Roman Holiday takes special cruise for 94-year-old Texan

April 11, 2017 GMT

Imagine if you can, the day when fishermen were all over Rome’s rivers in rickety old rowboats and fur trappers were selling beaver and river otter pelts to general mercantile shops across the city.

Nancy McIllwain had been hearing stories about the life of her great-grandfather, William Speed, all of her life.

It was a little over a month ago when her grandmother, Julia Speed Price, 94, of Sulphur Springs, Texas, offered $100 to the first granddaughter who would take her back to Georgia.

McIllwain and her sister Jana Hettich didn’t care anything about the $100, but they did want to do something special for their grandmother.

“That’s what it meant to her to come back to Georgia,” McIllwain said. “Her dad was born in this area (in the late 1800s) and so was her granddad.”

So Hettich booked a special tour of Rome’s waterways on the Joel Sulzbacher Roman Holiday on Monday.

All Price knew over the weekend was that her daughter and two granddaughters were bringing her back to Rome. She found out Monday morning that she was going to get a tour of the rivers.

“I thought it was going to be in a canoe,” Price said with a gleam in her eye.

Hettich, McIllwain and their mother, Julie Miller, all from the Sulphur Springs, Texas area, started planning the trip about a month ago but didn’t know about the Roman Holiday.

They weren’t wild about the idea of putting 94-year-old Price in a canoe.

They were able to keep the river tour on the Roman Holiday a surprise until Monday.

The spry 94-year old led her daughter and granddaughter down the steep walkway from the bank of the Coosa River and stepped onto the deck of the Roman Holiday without so much as a moment’s hesitation.

Roman Holiday Captain Dennis Nordeman said he had piloted a number of special tours on the boat over the years, but never one for just four passengers.

“I could really tell this one was really going to be special,” Nordeman said.