With fellow Woody Boater Dane Anderson’s help last weekend, we ran a few short Live-ish reports from the 26th Annual Minnesota Lakes Classic Boat & Car Show at the Arrowwood Resort & Convention Center at Lake Darling – near Alexandria, MN. Today classic boat historian and noted writer Lee Wangstad offers up an informative recap of the event with a selection of great photos from Dane Anderson.
Lee Wangstad is also the Editor for the Bob Speltz Land-O-Lakes Chapter ACBS publication “The BoatHouse” which is published quarterly – January, April, July and October. It’s always a privilege for us to have Lee join us here at Woody Boater. – Texx
And Now You Know… The Rest Of The Story
2013 Minnesota Lakes Classic Boat & Car Show
Story by Lee Wangstad / Photos by Dane Anderson
The show brings with it a certain air of dignity, establishment, and excitement. I’ve been going since I can’t remember when. Of course, that could be yesterday, the way my memory seems to have been disappearing lately. What is it with that? I did remember to get up in time, as it’s at least an hour and a half drive from my place to Alexandria, Minnesota. Sometimes it takes two hours, depending on traffic. It’s not the amount of traffic, but rather the type of traffic that I encounter.
I’d be traveling through Minnesota Amish country, where horse and buggy traffic is common. On one trip to Alexandria I came across a horse and buggy pulling a makeshift trailer with an older aluminum boat attached, cane poles sticking out of the back. It might have made for an interesting photo, but then, for them it was just another day off to the lake to catch a few. As quaint as it looked, I decided that a photo would more than likely be imposing on their privacy and delay their time on the lake, so I just waved and moved on.
This year’s Alexandria Show was focused on Larson Boats with particular attention paying homage to the Falls Flyer, and I was hoping that those new Falls Flyer owners from Paul Mikkelson’s auction would bring their boats back to Minnesota, or from those parts of Minnesota that they had been distributed to.
I wasn’t disappointed. By the time I made my first step onto the dock I could see three of the inboards tied up to the docks. Lee Anderson’s Model 15 single cockpit, Carl Mammel’s Model 17 split cockpit, and Pat Carnes’ Model 21 Deluxe were all in the water. It was not only nice to see them all together, but doubly nice that they were in their natural habitat, the water.
It’s really unfortunate that in the year that Larson is celebrating their 100th anniversary that they weren’t represented here by someone from the Larson factory. Not that anyone there has any interest other than some new marketing lines, but maybe they could have picked up some history from one of the knowledgeable owners that were there.
Like Paul Mikkelson. Or Ross Pfund. Maybe they could have had a chat with the Johnson boys, Peter and his son Alex. How about a nice conversation with Roger Moberg, Paul Larson’s nephew. If you wanted to learn about Larson Boat Works and what is known of the history, the information was here for the learning.
It wasn’t just about the Flyers though. Russ Hagen brought his freshly restored 1934 Chris-Craft 27’ triple complete with a Scripps V-12. This one is just as nice as they come.
At the opposite end of the walkway was Dave Bortner’s fabulous 1932 28’ Gar Wood triple “Hornet” powered by the huge Scripps V-12 as well, giving rides to those willing to make a small donation to the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum, sponsor of the show.
Del VanEmmerick brought his strange Circraft. This one beats all the other weird configurations to the title of “best strange boat ever” hands down. It features no steering, other than the pilot’s ability to lean. Of course he has seriously underpowered it with a four cylinder Mercury Mark 55. People used to think that the Falls Flyer was a weird boat. They don’t have anything on the Circraft. It was rebuilt to Del’s own personal standards – flawless. I’m often tempted to ask for a ride in some of the boats that come to the shows…….not this one! If I were to name this boat I think that I would call it “Widow Maker.”
But the Flyers were featured and a number of them turned out. Father and son team Peter and Alex Johnson brought their fiberglass Falls Flyers, one with a Johnson and the other a Merc. Their aunt and uncle, Ross and Pat Pfund brought their finned later model Flyer. This one had a 1958 V-4 Johnson 50hp that looked to be right out of the showroom.
