Reflecting On Santa From 1984

Wilson Santa A few days ago we received an e-mail from our friend and fellow Woody Boater Wilson Wright on Lake Jackson, which is on the north side of Tallahassee, Florida. Wilson was the longest-serving president in the history of the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club, which celebrated their 40th anniversary this year.

Wilson wanted to wish us all Happy Holidays and share a great 30 year-old vintage photo he had from 1984 – the e-mail read as follows:

Texx: If you all are looking for headers for one of the day’s between now and Christmas, here’s one that might work.

It’s a photo my wife took of me in my first Chris-Craft from our dock on Lake Jackson here in Tallahassee. We used it for the cover of the December 1984 Brass Bell. (The Brass Bell is a quarterly publication produced by the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club for it’s members) The original photo is (I guess) in the club archives.

So as not to spoil the Santa thing for any kid that might have picked up the publication, the caption said “Santa arrives on Mirror Lake (it was like a mirror that day) in the Northern Hemishpere in a 1950 16′ Chris-Craft Riviera.”

Here’s what our lake looks like today… In the ’84 picture the boat was in four or five feet of water… Today I mow that same spot and even farther out… Strange… the tree line doesn’t seem like it has changed that much. Cameras weren’t as good in ’84 as they are today and you can’t see the neighbors dock (if they were even there) in the ’84 picture…. and the ’84 pic is scanned from the Brass Bell, not the original photo which as I say is probably in club archives.


Lake Jackson today shot from the same spot – without Santa or his Riviera.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! – Wilson Wright

Seeing the e-mail and photos from Wilson Wright made me stop and remember the first time I ever communicated with Wilson.

In 2004, right after I purchased my grey 1952 Chris-Craft Riviera, in an effort to learn more about my boat I immediately joined the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club. At the time, the club used a forum (like a chat room) based on software called MemberClicks, which allowed members of the club to communicate and exchange information related the Chris-Craft marque. The MemberClicks site (which some of you may remember) was nothing like the popular Boat Buzz Forum that the club uses today, but it worked if you were patient.

At the time I had some questions regarding my Riviera’s hardware, and I was determined to get it right in terms of originality (the restorer I was relying on at the time was useless when it came to originality) so I carefully prepared my questions and posted them on the MemberClicks site, hoping I would get a response.

I must admit I was somewhat intimidated at the time, as I was new to the classic boat hobby, and didn’t want to come across as a complete newbie (idiot).

And much to my surprise, two days later I received a clear and respectful response to all my questions from a fellow named Wilson Wright. From that day forward I always appreciated Wilson’s help and dedication to the hobby.

Lake Dora Bunch 3 1141 - Copy

Chris-Craft Club President Don Ayers (left) presenting Wilson Wright with a Lifetime Membership at the club’s 40 year celebration during the Sunnyland Boat Show in Florida..

The Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club continues to be one of the best sources of information in the hobby, and the Brass Bell is a premium publication. Earlier this year, the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club was inducted into the Hagerty Classic Marine Hall of Fame along with Jean Hoffman and Syd Young.

Wilson Wright was also recognized for his years of service with the Chris-Craft Club, which you can see by clicking Here on the Hagerty Classic Marine website.

Anyone who will take the time to dress up in a Santa suit and cruise around in a wooden boat in Florida for a photo shoot is good in my books. You’re quite a character Wilson. Thanks for all you have done over the years to make the hobby a better place.

Happy Holidays Everyone – Texx

34 replies
  1. Cliff
    Cliff says:

    A few years back the North Coast Ohio chapter of A.C.B.S. invited Wilson up from Florida as a guest speaker to our December Holliday year end event. I picked him up at the airport it was 20 degrees and he is truly a gentleman. I also remember attending one of our shows in Chataqua NY. (Now a A.C.B.S. chapter) and he bought a late 1960’s fiberglass Chris Craft at Holliday Harbor’s auction. Holliday Harbor was once owned by a great guy Charlie Cross and later by local legend Sandi Galati. Wilson took the time to talk to Charlie about what it was to be a Chris Craft dealer in the 1940’sthrough the 1990’s. I remember the both of them discussing the merits of the 24′ Sportsman (just like Matt’s) and the 37′ aluminum Roamer. Charlie owned both. I am glad to say I was thrilled to of spent the afternoon with them. A rumor has it that Wilson is currently boat-les, I think the man needs a boat don’t you?

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Thanks for sure Wilson!

    Is the long term change in lake level due to water level management policy changes or some natural phenomenon?

  3. Bob Kays
    Bob Kays says:

    Wilson is a true gentleman. We are fortunate that he visited Lake Hopatcong ( and his pal, Wayne Mocksfield ) a few times.
    Thank you Wilson for all you have done for all of us Woody Boaters.

  4. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    BTW, it is snowing with temperatures dropping throughout the day. Lows in the single digits tonight, more snow tomorrow. I bet all you Southern folks who are boating tomorrow will be jealous of our very white Christmas.

