Clark Mills

Document Sample
Clark Mills Powered By Docstoc
					Clark Mills
                                        Table of contents

1 Mom and Dad and I
2 My learning years
3 Haven Street Dock and junior yacht club
4 Some fun some not
5 Pappy Trout
6 John G. Hanna
7 Harry Butler
8 Ybor City
9 Shop 68, Philadelphia Navy Yard
10 Panama Canal shops and fellows
11 Boat works
12 Remarks and Conversations Overheard
13 My friend’s Dads, who became my friends
14Random recollections
                                           * FORWARD *
My Dad Clark Mills was truly one of a kind born January 29, 1915 in Jackson, Michigan died Dec 11,
2001 in Clearwater, Florida. He was a self taught master boat builder, the only higher learning he had was
a correspondence course in drafting. He is renowned for boat designs which include the Windmill, Sun
cat, Picnic cat, compacs 16, 23, and most notably the Optimist Pram which is the most prolific boat
design in the world. To put it another way. There are more Optimist Prams than any other single boat
design in the world!

 When reading the stories you get the feeling of the friendly small town hospitality that was a part of the
times, a young person might think he was pulling your leg, however an older person will recognize that
was the way it use to be.

  I worked with Clark summers and full time for a few years after I graduated high school he taught me
much of the craft of boat building. I was twenty one (close to my physical peak), and him and his other
co-workers, pushing sixty, I just did keep up with them. To me it was a job. To him it was his passion.

 Occasionally in conversation he would give a response that would take most of us several minutes to
conjure up. For instance he was being interviewed by venerable Capt. Somebody or another, the sports-
fishing reporter for WTAN radio in Clearwater. When asked if there were any boats that he built that he
was particularly proud of. Without missing a beat he responded “The ones that float.” After the Capt.
Stopped stuttering it was evident he was thrown totally out of his rhythm.

 This book is a collection of 13 short books Clark wrote mostly from 1981 to 1999, which I set up as
chapters. With them all in one book you will never be searching for the one book you can’t seem to find. I
tried to transcribe them without changing the intentional grammar flaws, as this represents the flavor of
how the conversations took place. Although this might not be the perfect example of work according to a
composition expert, it is accurate and a wonderful historical manuscript and something Clark left his
family that I find quite enjoyable. Clark was truly one of a kind and I will forever miss him.

Son #3 Daniel Mills
                                     Mom and Dad and I
My name is Clark Wilber Mills. My Dad’s name is Bernice Morse Mills. My Mom’s name is Myrtle
May Mills. I am writing this in the fashion of a somewhat poor letter writer solely in the interest of setting
down every random recollection and impression I have been able to dredge up from thinking back and
back as far as I can and still be accurate.

 This is mostly in the interest of just leaving a small bit of family past to my sons and their offspring,
should they be interested. If not, so what! I am going to enjoy writing about my favorite people! A lot of
these anecdotes were told to me by Mom and/or Dad. Some were those I took part in.

 All of our days to gether, we spent countless happy hours visiting about everything. I have no brothers or
sisters, tended to quiz Mom and Dad endlessly about their earlier days in Jackson, Michigan. We had
moved to Florida in my third year, so I didn’t know all I wanted to about their younger days.

 They were both born and raised on farms adjoining each other and I guess I am pretty proud of the long
years of their love affair. I remember when Mom died, the preachers wife came to tell Dad how sorry she
felt for him. He said to her, “My goodness, don’t feel sorry for me. I have had her ever since she was five
years old!” This has always made me feel good!

 Now in our earlier Florida days for the first four or five summers we used to go back and visit our
relatives in Jackson for a month or so. We would make our headquarters with my Aunt Edith, who was
my Dad’s sister, and with her husband Ed Everitt who ran the old Mills farm.

 This was my favorite spot on earth and the memories of the enormous and super delicious meals Aunt
Edith served are still vivid to me! We were there just at threshing time! This was terribly thrilling to a
little boy! When the threshers came they set up a large steam tractor with a belt drive to the threshing
machine, which was huge and very complicated. The men shoveled wagon loads of straw with the grain
attached and the grain came gushing out of a big shoot into the bags. Another big pipe blew a mountain of
straw and chaff over on the other side.

The neighbor ladies and cousins and all the city kin available came to help Aunt Edith. She had two
kitchens, as most farms did and the amount of food those thresher fellows ate was wonderful.

 Once in a while we would go into Jackson to spend a couple nights with Aunt Mabel or Aunt Grace,
Dad’s other two sisters. As the years wore on and everyone got older, Mom and Dad and I made the trip
less and less, but I’ll never forget that farm.

 Now the same cousins and aunts and friends that helped with the cooking for the threshing crew came out
full force to help out with the harvesting and the canning. The men rushed to get the hay into the barn
while it was nice sunny weather, a hotter harder job I never had! I was about seventeen the last time I
helped do that and that is when Uncle Ed showed me the difference between a man and a boy!

After the hay was in, the men each went to the fields with hampers and picked all types of garden
produce, such as beets, turnips, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, of small and large size, string beans, cane
Cantaloupes, sweet corn, radish, cabbage…….

 Mom and Aunts Mabel and Grace and her girls were washing stuff on the back porch then bring it in to
the summer kitchen where they had Aunt Edith’s five burner perfection kerosene stove lined up with a
row of five gallon granite wear kettles steaming away all full of 1 quart and ½ pint Mason jars getting
scalded out.

Also, the kitchen stove, a large black wood range, with warming oven on the chimney and hot water tank
on the side, had large kettles of jams and jellies and pickles in process.

 This farm had good land and fed a lot of people for a long time. At that time, you had to try to harvest to
sell, can, preserve, dry, or save in some way because the large cellar was lined with shelves and filled full
every food they could squeeze in, because every so often the climate would cause nearly a famine! And
those farmers with no cash or no cans caught hunger.

 Dad brought Mom to Fort Meyers, Florida on their honeymoon trip right in the middle of winter. Dad
said when they stepped off the train into that balmy sunshine and saw all those acres of oleanders and
poinsettias and the rest of the profusion of flowers; he was an instant convert to be a Florida cracker. He
and Mom were both planning how to get to Florida permanently. It took them eight years!

 Now like many farm boys, Dad made off to town at the first opportunity and took a job in a buggy
factory as an apprentice striper. He had a sort of natural bent for this work and soon was promoted to the
head of the stripe department, mainly because he didn’t drink, he told me.

 The raises in pay probably had a lot to do with he and Mom setting their wedding date. This all came
about, the dates I don’t have exactly, all of this was just told to me as you see I wasn’t even born yet.
They had two earlier baby boys which they lost in the next three or four years.

Dad had bought a house on Homewild Avenue where I was born. About this time Henry Ford came out
with his Lizzy and Dad’s buggy factory went broke and put him out of a job. He and my Uncle Claude
Smith, my Mom’s older brother decided to buy a grocery store. I don’t remember which street, but it was
over by the railroad shops which were quite large at that time!

 Well the two brother-in-laws, now partners, stocked the store with the necessary goods and sort of waited
around for business to start. Well, it seems there was a fine old German family had a nice grocery right
across the street.

 Days went by and weeks and finally several months and there were about four old ladies who came.
Their largest purchase was a quart of milk or a loaf of bread. Anyhow Uncle Claude wanted to get out. So
Dad made him a small cash offer plus an IOU. So Dad was the sole proprietor. It got no better and Dad
said he was about at the end of his string, fiscally speaking and pretty discouraged to boot!

He was standing in the doorway one Friday afternoon pretty late and a very large man approached him.
He was, it turned out, a Czechoslovakian immigrant from the car shops. He asked if Dad was “De boss”
Dad said yes, what could he do for him. The big Chec could speak English. He said, “I got deese seex
keeds an dat wife. We ron outta food. Can you trust me for some food? I get paid next Friday.”

Dad said he scratched his head a minute and then said to him, “What the heck, come on in here!” He
handed the guy a carton and told him, “You get what you need, just help yourself!” He said, “I figure if I
was going to sink, I’d go with all the flags flying.” He didn’t really know if the man would ever pay him
or not. He went and got a big sack of apples and another sack full of candy for the kids and told the man
good luck!

 Well, the following Friday here comes the big Chec and he handed Dad his pay envelope. Along with
him were five of his workmates. All of them Slavs of one kind or another and all giants. It seemed they all
needed credit till next Friday! Dad says he gave them all the same treatment, wrote their names and what
they owed on his pad, and bid them all luck.

 Well, the next Friday, Dad said shortly after the shops quitting time, his store, not too big to begin with
filled up with huge greasy railroad employees all come to get the good credit with Dad. So that’s how the
Mills grocery was run for the next few years. Well Dad was a very kind fellow and he deserved to do

Meanwhile he had everything paid off and the sixteen hours days in the store were wearing him out. All
of a sudden, he got a good offer for the store and sold it and their house and they realized they were rich.

 They loaded the old touring car and became what was known as “tin can tourist” and in about three
months Dad and Mom bought a Clearwater house from Horace Coachman. It used to be across the street
from the Chamber of Commerce Building on Osceola Avenue.

So this story took me years to pry out of Mom and Dad and it makes me feel good to think of it. Also I
never wished to leave Clearwater.

 Some of this I think I remember very well in spite of my tender years. The first two trips down to Florida
and then later back to Michigan were right memorable to my mind. The roads were almost nonexistent
and only the crudest maps were available.

 My Dad loved to drive a car, but never would inquire the way when my Mom suggested it! It was not
unusual for us to have to turn around and retrace our path for several miles, when it became obvious that
we had missed a turn or a detour someplace in back of us! I am sure we came by a more circuitous route
then most did for this reason.

 While at some point in the Carolinas, we were sailing along a very rough country mule track and Mom
kept saying, “ask someone for heaven’s sake!” Not my Dad’s style! All of a sudden we steamed up a
steep little hairpin curve and behold we were in a barnyard with no further to go. While we are sitting
there with our mouths open, a big tall farmer in faded overalls walks out of the barn and greeted us like
long lost kin folks, taking six foot steps he comes over to our car and thrust his big hand into Dad’s. “well
how in the world are you?” he booms, his face literally shining as he pumped each of us a hand shake.

 “By golly its good to see you, climb down and come on in the house!” About that time a well padded
lady come busting out of their back porch screen door wiping her hands on her apron. She was just
beaming like a sunrise. “My land,” she says, “this is wonderful. We get so lonesome up here on this here
mountain! Do come in and have some supper with us.”

 Well, that’s what we did and I’ll tell you she made a champion supper in record time. Then we were not
allowed to leave, oh no, not going to sleep in no tent either. We simply got taken over and treated like
royal Turks!

 She showed us a big bedroom and brooked no argument and they tried to get us to stay a few more days
with them and were sort of put out when Dad insisted we had to be on our way. This is the way people of
the south treated strangers. I don’t think any of us ever forgot their hospitality.

 This was almost standard in the south at that time I guess. Dad and Mom often told me a similar event
occurred when they visited Sanibel Island during their honeymoon.

 They were walking down the beach there and Mom was a ways behind Dad sort of playing with the
shells and a lady come out of a big house and started talking to her. She said she and Dad just had to go to
lunch with her and her husband. Well they had a nice lunch and visit. They learned that the people’s name
was Dwight. Mr. Dwight asked Dad to go fishing with him. Dad gladly accepted the invitation. They
walked a few hundred feet over to the bay side. Mr. Dwight pulled a couple cane poles out of the bushes
and grabbed a couple fiddler crabs for bait, and in about twenty minutes Dad caught more fish than he had
ever seen before in his life!

 Nothing but they had to stay for the evening meal and eat a wonderful fish dinner and then they were
coerced into spending the night with them! They had such a good time; they spent a week with the
Dwights. This was remembered and talked about all their lives.

 It’s not that people up north are not kind also, but they are somewhat different in their hospitality. For
instance, if a tramp come to the door and said he was hungry, he would be sat down at the kitchen table
and fed good, but he was sort of expected to cut a little wood, pull a few weeds or do some bit of a chore
to reciprocate.

 That was then, nowadays no one is inclined to let a stranger into their house, north or south! Besides, all
the hungry people got food stamps and government checks, social security or something!
 To get back to my story, I have to explain the lack of chronological arrangement; it is simply not possible
for me to remember dates of anything. I am just wracking my brains trying to recall these things and get
them written down accurately.

 As I said the trip to Florida was unforgettable! The roads were a joke. So bad that the detours had
detours! At some places Dad had to pay a toll charge. I remember we came to a real muddy stretch. I
don’t know where, there was about 300 ft. of dark reddish brown mud that looked like chocolate ice
cream and had the consistency of axle grease.

 It cost Dad five dollars for a farmer who was waiting for him with a team of four mules, to get pulled on
thru to the other side. This somewhat enraged my mother who was sort self-elected fiscal manager for the

Recounting conditions on this period of time of our trip to Florida in an old open touring car, I must tell
you a little more. Dad said the car, a Briscoe - 14 horse power - was a lemon and had a jinx on it. Tires
were not made very good those days, and most days saw us jacked up beside the road and Dad changing
or repairing the tire. A six flat day was average!

 An incident occurred going thru some part of the south. We were pursuing a rather seldom used detour
and somehow it led us into a sort of tall grass prairie. No sign of a track and Mom was fuming and jittery.

I was sitting in her lap and bam! We had run into a tree stump, only going maybe fifteen miles per hour,
but my, what a mess. I set up a scream like fourteen Indians and immediately started bleeding all over!
This was too much for Mom. She kept saying, “Berny do something!” over and over.

 Well Dad lifted me out and sat me on the running board, took and wet his handkerchief and wiped the
blood off my head and got us all quieted down. When we collided with the stump, the car stopped so
suddenly that it threw my head up against the windshield, cracking it across a bit. It also put a goose egg
knot on my forehead.

 My Mom, in chain reaction banged her two front teeth into the back of my head causing a tiny abrasion
which bled so quickly. We, my Mom and I, sat there for a real long while. Dad hoofed back and found a
farmer who came with his team and towed us to another farmer’s place who claimed to be a blacksmith.
He took the bent axle out and heated it and pounded it out straight and reinstalled it. By mid-afternoon we
were on our way!

 All this was in 1918 and World War I was just finished. I was three years old but I remember that about
every time we got on a decent road, we came right past U.S. Army camps and saw hundreds of inductees
being drilled.

 Now I can’t remember too much about the next few years except that Dad had our new house painted and
every little thing fixed to suit Mom. She had decided that she would rent some of her rooms. I guess just
for fun, because they didn’t need the money then. About this time the famous Florida land boom was
cranking up.

 Dad had purchased a small grove with a house and nice woods all around. It was ten acres where Weaver
Park is now, on Hercules Avenue. It was a lovely spot tho really wild at that time. He bought it from two
elderly retired school teachers for a ridiculously low price.

 The youngest of the two ladies was Belle Remick about of 65 years. Her sister was much older. Belle
told Mr. Sam Jordan who harrowed her grove every year that she wanted to sell out and move back to
Buffalo. She said she didn’t mind all those snakes so much but the last couple mornings there had been a
fourteen foot alligator messing around in her back yard and last time he was up on their back porch trying
to get in the kitchen! She said that was the limit!

 My Dad being a human, got to investing in lots and land tracts, various places; first thing you know one
of those sharp young realtors (known as binder boys) brought a man to buy our house, offering him about
three times the price he paid for it. We moved out to the grove.

Now Dad had put money down on a hundred acre tract down near La Belle, Florida. Also for cash
purchased two business lots adjacent to the courthouse. Dad had a Jackson Michigan friend for a partner.
They decided to go to La Belle and look at their properties. Well, the two lots were next to the court house
OK, but they found out that they had been fraudulently deeded to them and about fifteen different people.
After hiring a surveyor to show them their hundred acres, they found it was about the middle of the
Everglades wettest area and without a boat not accessible!

All of a sudden the boom busted like a big bubble as they say. And the Mills family had to go back to
work. Dad sort of wondered around the house in a daze, Mom said, for about a week. The he got busy and
went to town to see about getting some work. Things went mighty slowly for a while then. Eventually, he
built up a pretty nice client list. He was an expert painter and paper hanger.

He got sort of preferred treatment and at least half a dozen quite wealthy families would leave him their
house keys with orders for some times, quite extensive redecorating, ect. As the depression wore on it
grew worse and worse!

 We had acquired two good Jersey cows. “Damn cows,” Dad and I called them. I would turn them loose at
the gate in the morning, after Dad milked them. They would stand beside the gate all day, but in the
evening when it was time to bring them in to milk again, they would start to walk away. When they saw
me they would run! Once we had to get in the car and go clear into town for them. Damn cows!

 They gave an unbelievable amount of milk and we shortly had some regular milk customers. Mom also
made lots of cottage cheese and butter which I was elected to churn! Mom liked chickens and so after Dad
and I built a pretty big chicken house out of old subdivision signs that the hurricane blew sheet metal all
over our woods. And we strung about half the grove with post and chicken wire we had about three
different runs. We were in the egg business!

 Meanwhile Dad dealt for a better car, a 1915 Oakland, a fine machine. He and I took the old Briscoe and
built us a tractor. With this, we dragged a mule pan, which looked like a large sugar or flour scoop with
two handles. Dad would drive the tractor and I would drag the scoop over to the other side of the pond,
then Dad on the other end of a long rope would drive up the field. I got where I could run that old pan
pretty good. In about a week of this work, the pond got deep enough where I couldn’t keep my head out
of water with the pan to steer. Also we had enough black muck to level up and smooth off about a half
acre garden space.

It was a tremendous garden. We didn’t know how to farm here in Florida, but in that muck, it didn’t
make any difference. Everything grew quickly, was very tender, king-sized and a bumper crop all around.
There were two or three or four people drove out from town nearly every nice day. Some of them who
had it would spend a little money on Mom’s produce. It became more and more business-like.

 One day when mom baked a lot of bread in our big old wood kitchen range, a lady smelled that good
oven and wanted to see it. Then nothing would do but she must buy some of that bread. So that started
something else. Mom occasionally sold a big old fat roster or hen. With that and our milk products, they
would buy, they felt like they had a deal. I guess they did! While Mom was getting that all together for
them, Dad had a couple cartons and a big grocery sack filling them with sweet corn, string beans, beets
turnips, radish, Chinese cabbage, a little of everything we grew. He’d call me over to help him carry it
back up to their car and it about filled the back seat of their car.

