“Splash Back Sunday” What’s In A Name? “Dork” – A 1948 Chris-Craft Racing Runabout From California

THis “Splash Back Story” is for “Tim” in yesterdays comment section. Keep the jabs coming Tim, we got answers for them all! HA Here is the story on ‘DORK” from 2011!

I remember the very first time I saw “Dork” at the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance many years ago. And at the time, I have to admit that my first thought (to myself) was “What’s the deal with the name?” Today, almost 8 years later, I have finally learned why “Dork” has her name… I think. (We captured the above image during the 2010 Lake Tahoe Concours – Texx)

Yesterday on Woody Boater, there were a few fun comments about misspelling a boat’s name on the transom. This morning, fellow Woody Boater and Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club Executive Director Emeritus (and all-around good guy) Wilson Wright posted a comment on Woody Boater as follows…

Wilson said…

Yes, a painter did get a boat name wrong once… Wilbur Miller of Lake Tahoe fame who has now gone to the great marina in the sky had a wife named Dorthea. He called her Dort for short. Wilbur had a 1947 Chris-Craft Red & White Racer (well it was actually green and white to match his Buick of the same year, but that’s another story). Wilbur told the painter to put “Dort” on the transom… You guessed it… The painter was a tad hard of hearing and so he painted “Dork”… Wilbur said, “What the hell, leave it that way.”

Last I heard his grandsons still have the boat and it is still named “Dork”.

Thanks Wilson, after 8 years I now know why she’s named “Dork”, and will once again be able to sleep… Texx

“Dork” is a beautiful, unusual colored 1948 19′ Chris-Craft Racing Runabout currently owned by Bill & Rob Shepherd, from Lafayette, California – with an interesting history.

In the 2010 Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance program, “Dork” is described by her owners as follows…

“Dork” was sold in 1948 at the San Francisco Boat Show (to a Doctor from Burlingame, CA), then purchased by Wilbur Miller in 1953 off an Indian Reservation near Tonopah, Nevada. She has been in the Miller-Shepherd family since Wilbur gave “Dork” to his grandsons, Bill & Rob Shepherd. This boat has won awards in the “racer” class in every boat show except the year she sank just before the judging. This is the only boat that has been shown in every Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance. – Bill & Rob Shepherd

Now here’s the crazy part… After reading Wilson’s comment on Woody Boater earlier today, I remembered that I had a few images of “Dork” from the Lake Tahoe Concours, and thought it would to fun to use Wilson’s comment for a short story on this unique boat.

So I sat down to my trusty computer and began preparing a few crappy images I had in my archive the story… Just then I received an e-mail from fellow Woody Boater Philip Andrew in New Zealand. He also noticed Wilson’s comment on “Dork” and said he had some images of the boat from the 2009 Lake Tahoe Concours, and we were welcome to use them for a story.

So, thanks to Philip, we now have some very nice images of “Dork” for our story.

Here’s a nice shot of “Dork” with some of her Racing Runabout family during the 2010 Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance at the Sierra Boat Company Marina in Carnelian Bay, California. She certainly stands out in a crowd…

Today’s story, What’s In A Name – “Dork”, Has been brought to you by Wilson Wright (Florida), Philip Andrew (Wellington, New Zealand) with commentary by Bill & Rob Shepherd (California) courtesy of the Lake Tahoe Concours program.

The power of Woody Boater strikes again!


26 replies
  1. Oliver
    Oliver says:

    Another interesting story Texx and a very unique Chris-Craft with a unique name for sure. Thanks

  2. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    it is stories like this that I always look forward to pulling up this website each day, and relax, in the world of “Woodyboaterville”…

  3. jerri
    jerri says:

    Wow! Stunning boat! That story needs to go in the next Transom book. Have to agree with Dennis, your website in so ingrained in my computer I just have to hit “W” and it comes up.

    Fun story.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Many of my friends are Dorks too… Case in point – Chad’s my friend and he claims to be a self-professed Dork when he wears his Captains Cap… Ha

  4. Frank Miklos
    Frank Miklos says:

    Actually the name Dork is fitting to a boat that is not standard…

    Definition of dork is Someone who has odd interests, and is often silly at times. A dork is also someone who can be themselves and not care what anyone thinks.

