Van Damme Memories

The old ferry back in her heyday  |  sketch by Jack Keeler  |  post by Larry Clinton

Sunday, October 15 will be a day of nostalgia for the legendary ferry Charles Van Damme. A festive event at Waldo Point Park from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. will feature live music, delicious lentil soup and bread by Davey Jones, and shared memories of the old ferry through her many incarnations.

Music will be performed by local groups The Diatomics plus Maggie Catfish and Joe Tate. Joe led the house band, the Redlegs, on the ferry when it was a dance hall. Other musicians who played and hung out there include Carlos Santana, Janis Joplin and members of the Grateful Dead. During her lifetime, the beached ferry hosted three different restaurants, an art and dance studio plus an all-night music venue.

In 1983 the ferry was demolished leaving just the paddlewheel and smokestack. The Richardson’s Bay Maritime Association (RBMA), a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, is spearheading a campaign to restore those relics for permanent public display in the park near where the ferry was beached. There will be information about that campaign and a chance for people to share stories, photos and items from the one-time community landmark.

If you would like to share your own recollections, contact the event organizers by October 1.