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.

Website: https://www.riverqueens.us
Sample Read: https://www.riverqueens.us/sample-chapter-page
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/River-Queens-Saucy-spotted-America

6 Comments

    • From the title, which I love, to the very last page – I LOVED River Queens! I laughed, I cried, and I feel like I now know the people Alexander introduced me to through his descriptive prose along with the dialogue in the vernacular of the river folk. Share the adventure with those stout mates and spotted dog! It’s a wonderful story beautifully told!

  1. An engaging story with strong characters and a well-paced plot. Dale and author Alexander are two gay city slickers smitten by a 1950s Chris-Craft yacht. They dream of restoring her former beauty and taking her upriver to Cincinnati. They christen her ‘Betty Jane’ and the adventure begins. After more ups and downs than a Coney Island roller coaster, the restoration is complete. Word of the beautifully restored “woodie” spreads and Betty Jane is greeted like royalty at each stop along the river. Watson masterfully guides the reader thru the exploits of the two Captains as they become bona fide river men. Along the way, Watson captures glimpses of an America many thought long gone, where friendships are forged based on a shared passion. In this case, life on the river. A worthy read.

  2. I own the book blog For the Southwest By The Southwest Book Corner, so I read many books. Alexander’s ‘River Queens’ is my favorite. Many time’s I am asked what is the best book that I have read recently, and I say without hesitation ‘River Queens’.
    This book has so much personality in it, I could go on for hours about it, if I have to give you my best impression is that it restored my faith in the ‘real people’ of the USA. This is what being American is all about, doing something on a whim, and having your fellow Americans help you out along the way ‘just because’. You can see the blogs I did on this book along with my review and the Featured Author Page for Alexander .
    https://forswbysw.com/river-queens-saucy-boat-stout-mates-spotted-dog-america/
    https://forswbysw.com/alexander-watson/

    I have the deepest respect for what Alexander and Dale did in taking their Journey on the river, and then the talent that Alexander has in being able to bring to life that journey for rest of the world thru ‘River Queens’. A definite read for anyone who wants to be truly inspired.

  3. Heraclitus quipped a long, long time ago: “You could not step twice into the same river.”

    With his companion Dale and their spotted dog, Alexander masterfully guides us along the Arkansas and Ohio rivers on a wooden boat called the Betty Jane. The boat, the namesake, and the spotted dog all hark back to days gone by, but this is a journey where yesterday meets today. With the Great Recession and the seemingly changing polis of American ideas, Alexander reminds us that people are more important and certainly more interesting.

    This book is a marvelous endeavor with wonderful characters and a shared sense of adventure, so get yourself a bag of pretzels, consider shrimp and grits for dinner, and read River Queens.

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