John (#456) 11-11-13

My wife and I cruised up the Mississippi on a Paddle-wheel steamer, the American Queen. We has a few hours ashore in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. With less than an hour left, I ran into town looking for locals to meet and photograph. As I passed a restaurant, I ‘felt’ more than saw a man leaning against a wall, smoking. Intuitively I thought that he was an employee on break. I wheeled around to face him as I began my mantra (asking to meet him and get a portrait). The words were not totally out of my mouth when I focused on his expression. He did not look happy. Maybe I approached the wrong guy.

But he quickly said OK, and his demeanor and voice did not match his face.

Yes, he was John, and did work at the restaurant, The Bodega Brew Pub. John told me that he was born in Iowa, but has lived in LaCrosse for many years. So I told him that I was visiting from Florida, and that I was on a tour boat. John said, “Oh, the American Queen? She is beautiful. I spent a night aboard her last week.”


It turns out that the week before, The American Queen had stopped at LaCrosse too. The Brew House Pub supplied a portfolio of beers for an Oktoberfest beer tasting party aboard. John handled the beer and stayed aboard for the night, disembarking in Dubuque, Iowa.

It is amazing, what stories you stumble upon when meeting strangers.