The Streckfus family’s Admiral riverboat served as a mecca for social gatherings for generations of St. Louisans. Gracing the St. Louis riverfront from 1940 until 1978 with its distinctive art deco style, the boat took daily and nightly excursions on the Mississippi. On its five decks, patrons could partake in a variety of entertainment including ballroom dancing, a number of dining choices, arcade games, rock bands for teens, glamorous powder rooms and more. Its air-conditioned ballroom was one of the first in the area.
Annie Amantea Blum had just graduated from high school when she announced to her family that she intended on getting a job on the Admiral. Over her mother’s objections, her father secured an interview for Blum with Captain William Carroll. She got the job and spent the next 18 summers keeping books, doing payroll, counting money or working the stands, loving every minute of it.
Blum observed that the Admiral was a popular place for date night, dance recitals, graduation nights, starting and sometimes ending relationships. It was a safe place and affordable. People of all ages, from different races, including both males and females, enjoyed the entertainment offered on the the boat. “When people said they were going to ‘the boat,’” said Blum, “everyone knew they meant the Admiral.”
The Admiral’s reign on the riverfront as a universal entertainment mecca ended in 1978 when it was turned into a casino. Blum had no desire to visit it in that guise, preferring to bask in her memories of the Admiral’s glory days.
As a labor of love, Blum decided to document the history of the Admiral and other steamers owned by the Streckfus family in her book The Steamer Admiral and Streckfus Steamers, A Personal View. She was Steve Potter’s guest on Cityscape to discuss the Admiral and her memories of it. St. Louis Public Radio listeners shared their memories as well.