One of the wonderful things about Woody Boats is the memories that they hold. Wood not only soaks up water and moisture in the air, but also love, hate, and most any emotion they are surrounded by. That is the magic of wood. It lives with us. Some boats are lucky enough to stay in the same hands for years and thus hold these emotions in a pure way. They have a heart and soul, and personality.. And for a few Woody Boats nothing is better than being the bond that holds together a Father and Son. Those sorts of relationships are always tough.. A car, or Woody Boat can sometimes be a perfect catalyst for bonding and growing together. This story I am about to tell you is one of the more moving.
It all started at a Thanksgiving Dinner back in 1954, the family had decided to visit Lake George during the off season. To have a quiet rustic Thanksgiving. They rented a house.. One of the few homes on the Lake that was open for the winter. They all gathered and basked in the glory of the mountains and clean water. Of course there were no boats or life out there. The Lake was just pure and nature was in full force. All the leaves had dropped.. It was a fantastic time for a family to just be a family. There were 2 kids in this family. Janice J and Bob, Dad, Mom and a dog.. A normal family for the 1950’s as I am told.. Bob.. or Bobby as he was known was at that age.. that age were a father and son are still talking. On a long walk they talked about having a summer place on the lake, and Bobby suggested a boat..Father and son agreed.. They loved the idea.. And over Thanksgiving dinner presented the idea to Mom and Janice J… The family was all in.. That’s how the family moved to Lake George and started its wonderful history together.
Christmas morning. Bobby and Janice J all came down to the living room.. And there it was.. Nothing.. Not even a tree.. In this house, the tree was always brought by St Nick on the eve of Christmas.. This was the family tradition since they were of German descent.. NOTHING.. The kids ran up waking up the parents.. “There is no tree, no gifts” What could be wrong? As they went down stairs.. Father said lets look around.. Janice, go look on the porch, Bobby, you look outside.. In the shed.. Your mother and i will look around the house.
In the shed.. Bobby opened the door and there it was.. A magnificent Chris Craft.. With lights all over it. A tree in the boat and loaded with small gifts.. Bobby could not believe his eyes.. He climbed in and sat behind the wheel.. Slowly the family came out hearing Bobby yelling and blowing the horn… The family had Christmas morning out in the shed, in there slippers and over coats. “It was the best Christmas of my life” Bobby said..
Over the years.. the little Chris Craft, named.. “Elf”… shared in summers on Lake George.. Bobby caught his first fish on “elf” he got his first kiss on Elf, Janice J.. Learned to swim when Elf did not soak up fast enough.. Mom would go out with Dad on sunset trips and come back with big smiles.. All was good. Elf was part of the family. Over the years.. As Bobby and Janice grew up, there time at the lake was less and less. Mom and Dad would go to check up on things. Elf remained in the barn at the home on the lake.. Sometimes now not being used for years on end.. Bobby now a scrapping young man was a young adult and had life to live. He had been drafted and gone for some time. Bobby had become a medic.. And well.. thats another story.. .. But when he came home.. He went to the lake for some R and R.. He needed to be reborn.. to take in all that was good in the world since he had seen so much bad.. After some time sleeping and just watching the water he went out to the barn.. And there was ‘Elf” sitting on its cradle.. Covered in a torn cover.. But still there.. Bobby was flooded with the memory of Christmas morning and all that was good in the world.. How a families love can overcome anything.. All this emotion was tied up in Elf.. just waiting for Bobby to need it.. And Bobby needed it.. For the next month, Bobby and elf worked together to get back on the water.. As Bobby looked back, both elf and Bobby needed to get back to living life.. After some varnish and cleaning up.. Soaking, and rough starts, Elf lit up, and away they went.. Mom and Dad came on the weekends and Dad helped Bobby get the boat ready.. So in a way, elf became Bobbys now…
Over the years, Elf and Bobby would go out once a year.. Mom had passed away, Janice was a teacher in California.. Bobby and Dad would meet at the lake house and get Elf ready for the summer.. Although Elf would never be used after that week.. Until winter.. And so this went on for many years.. Elf took more and more to get back in the water..
It was the week before spring officially starts. the forsythia was just starting to bloom.. And the phone rang.. It was Janice.. Dad had passed away in the night.. Bob, now a dad himself knew this was coming and needed to get things all in order.. The home on Lake George needed to go, Dad had moved into an assisted living place.. But the lake house had stayed because of all the memories tied up in it. It represented the family, the bond and all that was good in the world.. On a trip to the home to meet the Realtor, Bob went through the barn and there was Elf… sitting there like it had for 50 years.. Bob , said, the boat does not convey.. It took a week to fix the trailer to be transported back to there suburban home in Ohio. And so the next journey of Elf and Bob was underway.. A strange feeling over came Bob on the trip home with Elf behind him coming to a new home.. But Bob had dreams of his son and him working on Elf.. Only his son was older and off to Collage.. So it would have to wait, maybe a grandson.. Elf found her new home sitting in the yard under a cover.. A memory out in the yard waiting to save the soul that needed it.. The years went by and Elf just started to look not so good. Folks would come by and offer to buy Elf.. One day out of the blue a neighbor down the street came down and offered to buy Elf for a surprise Christmas gift for his son and him to restore.. But Bob could not let go..
It was last summer, a thunderstorm came through the area.. and a loud crack from a lightning bolt was heard.. The time between The flash of light and boom was a second. Lighting had struck close.. Out in the yard. There it was .. The big tree in the yard had been struck.. And fallen and crushed Elf.. Elf was now a box of grey splinters.. Gone.. All that was left was the faint name on the transom.. El.. the f was gone.. Bob called the trash people and it was hauled away to the dump.. And thats the end of the story..
Sucks doesn’t it.. Whats the moral of this story that you just wasted a half hour reading? Don’t love your boat to death.. If you are that person hording a boat for the memories as it dies a slow death.. Sell her or restore her.. But for gods sake dont let it rot. Your memories are far richer seeing such a thing live, being restored and living the life it was intended to live. Sitting in a barn or in a field is no way for the Wood to live, it needs you, your memories and life experience to live..