No matter what your favorite type of Flyer, it was represented at this show. And there were other boats from the Larson lineup as well. From the 1959 All-American to a very nice Cabin Outboard Special, the featured marque made a good showing.
Other notable boats included Ed and Bev Sheldon’s Skee-Craft, a lapstrake utility with two of the nicest 1958 Johnson Sea-Horse motors that I have ever seen. This Skee-Craft was purportedly used as a resort work boat in northern Minnesota for most of its life. No easy life, it needed a lot of work. Seeing it back in the water, finished, has to be very rewarding for Ed and Bev.
Andreas Rhude brought his traveling Thompson show. His yellow Sea Lancer continues to impress showgoers wherever it appears. It was right next to Dick Mickelson’s Glasspar, winner of the “Best Fiberglass Boat” award. This boat carries a lot of momentum when it comes to awards, having won at both the Gull Lake and the Whitefish shows in past years.
Further down the row at the on land display was Bob Matson’s 1956 Crestliner. Bob was on hand signing copies of his new book entitiled “What’s in Your Boathouse” for classic boat fans.
Dr. Bob Johnson once again brought something unusual. A few years ago he brought a Gordon B. Hooten race boat, very rare and hard to find today. This year’s anomaly was a 1929 Hickman Sea Sled. It looked to be about 12′ in length and was purchased at the Warner Auction a couple of years back. Bob had done a preservation type restoration on the boat and this one too looked scary to ride in. I’ve ridden in a Sea Sled before, but knowing Bob, he would, of course, overpower it and become a nuisance out on the lake. All kidding aside, he’s an excellent driver, I’m just not very accomplished at riding with maniacs.
It was easy to see why Roger Moberg won the “Most Original/Best Preserved” class at the Sunnyland show this year in Florida. His Larson Deluxe Speed Runabout just oozes originality. Growing up within the confines of the Larson Plant would make that possibility a definite reality. Roger seems to be the contact point for all things pertaining to the Larson family and the boat works.
Tom Akenson’s huge Chris-Craft looked like it didn’t like being tied up to the dock. It looked more like it was ready to hit the lake and party. With dance floor space and rock solid stability, it was hard to call this a utility. It was more like a waterborne pavilion.
Dennis and Peggy Pazdric brought their 1941 Falls Flyer from Grand Forks, North Dakota. This is another boat from the Mikkelson Collection and is immaculate, in every definition of the word. With its 1941 restored to immaculate also Johnson P.O. 15, it exudes pre-war go-fast/feel-young charisma.
It’s hard to believe that these boats were produced as early as 1939. It’s only when you do some direct comparisons with the other boats available at the time that you really consider the impact that these boats may have had, had it not been for World War II halting production.
There were many other spectacular boats there too. Although the sky was overcast, there was little if any actual raindrops. It was nice to not go home with a blistering sunburn like I usually do. My wife Nancy usually greets me at the door with the same question every year, “what happened to the sunscreen that I sent with you?”
This year was different, there was no lobster look, but the stupid smile on my face told her that I had had a great time once again. My throat was worn out from all the boat talk, my legs were fatigued, my brain was wore out. Only a couple of weeks to get rested up for the Whitefish Show. I know that my voice will come back and my legs will return to normal, but I’m just not so sure about the brain. With show season upon us, reason seems to fly out the window.
Special thanks to Lee Wangstad for preparing this recap for us today, and also to Dane Anderson for the always great photography.
Also a big thanks to Bruce Olsen and his dedicated team at the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum for organizing this great event. If you have never been to the museum in Alexandria, it’s definitely worth the trip to learn more about the rich history of boating, and significant role boating has played in the state of Minnesota over the last 100-plus years.
And also for the support from the folks at the Arrowwood Resort & Convention Center in Lake Darling for providing this outstanding venue.