    I think it sort of works…

  5. Wilson Wright
    Wilson Wright says:

    Glad I mentioned it…But I always’ thought Wilbur bought the boat new from Dick Clarke at Sierra Boat Works and that Dick paintred the red part green to match Wilbur,s Buick ( convertible, I think) which is why they allowed it to be judged as original at Tahoe since the dealer painted it before it was delivered. But if you say it was perviously owned by a Doctor, I guess it isw true. Guess Mary Jo Miller Shepherd could tell us for sure.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Hi Wilson – The information on the history of “Dork” was taken directly from the 2010 Lake Tahoe Concours program and the placard that the Shepherd family displayed in the boat at the Concours. The placard did make reference the fact that the Chris-Craft’s color was changed to match Wilbur Miller’s car back in the day.

      Hopefully the Shepherd family will chime to shed some light on where the boat was originally purchased, etc.

      Thanks again for your comments on this unique Chris-Craft.

  6. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Boy you miss one day of Woodyboater and suddenly you are transported back 6 years in the past.

    At least I got to go back and comment on John in VA’s lust over his new Whirlwind.

  7. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Quite a series odd stories this weekend…I suppose somebody out there will come up with a boat named Henry Dork

  8. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    I hope Tim comes to Dora next year because I want to meet the Dork that thinks Dork is a Dork. Maybe we should include Polo Ponies at next years Sunnyland Festival.

    According to Franks definition I am rather proud to be a Dork!

  9. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Troy is no dork
    delivered by a stork
    like Mfine and the pork
    he will just pop a cork
    and take a zip just to weather
    good times spent together.
    while Texx scopes out pages
    of his work through the ages
    forget the hair in the varnish and other guilt you are toting
    ditch the anxiety….and JUST GO BOATING!

    John in Va…….waiting on the Whirlwind….”all good things come to those who wait…”

  10. Jake from State Farm
    Jake from State Farm says:

    I went the cheap way and ordered vinyl stick on letters. The boat was to be called “Mare de mer” …sea horse, the name came back as “Merde de Mer” for those who know french.

  11. Ettemolligist
    Ettemolligist says:

    What is also interesting about this story – and maybe the Shepards can fill in the history – but the term “Dork” was not a common slang word in the nineteenfiftues – and would almost certainly not have had the meaning of geek or nerd at that point.
    If the name was painted on the boat in the nineteen fifties – it would have been read as meaning something about male sexual organ. That would have been entirely socially unacceptable in that era.
    The use of dork as a nerd didn’t come about until mid sixties.
    Apparently, dork never had anything to do with whale anatomy. The earliest use in print was in a 1964 novel where the term “dorque” pretty clearly referred to a male organ.

    It seems – if the story reported is correct, that it was a typo for “Dort”, it just is unusual, in the context of the early 50’s, that they would not have simply corrected it – because, at that time, Dork was not a word in use – except possibly as slang for penis. At that time, it would not have been amusing.
    If the Shepards are showing this boat with the placard explaining the name Dork – they may try to explain what it possibly meant in early nineteen- fifties.

      • Ettemollogist
        Ettemollogist says:

        You titled the story “What is in a name?”
        I explained what was in this name, using anatomical correct terms.
        In light of its meaning, your subtitle “Splashback Story” kinda makes my feet feel uncomfortably wet.

  12. Tim
    Tim says:

    The boat WAS dorky and that was the kindest thing you could say. It was the bastardized concoction of the worst elements stolen from a dozen different boats. Ugh! And the idea of a show for under $5K is the child of a brain made of solid bone. I liked the entries: An armchair inner tube and a wooden pallet that needed soaking….good stuff Lol. Matt, or whoever you are, you need to take a deep breath and not take yourself so seriously. People and websites who can’t take a bit of criticism and some contrariness without flying into a weeklong obsessive rage soon become ossified. You need to lose your schoolgirl sensitivity which is not good for a public website open to people whose ideas may differ from your own.

    • tommy "bonehead" holm
      tommy "bonehead" holm says:

      Bone Head , I just got it. Duh. Btw, bone head is another name for dork or that other thing.

  13. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    While I already went boating…think I’ll turn right around, ditch work, and go again…..

    John in Va.

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