Life on the River Main Page


The Life


The Work


The Livin'





Going with the flow

This is the three barge tow being pushed on the Upper Mississippi River by the Zephyr entering St. Louis, MO. We were leaving the Clark dock in Wood River, IL and returning downriver. I remember this run very clearly. It was my very first transfer right after I got my tankerman license. At the dock at Clark I remember being a little nervous. And then a wheelman come down on the barge I was on and told me that Sabine head honcho, Jim Guidry was going to hop on board for the weekend to ride with us down to Memphis. Minutes later, Jim pulled up in a cab and came on the barge I was loading. Pretty soon the Captain and crew were out with me on the barge. I really didn't want to screw up on my first load and put my mind to it to do a good job - and I did. I got that barge loaded so level, that you could build the foundation of a building on it. This was of course credited to the advice and guidance of Zephyr pilot Pete Henries who really taught me a lot.

We were extremely short-handed that run with me and George Ramirez being the only men working the deck and loading barges. We had to work with building tow on four barges (one of which we dropped off in a fleet). I worked for 22 hours that day. George and I were busting our behinds building tow when Jim Guidry came out the help us. He worked hard with us and was a really big help. After getting underway we had to enter Lock 27 between St. Louis and Wood River. Going through this lock required two men on the barges. Jim knew how hard I had been working and told me he'd work the lock for me. I thankfully obliged.

That's what I miss about working for Sabine Towing. Jim Guidry, the highest man on the totem pole in the company, volunteered to do my work. The people on top felt the responsibility and duty to help their fellow riverman. I really respect Jim for taking off his office tie and bustin' backs like the rest of us. I heard a saying from a captain once that I find to be true. No matter how high you get in rank or position, you should never forget being a deckhand. Jim Guidry exemplified this.