A Letter to the President


Knife Blade Saloon

Natchez, Mississippi

December 11, 1832


President Andrew Jackson

The White House

Washington, D. C.



In recent years the keelboat industry has been badly depressed due to the influx of new cargo craft known as "steamboats." If the keel­boat industry dies, there will be severe repercussions for the entire nation. The government must move to save the keelboat lines for the following reasons:

(1)            Destruction of the keelboat business would create tremendous unemployment along the nation’s waterways. The International Broth­erhood of Keelboat Polers, the American Keelboat Cadence Callers’ Association, and the Trans-Mississippi Keelboat Pilots’ Guild already are reporting high unemployment, and the figures are expected to double in the next ten years. These men will not be able to find new jobs on steamboats since they are not trained for the technical opera­tions involved in running these highly-mechanized vessels.

(2)            The disappearance of the keelboat would cause the destruction of many other vital industries. The pole-makers are already in trouble, and the outlook is dim for those who manufacture keelboat keels. Pro­duction of cadence drums has fallen to a record low. If all these firms go out of business, the economy of the Mississippi-Ohio Valley can never hope to survive.

(3)            Keelboats are vital to the defense of the United States. In the event of war, the United States would lack the capacity for transpor­tation of supplies which are needed to successfully wage war.

In view of the above facts, the government should immediately take steps to insure equal competition between keelboats and steamboats in order to protect the American people from the evils of a steamboat monopoly. A "Waterways and Steamboat Transportation Expenses Board" should be created to regulate the steamboat industry in the public interest. The W.A.S.T.E. Board should see that steamboat rates are not set too low for the keelboats to compete. In addition, W.A.S.T.E. should determine subsidies to be paid to the keel boaters to make up for the extra business that the steamboats will receive because of their greater speed.

If these suggestions are accepted, the people of the next century will surely bless you for your foresight in enabling the keelboat industry to remain, absorbing the energies of thousands of American workers in building the best, cheapest, most efficient keelboat transportation system the world has ever known.

Sincerely yours,

Mike Fink, President of American Association of Keelboat Operators

EDITOR’S NOTE – The real "Mike Fink" is Paul Johnson, a freshman engineering student at Rice University. His "letter" was written last year for publication in the Jefferson High School (San Antonio) literary magazine, Each Has Spoken.



True Charity

The cobwebs of narrow or little thinking have never had such a heyday as they are having at present in the minds of those voting and advocating the use of other people’s possessions to supply so-called entitlement of any group regardless of the ef­fort put forth. True charity is never voted for or demanded by the receiver.

RALPH A. LYNE, Taylor, Michigan 


January 1964

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