 This rubbed me a little, and I asked my Dad, “how come you don’t charge a little money for all that
stuff?” This was one more time I learned something about my Dad. He said, “Well, gee, we got so much,
you know, and those people have been real good regular customers and these days money is so scarce, its
just nice to help people a little.”

I was about in the fifth or sixth grade at this time, at North Ward School in Clearwater and after a three
year stint of helping my Dad on his farm, I was feeling pretty grown up, I guess. This was about 1927 I
believe and the great depression was upon us. The repercussions from the blow up of the Florida land
boom were many and mostly quite serious to ninety-nine out of a hundred people in Florida!

There were some suicides and some few well known people absconded with other people’s wives and
money. My Dad was always a hard and willing worker and quite skilled in several jobs, but there was no
work around! About this time I went into junior high school, which at that time was on Greenwood
Avenue. It was a brand new school, I helped break it in!

 Professor N. M. Faulds was the principal and had been in charge of designing the school. He was
credited with being the first to establish and build a vocational school at that level. Prof’s wife taught also
and they raised five or six kids besides. My wife Helen tells me she is sick and tired of me telling about
the great depression, but she agrees with me that we had a wonderful school and our teachers will never
be forgotten.

 My Dad used to ride me to school along with a neighbor girl who lived up on Drew Street. He went in
every day to deliver a dozen quarts of milk and check around about a bit of work. The old school had been
torn down a few years back, but the memories of that period in my life are sort of bound up with it!

 After about three or four years of country living, my Mom started to get lonesome spells. There were no
very close neighbors. Dad and I were mostly gone, nine or ten hours a day, he at work myself at school.
Just before the big boom, Dad had bought a big old decrepit three story house on Oak Avenue. It turned
into a pretty decent rental property all thru the good times, then as the depression tightened up, it changed
tenants more and more.

 Mom convinced Dad we should move into that place as she wanted to rent rooms again! Dad loved it at
the grove and really hated to move back to town, but Mom and I were ready to go. Mom didn’t mind the
work but I sure did, at that time hoeing and mowing were not my favorite pastimes!
 Well, we all pitched in and started cleaning and refurbishing the big old house. I remember we removed
some terrible old wall paint from every wall in every room. It was made out of Georgia clay. What a job!

 At this time I had managed to become a Clearwater Sun paper boy. Also, I had become a district
distributor for the Curtis Publishing Co. Every week a freight truck would unload about a ton of Saturday
Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal and Country Gentleman. I was responsible for putting the right ones
in the newsstands. Dad drove me around with them in his car as I did not drive then.

 Also, there were about a dozen kids who came to our back porch and got the magazines and peddled
them on the street and also got regular customers that they delivered to. All of a sudden we had the house
looking real nice, repainted inside and out, Floors varnished as well as all the trim work.

There were three or four used furniture dealers in town that kind of took Mom under their wings. She
would make a couple trips up town each week and it wouldn’t be long before a truck would deliver a huge
pile of furniture into our garage. She made some terrific cash deals. Once, I remember she got a whole
house full of furniture for thirty dollars!

 Now when any of this looked a little beat up, Dad and I would mix up a paste with a couple cans of Red
Devil Lye and we would clean them then sand them and Dad would work his magic with stains, fillers
and varnish. Mom rented a room for a week the first day she put up a “Room” sign! This was one summer
we all worked pretty hard getting that old house fixed up. My Dad and Mom both had a habit of working!

Going back in time to our first summer in Florida I remember Dad and Mom doing a similar stint of
overhauling, cleaning, and painting our first house on Osceola. Dad changed the outside décor from
yellow with white trim to all gleaming white. Which with all the screens replaced and the screen frames
painted black it looked very nice.

 Some time about then we had a really bad hurricane. 1921? The neighbors all told us to be sure to stay in
the house and get our candles and kerosene lamps ready. Also fill up everything with fresh water. This is
about the same thing they advise today, except I don’t remember any shelters offered.
 The wind kept rising all day and by evening it was roaring, and Dad had moved some furniture to the
other side of the house into the other rooms, he wouldn’t let us go into the windward side of the house for
fear the glass would start flying.

 Well you couldn’t see thru those windows anyhow! They were solid plastered with leaves. There was
only the street and Mr. Coachman’s woods between us and the bay. The storm whipped most of the leaves
off his trees and imbedded them in Dad’s pretty paint job! Our house was green! He was weeks scraping
them off and repainting it over.

 After the storm center passed over, the wind reversed itself and it blew harder than ever. We had a huge
longleaf pine in our back yard. It was my Dads pride and joy. I couldn’t reach around that tree, it must
have been quite old. Dad kept saying, “It’s gonna go!” hour after hour. Finally, it went. It fell neatly in
our side yard one limb scraping a little new paint off but no damage! That tree was about eighty feet tall,
my Dad said. It didn’t make a sound when it fell, the wind shrieked so loud that it was all you could hear!

 After the storm you could hardly look down the street. It was a solid mass of broken limbs, power lines
down and pieces of roofing of various sorts. It took everybody a spell of real work to clean it all up.

 Exactly which year I can’t say, but Dad had purchased a second hand motor launch from a fellow up at
New Port Richey. He asked his Jackson buddy to help him bring it to Clearwater. They left there early
one morning and after getting stuck on every sandbar on the way they finally showed up about midnight!
They were some kind of sunburned and tired.

 This little boat was a real bargain. It had an old make & break one cylinder engine. The boat leaked a
trifle, it sank every night. So, when we left, we took the coil and the hot shot battery home and put it back
together the next time we bailed it out. So when the hurricane sunk every boat for miles around, we were
probably the first to get running again, having been used to it! Sinking that is.

 One of the Garrison family who lived in a fishing camp on Hog Island, across the bay from Dunedin lost
part of his family either in this storm or the one in 1923, I don’t remember - 1918? I seem to have a lot to
say about hurricanes but that is because I am, and always have been deathly afraid of them and when I
hear a northerner say “I would kind of like to see a hurricane, just to see what it’s like!” I try to explain to
him that it does not come under the category of entertainment nor spectator sport!

 Oh yes, Dad worked cleaning up the yard the next day after the storm and after a half days hard sweaty
sawing and chopping you could not tell any difference. Mr. Coachman came over that afternoon and said,
“Berny, let me get you a good man to help you, Ill have him here early in the morning.” “Well, all right.”
Dad said.

 In the morning, a huge black man knocked on our back door. “My name is Levi.” He said. “Mr. Horace
told me to come here and clean up your yard.” Well we hadn’t noticed until he took his coat off and
started chopping limbs off the big pine tree, but Levi had only one arm! But oh my, what an arm! It
dwarfed a full sized axe. Made it look like a Boy Scout hatchet!

In about five days, Levi had all the good wood cut in stove wood lengths and stacked in our back yard.
And all the little trash out on the curb. He was quite along in years but the amount of work he could do
was marvelous.

 I keep jumping back and forth thru the years, but that’s the way I must get these things down as I think of

 It was about 1923 or 24 I remember that I got acquainted with people in our neighborhood. On the north
side of our house the Pinder family lived. They had two kids then; George, who was my age and
Katherine, a couple years younger.
 George and I became instant friends and remained so all our lives. I liked Katherine OK, but at the time
she could whip both of us which caused me some worry because if I touched her Mom would tan me!

The Brasfields lived just to the back corner on Drew Street. They had two bigger boys, Herb and Jim.
Mrs. Hood lived on Ft. Harrison in back of us. She had one grandson, Lamar. Next, on the south lived the
Works who had one girl Georgia Ruth. She was quite dangerous when angered, which I suffered from
quite often!

 About this time, I had taken to running off with various bigger boys who had befriended me. They were
Bill Faircloth, Bill Rousseau, Wilshire Mitchell, for a few. One day Bill Rousseau showed up in my back
yard eating a scallop sandwich. He gave me a bite, it tasted scrumptious! “Where did you get them?” I
asked. “Can I get some?” “Come on.” said Bill. “Ill show you.”

He took me down a steep winding story-book type path just down from Mrs. Harrison’s house. At the
bottom was Ted Kamensky’s house, built like a Swiss chalet with a porch right over the water.

 We waded out about ankle deep and Bill who had picked up a rusty paint bucket started putting scallops
in it. That day I met Ted Kamensky, Who turned out to be one of the best friends of my life. My Mom
said, “Where have you been?! Haven’t you heard me calling you?” I said, “Oh, I was with Bill R., he was
teaching me about getting scallops. Wait until you taste these.” I showed her how bill showed me to get
the pretty white muscle out and Mom cooked them for lunch. They were a hit and surely saved me from a

 That was really the start of a life-long love affair with Clearwater Bay, boats, fish, crabs, ect. My Dad
liked it too but never was a really good sailor, but he loved for me to take him riding, scalloping or

 Now we had an alley between Mrs. Works house and ours that led strait back to Mr. Coachman’s five
unit rental garages and those people who rented the garages really interested me. One was a nice man who
lived a few doors south a Mr. Wright. He whistled all the time, constantly.
 Then there was quite a fat short man who wore a black chauffeur’s suit with brass buttons, leather gloves
and what I thought at the time was a policeman’s hat! He and his wife lived in the Grey Moss Inn about
ten months of the year. Their name was Wills.

 He would walk over every morning, pretty early, always out of breath, always deep red in the face. He
would unlock the big brass pad lock, and get his chamois and polish the whole car. It never needed it, then
he would take four jacks from under the wheels and most mornings after two hours of work he would go
take his wife for about a thirty minute drive. He would be back in his garage long before lunch time. Then
he would put the jack back under each corner, and oh my Lord what a fussy man!

 This one day, kid-like, I walked right in and said, “Hello Mr. Wills, whatcha doin’?” He obviously
wasn’t in the market for any company, not mine anyway. He takes me by the shoulder and puts out in the
driveway telling me I better run on home. That’s when he made a social error! He swung the doors closed
so as to discourage me, I guess. Now I don’t remember thinking too badly of him, but I just sort of
automatically walked over and snapped that big old padlock and went home for lunch. My Dad said he
just happened to hear Mr. Wills shouting about 3 o’clock, when he let him out. He wasn’t red he was

 I once heard my Mom tell some neighbor lady that she never punished Clark for something he had not
been told never to do, but she would admit that he was pretty original and so she tried to talk to me and
teach me a wide range of subjects and the right and wrong of it.

 I remember once when I was about four, I was playing on the floor and had my crayons out. I reached
over and ripped the cover from an “Etude” music book that was in a group on the shelf under the library
table. When I showed her my fine picture I had drawn, she turned it over and saw it was her “Etude”
cover. She dragged me into the bedroom and gave me a good larruping with a yard stick.

Now after thinking about it, I will say that my Mom (I love her dearly) was a real disciplinarian, and she
would do anything in the world for anybody and really was quite sentimental, but I heard her tell my Aunt
Mabel that she didn’t aim to have a spoiled rotten kid just because he had no brothers or sisters!

 Now my Dad was a very quiet unassuming fellow and I don’t think he ever spanked me. He taught me in
a really nice way! Taking me with him everywhere, letting me help him. I didn’t know it at the time but I
had a Mom and Dad that were above average for role models for me, all my life.

I must tell you about our neighbors on the south of our Oak Avenue house. We had no more than brought
our first load of stuff from the grove and were getting squared off to work at lunch time Mrs. Ella Mae
Bennett came over with a big tray. She fed us a nice bunch of soup and sandwiches. This was the
beginning of a wonderful friendship!

 A bit of argument occurred every time she and Mom got together and I don’t think they liked each other
too much for about a year. Then all of a sudden they both recognized in the other some good qualities,
thenceforth, they were the best of friends. Mrs. Ella Mae was my second Mom. The whole Bennett family
were my pals. James “Pepper” and I were playing together every minute we could. Pepper is a trifle
younger than I, we had fun.

Mrs. Bennett went and got a black girl to come help Mom. Well about one day of that and Mom sent her
home. She told Mrs. Bennett, “Why she couldn’t do anything right. I had to follow her around and do it
over.” A couple days later a new black girl come in with Mrs. Bennett. She said, “This is really a good
worker here! You just try her; you’ll like her all right.” In about Three days Mom sent her home. I didn’t
hear the conversation with Mrs. Bennett, but I’ll bet it was the end of that program.

 About then, Dad rented a little house that he had on Vine Avenue to a pair of sisters; one was a chunky
little widow with a little boy and a little girl. The other sister was as yet unmarried and let it be known she
wanted a job. Mom took her right home and hired her. Her name was Miz. Whiteoak, about forty- five,
quite then and wiry. She had a heap of freckles and the bright red hair just like Moms.

 They got along fine and people thought she must be Mom’s sister! She was a terrific worker - always
cheerful. Miz. Whiteoak stayed on the job for several years, finally her sister took her back north. As time
wore on Dad took less and less jobs and helped Mom with the house work.

My Mom having been raised with farm parents, believed in work as almost a religion, therapy or maybe
nobody understands putting up for a rainy day, like farmers of her time. The government didn’t pay
money for not planting then.

 At any rate during that few years of the Great Depression she performed nearly miracles on keeping us
clothed and fed. She had a gift for planning and managing the money that we had during those years of
total austerity. She used to tell me if anybody offers you any fish you take them, even if they ore small!
We never went hungry - not once!

 Dad had lost most of his real estate investments of the boom. The tax man got them, but he still had a
couple little houses that he managed to save. He had them rented, not for much, but a little left over after
paying the taxes. Mom had a couple hundred dollars that she had squirreled away.

 All of a sudden she found a beat up old one story house that she felt she should buy. The down payment
was small and she had it rented for about twice the monthly payment. After about a year, the renters went
back north and Dad went to work. He loved reworking an old place, he was good. In about nine weeks, it
looked like a new house. Almost immediately, Mom found a buyer who put more money down than we
had in it. In that same month she bought another! She should have been a realtor.

 Thinking back to our stay at the grove. I had a terrific hankering for an air gun. I believe the Daisy air
rifle was four dollars and some cents. Well, Dad said I could earn money by hoeing the squares around
the grapefruit trees where the harrow didn’t reach under the limbs. He said he would pay a nickel per tree
and I took the job.

 That was one hot job and a kid like I had to get a drink often or stop and eat a grapefruit or chase a
chicken. At any rate it took quite a while. The air rifle was wonderful and I was out of BB’s all the time.

 Dad was showing me how he could hit a tin can when I would throw it up in the air. I was impressed!
“Gee Dad,” I said, “You must of had an air gun when you were young.” “Oh yes,” he said, “It was made
of wood with a thin metal tube lining the barrel.” I said I didn’t think that would shoot too good. He said
“Oh yes, better than this Daisy.” He then recounted a bit of his boyhood for me which was so interesting
to me that I never forgot it.

He said, “I had that little wooden air rifle a spell and got pretty accurate with it. One day I was in our
back yard plinking everything and I looked over toward the house. My dad was sitting in the sun in a
kitchen chair tipped up against the back guard rail. He was reading his paper and smoking his clay pipe.
So I just drew a bead and shot the bowl off that pipe. He took the stem from his mouth and studied it a
minute then he saw me. He said, “Son that’s real fine shooting but don’t ever do it again!”

 He had also got in a bit of trouble with his first real rifle. A 22 caliber Quackenbush which his folks gave
him on his sixteenth birthday. It seems that a couple of his pals also had 22’s and sort of fancied their
marksmanship, so they proceeded to shoot the lightning rods from the barn roof and the grainery! Then
they gave them to the neighbor kids to make bean shooters.
Now jumping in time again.

 One of my uncles once asked me if I did much fighting. I told him some but not much. He went on to
regale me with some amazing tales about my Dad. Especially when he was running the grocery. He said
every so often one of those big Poles would get drunk and want to show off a bit. When they would grab
my Dad in a playful fashion there would be a spell when they would lift him up in the air, then try to
balance his one hundred and thirty pounds on one hand. That was a mistake! My uncle said every time
Dad climbed down so quick and quick as lightning there was a drunk Pole laying on the floor with Dad
sitting on his chest! I asked Dad about this, he said “Well you know, we were all friends and shucks a
drunk Pole is awfully clumsy and slow!”

 Dad was not very talkative and when Mom and he were together she tended to rattle on pretty
strenuously sometimes and Dad hardly said a word ever. I told Dad that I had observed this and wondered
why he didn’t get into the act. He said, “Well, gosh, that’s pretty hard to do! Anyhow, she’s about already
said it all!”

 Well like I said Dad was a very quiet easy going fellow but not one to evade an issue when the chip were
down. He almost always backed Mom up in her arguments and any ruckus she got into and was always
considerate and solicitous of her plans, problems and the like; and mom reciprocated in kind. As I said, it
was a champion love story!

 Now Mom was sometimes not quite understood during her early years in the south. With her red hair and
busy Dam Yankee way of speaking! It all fell a bit harshly on the ears of the southerners who at that time
were mostly born and raised in the shadow of the good old Anti Bellum days. They spent extra minutes
tipping their hats and inquiring over health, complimenting their dress, and explaining the weather.

 All of this, Mom didn’t understand. She thought it was all some kind of soft soap, and often ended the
conversation with her foot in her mouth. Later she would apologize and the stunned party would go away
sort of mumbling to themselves.

 Mom’s backbone stiffened right up whenever there was a bad deal handed to her or any of her friends.
She once bought a pair of mullet from the produce department of BB store. They had been advertised as
fresh in their Clearwater sun ad. They were pretty un-fresh! Mom rolled them back up in the paper
stomped right back to the man with the apron at BB where she got them and asked for her money back.
The man said he would not pay her money back. She hurried back home and phoned the county health
agent. He told her to meet him at the entrance of the BB in twenty minutes. Well Mom got her money
back. The BB got its meat department closed and the clerk was fired! Dad and I were astonished, but the
neighbors all cheered!

 Now I have often wondered if the ladies with red hair don’t have some attributes in common or is it just
that the few that I personally knew were pretty special to my mind. I believe their brains are quicker and
they are most all very determined and will pursue justice as they see it with verve and vitality!

