Found An Article written in 1981 about my parents river lifestyle

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Found an OLD article about my parents life on the Ohio River.  I wasn’t mentioned but remember that Tommy & I ran away in  very soon after they purchased her.



The River Life

Boating couple calls the Laura and Ohio home

(Article I found from the Mt Vernon Democrat dated Wednesday June 17, 1981 written by Donna Spurrier)

Laura is a rather large and very unique lady in the life of Charlie and Bettye Roberts, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for the couple who were born and raised along the Ohio River and always dreamed of actually living on the water.

After having owned smaller pleasure boats, the couple searched for a larger boat on which they could reside, a search which ended in September of 1972.

With the purchase of the 72-foot-long, 27-foot-wide Laura, the former president of Windsor Plastics retired earlier than expected, at age 54.

In five months, after many changes to the interior, he, his wife and daughter Mary Jane were able to adopt this new gypsy lifestyle on the river.

In an atmosphere of complete relaxation, the couple sip their favorite beverages beneath the cool shade of the canopied bow and invite all curious “drop-ins” to join them around the deck table.

With boundless hospitality, the Roberts’s, whose home port is in Evansville, Indiana, have traveled up and down the Ohio River, welcoming many boating enthusiasts to board their vessel, and are certainly no strangers to Mt. Vernon, where Laura was recently docked for repairs.

In return, they have made many friends upon the river and speak highly of “river people”.  “It’s a fun way to go.  River people are nice people. Always willing to help you. They’ll do anything for anybody,” Charlie said.

The Roberts’s are fond of sharing their memories of pleasurable moments upon the river such as two weddings, a class reunion and the Owensboro Regatta in 1973, when about 200 people stepped aboard the boat. “We had 25 or 30 boats tied to us, “ Mrs. Roberts said, smiling as she told about everyone coming aboard to use the only bathroom facilities available in the middle of the river.“You could have walked a mile across all the boats that were tied to us,” Captain Charlie said, admitting he was exaggerating a bit.

“A lot of people have climbed aboard. Entertaining on the river is a lot of fun.” He said.

The Ohio River is another dear friend to the Roberts’s.  Though they rarely encounter troubles, which they cannot handle, a recent one being the loss of a rudder  which forced them to dock at Mt. Vernon for a few days, the Roberts’s have a deep respect for the ever changing currents of the “Old Man River.  “One thing you can bank on this river, is you can’t bank on it,” Captain Charlie said with a chuckle.

With the help of three crewmen Captain Charlie keeps the generators and other working parts of the boats bowels in top shape.

Mrs. Roberts has also contributed to making her life on the river comfortable for her family and guests by importing many personal furnishings and mementos from their Evansville home, which was sold when they boarded Laura.

The boat, which has 37 windows, boasts 10 fully furnished rooms including a pilot house, private study, living room with dining area, and their really nice master stateroom, two bathrooms, a galley, small breakfast area and two private staterooms.

Much of the original battleship steel and pecan and black walnut woodwork is still intact, including the rounded top door leading to the galley, which has the brass hinges and pegs.

The all-electric galley, which the Roberts’s keep air conditioned during the summer months, is made complete by a dishwasher and a radar range oven.

For over half a century, Laura has served her owners as a flat top ferry,  a yacht and an excursion boat, a commercial towboat and now the home of Charlie and Bettye Roberts, who have found they must sell because of rising costs of fuel and maintenance.[You didn't enter a valid video URL. Please try again.]And even though the Roberts’s may well sell Laura, they say their memories of peaceful sunsets, the tranquility of life on the river, the numerous friends, the many parties and realization of a dream fulfilled are priceless..



2 Responses to “Found An Article written in 1981 about my parents river lifestyle”

  1. Mark Soper December 3, 2013 at 10:37 AM #

    An amazing story. I read Augustus and the River (1939) (see, but I had no idea that anyone lived on the river this way in the early 1980s.

  2. iGranny December 3, 2013 at 4:05 PM #

    Thank you Mark- I took out the heading where I had written about my Father’s anger towards Tommy when we first ran away. My Father was a wonderful man- and ultimately he loved Tommy dearly. Sometimes we “type” before we think. I’m going to check the link you sent. :)

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