  5. John Baas
    John Baas says:

    As a newbie (idiot) myself, I’m always thankful for the help from folks like Mr. Wright. Without him and those like him I wouldn’t have a chance at the hobby. Merry Christmas to all and especially our valued mentors. BTW, It is 8 below zero and VERY white here “up nort”.


  6. Alex
    Alex says:

    Thank you, not only to Wilson, but to all in our hobby who bend over backwards online, on land, and on the water to advise and assist a fellow boater. The amazing kinship is one of the great pleasures of classic boating.

    Now, weatherwise, here’s what’s headed to Hessel:


    Santana’s gonna need a bigger boat.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Santana is a Mexican guitarist. No connection to Peurto Rico or the YouPee that I can think of, although I saw him in south eastern Michigan a few times.

      Santa uses a sleigh powered by reindeer. No connection to boats of any size. He also uses a glowing red deer nose to navigate through fog a blowing snow, so no worries. I am hoping he brings me some coal to keep me warm and a calculator so I can solve the Woodyboater math puzzles.

  7. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    May your stockings be stuffed with all boat stuff with care,
    In hopes that in spring, all the docks will be there.

    Merry Christmas to all our Woody Boater friends from Carl and Sue

  8. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    Merry Christmas to all my mentors and good Woodyboater friends. I to was a newbie a couple of years back, and it just goes to show, that even at 65 years old, “you just don’t know it all”. Thanks to talented people in my ACBS chapter the Water Wonderland, and here on I have asked and received without ever feeling like I asked a “dumb” question.
    A special thanks goes out to Mr. Chris Smith who is also in our chapter, for sittin around and “just talkin boats.”
    And then there’s Mr. Matt Smith, the only guy I know, who will drop everything at 10pm while on vacation in Florida and jump in a bilge full of water, and have the tools, and knowledge to replace a bad bilge pump, in a sinking Lyman… You the man, but more important than that, a true friend.
    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night…Dennis and Ronnie

    • matt
      matt says:

      All part of the fun! It was a good that pump failed cause you were able to find that dumb leak. ONE SCREW! Dang! The good folks at the Antique Boat Center saved that one.

  9. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    Snow report here in Grand Haven/Spring Lake area. While we got several inches on the ground and only less than 1/4 inch of ice on everything, we are VERY LUCKY. Just south of us by 20 miles, they got over a 1/2 inch of ice, with trees down and no electricity till Friday. Then 6 inches of snow on top of all the ice.
    Last night, just North of us by some 15 mile, they got dumped on with 18 inches of lake effect snow over a 5 hour period!
    We got three times the snow this December over last year.
    At least the good thing out of all this, will be the water levels. All the inland lakes are ice covered all ready.

  10. old salt
    old salt says:

    Does anyone else find it amazing that Santa’s sleigh has one red bow light on it giving it the right of way no matter which way it is traveling?

    Merry almost Christmas my fellow woodie boater friends….

  11. Dane
    Dane says:

    Does anyone else think that the header looks more like the Grinch making off with the presents, than Santana delivering presents?

  12. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    Wilson, you are a treasure! Thanks for your humor, great stories and jeesh, the good memory you have to remember them all. See you in Tavares!

  13. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    And for the rest of you WoodyBoaters, those with most of your screws loose, those with your manifolds on backwards or even those of you who have exhaust leaks, thank you for making this life a lot more fun! Happy Holidays!

  14. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Finally home from work. Stopped by the old school dairy to get milk and eggnog in real glass bottles. Just like in wooden boat times!

    Have a merry Christmas everyone!!!

  15. Tommyholm
    Tommyholm says:

    Merry Christmas to you!
    And I have that ride in a Century that you are wishing for again this Christmas,

    Santa Claus

    You better watch out, you better not cry, Santa Claus …..

  16. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    I concur, Wilson is an old skool gentleman and counters all the bad thinks you’ve heard about lawyers. Merry Christmas WW and to all the WoodyBoater world.

  17. Wilson Wright
    Wilson Wright says:

    Thanks guys and gals for all the compliments…and Tommy, I’ll go for a ride in Century any time…

    Merry (what’s left of it) Christmas to all

  18. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    As they say, better late than never.

    Wilson, thanks for the photo of you in a Santa suit, in your old Riviera on the lake, when it was a lake. Thanks for taking the temporary job of managing the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club in the mid 80’s and then staying with it for the next 25 plus years. Thanks for all that you have done, and continue to do for all of us Woody Boaters.

    And another big thanks to WWW & Texx for all the great words about the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club. We truly appreciate your wonderful support.

  19. Wilson Wright
    Wilson Wright says:


    It is you who deserves the credit along with the others who stepped in to keep the club going….Your dedication to keeping the lines of communication open is to be appreciated by all

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