 Once while visiting Mom and swinging with her in her porch swing, I asked her, “Didn’t you and Dad
ever have a real bad argument or you get mad and go back to your momma or sumpthing?” She said, “We
sure did. We almost parted company!” “Tell me about it,” I said. “Well we hadn’t been married but a
couple years or so and had just moved into our new house, which we were both pretty proud of. Now all
of our friends there in Jackson and Lioni, Michigan were dropping in to see our new house pretty
regularly. So I was trying to keep the house real nice. Now your Dad stayed home and read his newspaper
and rested on Sundays, but I belonged to several women’s groups and was away this Sunday afternoon at
my Thim Le Club.” “When I got home Dad had left his paper on the floor beside a little chair that he sat
in by the window sill were six apple cores standing on end all lined up! Well I waited until he finished his
nap then I landed on him with both feet figuratively speaking. I told him I didn’t want any more apple
cores in my window sill nor papers all over the floor and That I had enuff to do taking care of that big
house all by myself.” “Well,” she continued, “Dad told me he figured it was all right to put a apple cores
on the sill beings he sort of owned it too!” Well in the next few minutes I guess they got really mad at
each other and were not speaking for a couple days, until finally they realized how silly they were and
made up.

 This was the house I was born in on Homewild Street or Avenue? Three days later I am hemorrhaging at
the navel and Dr. Lyons went to work on me. Finally, he said I was a bleeder and had a rare type blood
disease. He said, “I have been studying new books on blood transfusions and tho’ I have never done it, if
the father will let me, we will take it from his arm directly to the baby’s arm and that is the only blood
that will fit the problem. We had best do it or this boy is a goner!” Dad said “Hop to it Doc!” It worked
fine, I am still here, seventy three years later, so you see, I really owed my Dad a lot right from the start!

 I heard quite a lot of talk and conversation about my folk’s older kin on both sides of the family. It
happened that Mom and Dad had a common distant great great uncle who was famous in three counties
for a gigantic terrific horrible temper. Everyone who knew him had a terrible story to tell about him.
Every time anyone in the family got a bit temperamental, the others would say “All right now Jonathan!”
That would generally calm things down. Now I don’t remember if Jonathan’s name was Smith or Mills,
but no matter, he was some kind of second cousin to both Mom and Dad’s Granddad’s.

 Mom told about old Jonathan, in a rage one morning about everyone and everything, took a tremendous
kick at his cat! Well, his cat knowing him well, just arched his back and Jonathan smashed his foot into a
chest of drawers. This broke all four toes on that foot! So, did he go to the doctor? Not that obstreperous
old curmudgeon, he cut the top out of all his right shoes and his toes stuck straight up for the rest of his

 Dad’s story about Jonathan was quite picturesque even tho somewhat bucolic. It seems that when Dad
was quite a small lad, his Dad bundled him up and himself and hitched the team to the sleigh and they
having a tremendous snow and mighty cold air were heading up the road on his Dad’s business errands,
ect. Dad said just as they passed over a snowy rise, they come upon Jonathan with a team puffing hard
pulling a big sled full of poles that were to heavy for the single team! Dad, kid-like, called out “Hi” well
Jonathans reply was to fetch his team a horrible lash with his woven leather whip. The team not expecting
this reared up on their haunches and took off flying up the road snapping the harness and leaving Jonathan
screaming on the top of his poles. Dad said his Dad said “Don’t look back!” and kept right on driving!

It was sometime before I really understood this little yarn what it amounted to was the fact that most farm
people of these times had a deep love for their horses and there were some hired men who ended up face
down in a manure pile because a farmer caught them mistreating their animals.
 My Mom told about a hired man who worked for her folks, a big lumpy individual named Clarence who
Mom saw kicking their favorite old carriage horse called Old Frank that had been the kids special sweet
old pet for years. That started practically a vendetta against Clarence that he hardly knew what for. She
said as the custom then on May Day was for a girl to hang a little basket of fruit or flowers on a door knob
with a mushy card in it then knock on the door and run! Of course the boys did this on the girls’ door
knob too. The idea being it might lead to an immediate romance.

 Well Dad and Mom’s brothers put a little basket made of corn cobs and wire with some candy left over
from Christmas and a little card with a sweet little verse, onto Clarence’s door and ran out in the dark!

 Clarence read the card and took off thru the back yard hollering “I’ll catch you little darling!” Well those
boys would whistle and he would come pounding along, then one of them would throw a rock over into
the blackberry bushes, which are all thorns, you know; and Clarence would go tearing right thru the
thicket and those boys led that poor horse kicker right into every mud bog and tangle for miles around and
needless to say he never caught up with the darling! He got home hours later really scratched and messed

 Those kids plotted all kinds of mean pranks and tricks for Clarence and he seemed to be ever ready for
more. They asked him if he would give them a nickel to see the shooting stars up a coat sleeve, each
taking a turn peering up an old coat sleeve held up for them and exclaiming how wonderful it was! Finally
they told him that if he didn’t see them he would get his money back, so he agreed. When they put the
coat over his head and held up the sleeve one of them dumped a bucket of cold water down it! He came
out sputtering and shaking and quite upset. They gave him back his nickel.
 Another time they asked him if he could pick up money real fast if it was laying on the table. And they
told him they were having a contest to see who was fast. They put four or five piles of about six pennies
each around the table. Meanwhile, they had six more pennies on top of the stove getting pretty hot. They
took their chairs around the piles and the players, except Clarence, who was out in the hall being briefed,
one of them scooped the hot pennies onto a plate with a knife and dumped them at Clarence’s place, then
called him in. “All right,” they said, “hold your hands up. When I count to three start picking.” Well
Clarence was fast alright, he had such crusty calloused farmer hands that he nearly had them all in his
pocket before he realized they were pretty hot! He was pretty mad about that, but when they told him he
could have the pennies he calmed down.

 I guess I have strayed from what I was aiming to tell about. Once while in my late teens I was wondering
around the old farm and I walked down into a kind of rocky ravine in back of the granary and I spotted
several very strange looking home made machines all rammed up in a pile with vines burdocks growing
up thru them. Large wooded wheels with big spikes around. Old cultivator parts, bicycle parts and
whatnot. I asked Uncle Ed what in the world all that stuff was. He said my Dad’s Uncle Hyatt was
determined to invent a corn husking machine but after several tries he would roll them down the hill and
go down and sail his skiff for a couple days, then come home and start another.

 From all I could find out about Hyatt, he must have been a dreamer, a visionary, not too dependable for
everyday farm work and not to be trusted alone with machinery, for he would immediately start to
tinkering with it and then not be able to get it together again. This sort of put my Granddad Elon who was
my Dad’s Dad to be the head of the family.
 It fell to Elon to run the Mills farm which he did well enuff but it was well known that he was a frustrated
cabinet maker and my Dad and cousins inherited many beautiful picture frames, little lock boxes, ect.
During those cold winters Granddad would carve chains, little boxes with balls in them and all kinds of
museum type nicnacks, ect.

 Now Granddad also had another brother besides Hyatt. His name was Wyman. He ran away from home
when he was thirteen years old and tho he was discussed and sought after for long years he was not heard
from he was not heard from for thirty years! He finally wrote a letter from Nebraska informing the family
that he was well and happy and that he owned a thirteen hundred acre ranch (I hope this is right) also that
he had been too busy to write having married and now had a wife and nine boys! He gave us his address
and invited everybody in general to come visit him.

 That was about 1922 that Dad and Mom packed their suitcases and we boarded the train and had the
crookedest train ride around the United States you ever heard of! This was the year President Harding

We got to Nebraska and Uncle Wyman and his family took us right in and showed us a wonderful time.
He explained that their farm was about the smallest there was around. That some were thousands of acres

 I can remember that one of the boys was name Clark and this really kind of upset me. Two more were
Olan and Elmer who a year later visited us and stayed for quite a spell. Oh yes the town nearest their
ranch I believe was Lincoln.

 Of course, I can’t tell you too much about the generation who were my Great grand parents only a couple
little tales Dad told me. When Mom’s Granddad died while walking his team from the field with the
wagon. Dad’s Granddad happened to be walking down the road looking that way and saw him fall down,
so he just climbed over the fence and lifted him onto the wagon and drove him to his house. Mom’s Dad
and Mom came out and carried him into the house.

 After they had got their initial shock Grandpa Smith walked over to Grandpa Mills and said “Sure am
obliged to you for fetching him in and helping us with him!” And Dad said, GRANDPA Mills said, “Aw
shucks don’t mention it George! Someone’d do the same for me, by heck or I’ll raise an awful stink!”

 I seem to know more about my Dad’s folks than my Mom’s. I was in my Daddy’s arms when he showed
me Granddad in his coffin when we buried him, all I can remember was that he sure had stubby little
sawed-off fingers on big old wide hands. I have since realized that I have very similar hands.

 My Mom’s Mother lost her first husband who died leaving her with a daughter, my Aunt Minnie, she
latter married Mom’s Dad and they had Mom and her two brothers, Claude and Russell.

Mom was always showing me an old scarf or dish or some silver spoons or something given her by her
Aunt Lottie Pickell who lived in Detroit, She died long before I was born.

She told me when she was a very small girl she had scarlet fever and nearly died. She said the doctor
said, “Well she has damaged her heart and isn’t going to live long, if she does she’ll not amount to much.”

 She said one of her uncles bought a whole stalk of bananas and told her to eat all of them she could! She
said they healed her up absolutely!

 Mom always loved music of all kinds; she told me that the long siege with scarlet fever left her unable to
sing. In her younger days everyone had reed organs in their parlors ( the kind you pump with your feet,
you know?), and she learned to play that and when she got older and went to what she called normal
school, which she explained was about the same as high school. She took music and when she graduated
she took some extra piano lessons and became a piano teacher.

 She taught a bunch of kids in her part of town whose folks had pianos or organs. Meanwhile she had a
deal with a bunch of older woman who were expert knitters who made bunches of sweaters, caps, mittens,
scarves and socks. She carried a grass bag of samples with her at all times and wrote up orders for these
knit goods. In about two and a half years she had extended her savings to the point where she could
purchase a very beautiful upright piano, which was her pride and joy all the rest of her life.

She then gave lessons monthly at home and during my life with her I don’t think a day passed that she
didn’t play for about an hour before getting dinner at night.

 She also had a beautiful old round bottomed mandolin, that I coaxed her to play some. She told me that
when she was young she belonged to a mandolin club of some five or six other girls who met certain
evenings and had fun!

I must tell about the Leoni school in my folks earlier school days. It was one large room with benches. It
had sort of a bell steeple that had the entrance hall below with store on one side and closets on the other.
The bell rope hung down in the middle through a hole in the ceiling just higher than a tall man’s head.
They had outdoor toilets common in that time. The school was also the church on Sundays.

 Now right over the fence from the schoolyard was an apple orchard with marvelous looking apples just
inches out of reach, these were tantalizing the kids dreadfully! The problem being, a crotchety sort of old
lady owned them, who had put a huge ill natured ram in the orchard. He just sort of walked along the
fence like he was patrolling. Every time the kids got close to the fence, there he was glaring at them
pawing the ground and shaking his head. Well, Mom told me this was just like a challenge to Dad and he
walked along the fence from one end to the other laying his plan. Finally he spotted a big old stump about
three feet high. He went over to one of the girls and talked her into loaning him her red apron and
matching bonnet, then he told the gang to walk down to the other end of the fence to attract the ram’s
attention. This all worked out, and Dad shinnied over the fence and had the stump dressed in red in record
time. When the kids saw him climb back over the fence they all ran down to his end, so did the ram!
When he saw that kid in red in his orchard he put his head down and opened his throttle, Mom said it
sounded like a train wreck. He crashed into it so hard he just sort of bounced. He landed sitting on his
haunches until his eyes sort of closed for a minute or so, then he slowly got up and went home. Mom said
she hoped it didn’t hurt him too bad, but the apples were grand!

This was pretty mean sounding and I asked Dad about it, he said nah, hardly hurt the stump at all!
 Then Dad told about his bunch and some of their school fun. They had a tall old man who was sort of a
small town type, who couldn’t quite make sheriff and wasn’t quite good enough to teach or be a preacher,
who had managed to get the job of janitor of the building. Also was the sort of usher on Sundays and
really had an air of importance about him, with his big ring of keys and everything.

The boys would skip into the vestry and toll the bell rope a couple of lusty pulls then run out the door and
hide. This would bring the janitor flying out the door in a rage, of course he never could catch them. This
was great fun! So one of the gang had an idea to embellish the prank.

 They all came back one evening after the janitor had locked up and gone home. This one lad brought a
large spool of black harness thread; he shinnied up a tree in back of the building and crept up onto the
ridge and ran right up to the bell cupola or steeple or dog house whatever you want to call it. He reached
in and tied the end of his thread to the bell clapper and carefully led it back down the ridge to the same
tree bringing it down and over into a thicket they found they could ring the bell from there very well
without being seen. Dad said that the rest of the week the old gent was kind of wild running full tilt in all
directions finally standing in the vestry with his mouth hanging open at the knotted bell rope dancing up
and down by itself!

It sounded to me like youngins in those days were somewhat devilish! Dad said, “Oh no, just bored.”

To get back to my Mom when I was quite young, as I have said quite a few things would incite her wrath,
mostly me! Back in Clearwater again, she looked at me one evening and said my your teeth look nice.
You must be brushing them real good. I guess I hated to lie to her so I just sort of mumbled something.
Anyway a few days later she came up on me and my buddy digging tar from between the curbing and the
paving and we were all chewing a tremendous face fulls! She really had a fantod, jerked me right to the
house and had me brush my teeth. That’s not sanitary! Don’t do that anymore. Well after a bit she figured
out what made a fellers teeth nice and white!

 Mom used to send me to school in nice clean pants and blouse and sweater, looking pretty neat, but after
I’d get down to Jones Street I’d drop down to the bay shore and take the long and at high tide, muddy
route! This went on a few weeks, until one day my first grade teacher Mrs. Lillian Bigger handed me an
envelope and asked me to take it straight home to my Mom. I did, well, I found shortly after, it was a very
polite letter asking my Mom if she couldn’t possibly try to send Clark to school a little bit cleaner?

Wow! Talk about redhead repercussions she had her clothes changed and was pounding her way up to
North Ward now!

After she and Mrs. Bigger talked she came home and called me and I got some terrific absolutes
delivered in no uncertain terms! If I got off of the sidewalk going to or from school I would feel her

 One day the tall girl to the south of us got mad at me and grabbed up a two by two six foot long and took
after me, she caught up with me when I turned down the driveway and every other step she put a lump on
my head, one of which bled right down my nose! I was yelling and my Mom saw the whole thing.

She was really enraged, after she got me washed off and stopped me from bawling she walked across the
back yard and had a talk with the girls mother. She said, “Now if you don’t stop that girl of yours from
beating on Clark, I will tell him to defend himself! Even though I have taught him never to hit girls, she is
much larger and considerably older than he is!” The lady said, “Oh my don’t do that, she didn’t mean any
harm! He’s such a funny looking little ol boy you know.”
Well my Mom told me I’d do well not to go on their yard at all, she never had much time for those people
ever after.

 Some really good times that I remember in the early twenty’s, was when my Mom took me to the capitol
theater to see a movie, they were silent then with a lady down front playing the piano for background
music and every fifteen or twenty minutes they had to turn on the lights and rewind the film. The pictures
I liked best were: Charlie Chaplin, Ben Turpin, Harold Lloyd, and those old comedians.

Mom said I would laugh so hard and loud that everybody in the theater was looking at she and I instead
of the picture. She said she was real embarrassed!

 Now in those days pretty nearly everybody in this part of the county came to town Saturday nights, they
came in old model cars mostly open touring cars and mostly Fords. They came in horse and buggies, and
lots came in big old farm wagons pulled by horses or sometimes mules.

There were not many streets in Clearwater at that time (early 20’s) that were more than six or eight
blocks of very good paving most of the secondary streets were oyster shells or just graded up dirt.

These Saturday night gatherings were just as much a sociable event as they were a shopping necessity.
People parked their cars and rigs all up and down Cleveland Street, Garden Avenue, Fort Harrison
Avenue and sometimes a ways up and down Osceola Avenue.

 The kids started bunching up early in the evening and it seems I remember hundreds of them (Well you
can see how the town has grown in the last sixty years! All those people are not tourist!) The different
bunch of kids tore up one side of the street then down the other, dropping in at different stores that had
candy counters. It took really a lot of shopping to decide how to spend that nickel!

 There were nice wooden benches all up and down Cleveland Street and the families wondered along and
every little way they would stop and sit down and visit for a few minutes then in between shop a little,
they would cover the whole town most of them not wanting the visiting to stop.

 We had more stores, grocery, clothing, druggist, and hardware then we do now. They were all very good
dependable people. There was no such thing as a chain store at that time.

 On Sundays about everyone went to Sunday school or church or both. My Mom tried to have a little a
little fancier lunch on Sundays than other days. I was kept at home and after lunch we all took a nap. I
hated that! (then, I love it now.) We would have light dinner and then about six o’clock we would go
down to the city park and hope we would get a seat on one of the benches in front of the bandstand.

Clearwater had a good band then and I think it was directed by Dr. Craven. I am not sure but in later
years it was Professor Rocco Grello.
 Once when I was about four years when we got seated this particular Sunday evening, I was sitting
between my Mom and Dad. We were about in the center of the audience right away I found there was
about a one inch pipe sticking straight up right in front of me just about the height of my knees. It had a
strange looking fitting on top, and on the side was a big lever about six inches long. Mom kept saying,
“Don’t touch that!” Well I didn’t exactly, but about an hour later I put my foot on it and oh my! It turned
out to be the world’s biggest sprinkler and it wet the heck out of everybody within fifty feet of us, talk
about squalling and exclamation! Such a scramble! I sat trying to shut it off! I nearly got drowned, I
finally got it turned off, by then I realized the immensity of my sin, and I blubbered. “The band kept right
on playing!” This cracked everybody up and they all started laughing at me which made me more
uncomfortable. Dad said, “That’s O.K. boy, you stayed and shut her down anyhow.”

