By Alexander Watson, member of ACBS.
“Some enchanted evening, you will see a stranger. You will see a stranger across a crowded room.” (Rodgers & Hammerstein II. South Pacific. 1949). The evening was February 2001, the stranger was a 1955 Chris-Craft Corsair, and the room was an abandoned dock on Lake Texoma, crowded with boats left to die.
Landlubbers, both, Dale and I did not know that a forty-five foot wooden cruiser was best left to more experienced, qualified men. People tried to warn us, but we were not deterred. We restored Betty Jane to a factory-new sheen and splashed her into the Arkansas River—twenty-seven miles west of Fort Smith, Arkansas—navigable water. Summer vacation 2008 was to be a river trip.
Set back, delay, family crises, and death kept us from our destination of Cincinnati, Ohio until 2009. Those fifteen months altered who we are as men and how we perceive the world around us.
Dale and I were city slickers away from our Dallas, Texas home and completely ignorant about running a river and the remoteness of rural life. Expert mechanics were not at our beck and call. “Overnight” parts delivery took one week. Cell service was spotty; Facebook was an innovation; Googling bore scant result. We had to rely on people, perfect strangers who knew that the river is a hostile place and that “living the dream” can get hard. How they overcame moral and religious convictions of their own—Dale and I are gay— and how we were chastened by their example lie in the pages of River Queens: Saucy boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America.
River Queens: Saucy boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America by Alexander Watson. (Orange Frazer Press: Wilmington, Ohio. October 2018. 978-1939710-857.) 320 pages, hard cover. $27.95.
Sample Read: https://www.riverqueens.us/sample-chapter-page