|Michael Blaser's website shows how versatile he is|
how talented in his depictions of boats and ships.
When you really look at a painting, you can see through the minds eye of the painter. On the same level creative writers craft an image that frees your imagination and places you inside a literary art work so fresh that you feel the warmth of the sun or smell the breeze blowing over the river. The art collector, the reader and the historian spend lifetimes looking for the treasures scattered among the weeds of the ages. Such an American treasure was Captain Frederick Way Jr. He was a unique American riverboat captain, writer and historian. I have excerpted for you just in one paragraph he wrote about a steamboat named the QUEEN CITY. She ran the Ohio river during the first third of the 20th Century. I would like you to read this and stay with me while I tie the threads into a fine rope for you.
"Your scribe fell for the wiles of the QUEEN CITY in 1911 standing in the forward end of the cabin gazing aft at her multitude of repititions; repitition of doors, of shining brass oil lamps in their swinging brackets, of overhead lights coming from twined oak leaves of metal, of chairs soldiered in parade, and her dining tables the same way - all of these things as trim as West Point cadets, sweeping in a dip downward to the mid-ship gangways, then up again to the immense mirror in the distance - an unbelievable distance - twice as wonderful as anything military; a person could wear out his eyes looking for a single straight line; there wasn't one anywhere; all was cadence and curve, an immense arc. A lady at the grand piano played. She sang in a dusky voice "Oh Beautiful Lady" and "Chocolate Soldier." She had too much powder and paint for my mother's standards, but I thought she was a blessed angel, and shall expect all honest angels to resemble her in the Hereafter. I was 10 years old when this indelible tattoo creased my imagination. The QUEEN CITY did this to adults as well, so I learned later".
There are literary pearls among his books that exhibit the wisdom of a man who stood the deck then had the intellectual depth to record these experiences in his own words for us. He left us an image of America that has passed to the ages. I knew Cap Way at the end of his life. By then he was bent over and small. His hands were twisted from arthritis. We talked of the usual things but he looked at me once, over his little reader glasses, his eyes kind of lit up and said to me quite out of context that I had a "part to play down the road". Now I think I understand what he had in mind and here is where the three threads come together to make a fine rope.