 I sure wish I had written down some of my Dads remarks; he had sort of a quiet humor, very dry, almost
always. I didn’t always get the joke immediately.

 Mom told me that Dad was a very clean, neat and quite fancy dresser in his younger days. He and his
buddies did all kind of silly pranks for several years usually aimed at some overbearing person who they
thought deserved it.

 Mom said that once during their earlier married life they were living in Jackson, Michigan, they had an
older lady down the block who had three Manx cats, you know; they have no tails and have sharp little
lynx like ears. Now these cats were allowed to come down to Mom and Dad’s front yard and fertilize it
every morning quite early, like clockwork. Now Mom and Dad got tired of walking in the mess.

 The next day Dad was waiting for them, he had a brown paper sack on the chair by the stove, he took
three big chunks of sealing wax about the same color brown as the cats, and he and three nice big cat tails
he had swiped from the park, you guessed it. He sent those three cats home proudly sporting nice new
tails that they had never had before! Mom said the neighbors were hilarious, but the old lady asked
everybody on that side of town who done that!? No one would tell! Everyone knew!

 After the folks moved into their new house there in Jackson, Mom said she woke up one night and
happened to look across the room and see a man’s silhouette in the window, he was standing there with
his ear up against the screen. Mom said she quietly put her hand over Dad’s face to muffle a startled
awakening and whispered in his ear. He real slowly and silently tippee- toed over to the window put his
mouth down next to the guy’s ear and shouted BOOOOO! She said he disappeared like smoke, right

 Dad bought a small lot out on Gillettes Lake just about half way from Jackson out towards Leoni Village.
He and Mom wanted a cottage, so they proceeded to build one. It had one large room that was the kitchen,
dining room and living room with a large screen porch on the lake side and two bedrooms one on each
side of the kitchen. Dad had used a good bit of used doors and windows, ect. On the lakeside where the
porch was, they had an old store window installed in what Florida people call a bay front window. This
must be told this one more time as one of the memorable things that happened to Dad and Mom and I. I
was about four and we had come back to Michigan to see about a bit of unfinished business and see our
folks for a month or so. We still owned the lake cottage, so that’s where we made headquarters.

Now I don’t think they have summer storms as often there as we do in Florida, but this day we were
having a good one. The wind and rain had us all indoors and the thunder and lightning had me hanging
onto my Mom’s hand. We were all standing in front of the big window looking out thru the porch at the
lake. All of a sudden there was a tremendous explosion like dynamite and we all stood there just stunned
for an instant. An enormous charge of lightning had struck all about us simultaneously two or three
boards in the floor flew up right thru the linoleum, one of them scraped the back of Dad’s leg taking the
skin off for about eight or nine inches of the calf! Almost instantly, Mom let out a yell and sat right plunk
down on the floor and jerked her shoes off the Dad did the same thing! They sat there looking at their
shoes and rubbing their feet. I had just happened to see a ball of molten metal, at least that’s what it
looked like. It drifted thru the doorway of the bedroom, made a small circle and went back in there. I was
absolutely silent. I couldn’t say anything. Mom and Dad’s shoes lay there on the floor smoking and
started curling up!

 Now this whole epistle is so bizarre that it needs a little further explanation and clarification. I was
standing a bit to one side and a little in back of them the whole floor blowing didn’t touch or harm me in
any way. The sight of my parents leaping about and then sitting on the floor, along with everything else
that happened just shocked me to a point of absolute immobility and silence.

The shoes were hot because the metal arch supports and cobbler’s nails drew part of the electricity. Each
of Dad’s shoes had dozens of little one quarter inch long cuts all over them. The bright molten ball that
only I saw, I found out, years later, was Saint Elmo’s fire.

 About then some neighbors ran over and said the house was on fire, Dad ran into the bedroom and found
a smoldering mattress on the bed, the springs had gotten red hot! That lightning bolt left tracks all over
our cottage! Two sides of our screen porch had streaks of melted screen wire where the charge had run
down a stream of rain! About twenty feet from the porch was a tree with about one and one half foot
diameter trunk. It had split from top to bottom and down on the ground was a groove that looked like a
plow furrow running straight over and under the house.

 We kept those ruined shoes for many years, bringing them out when we were recounting the experience
to company, finally they got so mildewed that Dad threw them out.

 We sold that cottage that summer. I believe, but we had a stay with Aunt Minnie two different summers.
She rented a cottage a half mile down the shore. Gillettes Lake is a real pretty place. If you caught a fish
as big as your hand, you got your picture in the paper!

The last I visited the old Mills farm there in Jackson County, I was sitting in the back yard visiting with
my cousins Margaret and Ralph Cain. We were in the shade of a couple immense trees. I asked Ralph
what kind of trees they were. He said “These are Hackberry trees. When Granddad Elon was in the Civil
War, he mailed a few seeds to his mother. He mailed them from Mississippi and when she read the name
Hackberry she thought she was planting berry bushes! They are about three feet thru the trunk and have
no berries!”

 Ralph, or someone, maybe my Dad, once told me the story was that when Elon got mustered out of the
army and came home, he slept out in his front yard with a walnut tree root for a pillow. He just couldn’t
sleep in a bed.
 Now to interrupt this train of marching memorabilia, I have mentioned when Mom and Dad and I lived at
the grove out on Hercules (as it is now called). Dad used to carry milk and stuff to a few customers and
also take me to school and along the way pick up a girl and give her a lift to school, also bring her home
when he came after me at about four o’clock. Well now one day I got to teasing this girl and about the
third time she hollered, “Stop that!” He stopped the car and instructed me to walk the rest of the way
home! And drove off leaving me about a three mile hike.

 I didn’t mind the walk, but I realized that I had displeased my Dad mightily and by the time I got home
Ifelt pretty bad about it. Now what brought this all back to mind was that last night April 30, 1988 my
wife and I attended my 55th high school reunion, and this girls name was mentioned, I tried to see her but
the crowd was too big and I failed to catch her. I figure I better apologize to her about 66 years late? She
probably is still mad at me! But what the heck, better late than never.

 Well folks I believe this is quite enough of this poor attempt and so I will just close by saying I sure hope
some of Berny and Mertle’s genes rise somewhere down the line as I am pretty proud of them and the
decent lives they’ve led.

                                             Mertle and Bernie
Bernice Morse Mills
Bernie in Michigan grocery store
Clark in his Sunday go to meeting suit
                                      My Learning Years

 I would stand on my head and say that Clearwater, Florida, back when I was a kid was unequivocally the
best little town to grow up in that there could possibly be in the whole land!

 The things I remember most fondly were my ever growing circle of adult friends. Let me explain. As I
grew older, I ranged farther and farther till I am afraid if my Mom had known how far I had ventured on
little teeny bike, she would have had a conniption fit!

 Now when we lived on Osceola Avenue right across from the library, I used to see John Davy, who lived
just three houses south. I’d scoot over there and holler “Hi Mr. Davy, whatcha’doin?” He’d say, Well
hello Clarky. Come sit down, I’m not sure what I am doing yet. What are you up to?” So on trivia, ect.
Most enjoyable, we were friends, that’s all! Then just to the north of us was Mr. Gregory who used to
show us kids magic tricks! Oh my.

 Further north on the corner of Jones Street and Osceola Avenue was Mr. Suttle’s family. He was a very
important man in my life. My folks bought a goodly bunch of our groceries at his store around on Garden
Avenue. I kept my eye peeled for the nice white pine cartons that a lot of things came in then. They were
my favorite stuff for whittling and building things! What a nice man!

I made many trips to town with my folks and very early on learned where all the stores were and how to
get their trash boxes. You see, my Dad was real good about letting me use his tools. I remember when we
first moved to this house and Mom and Dad were fixing and painting and all. This one day, Mom was in
the front yard visiting with Mrs. Coachman. She thought I was taking my nap. I wasn’t. I wandered out
the screened in back porch and I spotted about a three lb. Paper bag that I found to be full of 6 penny
common nails. Right beside them was a hammer! So I sat right down in the middle of the floor and went
to work. Well by the time my Mom found me, I had most of them driven in pretty good! My Mom was
enraged and about to foam at the mouth. My Dad said, “Shucks he done right good! Anybody bends some
once in a while, how you expect a feller to learn to nail?”

 I can’t remember when my Dad wasn’t tinkering on something or rigging something in the garage. He
could fish around in the junk pile and come up with some dandy things. And our junk pile kept growing
because I kept raiding the trash bins and begging odd bits of stuff from my garage and filling station

 On the corner of Drew Street and N. Ft. Harrison Ave., which was just a block from us was George
Frost’s filling station and tire store. In his front room by his cash register, he had the most wonderful
candy counter. George must have really liked kids because the time it took to sell three little kids three
cents worth of candy was something I tell you!

 One thing I dearly loved as a little kid with my Dad and later by myself was a trip to the hardware stores.
At that time all of them were pretty first class with high grade tools and cooking equipment and farming
equipment also.
 The first hardware store I remember Dad and I going to was on the southwest corner of Cleveland and Ft.
Harrison, Whitsells Hardware Co. I can remember they had a big old grind stone with pedals on it. It was
part of the stock but I was determined to run that thing! I think my Dad was about ready to get mad with
me! They knew me at Whitsell’s from then on! That was Henry Clayton Whitsell’s granddad that had that
store. I never saw Henry’s Dad, Gus Whitsell working in there. I heard that he did tho.

Less than a block north was Smith’s Hardware. A very nice store run by very nice hardworking people
who I knew pretty well because they went to our church.

 Then about the same distance east, less actually. The next door east over the Bank of Clearwater. There
was the West Coast Hardware Co. Owned by the Rathbaum family who I somehow have known nearly all
my life. The son Bill took over the store later, was in school with me. All of those stores were really fine
and the people were always obliging to a little kid with a problem.

 Before I forget to set it down, I had a few good Black buddies too. I can’t remember for sure, but I think
it was a black garbage truck driver who came around and saw me scrubbing my mangy puppy with tar
soap. He said, “You jes’ gits you some dirty ol grease out of a freight car wheel box. Mix it with sulphur.
About every three days plaster her!” That fellow knew his mange cure OK. The dog got well and turned
out beautiful!

 Now I am not trying to say that everybody I came to befriended me. No indeed. There are always a few
people who cannot take a minute for a kid. Well I’ll admit sometimes I wasn’t no charmer my own self! I
soon learned some places not to mess around. I think a few little events caused a complaint or two to my
Mom and that generally went hard on one end of me!
 But to get back to my appreciation of the amiable elders that I really remember. I have to sort of let the
calendar spin back and forth a little.

 As the years passed, I met more kindred souls, or should I say role models. These people that I have liked
so much. I can only hope I served a little part as well for some kid as they did for me.

 Whitsell Hardware moved then back a block west of their original location. Henry Whitsell, Gus’ son
was in charge. Gus was into the grove business then. About the time I graduated from high school, Henry
gave me some kind of verbal thrashing about getting to it before my brain ossified. He didn’t know it
already was pretty hard! So I took an International Correspondence School course for the next three years.
I guess I am glad I did, I think--- Anyway Henry was one that our sailing bunch could always get an ear
when we needed it. Pretty nice I tell you! Not any of our fellows will forget him.

 Our two banks in the early days were the Bank of Clearwater and the Peoples Bank. They were just
across the street from each other at Cleveland and Ft. Harrison Avenue. When I became a teenager at
some point it was obvious that we boat minded fellows had friends in both banks. I came to know A.
Waller Smith at a very early age. He was very helpful to myself and to many hundreds of other young
people of Clearwater. He became the president of the Bank of Clearwater when I was about fifteen years
old, at nearly the same time Taver Bayley was made Presidents Bank. Taver was a civic minded man all
his life. He was another who would go to all kinds of trouble to help a kid or anybody else that needed it.
 Both of these fellows are gone but not be forgotten!

 Comes to mind I should mention that by the time I got to high school, that I was perhaps more interested
in some things than some others that I should have been bearing down on! Now I will say at that time the
teachers in my entire education were excellent! From first to last, but let’s face it, you can’t put a gallon in
a pint jar! I think I was probably a very poor student by any measure.

 But by the time I got to high school I began to realize that the school not only was exceptional but the
teachers were going for the jugular vein! They were great. Myself being sort of immature, I kind of
missed some pretty good stuff, like History and English Literature. It was years before I realized that!
However, I gave the ones I did like a real going at.

 We had a couple teachers who really stunned me. Ms. Lois Morse of the Biology and Zoology
Department, her sister Ms. Marguerite Morse of the Chemistry and Physics Department. They were a
couple of charismatic, dedicated educators!

 I sort of gravitated towards our printing class that was taught by Mr. Alfred Meadows. He was a Harvard
graduate and a super bright instructor.

 I don’t know how many large groups of boys or how many classes he had each day but they printed a
school newspaper the Chatter. I don’t remember if it was weekly or not, must have been, the press ran all
the time! He had one Intertype machine and one Linotype and two job presses for hand bills, stationary,
cards, ect. Well after I dropped one of the iron frames that had all the type locked in place, on the floor
and then about the third time I got my hand mashed in the job press, Mr. Meadows was starting to cast
some strange looks at me. Then after I made a linoleum cut of a desert scene for Christmas cards and I
printed five hundred of them with the greeting of Merry Christmas spelled wrong, that done it! It took him
years to forgive me.

 Another teacher who I think had a lot of impact on several young fellows was professor N. M. Faulds. He
had three sons and three daughters. I knew them pretty well before I went to high school. I used to go over
to their place to swim in a pond in back of their grove. I got to know the two older boys as well.

 Now Prof. Was the principal of Clearwater Jr. High School. He was, I understand, also heading up the
architects and engineers during the school construction. Also he must have had some say about the way
the money was handled. What happened was that the big Florida land boom was in full swing when the
school was planned. Money was easy and vastly inflated and the Board of Regents and Prof. Faulds had
the money for this school all appropriated and sitting in their bank account ready to take bids on the
construction. Well, about the same year the foundations were poured, the boom busted and everybody
else’s fast money disappeared! Well Prof., being head of this group was able to build a considerable
fancier school than originally planned; in fact, he was able to execute a life long dream. He got known as
the first one to plan a completely practical vocational school for high school level! That is, in the USA, of

 The school was about a year old when my group got there. It was certainly a marvelous layout for a town
of our small size. Cooking classes with real stoves and sinks and such. Sewing classes that had rows of
good sewing machines and a lady teacher who really knew her stuff. A large science room in junior high
and another in senior high. Manual training, from hand tools through proper use of power tools, a
machine shop with very nice equipment, a drafting room with all modern day light planning. There was
also a chemistry laboratory and a biology laboratory then too there was a very professional acting and
stage set-up with large stage and seats for audiences and a slanting floor. All this seemed quite large at the
time but probably was pretty small by today’s standards. At any rate, it was all carefully planned and of
the best quality and I have to say those good teachers sent a myriad of young people out into the
establishment and most of them owed any success they might have had through the years to those good

 In the late twenty’s the depression screwed right down tight on all of us. I remember the teachers at our
school were told that there was not enough money and they would have to take part of their pay in script!
They were told they could take the scripts to a certain group of merchants and it would serve as money!
Needless to say, this was a pretty sad fix and caused considerable dissention. It lasted for some time.

 At this time, Prof. Faulds was inventing a rotary citrus juice extractor. It was a pretty high tech machine
at that date. He had every boy in his drafting classes and shop classes who showed him any competency
working on this project. I got to sand wood patterns. All involved loved it, nobody cared everybody knew
that Prof. had a big family and they were not hardly paying him anything! After all the years he slaved!

 Now Prof. Would not waste time on a kid who did not put his nose to the wheel! He picked out the eager
ones early in the game and concentrated on them. Those that he found to have a bit of special drafting
talent or mechanical ability, he took them right under his wing and gave them a real thorough workout.
Giving each of us some modes and methods that could be built on as we went along.

One day he said to me, “Get your lunch and go out in the street we are going on a bus ride.” Well, he had
two school bus loads of boys and we went to Tarpon Springs to where Prof. introduced us to a man in a
boat yard and explained to us, “This man is a foundry man and he will show you how he makes cast iron
or bronze or aluminum castings.” Well, I had heard the word castings but I had no idea what they were.
This was a great day of solid enlightenment! We had many of such with Prof. N.M. Faulds!

I followed carpentry for a couple years after I left school. I didn’t mind the work too much, but I think
my heart was all with the boats and I slowly ended up there pretty steady like, but I guess no richer,
perhaps happier tho’.

 Thinking back on my working life I think I used some of Prof’s teaching nearly once a week at least. I
always wished he had taught a boat building class!

 At the time my group and I were attending the now no longer existing Clearwater Jr. and Sr. High School
that was on Greenwood Avenue, a block north of Cleveland as I guess you say Main Street. I was
delivering a paper route for the Clearwater Sun. It was then an evening paper. We carrier boys would lean
on bikes against the wall in the back alley of the Sun printing building at the corner of Jones Street and
Garden Avenue and we would wait for the papers to come off the press. As you know, a group of fifteen
to nineteen year old young fellows with no adult supervision can get awfully rough, and we generally did.
The highlight of the day was the introduction of a new carrier to the ranks. It was customary for a group to
grab him, throw him down, pull his pants off and paint his nether portions with paste that they used inside
for making the bail away bundles and if he fought too hard or complained too much, they would add a
coat of printed ink to it! Very few escaped this inaugural exercise.

 There were a continuous round of tall tales with some one demonstrating a feat of strength every so often
like jerking a rain spout down or punching a hole through the plaster with their fist! Occasionally we were
treated to a dandy show of bare fist, bar room type fisticuffs!

 I stayed a carrier until I was a year out of high school. About this time, the depression was really getting
serious and there seemed to be no money, no work, no hope. A lot of the young fellows coming out of
high school just a grade or so ahead of me went into the Civilian Conservation Corps, otherwise known as
the C.C.C. Everyone I ever talked to said it was the greatest time they ever had. They didn’t make much
money but they were furnished their clothes, a place to live and sleep, ect. And they ate really well
compared to what most of them were used to. All of those boys were taught useful skills: truck driving,
motor repair, concrete work, how to do simple surveys and lay out simple bridges and design and build
concrete forms, how to plant forest and many other valuable things. I wish they had never stopped the
program! I always felt a bit envious of those guys, It was a bit like the army, but a little more lenient, I

 Along about 1928 or so we moved back into town from the grove as I have already written about the big
job of renovating the old house at 400 Oak Avenue (it is no longer there. Torn down to make way for a
parking lot for the new Court House).

