Gary, Royce, Glen and Rosie, A Story We All Need To Read About Our Wonderful Community
A Huge thanks to longtime Fellow Woody Boater and pal Gary Visser for sending in one of the more emotional story ever to be on Woody Boater. This, this, story right here is what and why we are part of this amazing community. I actually got a bit emotional near the end. Dang, my cold cold heart actually felt a twinge in its beignet clogged arteries.
My brother Royce Humphreys and I spent our summers on a small Iowa lake with a parade of old boats and motors that never stranded you too far from the dock…the benefit of a very small lake. My brother, the youngest, could quickly identify every Donzi, Chris Craft or Century that passed the cabin pulling water skiers and filled with Coppertone and cocktails.
Today his collection of boats looks like the fleet that cruised the lake of our youth. But, he doesn’t just have a Chris Craft, but the 16’ Racing Runabout we knew as kids. Not just a Buehler Turbocraft jet, but the same red hulled boat that BB blasted water at skiers who quickly learned not to follow directly behind the jet!
Next door was a boat house where our neighbors Glen and Rosie kept a Century Ski Dart. Few Ski Darts survived, the victims of neglect and plywood hull rot. And besides, if you’re going to pour your time, money and sandpaper into an old boat, why not a mahogany beauty queen? Who saves the dowdy girls who weren’t asked first to the prom?
Glen and Rosie’s replaced the Ski Dart after an engine failure and the Century spent the next fourteen years in a barn filled with critters. Eventually it found it’s way into Royce’s “lake-historic” fleet and Glen shared her stories starting as every “new” boat, towing home without trailer lights, just a flashlight stuffed in the Dart’s exhaust pipe.
The engine’s head and block had cracked and there is evidence of hull sides damaged in a collision and a long forgotten color change from yellow/black to white black. Restored, the Century looked like it just left the boathouse where Royce was first intoxicated by the rumble of her flathead six. The Ski Dart has a generous cockpit and wide seating in the stern where skiers would wait their turn on the Dick Pope Jr.’s.
Over the restoration Glen and Rosie would drive up to visit their old Ski Dart. Fresh paint and varnish erased years of neglect. That next summer Royce invited them to the Ski Dart’s first boat show. Glen’s advanced age didn’t stop him from sitting on the dock and carefully being helped into the cockpit. The new Gray burbled softly and Glen enjoyed his last ride.
Ok, if you’ve followed this story this far, that’s just too perfect, something everyone in this hobby would hope to do someday. Who wouldn’t want to restore a boat from the memory of their youth and take its former owner for a ride, one last opportunity to hear the idle of their old inboard? Or, even better, have a person they knew as a child and new to the hobby, find and restore your old boat! Could it get better? Well… yes.
Glen had a gift for Royce’s newly restored Century. It was something he’d cherished since he had trailered her home with the flashlight stuffed in the exhaust pipe. The gift was the original burgee from the bow of his Century Ski Dart. You know, we should stop calling this a “hobby”.
Wonderful Story – – What a Great Share this morning – – I’ve never before read or considered “last ride” in any way other than an end of season experience – – Whew – –
A great story! This is what woody boating is all about. Thanks for sharing Gary. Oh by the way, I will have to remember that flashlite trick.
Good story! Wonder how “small” was their lake? I always marvel at the guys that put such boats, and there is a cruiser in the background, on small bodied of water. I never like being on water that doesn’t connect with an ocean is a navigable way.
John in Va.
John, our lake was about three miles long and a half mile wide. Our boat was and outboard 1960 Glass Craft Contessa Hardtop with a 75hp Evinrude Starflite. That meant two laps around the lake on on 6 gallon tank. Saturday mornings the Ski Dart would roll out of the boat house and into the lake. Glen would grab a cup of coffee and off we would go for a ride. I was blessed to have the opportunity at being its placeholder/caretaker for the next generation.
What an awesome article. Dad would have been 98 today and I assure you he is smiling his big smile today!
Such a “feel good” story. Perfect for this family-centric holiday time of year.
Yes, it is a great story. WoodyBoater lifestyle for sure. Thanks for sharing.
I never knew about the flashlight in the exhaust pipe trick, but I did tape one on the handlebars of a motorcycle in my youth.
Iowan’s are salt of the earth good people. Great story to reconnect the original owners and get them back on their boat. You know, its never your boat if you know the original or even the previous owner, you’re just the steward that maintains it for the next owner someday.
Miss Julia is a lucky gal!
Century and the Dart boat co. had no connection,correct? But I see the Dart arrow logo down the side of the boat,and I’ve seen it on other Century’s as well.Am I wrong?
Century and Dart did not have a connection that I am aware of. Century just named the Model the “Ski Dart.” It was and entry level boat and their first attempt at a plywood hulled boat.
Johnny Eastern, Steve Anderson from Michigan and any others interested in the model boat below, contact Matt and he can pass along my email address. I have many more pics and more info…it is actually an old radio controlled boat. No little people figures but some interesting bits. The antique shop owner thinks it is from the 1960s judging by the electronics.
Anyways, I have many more photos that I can pass along.
Thanks Briant, I think I was 2nd guy in on the cruiser model, so the other guy (Johnny Eastern? why doesn’t that ring a bell?) has dibs. I definitely don’t NEED it, but it is cool. If the 1st guy passes on it please let me know and I will make a quick decision. Thanks!
Oh and in the same shop was the following battery operated boat. $95 or so. Might be negotiable he said.
Hey Matt. I have one of those cruiser models that I would sell if someone wanted it I bought it in an antique store about 20 years ago. I paid ?200 bucks back then. It is radio controlled. Or was. It has the motors and receiver inside. If I remember the windshield frame is broken. I’m out of town and won’t be back till the weekend. Give my email to anyone interested. Dan Diehl
Lake Okoboji was a magical place with friendly people who loved their boats, and loved to share stories.