"I was born at the tail end of a unique and delightful era and raised on one of the last showboats to struggle for survival against the devastating crunch of progress.... Our showboat's express purpose was carrying entertainment to hundreds of thousands of river-bottom farmers along our water-bordered frontier." -- from the book
Betty Bryant was a river rat. The Floating Theater was her home, and the river was her back yard. While other children were learning to walk, she was learning to swim. She knew how to set a trotline, gig a frog, catch a crawdad, and strip the mud vein out of a carp by the time she was four. In this colorful memoir, Betty shares her own piece of Americana, the small, family-owned showboat of the early twentieth century. Billy Bryant's Showboat plied the inland waterways of the Ohio River watershed from before the First World War until 1942, bringing a blend of melodrama and vaudeville, laughter and therapeutic tears, into the lives of isolated people in rural communities along the way. Betty made her first professional appearance at the age of six weeks when she played a baby in "Uncle Tom's Cabin." In her twenty years of touring, she acted, danced, and grew up in the tradition of "family entertainment, by families, for families." Here Comes the Showboat! is told with the ageless wonder of a child who loved the showboat and the eager audiences its uniquely American entertainment touched. It is a treasure trove of humorous anecdotes, touching remembrances, and delightful photographs of Betty, the three generations who ran the family showboat, miners, musselers, shantyboaters, farmers, merchants, and actors whose lives intersected along the Ohio River.