 My Dad and I were really beating the bushes for a bit of work and almost every summer I helped him
with this roofing job or that paint job or whatever we could get. We took some terrible jobs. I don’t
remember the depression years bothering me very much. I thought we were supposed to eat peanut butter
and day old bread.
 I used to hang around the city pier a lot, mostly to look at those boats! I would show up down there late
in the afternoon and sit around listening to my friend Clay Kyle regale me with sea stories. Oh they were
fine! Then when the “Fleur De Li” came in with her crew of seasick customers they most thankfully
crawled ashore and left fish and all forever. Capt. Van Sweringen would say, “Curly (my younger days
name), you boys come get these fish out of this box and divide them up then hose her out if you will.”
Well Clay and I and a couple black boys got right down there with our stringers and got them divided up.
I told John Van Sweringen, the Captain’s son, that he and his Dad sort of kept me in good at my house all
through the depression. My Mom used to say, “See if you can get some fish, even if they are little ones, I
got grease!”

 Oh yes it was a grand Depression! I guess I am an unperceptive clod, I never really noticed it! About the
time I graduated from high school, Mr. Kamensky stopped by and asked me if I would like to go with him
on the schooner “Haligonain.” It turned out he had signed up J. Frank Booth an old hunting buddy of his
and Dave Kirkconnell who was from the Cayman Islands. Also Donny Cochran (now Dr. Cochran,
retired) and Marion Ruff. Along with previous owner Houston Wahl and his friend Bobby Davis. Well
after a lengthy discussion with my folks, I had parental permission and the sailing practice was planned!
 All this was getting ready for the St. Pete to Havana Yacht Race. Oh yes, this was all leading up to some
learning alright! After every weekend a couple practice races up and down Tampa Bay. The big day
arrived. We went to Habana! What a misery. If it hadn’t been for Louis McCormick (a black man) who
was shipped as cook, I would have perished. My problem was that nobody knew to tell me to get some
foul weather gear. So I was wet all the way to Cuba and back! Louis fed me every fifteen minutes, bless
him! Fried chicken, corn muffins, hot dogs… Well it seems that this seemed to offend certain members of
the crew who were queasy or sumpin’. I seemed to be one of the few on duty, the sea sick roster got
bigger and sicker as we left Eggmont. I sure ate good tho’, God! I was cold.

 I learned if you plan to go yacht racing offshore, you should have fowl weather gear and that is an
excepted fact by all who have been there! The next year, Mr. Kamensky asked me if I am ready to go to
Cuba again. So I tell him yes. I am about to tell you what else I learned. I am on my customary visit to the
city pier and I find Clay Kyle setting there swinging his legs as usual! I immediately tell him I got to get
some oil skins so I can go on a sea trip. Now Clay was always full of a lot of information and he said,
“Hell man! You ain’t got to buy no oilers! I’ll tell you how to make them! All you got to do is get some
plain old muslin and sew you up a suit. You can run a sewing machine can’t you? No? Well get your Ma
to do it then. Then you lay it out on some grass or boards and take a mixture of ½ spar varnish to ½ raw
linseed oil and soak that suit up. Then hang it on a clothes line and in about 24 hours you have the best
oilskins you ever saw.”

 My Mom using an oversized pair of pajamas for a pattern sewed me up the suit. I thought I had designed
a sou’ wester hat, but it turned out like a melted down fireman’s hat! After hanging on the line all one day
and all one night, I felt of it and thought it ok. I gathered it up and tossed it into an old chair in the garage.
The next morning I was going to show it to my Dad. It was pretty stuck together. After a real pull type
fight, I got it straightened out. My Dad said, “I think that varnish was too old and you had too much
linseed oil in the mix. So I rinsed the suit with mineral spirits and when it dried I started over with new
varnish and very little oil. Eureka! They were fine. So I thought I’ll get some painter’s whiting and
powder them good so they won’t stick no more.
 So when the day of the second race (for me) began, I duck below and unroll my new foul weather gear
and put it right on, yes sir! It was a wet beat out of the bay and I was dry! Hooray! Well the trip
progresses in about the same sea sick fashion as it did the previous year. I seemed to be greatly in
demand. It was pretty rough and I was too busy to get sick!

 After a long night, I was congratulating myself on having nice dry oilers and being well fed. I was
comfortable, if tired. Come day light the sun came out. The wind howled so we could point better and as
things warmed up so did my foul weather gear! As the day wore on, it got stickier and stickier! I had
chewing gum wrappers, hair, lint, feathers, odd bits of rope and paper as well as an assortment of
matches, toothpicks, and small tools all stuck to me one place or another! The older members of the crew
dissolved in gales of mirth, but Marion Ruff and Donny said I stunk and that’s what made them sick! Ah
well, a fellow has certain complications all his life, all of which teach him something.

 Now that I seem to have got on the boating subject, I must write a bit about an old friend of my early
childhood. I first met Capt. John Weeks down at Mr. Kamensky’s little dock. This was back in the
twenty’s, before we moved to the grove. Capt. John had Mr. Kamensky’s power boat “Elena”. About a 30
foot round bilged displacement type boat. He had her blocked up on a high tide and he was fitting squat
boards and the stern quarters and Mr. K having introduced me to Capt. John. I asked him some kid
question and he sort of growled like a dog and invited me to get out of his way! Well he was bigger than
me so….

 A few years passed, we had moved from the grove to Oak Avenue corner of Haven Street. Beginning my
own yachting career at haven street dock. Having a fiscal problem I sort of cast about for means and
methods after taking a ride with a couple old gents who let me row my tail sore with some logy old skiff
full of barnacles and such I one day came upon a brand new idea.

 While walking home from school one day, I happened to walk down the railroad track for a couple or
three blocks, in the ditches on each side were layers of sticks, they were about one half thick about one
inch wide and eight feet long. They were nearly all muddy. I took my knife and cut a shaving off of one, it
was nice cypress! Well in no time at all, I had me a little canvas double end kayak about seven and a half
feet long. I guess as boat designing goes, Hershoff never had one better as far as pleasure for dollar spent
that is.

 This pretty day I am paddling my new boat down by the Magnolia Street dock in Harbor Oaks and just a
bit further I see this fellow with a launch tied up beside a barge about twenty five feet long. I sort of eased
up closer so I could see what he was doing. It was Capt. John. He was putting a cabin on this launch. I
said, “Hi Capt. John. How are you?” He just growled so after an hour or so, I went home. The next day I
went back. Repeat performance. Now what he was doing was mighty entrancing to me, I wanted to do it!
Well about the fourth day of kibitzing, Capt. John stopped to light a big old charred odoriferous pipe. I
don’t know what he was burning in that pipe but one gust from it would have made a buzzard fly
backwards and any skunks within miles would have committed suicide! All of a sudden he said, “Who
made that boat boy?” “I did”, I answered. He said, “Come over here let me look in it!” I came zooming in
and he took a hold to fend me off. He tapped the sides with a gnarly callous finger. “Well that’s a gol darn
neat job, but you best watch them oysters!”

That was the beginning of a good many years of friendship. And I learned an awfully fine lot of things
from Capt. John. Some of his methods of boat building were not standard but anyone who hired him to do
a job really got their moneys worth! I will say for a fellow with no power tools, Capt. John could get out a
boat mighty quickly and good too.

 Capt. John had been married to Mr. Kamensky’s sister in his younger days. He spent his youth sailing
freight schooners up and down the gulf. Key West to New Orleans, there was three of them. Two that I
can remember were “Amelia” and “Eagle” and the third one I have forgotten, tho’ he often told me. After
steam came in, he came ashore and at some point his wife died and I guess life was never too good again.

 He lived in a house boat just south of Jeffords Street. His friend Bob Jones had another house boat right
close by. They did a little stone crabbing and Capt. John took odd jobs at Brumby’s Marine Ways.
Occasionally as progress squeezed he and Bob, they had to move their house boats. I was called on to
help on a job or two with Capt. John Weeks and lived one hard life for an old man his age. The steady
advance of progress in the area made him move his house boat so often that he sold it and his launch and
barge and took up quarters over in a small house in south Clearwater. He had suffered from a cancer on
his face for years that he insisted on doctoring himself. It finally ate a hole in his cheek. I guess I had the
pleasure of knowing a man who aimed to shift for himself and would allow no argument about it!

 Capt. John told me some good stories about his sailing days. He said he knew a fellow down the coast, I
don’t remember exactly where, who built real good schooners and this fellow loaded his whole family on
a new schooner he had just finished and was going to sail to Key West where he always sold his boats. A
terrible squall capsized them and drowned the whole family!

Another sailing Capt. Friend of Capt. John’s was one time bringing a schooner load of equipment to
Tampa and he got caught in a hurricane. He sailed up and down the Gulf with less than a shirt tail of sail,
man that’s reefed! For three days, back and forth because it was so rough that the sea buoys at Eggmont
were pulled under water!

 So I had some interesting talks. One time I had caught a 24 ½” stone crab and I was asking he and Bob
Jones how big had they seen them. They said Bob had one that was 28”! But they didn’t do that often.

To drop back just a bit to when I first got out of high school. After I had worked a few months with the
White Bros. General contractors, my boss Roy White told me one day, “If you had a nice little tool box
with a few tools, we could try to pay you a little better.” Boy, two days latter I had the box and most of a
kit of tools too. They treated me really fine taking a bit of time to show me how to do things the way they
wanted them. Several of the older men sort of took me to raise and all in all they were really a dandy
bunch of fellows. I don’t know whether this sharing the tricks is a trend strong only amongst wood
workers or not, but it has seemed so to me. At any rate, I’ll never forget that bunch of nice old cracker
men they were cheerful, willing workers, almost all of them had a great sense of humor. When we all set
down for our lunch period, I always wished it was twice as long.

 Alex Campbell one of our steady regulars was an old timer and used to tell us how it used to be. He told
of a fellow over around Lutz I believe it was who had a matched pair of huge mules. No one around here
had any mules to equal them and he was sent for to bring his team of mules to Clearwater on the dates that
the schooner load of ice was due to be unloaded over on the beach where the dock and the ice house was
then. They would walk the team over to a barge and pole it across the bay. This one day a porpoise
breached right beside them and startled the mules. One of them fell off the barge and then the barge tipped
the other one overboard! They both drowned! I heard this story from Grandpa Beckett also, So I guess it
happened alright. Alex said the whole town was in mourning about them mules. I thought that was a
pretty sad story even tho’ interesting.

 I particularly enjoyed the running commentary among the old carpenters. They were discussing hammers,
the benefits of having a wax hole in the end of the handle to dab a little bee’s wax on a nail point before
you drive it to lubricate it. Alex said yeah we had a guy from Kentucky one season while we were
building Mrs. Whatsername’s house. We finished the house the painters came to us and said we got wet
spots and places the paint won’t dry all over the trim in this house! Well we found out that ol’ Kentuck
had a handle full of octagon soap and any time he didn’t like his joint or had a hammer mark he’d putty
her up with soap! Big trouble, but that was laughed away.

 This little history wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t have a line or two about my friend and everybody’s,
Mr. Don Cochran. I can’t remember when I didn’t know him and his family. He was a master plumber
and I think sort of a genius to go with it. At some point in my young life I was invited to have a sail with
he and a group of kids just off of the old wooden bridge. The boat, I remembered, seemed huge after
sailing my little eight and twelve foot canvas boats. It was about nineteen feet long and about six foot
beam. It had a squatty gaff headed rig.

 Don squared us off and we reached from one end of the bay to the other in no time flat. I thought the hull
was beautiful. A spell later I came by his house and was surprised to see his boat upside down in his back
yard. Don was planning the cypress planking down thinner. I asked him what he was doing. He calmly
stated, “Clarky, those fellows are whipping me in the races! I took a nail set and punched all the nails
down one quarter inch. That shows me where to stop planning.” The next time I saw the boat sailing it
had a new rig. Jib headed, no more gaff! He was in first place! That was a successful endeavor and as the
years went by, I learned that if I talked to Mr. Don Cochran about different problems, he generally would
cheerfully put me straight.

His sons Don Jr. and Jim Cochran were both expert sailors and still are, and I know why. I had the
privilege and deep pleasure of building several boats for the Cochrans and when I think about the older
Don Cochran I get a warm feeling.
Clark with Mom and Dad
        The Haven Street Dock and Junior Yacht Club of Clearwater

Now back in the early 1930’s at exactly what date I can’t say, I was just a young lad living with my
folks at what is now called Weavers Park. It was then my Dad’s 10-acre farm and his pride and joy. But
the depression convinced my Mom we should move into town and fix up our old rooming house on the
corner of Oak Avenue and Haven Street. Well, I have already written a record of how hard we three
worked putting that house in shape to rent rooms so I’ll get on with my story.

 When I finally got a little time, I got busy and tacked up a little canvas kayak. That was the start of fun,
fun, fun.

 We were only the third house from Clearwater Bay on the south side of Haven Street. Now Haven Street
runs East to West or West to East depending which way you’re going. It is a couple of blocks south of
Main Street and is just north of Pinellas County Courthouse. Haven Street ran right down to the bay and
there was a traffic barrier and wooden stairway down to the bluff to this lovely dock about 200-feet long
with a 60-foot “T” on the end. It was about 16 or 18 feet wide the entire length, including the “T”, which
had a nice pavilion type roof over it.

 Now it’s a sure thing that when I wasn’t needed at my paper route or at my house chores, I was off down
at that wonderful dock with my kayak messing about or swimming with my dog and a bunch of little kids.

Time went on, one beautiful day after another, that gorgeous sparkling bay beckoned us like the Pied

 Our crowd of young’uns was growing in members all the time. Some had boats and I helped some build

I had built a bunch for myself, which I sold to others very nominally.

A good many awnings just disappeared in our part of town, but the boat census grew!

 All of a sudden I thought I should have a little larger boat than eight feet. I made one that was 12 feet
long. I rigged up a trailer with old lawn mower wheels and when I got to the stairway, I carried it down on
my head. When I came in, I had to carry it up the stairway which made me puff a little.

But what really made my back sore was the little girl who lived in the house just north of the stairway.
She would always push my trailer down the hill.

 As the Depression wore on, there kept coming to our happy gatherings kids of all ages from all over
town. Some I knew already. Some I would know shortly. They would sit on the dock and watch us
swimming and having a big time. All of a sudden they would pull off their shirts and shoes… if they had
Any … and they would join us.
 Salt water doesn’t really hurt cut off dungarees and though it was a wonderful, splashy, yelling, good old
time, it was sort of a baptism for there were many lifelong friendships made right there.

 Mrs. Burts, a well off retired elderly lady who lived at the house just south of the stairway, told me that
she thought that was the nicest group of kids she had ever seen and she was expecting her daughter and
two grandsons for the winter. She hoped they could join in the fun.

 Mrs. Burts asked me if I could build her a good row boat for her grandsons, Bumps who was nine, and
Bimbo who was six. I quoted a price of $18.50 for a 14-foot cypress skiff. It turned out well and she
tipped me $5 extra. So I made a couple of dollars after all!

 Now Mrs. Burts was not our only adult guardian angel. On Bay Avenue, that ran south from Haven
Street just a few houses from her lived Mrs. Meredith who was long famed for her charity and good deeds

She and Mrs. Burts sort of got together and pushed the city fathers into improving things at Haven Street
dock. I am somehow led to believe that each lady made large cash contribution with that order.

 All this was some 60 years ago. So bear with me. I don’t know all the politics, but all of a sudden a city
crew came down and enclosed just half of the roofed over portion of the dock. One door, two windows.
We were astonished.

 At various intervals, WPA replaced the wooden stairs with concrete. At some point a small dredge was
brought in and tied to the dock. After a couple of months, it cut all the mud off the hard pan and gave us a
little over three foot channel.

 Now at what point in time the group decided to form a junior yacht club or who initiated the idea, I
cannot say, but it was formed very properly with someone’s Rules of Parliament, much noise and a
marvelous lot of enthusiasm.

We had officer elections one evening a week later.

 I was made commodore, I guess because I fixed all the boats and stuff. We voted to chip in I forgot how
many dollars each to buy a new gasoline pressure lantern. It cost almost $4 and we hung it on the
crossbeam overhead. It was wonderful…..bright as day. I think every mosquito in the county came to that
meeting to see it!

 Our members slowly learned that a bit of sail did the work of a lot of rowing and paddling and was easier

I had the honor and privilege of building many of these fellows their first sailboat. So we were collecting
quite the motley type fleet.

You could go to the lumber company in those days and for a little extra, buy a pair of extra wide boards
of good cypress, often 16 or 18 inches wide. That was considered a fine way for a cracker man to start a
nice boat

 And in the course of events, I had learned to put a centerboard well in a skiff that made a few sailboats
right now!

 Seeing themselves as proper club guys, they planed and had series of races. That was really a hoot. None
of us were too good at it.

 They also planned several camping trips to Dan’s Island, which was deserted sand dunes at that time, and
cruises to Hog Island and Anclote Key.

 The idea was broached that we chip in 25 cents apiece and cook a big kettle of something good! Boy,
What a mess up, Louis telling me he would bring the chicken all cleaned and for me to get the fire going
and the vegetables boiling. He would be right behind me. He was two hours late. The vegetables and rice
was done, and Louis threw the chicken right in, and in another 10 minutes, we had raw chicken and
vegetables that were too done.

If you were one of these youngsters you will surely remember the club’s first winter. Those were some
very interesting hot, old times.

 I don’t remember which year on the calendar, but it was one of those winters when we would have a
shrieking 30 mile per hour northwester every third day and freeze in between.

Someone said we ought to have a stove in here!

 So I made them a nice stove out of a 20-gallon grease drum, cut a proper door, put on hinges, made a
slide draft regulator at the bottom, and used a four-inch rain pipe for a stack. It was great.

