the Mississippi and down into New Orleans, on...
The First Day, in Concordia Parish, Louisiana, the body was found... The woman lay face down amid tall grass. She had been badly beaten. Sheriff John Sprenkel was familiar with violent death, but this death bothered him more than most...
Sprenkel pondered this. "Some woman we don't know gets herself raped and beat up and strangled in the middle of a swamp. It's cases like this make me wish I'd gone into insurance like my mother told me."
"You'd hate insurance," Levesque said.
"I'm not real fond of this either," Sprenkel said. Sprenkel looked around him. Grass and swamp and the river, and just downstream, a complex progression of dams and holding basins, all steel and concrete. Depressing...
Not for the first time, he wondered if he had made the right choice in coming to Louisiana. When he had first come down from Baltimore to take a deputy sheriff's job, Sprenkel had been excited: a change of scenery, warmer weather, a more leisurely pace than he'd been forced to follow in his previous jobs. But the job--and the scenery--had failed to live up to expectations The pace was slower--that much, at least, was true--but he found himself fighting off boredom. He hadn't anticipated boredom
And interesting Tidbit thrown in for your enjoyment
The Killer, Jerry Lee, performs "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On". Lewis was born to the poor family of Elmo and Mamie Lewis in Ferriday in Concordia Parish in eastern Louisiana, and began playing piano in his youth with his two cousins, Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart.
(Kenny Lovelace on fiddle)
(Kenny Lovelace on fiddle)
The investigation quickly turns into a mystery when they discover that there are two different identities held by the dead woman...So was she a student and scholar, as claimed by her roommate with one name...or was she a streetwalker going by another name???
On The Sixth Day Sprenkel visited with a detective from the Memphis police department at the Van Dorn Residence. This was one of the names used by the woman who'd been murdered in Concordia Parish... Instead of questioning the potential parents, however, they found three more bodies, assuming they were the first victim's family. Were they? Sprenkel wouldn't be finding out anything that day, so he went on back home...
He stopped at a roadside restaurant for coffee and was surprised to find that the ground was still soft. Returning to the car with his coffee, his shoes sank nearly an inch in the soft earth. And over the northern horizon, the rain clouds were forming again.
More rain was on the way.. For some reason that he couldn't put his finger on, a sense of dread came over him. He remembered the lines from a Bob Dylan song:
"Something is happening, and you don't know what it is
"Do you, Mr. Jones?"
If you're thinking I'm not covering much of the murder cases, you're right...They are all, yes, there's more death coming, and even a potential disaster, so closely entwined that I think it suffices to say that our main character, Sheriff John Sprenkel was pulled into all of them as he continued to solve his own case... I liked this character and was happy that the author provided much of his introspective thoughts so that readers got to know him...I would enjoy meeting him again in the future.
There is a little romantic twist that was fun, involving our Sheriff, by a young lady who also wanted to help solve the murder of her roommate... Sprenkel thought she was too young for him; she thought differently...
I've not read an historical mystery like this one. It was only toward the end that you may get an inkling of what all the murders were really about... It's an intriguing story and I can recommend it highly for your consideration.
Tough love. Maybe, thought Sprenkel, that's what God is employing.
Sprenkel wasn't sure how he felt about God, or what he believed. One thing, however, seemed certain: if God existed, John Sprenkel would not be on His list of favorite people. If, in fact, marital fidelity was high on God's list of virtues, then he, Sheriff John Sprenkel, was already probably consigned to hell...
Before crossing the bridge on his way back to Louisiana, he parked his car near the riverbank. He had always been fascinated by rivers, and the Mississippi fascinated him more than any other. It flowed implacably, relentlessly, to the Gulf of Mexico, despite all the machinations of men. It was hard to imagine this might stream could be seriously affectd by human activities.
But as he stood at the riverside and watched the water moving inexorably to the south, he felt the ground giving way beneath his feet. After stepping quickly backward, he saw a portion of the soil he had been standing on crumble and fall into the stream.
Standing now on (relatively) solid ground, he watched the sod get swallowed by the current. The clump submerged for a bit but then popped back to the surface, already dismembered and broken into small pieces. The current swept it on downstream until Sprenkel lost sight of it.
After a moment, he shook his head to chase away the image. He returned to his car and began the drive across the river to his office. He drove uncharacteristically slowly, lost in thought.