The cook’s name was Elmo. Other than the Deckhand, he was the only black man on the Motor Vessel Hamilton which pushed barges up the Mississippi but which was inexplicably called a “towboat”.
Elmo was an excellent cook. An ugly twenty pound catfish that Junior and me “shocked” to the surface with two leads from a hand-cranked phone would be transformed into a cornucopia of popcorn catfish bites.
But things got real ugly the night the store boat came along side in the dead of night as we were plodding under the Memphis bridge. One item which was bound for the Hamilton was a crate of okra. Only the Captain liked okra.
The next morning all hell broke loose. The okra had gone missing. The Captain fell everyone out on the first barge. In true James Cagney fashion in “Mister Roberts” he demanded to know, “Who did it? Who threw my okra overboard?” Naturally, all of the crew pointed to Elmo. He was petrified although nothing came of it.
The image is of Elmo taking a smoke break sitting on an wooden milk crate, as he did every evening after supper.
Bronze with wooden base. 18” x 15” x 9”.