 Now that stove should have its place in history as a great piece of backyard engineering. You understand
our whole dock was cypress. The dock was about two and a half inches thick and every six or eight inches
there was a half-inch crack. So there was a right smart of that northwester blowing in our clubhouse!

 Now Joe Constantine brought almost a cord of lightered pine down from his Dad’s grove. I don’t know if
you remember but those kids kept shoving pine into the stove until all of a sudden it was all bright red
hot! The stack was too! And it was going huff, huff, huff!

Directly we were all standing out in the cold wind because it was just too hot in there!

As our club grew older, we started seeing more girls and individual boat cliqued up different groups for
picnics at Dan’s Island.

 In my senior year at high school, I had built in my back yard a huge 16-footer. It was about eight-feet in
the beam and had acres of deck and a cockpit. I could take the whole gang on a picnic.
Those picnics sort of stay in my mind as examples of how simple things were then compared to now.

 I’d bring my boat in to the dock right after breakfast, get it all cleaned up ready for company. I would
bring a sack of tangerines or grapefruit and nothing else. Sometimes, I’d have four couples. Sometimes
three girls and five boys who brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that were great. There would be
fruit jars of iced tea or lemonade and sometimes a sport would spring for a half dozen Baby Ruth candy
bars. No booze, no sir!

 Well it does make me happy to know that I have sincerely tried to show those in my reach what deep
pleasure and huge joy even a small sailboat can bring one.

 There were a considerable number of lads, who came along and did not find our club good enough for
them, or they already belonged to the Clearwater Yacht Club at Clearwater Beach or Dunedin Boat Club,
but we were all buddies just the same. I think the senior club members were glad to see new young people
in the offing. They occasionally put on a race just for juniors.

 Now just inshore from the dock were a couple blocks of white sand beach where it seemed there was
always a little boat or two pulled up for a paint job on the bottom for the barnacles were a real curse. It
was right interesting what I was asked to furnish and we had some innovative repairs on some quite
unique homemade boats.

 I remember one Dan’s Island picnic we planned. As I recollect there were about three boats that left
Haven Street dock about 10 o’clock one lovely summer morning. We had just asked all the girls we could
to come and there was a bunch. They had bags and boxes of food and drink.

 There was a good breeze and we were at the island in no time. We all had bathing suits under our clothes
and all went swimming on one of the world’s prettiest beaches. Then we all ate and one boatload of kids
went sailing down the bay. Some of us laid in the shade of the mangrove trees. Some slept, some walked
the beach. We just lazed the day away.

Along towards sundown we realized the wind had dropped a bit and by the time we were all loaded for
home, it had nearly quit! So with the tide running out against us, those overloaded clunkers didn’t paddle
very good. We were using the floorboards as paddles. We didn’t make it back to the Haven Street Dock
until about midnight! There were all those car headlights at the top of the hill and those irate Daddies had
hard words for me!


 So it is with great joy that I can remember these happy days of my youth but I also have some sad regrets
too. Sixty years will rob you of a lot of your friends.

But I am sometimes really proud to have some old buddy show up and visit after all this time. There are a
few, thank heaven.

 I don’t believe there is anything left at the site of the old Haven Street Dock. There’s just some old piling
ends sticking out of the water.

Sometimes I wonder if today’s kids have anything like half the fun we used to have? I doubt it.

There used to be a little dock at the end of every street and people enjoyed them. But no more!

Steady as she goes.

            Members of the Haven Street Dock Group (about 1932)
                     C = Captain of own boat; * = deceased (as of Oct. 24 1998)

C George Gibbs*             C Chandler Phillips    C Lawrence Weaver
  George Sellers             Dick Lymont            Fred Shuck
C David Perkins Jr.         C Julian Wilder*          Don Shuck*
C Joe Moore*                C Frank Hancock       C Gene Stone
C Dicky Moore*                Paul Meares           Pebble Stone
C Bobby Moran*              C Virgil Meares*      C George Smoyer*
 Henry Moran*                   John Meares       C Max Harper*
C Clark Mills                C Glen Martin           Everett Daniel
C Doug Carr*                C Joseph Constantine*    Jimmy Middleton
  Jack Carr*                C Bud Picker*         C Sonny Allen*
C Jack Whitaker*               Eric Picker*       C Glenn Smith
C Byron Ellison              C Richard McGaughey* C Ray Smith
C Louis Reese               C Howard McGaughey       Norman Wilcox
C John Morgan*              C Berty Stanford       C Jimmy Cochran
C Ted Shuck*                  Earl Stanford        C Leonard Hendry*
C Gardner Fuller*              Stafford Wells         Fred Woods
C Jack Chesney*                                    C Horace Hamlin*
Clark with brother in law Richard McGaughey
                                       Some Fun, Some Not
 I am often pretty dismayed that I can remember odd names and things way back in the great depression
days and nobody present remembers a thing about it. Quite often my friend Ralph Hinson will be present
and he will say “That’s right, I was there, that’s the way it happened.” Now, I’ve got to tell you, he is a
comfort and a solace to me! I expect the real reason for all this industrious writing, is to try to record how
it was then as accurately as I can, before old timers disease causes all my brains to cease functioning.
Also, I needed to improve my handwriting…. Also it is something I can do sitting down.

 Now one can hear plenty of complaints, now everybody has some. I have always been high on the list,
and have made lots of peoples quite upset with me, but I’m always ready to give them equal time, I think I
kind of like a good debate. Like the Irishman who said, “Choose your subject, and pick your side.” All
good clean fun for all ages, as long as there are no weapons involved!

 Trying to think back to little things that had impressed me at a really young age, eight or nine years. I
remember our habit was to get into Dad’s new car (a second hand Oakland open touring car) each Sunday
after lunch, and go for a ride. There were lots of places we had not yet seen yet, the folks being so busy
with their house ect. I had been teasing them for a dog for several months till I believe they were quite

 This particular Sunday afternoon, we ended up at Wall Springs, which is just north of Ozona, or Crystal
Beach. It was privately owned, and they charged admission to enter the grounds. Very attractive, nice
spring, large concrete swimming pool, bath houses, picnic tables. I went to many a school picnic, these
later years, but this day was a cold winter windy day, and not many people were out at all.

Suddenly I saw her!! A little skinny puppy about six, or eight weeks old. I would say she was a walking
sore, a tower of scabs, just a pitiful little tyke overwhelmed with puss! I made a dash for her, but my Mom
called me and forbid I touch the pup. “I want it!” I screamed, nearly dragging Mom to the ground. Now,
my Dad was one who hated a scene, he was standing by the door when the lady came out to see what the
ruckus was, Dad said, “Whose dog is that?” The lady said, “Nobody’s, I wish somebody would take it
away, I don’t want it around here!”

 By that time, I was having a fantod fit! And my Dad, after a whispered consultation with Mom, went to
the lady and begged for a bushel of old newspaper, which was wrapped several layers around the pup, and
called me over; “Don’t get against the pup just hold the paper on nice, and hold her on your lap.” Home
we went. I had my new pup. “Hello Lassie” she grew up as pretty as any collie ever seen. Every boy
should have a dog!

 I suppose I am writing too much about a stray pup, but Lassie was an important part of my childhood
early years. She was smart as well as beautiful. She minded and in most cases stayed right at my side.
And, she loved to ride with Dad in the car and the fact that I had taken her with me on several trips as a
pup was maybe a mistake. It got to where every time that car started, she would dive into the back seat! If
Dad thought he was slipping away without her, she caught him at the first place he stopped. Finally Mom
said, “You might just as well take her as to get her killed chasing you!”

The other thing was an everlasting feud with delivery trucks which in the end was the cause of Lassie’s
demise. If I tell you I grieved and wept. You maybe have lost members of your own family, so you know
it is terrible. I was sick for weeks.

My Mom and Dad had just sold their house in town and took their time to tell me we were going to move
to the grove that Dad had bought, out on Hercules (it’s called now) This was an effort to try to console me
for losing Lassie, also I was promised we would look for another puppy!

 We finally heard from a friendly black man, that a friend of his living on Greenwood Ave. had some
good puppies for $5.00 each. Dad took me around there and the man took us out in the palmettos and

Up out of a hole under a palmetto, came a white and brown mama dog with a tremendously big litter of
pups. Right away, I spotted my dog! It was a female, smoothly haired, light brown with a dark streak
down her back and a laughing little smile on her face. Whether she walked over to me because she liked
me, or because all the eating nozzles were taken, I don’t know, but as far as I was concerned, the selection
was final!

 She was immediately named “Chuck”, and had stripe of dark down her back. She was entirely different
type from Lassie. The difference must have been the quiet adoration that only a bird dog can give you
when you pet them.

 Now we had a lady renting a big old house in town we later moved to on Oak Ave. She had a grown son
who traveled for some company. He left a really high bred pedigreed Airedale there with his mother to
take care of. Well, they put a snap on a twenty foot chain and put the dog on the clothes line where he
could run about eighty or so feet back and forth, on the clothes line. They set a dishpan of water out for
him and came out every evening and fed him about three pounds of raw hamburger.

The lady said it wasn’t long before the laundry man wouldn’t deliver, neither would the mailman! The
people complained to the police. She wanted to know if we could board the dog for them and how much it
would cost per month.

 The lady being Dad’s tenant, probably had something to do with the decision, he told her $5.00 a month.
(This was during the boom, not the depression) She brought the dog out the next day and said, “You will
either pen him up, or keep him chained, you must not get too close to him, because he is a very dangerous

 Laddie wasn’t dangerous! He was the brightest, most gutsiest dog I have ever seen, he was simply
starved for affection. I had my arm around him the next morning, and he was licking my ear!

 After a few months, the lady brought the dogs’ papers out and asked if we would like to have him. She
couldn’t pry him away from me any way! Now after a year or so, Laddie took care of the place, I mean,
he did! He also “married” Chuck. They were the proud parents of eight beautiful pups.

My Dad gave me to understand the pups had to go…… I could either sell them, give them away, or Dad
would have to drowned them! Oh boy, was I upset, But we sold the males for $5.00. The females that
didn’t look like Airedales took longer to find homes for. About six or eight months it was obvious that
Junie was an exceptional dog. She was black and tan, but almost as smooth as a bird dog, but her head
had a fringe of twirly curls all the way around, and it gave her a sort of tall skinny monkey look.

 The neighbors little English Terrier Married Junie, and she had a bunch about. Then Chuck had another
litter. I had thirteen dogs! My Dad was some distressed.

 Well there were a couple years there at the Mills grove that got pretty doggy alright, but it was a period in
my life that even though the great depression had dropped down on us hard, I thoroughly enjoyed. I had
certain prescribed chores for a couple hours each day, then the rest of the day was mine! The dogs and I
roamed the countryside. Why I didn’t get a snake bite was miraculous.

 Laddie seldom went with me because Mom liked him to stay with her which he willingly did. He hunted
most nights, and was generally ready to nap a bit. There were a couple times he chased a skunk and won
the prize of their close up spray job. A couple others took to going with him nights, and they got skunked

 Our closest neighbor, Mrs. Mosselle had the little English Terrier named ‘Buster” (that married Junie) He
was a professional snake catcher. Our other neighbor Mr. Langartner, who had built a little house over
east of us a half mile or so, used to borrow Buster, and go right into the swamps and get a sack full of all
kinds of snakes which he skinned, tanned, and sewed ‘em to a piece of green felt to make wall pieces and
table runners.

 Well, Laddie learned to be a good hunter, but in the end, a big rattler killed him. This happened to two or
three of my other dogs, but the others went to the highway to get hit by cars!

 Thinking back about all of these dogs and their antics, and my personal friendship, and rapport with them
I am not sure whether I wasn’t becoming part “dog” or whether they were becoming boys. It’s sure a fact
we understood each other very well.

 Well aside from one of Laddie’s and Chuck’s pups; Ed, named after my uncle Ed in Leoni, Michigan.
Not much more comes to mind except Ed was traipsing around in dense bushes and a rattler nicked him
on the bony part of his nose. That poor pup came home and flopped on the back porch, by the next
morning, his head was swelled enormously; he was unable to open his eyes, or hardly move. Mom put
iodine on the little punctures on his nose, which probably helped her but Ed not at all. For three days, we
kept a cloth over him, and tried to get him to drink. Finally, he got up and started drinking. That was the
beginning of his recovery, in a week he was fine. He became another snake alarm. He had a different high
pitched scream when he found a snake. We killed several big rattlers that he brought to our attention. A
pretty valuable dog for his time, he never got bitten again!

 I think that is enough dog history for the time being, except to say that Mom used to tell us she wouldn’t
like to live way out there without Laddie. When a car would drive in the gate, Laddie would run along
beside it barking, and when it got to the house, he would stand there stiff legged and stare at them as if to
say, “you get out, and I’ll show you a bad time!---

At the heights of the Florida land boom, twenty’s. They were building a fancy subdivision just west of
what is now Hercules Ave. they were putting down curbing and laying out scenic drives, ect., ect. Clear
back north, to the rail road tracks. Well the boom busted, and all the glitter and glory was gone overnight.
By the time we got nicely installed in the grove house and property, the subdivision was discontinued, and
there was only one engineer left, and caretaker. Once in a while the engineer would drive down and talk
with us. His name was “Potter”, (if I remember correctly). Well this one day, I’m sitting on the back
porch, talking to Mom, and a big, tall black man comes sauntering up the driveway. He had a glass, five
gallon jug on a piece of rope, slung over his shoulder. He comes up and says “hidy, ma’am; Mr. Potter
said to see if you’ll let me fill our water jug at your pump”. Now our pump come up in the center of a
little platform about eight square feet that Dad had added to the porch. So, the black man slowly set his
jug down under the pump and in slow motion starts to pump. Now, Laddie had never seen over the other
side of the grove, taking care of something else, he either heard the man, or the wind changed and he
scented him. Anyway, he came through the weeds like a train snorting, and snarling, the sleepy black man
awoke abruptly, and the second Laddie hit the platform, the pump was between them, That was some
pretty fast action there for a minute. I finally got a hold of Laddie and the man said, “Mr. Potter can come
get his own water from now on!”

 During my old days at the grove, I sort of ranged further and further from the house on my hikes. I found
there was almost a path all the way over to the Hobart Lake, at that time was a beautiful little clean lake,
about a quarter of a mile across. The Kennedy Jr. High School project sort of filled half of the lake in, and
now it’s not much, but I met three boys who lived in a big old weather-beaten house on the east shore of
the lake. This led to our interesting season. The oldest boy, Horace Wilcox, was just about my size, at
least I thought he was! Well like all proper ridge runners and stump jumpers, Horace and I had to prove
who was boss! Now, this turned out to be quite a difficult thing to decide, so every time I would go over
there to see him, we would tear up the palmettos for a while. I think we finally got tired of it and let it go.
Anyhow, they had a dandy sand beach on their side of the lake, and it was a good time had by all. Flake
Wilcox was a couple of years older than Theodore. Theodore was another year or two older than us, and
they seemed to enjoy the fighting very much. I think I couldn’t have stood one more split lip, and I don’t
think Horace ever wanted me to butt him in the stomach again.

 Their mother, Mrs. Martinez, was a wonderful lady and after I got to know them all, they insisted I stay
for lunch. Their dad, Mr. Martinez, Angus as he was known, was a fisherman, and had a garden of black-
eyed peas, collards, and sweet potatoes. I’ll tell you, I’ve never seen anyone fix a big delicious dinner
quicker than Mrs. Martinez!

 She would heat up a bucket of water, and step out onto the back porch, grab a chicken wring his neck, cut
off his head, let him flop around a bit, then plunge him into the hot water, and in no time flat, have it
plucked, scrubbed, cut up in her big black iron stew pot! She did all her cooking on a big, all black iron
wood stove, just like my Mom did. She quickly had a couple big pans of biscuits rolled out, and into the
oven, then a couple more pans ready to throw in with the chicken, also she had a solid oven rack full of
small type sweet potatoes! I’ll tell you, when she called us to the table, it all smelled scrumptious!

 About twenty years later, after I had returned home, after working in the Panama Canal Zone during
World War II , I had my new boat shop open, and was sort of struggling to get a little paying work, I had
a little skiff to build for someone, and I heard someone walk in behind me, I turned around, and here was
old Horace Wilcox, he had sort of grown up! I do mean up. I would guess he was about six foot six tall,
and about four foot across the shoulders. He was virtually a mountain of a man. I said, “My Lord, Horace
Wilcox! I sure hope you don’t want to fight. I don’t believe I been getting as good a breakfast as you
have!” He said, “How in the world you been Curly?” We visited a while back, he had made some money
in real estate and was pretty happy. I heard since that he died a few years later. I met the youngest brother,
Theodore, one time also. I’ll never forget them.
                                         PAPPY TROUT
 During the days at my 68 shop at the Philly Navy Yard I became friends with a very unusual man, his
name was Ellsworth Trout Sr. He had a son Ellsworth Jr. Who he had referred to as “my kid” even though
Jr. was about 30, and weighed I’d guess about 220 . Before the war started, Ellsworth Sr., who was known
as “Pappy Trout” had owned and operated his own boat yard up on the Delaware River somewhere on the
north outskirts of Philadelphia.

 There were several fellows besides Trout Jr. who had worked in the Trout boat yard that were present at
the time in the 68 shop. They had some great tales to tell about the company.

As the time passed I heard from some in the shop that Pappy was terribly tough to work with. I also
became aware that he had a great deal of respect paid him for his quality of work and in some cases
designed work that he had furnished.

One day the superintendent stopped by my boat where I was fitting thwarts and knees and asked me if I
would take the stem end of the fifty footers foundations, Pappy did the other. I told him sure I would. So I
moved down and started fitting up a big old bunch of oak pieces to get ready to bolt up the stem.

After being invited to mix my own glue by Pappy, which I apologetically did. There was no more said
between us. A few days passed and all of a sudden Pappy came over and said, “let me hold that for you.”
From that time on we seemed to get on really friendly terms and he certainly showed me some good
moves. I learned a lot from him.

 During our lunch break he would ask me about Florida he said, “after the war’s done, I am going to take
a trip down there.” He did, about ten years later he came to see me at my shop in Clearwater.

He had some great yarns to tell, some of them I still get a giggle out of them.

