I Remember Old Tuscaloosa, March 25, 1971

March 25, 1971.pdf


I Remember Old Tuscaloosa, March 25, 1971


History--Tuscaloosa (AL)
Maxwell, Fred (Frederick Richard Jr.), 1889-1988


Fred Maxwell wrote "I Remember Old Tuscaloosa" for a weekly newspaper in Tuscaloosa called The Graphic from December, 1970 through December 1971. The Graphic was founded, owned and published by Maxwell's daughter Camille Elebash and her husband Karl Elebash beginning in 1957. It was sold to The Tuscaloosa News in 1976 and ceased publication sometime later.

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Fred Maxwell


Camille Elebash


The Graphic


March 25, 1971


Brenda Harris (Description)
Tuscaloosa Public Library






Tuscaloosa (AL)


ALTHOUGH the river steamboats would stop for a payload just about anywhere on the river when necessary, never the less it was customary to run on a regular schedule and have landing spot for any town the visited. The wharf served Tuscaloosa for many years and was located between the present state and G.M.&O. Railroad bridges on the Warrior. The usual export load from Tuscaloosa was baled cotton.

As a barefoot boy, living just five blocks south of the Tuscaloosa wharf, I always had an ear for the three blasts of the incoming steamboat whistle that signaled that it was about to make a landing. As often as I could I rushed to the wharf to witness the landing and loading of the boats.

It was interesting to watch one man (stevedore) roll a 500 –pound bale of cotton down the hill alone to the gangplank. The bale was flat on two sides and other sides were rounded, due to being compressed and baled. The stevedores were expert in handling a bale of cotton. The trick in rolling the bale down hill was to use the metal hand hook to slow down the bale’s speed so that it would just barely coast over the flat part.

On one occasion a stevedore let a bale gain too much speed and his efforts to reduce the speed only resulted in lifting him off his feet. The boat captain instantly sensed the danger and ordered two stevedores to rush to the aid of the man in trouble.

But before aid arrived the stevedore began to apply his hand hook to the outer edge of the runaway bale and successfully turned it about 90 degrees thereby steering it parallel to the river and away from the boat and water until its motion was halted by crashing into some small trees and saplings. It required all three stevedores to retrieve the runaway cotton and place it on the deck of the boat.

As far as I could ascertain the captain was so relieved to get the bale on deck without damage to the boat or cotton that he skipped any reprimand or cussing out of the errant stevedore.

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