Thanks to fellow Woody Boater Steve Moser who is going to be bringing one of our top favorite boat models to Clayton this year. An amazing 1937 Century Thunderbolt. What’s even cooler is below is some original BW footage of her in action from back in the day.
Shipped to Philadelphia PA in 1937 to Lee Fishman of Rittenhouse Street. No information was found on Fishman to date.
Sometime in the early to mid-1940s the boat was purchased by Cleo F. Pineau of Williamsport, PA. He was quite a colorful man with a colorful history. Check out Links: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleo_Francis_Pineau
During the time of Pineau’s ownership, “Emily” successfully raced on the Susquehanna River and most notably in the Lock Haven Jaycee’s Powerboat Regatta still occurring today.
One story related by Mr. Gehret’s daughter, Suzanne, is that the day before the Lock Haven Regatta the boat was tested and left at a dock about 20 miles downriver from the race site. Race day morning, the boat was found submerged. It seems some fellow competitors stood on the boat until they sank her. Mr. Gehret and a group of friends raised the boat and got it running in time to make the race and win. Seems the boat was well known up in these parts during that time period.
In June of 1954, the ownership of “Emily” was transferred to Robert Gehret, a long time friend of Pineau and Plant Manager of Radiant Steel Products Company which Pineau owned. During that time she continued to race in the area and was also was used for pleasure. Mr. Gehret’s daughter, who helped with much of the history, remembers the boat well but, because Mr. Gehret stopped racing it when the children were little none of them remember riding in it. The Gehrets owned a larger cabin cruiser which was deemed a safer ride. The Thunderbolt was used by the family up until the 1960’s. She was sold sometime in the mid to late 1970’s and pretty much fell out of sight. In the 1990’s, the Gehret family attempted to find the boat to no avail. It was a wish of Mr Gehret’s to see her one last time before his passing in 2009. We have no real information on the boat during this time.
In 1983, while in school study hall, I spotted the Thunderbolt advertised in a Sun Gazette classified ad in Williamsport, PA. (Who says you get nothing out of study hall?) While my father and I were just getting into wood boats, I remembered reading a story “Has Another Thunderbolt Been Found” in a copy of the Thoroughbread Century Owner magazine handed down to us from a family friend. With that information we decided to make the 40 minute ride to check it out. Prior to going, I convinced my father to bring a flatbed trailer “just in case” we might like the boat. It was good we took the trailer, because the boat was purchased and she came home that night. Knowing it was an important find and needed to be restored correctly, we put her away in a barn where she sat for the next 30 years.
An ironic side note is we purchased the boat less than 10 miles from where the Gehret family resided.
During that time other boats came and went, but the Century stayed secured until we met Bo and Kathy Muller. In 2013, the Thunderbolt went to the Clayton Show. Bo took a closer look and arrangements were made for her restoration.
In September of 2017, “Emily” was relaunched in Lake Winnepasakee for the first time in over 50 years.
In late September of 2017, “Emily” was taken back to Williamsport, PA. We met with Mr. Pineau’s daughter and the Gehret family to see the boat and take her back on the river she used to run. It was a special day since Steve and Suzanne were able to take a ride in the boat that had sat in their backyard for many years. Andree, Pineau’s daughter, chose not ride in the boat. She cherished the memory of riding with her father, but she was pleased to see the Thunderbolt back on the river.
This weekend “Emily” was at her first show in Skaneateles, NY. She will head up to Clayton the next weekend, and to Harvey’s Lake the following weekend. Are you headed to Clayton! She will be in the water and we will be capturing photos of her in action!