 He told of building a nice schooner for a young fellow who wanted to sail to Africa, or it might have
been South America, I can’t recall, and go up some of those big rivers. After a year or so he returned to
Philly, and visited “Pappy.” It seems that he had bought a load of old time tin alarm clocks and started
trading them to the natives who were fascinated with their “ticking.” He obtained all kinds of native
animal skins, jewelry, and native carvings.

 After a month or so he retraced his route and went to see the same natives. They told him, “the clocks
were no good they stopped ticking,” well, he had his pockets full of keys and showed them how to wind
the clocks. They proceeded to trade for another big load of native stuff! At last he finally left them all
with keys for their clocks.

 Pappy said the same young fellow had found a tribe of natives so far up the river that they were trading
shrunken heads to each other, well the next trip back he had several bags of nice blue doll eyes and when
he showed the natives how improved those shrunken heads were with pretty blue eyes they brought him a
good bunch of stuff to bring home so he had no trouble unloading the doll eyes!
 Another story “Pappy” told me was about one time when he decided to run a little liquor up the river
during prohibition days. He said there was a whole lot of money paid for that. He had told some of his
river friends and fishermen that he was going to make a run that night. He said getting the stuff off the big
boat in the bay was no problem, but when he started back up the river a couple search lights kept running
him into bushes, finally he came to a couple of his fishing buddies, and they said, just wait and go when
we do;” So when they cranked up they took off up the river and it seems that every little creek or hole
there were a couple more boats. So by the time they had gone about a half a mile, Pappy’s boat was
running in the middle of about 50 fishing boats charging up the river. He said when they got to his dock
they all had a drink. The Coast Guard just couldn’t figure that deal.

Pappy said that was a dandy time to be a boat builder. Those rum runner fellows and the Coast Guard
were buying boats!

He said he got the bright idea to set up a still in his cellar and cook some of his own liquor. He said he
got everything all set and then he hired about 3 big old Pollack Immigrants to come run things. The poles
were some workers and everything was starting to do real good. Then one day a bunch of cops busted in
on them and Pappy said, “they nearly tore my house down;” It seems the poles did not speak much
English and were unaware that they were breaking the law and when those cops tried to stop them, the
poles nearly killed them.

 Pappy passed away some years ago, as did most of the fellows I worked with there in the 68 shop. I never
did hear from Trouty Jr., but I had a nice letter from Trouty Sr.’s wife telling me of his passing and how
nice Jr. was helping her with everything. I think she was his stepmother, but I was not surprised that he
stepped in and done for his dad, because even though they fussed and fumed at each other, I think they
had a closeness.

Pappy liked to show the world a strident growly visage, but once you got acquainted with him you found
him not that way at all. He loved a good tale of any kind and would occasionally spring an awfully
obscene strictly shop joke with obvious pleasure.

But he was, and still is, in the books as one of the legendary boat builders in the Philadelphia area. Some
of his plans have been placed in the Marine Museum there.

I count myself fortunate to have known him
                                           John G. Hanna
                                  Designer of the famous “Tahiti” Ketch

 Now one of Joe’s letters asked me when was I going to write a bit about John Hanna. Well, I never
wrote and told him I would nor when, but recently I purchased a nice book called “A Ketch called Tahiti”
by John Doherty. It was well done and for the most part pretty complimentary. It sort of turn back the
years for me and helped me get a hold of my pen and start this.

 I knew of John Hanna long before I knew him in person. He lived in Dunedin at the time and its only
about two miles, give or take a rod or so from where I lived on Haven Street in Clearwater to Mr. Hanna’s
family dwelling at that time in Dunedin on the waterfront. I had met his son, John Jr. a time or two, he
was a couple years younger than I and I don’t think he cared too much about boats. It seemed so at any

 I had been a faithful reader of the Rudder Magazine and consumed its contents avidly each month. Of
course I never missed Hanna’s column “The Watch Below.” Some of his writings caused a flood of
dissention and he was sometimes answering letters in a very succinct and sometimes irate manner. You
could say that maybe he didn’t want to apologize to anyone, but occasionally he did so, and very

 During the thirty’s times were bad, and money tight, I had a boat of some kind in my back yard at some
stage of construction most of the time.

I got plumb clear out of school in 1934 a year later due to flunking American History. I was a year late.
My classmates that had gone all the way through school with me finished in ’ 33.

 I worked a summer with my Dad helping him on odd roofing and painting jobs then started working for
White Brothers General Contractors. We would build a little house then there would be no work for
weeks! I did some work for Jim Brumby at his marine ways but did nothing steady, everything

One day I was sitting on the porch reading and a car pulled up. Mr. Davis from Davis Machine Co. came
up and wanted to know if I needed a job. I told him I sure did. He said “Get in my car and let me show
you what I want, then you tell me if you can do it.” I said “ok”

 He took me around to his machine shop on Laura Street. Just inside the big front door was the ugliest
skiff I about ever saw, it was about fourteen feet long; maybe four feet wide, pretty high sided, pretty slab
sided, three planks lengthwise for the poor flat bottom. Oh do I mean flat! No rocker. The thing had a
bright green paint job, copper bottom paint, varnished rub rail, gray inside the whole boat. The motor was
bolted to the center bottom plank.

 The surprise was over, he said proudly. What do you think? Could you build me three like that? I said
sure I can but what would you do with them? Who would buy one? I think they look lousy! This seemed
to make him right mad at me but he said “you do what I tell you! I said when do I start?
 Mr. Davis had laid his super sales technique onto Mr. Hilton a fairly new resident of Clearwater Beach,
who incidentally was considerably well off and had moved his family and his money to our fair shores.
Well, I don’t know how Mr. Davis and he first met, but I am not surprised as Mr. Davis was very talented
in that way. He seemed to have a built in gold detector.

It seems he told Mr. Davis he wanted a little safe motor boat for his ten year old son Ted. HE SHOWED
Mr. Davis a picture in a magazine of what he was thinking about and Mr. Davis, letting no grass grow
under his feet got right with the program. The next thing we knew they had a new Co. He and Mr. Hilton
had formed the Clearwater Boats, Inc.

 When I arrived there, there was about five thousand feet of Philippine Mahogany stacked there, all
dressed in three different thickness. They had about six or eight gross of bronze screws, and several cases
of Dolphinite double plank cement. Last, but not least, was a 10” table saw, a six inch joiner, an Anderson
three wheel band saw that was made in Dunedin at that time. So the first few days I spent building stands
for these machines and a work bench. Also a piece of wooden floor that I could build on. Oh yes, we also
had a brand new reversible spindle shaper, this needed no stand.

Well, I got the three skiffed right out and I guess Mr. Davis and Mr. Hilton were happy with my work.

No sales after three weeks! I started seeing my job going up in smoke!

 Mr. Davis ran some ads in the papers also had a radio commercial. All of a sudden, Mr. Pruitt who
owned a large used car lot a couple blocks down the street came in and expressed admiration for the skiff.
You bet he went out owning it but Mr. Davis had demanded a Ford coupe that he had seen on Pruitt’s lot
plus a cash sum that was more than adequate. I will try to tell about Mr. Davis later as he was an amazing
fellow, but for now I am truing to get to my main connection with Mr. John G. Hanna, as I remember him
that is.

Then a few days passed and we sold another one of those frights. The last one sat there for some time
with no takers. It was the object of a lot of real unkind remarks by different ones who wandered by. This
was really enraging Mr. Davis. One day after a spell of real good cussin’ at the boat, he came over to my
bench and said what would you do? I was surprised at this. I don’t think he ever asked my opinion on
much of anything before! I said without hesitation, “I would put that out back of the barn and built a real
boat!” I said, “If you wand a good boat you got to have a good design. I would go up to Dunedin and get
Mr. Hanna to come down here and see our size and stock and hire him to draw the plan!”

 That was a fine era for me, I got to loft it, arrange patterns for all frames, ect. And pretty quick we had
some pretty little hard chine boats.

Somewhere in this space of time three other of my life long friends came to work also. Leonard Hendry
who was a neighbor of Mr. Davis on Orange Avenue. Leonard and I started school together at North
Ward School of Clearwater in 1927.

 Then Ralph Hinson who was a neighbor of Mr. Hanna, he and I had met down in the bay in one little ol’
boat or another. Also we had some good bike rides together. Ralph’s Dad, Ed Hinson, came also, and later
his sister Ruth Hinson was secretary.
 Then at intervals Walter Prior worked with us. I almost forgot Mr. Dawes, he came to work with us. He
was an elderly pattern maker who could make you feel bad on the brightest sunniest day. He carried all
the world’s troubles on his back and his message was utter doom! He was great for making those rabbited
stems tho!

 Now I was pretty proud just to have a job at that time and Mr. Davis had retained Mr. Hanna to come by
twice a week and give us any instructions on manufacturing the boat that he thought we needed that was
really where I got Mr. Davis’ moneys worth. I learned an awful lot from Mr. Hanna. I was friends with
him ever since I banged on his door and asked if he would look at my boat plan. I did this several times,
he was always very kind and patient with me and I really value the time he gave me. He was deaf as a
post but read lips. He could speak a bit with great effort then resorted to a note pad. He was witty; I once
asked him if he thought Naval Architecture was a good business to get into. He quickly wrote on his pad
“Ninety-five percent of the yacht designing in the United States is done by five percent of the designers.
The other five percent of the work is divided up among the ninety-five percent of the designers!” This is
all he would say on the matter which I would say is pretty near true today. Another time while I was
paying him a visit, he came up with this; whether he read it somewhere or not, I don’t know but I have
remembered it all this time: he said, “Half the world is nuts, and half the world is squirrels! The nuts have
got to feed the squirrels!”

 Well sometime along in about 1938 my buddy Richard Mcgaughey decided to go halves with me and we
would design and build us a cruiser to end all cruisers. So after getting several design books and spending
months drawing, we find out our ballast will cost two hundred seventy-five dollars to have cast. Well we
don’t have that much between us. So we draw up a smaller plan that we both like and I take it up to see
what Mr. Hanna thinks. I had a full hull scale model too. He looked it all over and said “very nice,
chunky, but will be a good camping boat.” Well that made us feel pretty good.

 A little over a year later I went up to Mr. Hanna and asked him to come take a sail with us. His wife went
and got him. He came out with his cap and a big smile. I think he liked the idea. We were tied up at a little
dock on one side of his property. Even tho’ he had a cork leg he got around very well and we got aboard
and pushed off. He saw the name on our transom “Gulf Wind”. He chuckled and said “You nearly stole
my name too!” I thought about that. He had a series of boats that he called “Gulf Weed” series. They were
an outgrowth of the “Sea Bird” plan and I don’t think our boat looked too much like any of them. It was a
huge twenty two foot sloop with center board and outboard rudder. It was owned by dozens of people
down through the years and most of them really loved the boat.

 Anyway, this little sail across the bay and the motor trip back, being the wind quit, was about the last
time I got to see Mr. Hanna, but I like to think that he liked our boat and I think he enjoyed his morning
with us, at any rate I sort of treasure thinking about it.

 Now to tell you about another earlier--- my first glimpse of Mr. Hanna in fact Richard’s Dad was half
owner of the Gulf lumber and millwork Co. then on the corner of Franklin and Myrtle here in Clearwater.
It was a very good company that had really excellent joiners, millwrights and drafting departments. They
did some very fine work: stair work, cabinets, custom moldings and all kinds of special jobs.
 Richard and I were always messing around down at the Haven Street dock where all our little boats were
and any little problem like a new rudder, tiller, wooden bilge pump, or whatever he and I would generally
end up down at the mill ether after hours or on weekends and take care of things. Well this one day
Richard wanted me to help him do something to his boat so I told him what we needed and we took off
for the mill. It was Saturday morning and Mr. Donald Roebling had prevailed on Richards’s Dad to leave
a few mill hands there and work on his keel timber for his boat “Iorana” This was a boat John Hanna
designed for Mr. Roebling. Now I knew Mr. Roebling but I had never seen Mr. Hanna before. I put some
marks on Richard’s boards and told him to cut them and I eased back where I could watch the keel job.

 There seemed to be sort of a heated debate going on and after Mr. Roebling (an extremely large man and
Mr. Hanna with his cork leg). The two of them laboriously pulled a steel tape down the keel then
measured the space in front of the planer. Then measuring the space in back of the planer. After a bit of
shouting and throwing his hat down, Mr. Hanna said something to Mr. Roebling who being Queen of
May and the wicked witch all in one, he grabbed up the first skill saw I ever laid eyes on and walked up to
the south wall and gave them about a three foot square instant brand new window! Then they planed the
keel timber.

 Most of John Hanna’s boats were pretty much in line with what was considered the state of the art at that
time. There was a very strange thing the very boat plan that he took the most kidding and chiding and
scathing letters was the “Tahiti”. She was a very heavy built double ender and I myself never had a ride in
one, but sailed beside one in a much smaller boat and I thought at the time she seemed terribly under
sailed. As the years passed there were dozens of them built in all parts of the world and still are I
understand. One fellow told me “Yeah that old “Tahiti” she will never drown you but she might starve
you!” Well even so she was a very popular boat and Hanna enlarged it into two or three larger double
enders that were widely built also.

 Mr. Roebling shared my admiration of Mr. Hanna evidently, having him design two different large power
boats which he built in his front yard. All this happened before I knew Mr. Hanna personally and I was
too young to help on those jobs anyway.

Later he designed a 22 foot utility runabout, also, all of this had impressed me considerable.

 Now Donald Roebling was a very wealthy man and was the grandson of Colonel Roebling who built the
Brooklyn Bridge and perfected the design of the suspension bridge system and also head of the Roebling
Cable Co. During the years that I was at Davis Machine Shop, Donald Roebling was designing and
building his famous “Alligator.” It was a tank like scow about twenty-two feet by eight feet wide with
catapillar type treads all figured to traverse all terrain, swamp, mud, water or land. Our crew at the shop
had a ride in it one day. That was just the prototype and every time they tested they carried Boy Scouts,
Sea Scouts, or whatever to get the weight right. The machine was designed for hurricane rescue work
initially but by the time it was perfected, we were in the war and Donald Roebling made a gift of his plans
to the armed services and I hope he was as proud as I was when all those Marines went ashore in
Roebling Alligators.

I just am not sure if Hanna helped on this strange craft or not. No one ever told me.

 Well I think I must tell you a bit about our boss, Mr. Davis. I can’t tell you much about Mr. Hilton. But
as I said, Mr. Davis saw to it that he left with it after driving a really hard bargain for a car and a goodly
sum of cash! I guess Mr. Pruitt had never had a boat before and having a boat that would run about three
miles per hour was real fun for him!

 Well after a few months of sweat we had a real nice row of the little “Clearwater Anglers” we called
them. They were pretty neat, absolutely tight, not one drop did any of them leak! Thank heaven for
Dolphinite compound! Some of them were varnished all over except the copper and some were painted
with varnished decks, they look spiffy! Mr. Pruitt came in one day and saw them. He was hooked again
by the time he had left Mr. Davis had him tied up for a really nice Ford Coupe, another large cash sum
and the original boat back! Well Mr. Pruitt was happy the new boat was so enormously better than the
other one that he felt pretty fancy!

 Now that’s not the end of the story. The rest of it will be a little harder to explain. Now there was another
really ace boat builder, Mr. Boyd. He came by to tell Mr. Davis that he was taking a government job at
Key West and wanted to know if Mr. Davis knew of a good sized house trailer he could get. Well Mr.
Davis, thinking real fast, remembered seeing a big house trailer in the back of Pruitt’s used car lot. He
said, “Yes I think I do, let me call you tomorrow. By the way did you trade your old boat back when you
built Dr. Wyatt’s new boat?” Mr. Boyd said, “Yeah it’s anchored right off of Turner Street dock. I got to
get rid of it too!”

 Well now Mr. Pruitt, after a couple weeks of hard fishing in our more than adequate Florida sun came in
to the shop red as a boiled stone crab. He said, “I came to find out if you guys could put a top on my boat
so I could get out of the sun and still fish?” Mr. Davis said, “Come out here Pruitt. I got just the deal for
you, come on.” He took him down to Turner Street dock and showed him Boyd’s boat.

 I wasn’t with them on this trip, so I can’t tell you what was said, but evidently they must of come back by
way of Pruitt’s car lot and Mr. Davis had the deal firmly in place up to that point. Then he got hold of Mr.
Boyd and took him to look at the trailer or Mr. Pruitt might have already pulled it over to our place, I
can’t remember. Anyway, Mr. Boyd liked it and traded his boat for it even up! The next morning Mr.
Davis finished up, I think he got the Hanna skiff, another pretty good car, the trailer that he traded Mr.
Boyd and another cash donation. I tell you, Mr. Davis was the best horse trader I ever knew! That was a
pretty complicated deal, but everybody seemed happy!

 Now I wasn’t getting along too well with Mr. Davis, he became more and more difficult to work for. The
other fellows were not too happy about him either. My buddy Leonard said many years later that after
working for Mr. Davis every other job he ever had after that was a cinch! All of a sudden Mr. Davis and I
came to the parting of ways. If I am not mistaken Ralph quit shortly also. Well we learned a lot from Mr.
Hanna and we learned how not to do a lot from Mr. Davis! I found out from Leonard many years later that
Mr. Davis thought that because Mr. Hilton came over and talked to me a little bit every morning, he
thought I was trying to get Mr. Hilton’s company away from them!! Oh my heavens!

 Anyhow along about this time I became aware that Mr. Hanna and his plans were known worldwide.
And after having worked under his supervision, I guess I was a real Hanna boaster! I had, as I previously
stated, made several trips up to his house with questions and drawings and his many kindnesses will
always be remembered. I, as one of his steady readers, tended to bristle a bit when I read some of the
letters that some self anointed experts sent to him. I know that boats like women’s hats and stand a lot of
discussion and they, for sure, will stand for more than one view point. The “Tahiti” ketch has been a
world wide favorite for many years and I would say Hanna certainly left his mark for us!
 Now I have just about written all I know firsthand about J.G. Hanna and being as how Mr. Davis was a
big factor in my life right at that same time, I will repeat some of the interesting things that he and others
told me about himself.

