Henry "Red" Allen dispels some romantic notions about riverboats

by David Tenner

According to John Chilton in *Ride, Red, Ride: The Life of Henry "Red" Allen,* p. 33, Allen (who had played on riverboats in the 1920's) once explained that the riverboat scene was actually quite different from its popular romanticized image. No doubt his words will disappoint some people:

"A lot of people think, when you mention riverboats, you had to check your pistols when you came on, and that the boats were full of women good-timing, but I didn't find it like this. I do know that everyone had a good time but it wasn't as wild as some writers say, and I can't remember personally ever seeing any gambling on board when I was playing. This was Prohibition, so there were soda fountains for the people. Just in case things got out of hand there was usually a bouncer close by." https://books.google.com/books?id=gogjg5KvUxYC&pg=PA33

No pistols? No good-timing women? No gambling? Soda fountains? Truly, Mr. and Mrs. Beiderbecke had little reason to fear the moral corruption of Bix--at least from that quarter...

Posted on Jun 9, 2017, 5:25 PM

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