 One day I mentioned to Mr. Davis that he certainly owned a bunch of fine machines for a fellow as
young as himself. He immediately started telling us all how he’d done it! When he was still a school boy
he used to hang around the Schenk Bros. Garage because that was where the most cars were being worked
on. The Schenk Bros. Were three really fine machinist and mechanics and had the only good machines in

 Now it seems that they finally gave young Mr. Davis a job after school sweeping the shop, washing cars,
ect. Mr. Davis had found a big old jack knife which he proceeded to polish, sharpen and oil up real pretty.
The next day he swapped that knife for a beat up old bicycle. Then for the next month he was tinkering
with that bike: new spokes where needed, new chain, new pedals and he had refinished the whole bike
where it looked mighty good.

 Then in comes this shiny new looking Pontiac, it is towed in. The man says every garage between here
and Atlanta, Georgia has worked on this car. It will run just long enough to warm up, then stop! Well the
Schenk Bros. Don’t do any better after about a week they tell the man so! The man is somewhat crazy. He
turned to Mr. Davis who is rubbing his bike with a polish, he says, “son, I’ll trade you this car for that
bike. How about it?” Mr. Davis handed him the bike and went to set in his new car. After a few weeks he
had torn the engine down completely and found that the oil holes in the crank shaft had never quite been
bored all the way through, so hen drilled them out and in a day or two was tooling around town in a new

 Then one day a man came in the garage for car work and got to looking at Mr. Davis’ car. He said,
“Would you trade that car for a good piece of real estate?” So after looking at the man’s property, the
papers that made the deal were exchanged and Mr. Davis had about six acres out in south Clearwater.

 Time passed and one day one of the big fruit family’s contacted Mr. Davis and offered him thirty
thousand dollars for his property! He took it, you betcha’! He put his money in the bank and kept right on
working with the Schenk Bros. Now I can’t personally remember the brothers, even tho I do remember as
a little kid getting old coils, ect. From their junk pile. But it seemed that the good brothers had a bit of a
drinking problem maybe along with others. But all of a sudden they owed more on their shop than they
could pay. So good old Mr. Davis bought all their machines from them and by the time he finished school
he had them moved to his own shop where we built the boats too! Now if you can tell me how to get more
out of an old jack knife than that… Incidentally, one of the brothers Charles Schenk survived the other
two and Mr. Davis hired him. He was a top notch machinist drunk or sober. Mr. Davis took real good care
of him from then on. I figure he was only stern with us young fellows!
 Mr. Davis was for sure an interesting fellow and he told us some pretty good stories. One I liked was
about the time he traded a sort of worn out speed boat to one of his horse trading buddies down in St.
Petersburg. It seems that they had been having great fun through the years putting the sting on each other
in various trades! Well the boat Mr. Davis was to trade was seaplane floats with an airplane motor and
propeller up front!
 The motor was a French Lerone’ and it revolved with the prop and the shaft was stationary. Well Mr.
Davis had to have that! The deal was made on the telephone. I have forgotten how Mr. Davis
circumvented the leak problem in his speed boat but he managed it.

 Now Mr. Davis was pretty proud of his new acquisition. It really ran good, no one else had anything else
so hi tech! He was dating a real cute young school teacher and invited her to go yachting with him. After a
couple good fast rides around the bay, he decided they should stop over at Dan’s Island, now known as
Sand Key. At that time there was not anything there except one fishing shack and a little dock with lots of
net racks. So he having no reverse, cuts the ignition and let her coast up to the net racks. Now the
Frenchmen probably knew, but Mr. Davis didn’t , that the Lerone’ when hot will mysteriously start itself
up after it has been stopped. Poor Mr. Davis spent some long miserable hours cutting fish net out of that
propeller. It had wound up about a quarter mile of it. The mosquitoes were hard at work chewing on the
little teacher’s sunburn and probably putting a final finish to Mr. Davis’ romantic efforts!

This last episode was related to me by a very reliable friend and I guess I have to believe it.

                                    Our friend Harry Butler
 I first knew Harry when Richard, my future brother in law, and I were just messing about at his dad’s and
Mr. Seaveys mill, known as the Gulf Lumber and Millwork Co. of Clearwater. They often had truckloads
of cabinets and such and they would send for Harry to come paint them.

 Harry was an expert painter and owned a tiny paint store, about, across from the post office on Cleveland
Street. He would leave his somewhat sad eyed wife, a good sized sort of tired lady to run the store and
answer his phone for him while he and his big tall cross eyed helper went out and took orders for jobs.
They did quite few jobs and sometimes they would retire to sample a bit of bottled goods.

Harry was the best natured fellow ever and he was surely a worker. He was one to voice an odd sort of an
opinion quite often and sometimes he talked himself into some pretty rugged programs.

 Richard and I came up on Harry and his tall helper. I remember him well all except his name, seemed he
was called Ronny. They had permission to build a twenty eight foot dory there in the corner of the mill
they had the floor cleaned up nice and toe nailed two x two’s on the floor, down flat, every sixteen inches,
they had nailed some nice cypress, one x six cypress boards on them, and then worked the dory sides out
on them and ran a skill saw around them. Then they took a floor sander and slicked ‘em up and painted
them. Harry showed us his drawing that he had on a piece of wall board, he was real enthused.. Richard
and I had to go down and see how Harry was doing. We found him sitting on a nail keg in deep study. I
said, “What happened Mr. Butler?” So he proceeded to tell us. “We really messed up!” “You see we
cleaned this whole end of the mill and snapped a chalk line on the floor, then we nailed our stem bottom
on the center line. “We had the bevels all cut just right, then we nailed the bottom of the mold frame to the
floor square with the center line and we had the transom boards fastened likewise.” “Well, we fastened
them sides onto the big ole stem with plenty screws, we nailed some boards on the end of the sides to
keep the slings from slipping off, then put our tackle on and pulled her on in.” “We pulled them big ole
sides up to the transom and we had just stepped back to admire our work, Jesus!, the little board came un-
nailed and turned the sling loose. Mr. Butler had gotten into the spirit of the event again and was waving
his hands “Why”, he said, “I ended up under that work bench over yonder and ole Ronny shot right out
that big door over yonder into them rippings.” Richard and I stood there a moment and Richard said, “Did
it hurt him?” “Where is he?” Mr. Butler said, “Ah nah he ain’t hurt none, he just went home mad.” He
giggled and said, “Them old sides was just like a big old cross bow, they shor did throw us like rag dolls.”

Well, Harry Butler was irresistible and unstoppable and in the next couple weekends he built that dory. It
must have been moderately successful. I never saw it completed but it was enough boat building to whet
Harry’s appetite for more.

 Richard and I both worked every week day, so did Mr. Butler. We came down to the mill for something
or other and found Harry gloating over a penciled sketch on a piece of plywood of his new dreamboat.
While he was showing it to us, he kept a running commentary on its merits and good points. He said, “ya
see that there high bow and that there flare yonder on the front end, that’s just like a Greek spongers bow,
them’s the best sea boats there ever was.” We left him in a rosy euphoria.

The following week he had over half the frames bolted up out of hard pine two x sixes. It was two or
three weeks later before we got to check on him. He had the boat all framed and set up!

 I asked him how he was doing and he lit him a hand made cigarette and said,” well damn if I know, The
very thing I liked about this here boat is causing me lots of trouble, that yonder chine piece comes around
the bow and slants off up so high that it almost misses the stem, I just don’t know what in hell to do about

 A couple weeks later he is planking the sides. The chine member still looks pretty high but the sheer
member was awfully high. Harry gave us to understand that it was “just right now, I just throw the first
four frames away and sprung them chines in as low as I could, then I fitted new frames to them.” Pretty
hard to stop a fellow like that. He had that big old hull all planked the second week after that. I am not
real sure of the dimensions, but I believe she was about 50’and at least 16’ beam and drew about 3 ½’.
This was about twice as big as most boats in the local fleet.

 When we next visited Harry he had another problem. He had intended to mount his steering wheel on the
aft end of the deck house; but he found that he could not begin to see over his extra high bow standing on
the deck at that point. Well he solved that that by putting a shelter on top of the cabin house and steering
from there.

 The day came when Harry had the boat about ready to launch. It was all painted shiny black top sides,
apple green decks and had the name painted on her “Violetta.” He sent for the Government Ad-measurer
to get his document and he’s told he is over one hundred tons, he must carry an eighteen foot life boat! He
said, “I aint got no lifeboat!” He took a skill saw and sawed the rail off the boat for the after half and that
let him use pipe rails and pass the tonnage rule. Can’t keep a good man down.

 I think I heard the account of the “Violetta’s” launching from Francis Seavy, and it was a dandy most
memorable story. Harry Butler had sent for our local mover a powerful little man by the name of Jim
Holly. Jim had a big old trailer that he assembled under the boat. It was built by himself out of mostly
junk. Jim had a WWI army truck, that he had put an extra transmission into making it a very powerful
tractor, he also had a brand new big ford flat bed truck with a hydraulic boom pole arrangement on the
back. This was his special pride. He drove the tractor with the boat trailer rocking along behind.

 It was a windy north-wester blowing and Jim came across the causeway without looking back. The boat
leaned in the wind and Mr. Butler was running along beside it shouting at Jim, but Jim paid no heed. He
got to his favorite spot by the second bridge where the water went off pretty deep right down a pretty
good slope of beach. He backed the boat around and got the tractor off, he took a piece of four inch
diameter pipe with clevises on each end and made about a twenty foot extension on the tractor hitching
the flat bed truck to it with another pipe hitched the old army truck to the front of the ford and told the
young boy driving it, “You’ve got to give her hell, don’t let her stop or we’ll never get her moving
again!” Filling his pipe with a flourish he stood up in the ford truck and yelled, “Butler are you ready for
the sea?” Butler had climbed up on his boat and he waved his bottle and said, “Let her go Jim!” That
young boy gave her hell alright he launched the boat and Jim Holly and His new truck to boot. Francis
said all you could see was a little of the wind shield. Jim was pretty excited and he jerked all his stuff out
with the old army truck ok. Francis said there was a tourist with a movie camera getting the whole thing,
really good launching. I wish I could have seen it.
 I sorta lost tract of Harry Butler in the next year or so. In 1939 on the fourth of July Richard and I started
our 22’ fat little cruising sloop “Gulf Wind.” We had to set it up exactly where Harry Butler built his boat
in back of the Gulf Lumber & Millwork building.

 Considering that Richard and I both worked every day on regular jobs, and the boat was only an evening
and weekend project, we made good progress. We launched the boat July 9,1940. We loaded our
groceries aboard and took Francis Seavey with us for a third crew member. We took off down the Gulf
under power with my sewing rope on the sail as we went. Some faith huh? The next day we finally got the
sails bent and put up. It was flat and calm the next six hours. Francis kept reaching down and cranking the
little light Grey 16 HP auxiliary, Richard and I kept turning it off. Francis never was one to sit and drift.
He turned out to be a world class champion Snipe sailor with a room full of trophies.

Anyway, when the wind finally came up, we had a marvelous cruise around the bottom of the state. We
powered across the cross state canal to Stuart then sailed on down and around through the Keys back up
the Gulf to Clearwater. That was just one of many fine trips we had in the Gulf Wind.

 About that time Richard hauled off and joined the Canadian Air Force. Myself, I had an offer of a boat
building job in Jacksonville so I bought a little house trailer and took off. Nothing worked out for me at
this time though I was making good money carpentering. The original job was a farce. Come “Pearl
Harbor” bombing, I decided to go home. Sold the trailer and scooted for Clearwater. I was 1A on my draft
card, and I figured I’d go over to Tampa and join the Navy. All of a sudden I was sent for by the Philly
Navy Yard. I had forgotten, I sent in a bunch of applications I’d gathered at the post office two years
before. So that was the start of a four year absence, boy what a drag, 60 hours a week will really wear on

 Now to get back to my story about Harry Butler and his most interesting boat “Violetta,” reports came to
me from all directions. The boat being so extra beamy and different in looks and design than the rest of
the boats in the fishing fleet caused a bunch of wise cracks and a lot of ridicule to be heaped on old Harry.
But woe to those of little faith. According to the general observation after Harry operated his boat as a
party all day fishing boat for a week, everyone admitted that it was as fast as any of them and it turned out
to be a comfortable and popular fishing boat and Harry began building a really good steady clientele.
There were those at the pier who couldn’t conceal their jealousy saying, “that old Buick engine wasn’t
worth a dime; but it ran the season out very well I believe.”

 A few weeks after “Violetta” had been put into commission, Francis Seavey told me a very interesting
and typical Harry Butler story. It seemed as Francis and his dad were out in their little fishing boat. They
had been trying for some bottom fish straight off Clearwater Beach. They weren’t having much luck and
had dropped anchor several places that morning. Finally Francis’ dad said, “that looks like Harry’s boat
over yonder. Let’s ease over and see what he’s doing.” There seemed to be something going on up on the
bow of the boat. Nearly all the passengers were standing up there gawking down at the water. As they
drew nearer Francis said they finally saw it. It was Harry hanging on to the rail by his fingertips. One leg
moving wildly the other was pulled straight down toward the sea because it had a half hitch of anchor line
on it and Harry had thrown an 80 lb. Over not realizing he had fouled his leg in a bight of line. Harry was
lifted by Francis and his dad and said, “I sure am glad you came! I been hollering for an hour!”
                                               Ybor City

These lovely summer days have always made me remember back to my earliest days in Florida. My
mother who was red haired and with fair and tender skin seemed to feel the heat something terrible. She
claimed the sun caused her freckles and she registered a nearly constant complaint about the heat! My
Dad, on the other hand said he liked the hot weather and that when he sweated it made him feel good. He
did all his complaining in the winter time. He said he really hated cold weather and that was the reason he
wanted to live in Florida!

  At the tender age of three and a little. I don’t think I felt anything but I must tell you about our trip to
Ybor City. The folks in our neighborhood kept talking about it until Mom and Dad decided to take the old
open touring car and go over there. This being about 1920 the roads were not quite so fine nor were there
any bridges across Tampa Bay. We went by way of Oldsmar. This is now a town but at that time was just
wild land where R.E. Olds came and started a huge subdivision. He had a spur track laid in, power poles
for phones and electricity, then he had every other rail tie painted bright yellow, the in between ones
purple. Each telephone pole was yellow and purple in wide bands. The purple and yellow paint all over
Oldsmar was in evidence for years right up till the land boom I guess.

 Anyhow this fine day we left early to go see Ybor City and the surrounding terrain. Our trip over was
uneventful. I don’t even remember a flat tire. It took us a while to get into Ybor City beings as how we
didn’t know the way. It seemed to me that it was the busiest city I ever saw. At that time I guess all of
those big old cigar factories were running full force. They are mostly abandoned now.

 After driving up and down various streets we seemed to always end up back on the main street of Ybor
City. It was the same size then that it is now, but the traffic was worse then, I believe due to the trolley
cars. Those have long since vanished.

 Well the morning had steadily become hotter and Ybor City louder. It seemed everybody screamed
something at everyone they met, in Spanish I might add. My Mom had made a tentative suggestion to
Dad that we go home. She is pretty warm already and the steady din is getting on her nerves. We are in a
line of traffic heading east on main street when all of a sudden a trolley in back of us clangs their bell and
there is tremendous shouting, all in Spanish. A horse goes running by and the baker’s wagon it is pulling
fails to clear our left rear fender! It made an awful crash and from my seat in the back of the car I was
horrified to see the wagon slide by and slowly tip over onto its side! It had left a trail of Cuban long loafs,
cookies, turnovers, cakes and whatnot. The driver had never turned loose of the reins and must have
landed on his feet. He seemed very irate and I am sort of glad my Dad did not speak Spanish.

 Traffic stopped, the trolley conductor had words with the baker, the baker with him, both of them with
my Dad who didn’t understand a word they said. Finally a cop showed up that talked both languages and
everything got straightened out. I believe that was a real angry group.

 My Dad had always been sort of a cool one and seldom got upset, but I believe he was just about to
stomp him a baker. Dad looked his car over and decided it was not hurt anyway. They made cars about as
thick as M-1 tanks back then. My Mom had the purple flashes and the sweats all the way home. I think
she remained in a state of shock till the next day.
 My own self, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it would be difficult to arrange a film with that much
spontaneous action and emotion. Those Cubans do get excited, so did my Mom!
                              Shop 68, Philadelphia Navy Yard
I have just read a package of dandy letters from my old buddy Joe Liener. They brought on a whole lot of
memories of the two years I spent in Philadelphia Navy Yard, when I worked in the sixty-eight shop with
Joe and scores of other people who I became very fond of. Of course at this late date, almost a half
century later, most of these people are deceased. Joe Liener is eighty so is Fred Tomlinson he was another
in my favorite lunch bunch. Joe is sort of to blame for this chapter and I guess I am proud to tell my
recollection as such:

 The draft was being laid on about the same time I had sent in some two dog application for Gov. boat
builders job by the blanks they gave out at the post office. Months passed nothing happened. I bought a
little travel trailer and went to Jacksonville, Florida, where I had been promised a place at Huckins Fair
Form Co. Each time I reported in they told me in about another three weeks. So about the third trip to see
them I went to work for a house contractor who paid me a little over twice what I had been making!

 That stunning Dec. 7, 1941 when the news of Pearl Harbor was announced I sold my trailer the next day
and went home to Clearwater. In the interim I had registered for the draft. I also was making a trip or two
each month to Tampa getting lined up to join the Navy, one more trip and I would have been a swab

 However before that happened, I received a document from the Navy Dept. saying that I had been
appointed to a position as boat builder in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and I was to appear at their labor
building 7:30 A.M. Thursday such and such date, exactly five days from when I received the letter.

 This was some high speed getting ready, getting Richard McGaughey’s and myself 22’ sloop in storage,
removing the mast, bringing the motor home, so my Dad could turn it once in a while ect., ect. I agreed to
take a nice lady who roomed with us, and her grandson to Woodbury, New Jersey. So, I was lined up in
front of the labor building at 7:30 A.M. with several hundred other people. This was a very pretty
morning in early June.

 I was some kind of exited, I tell you! We were herded from one window to another each one gave us
another paper with more instructions. Then we were taken to a bunch of doctors for a medical check, then
to another building for finger printing and badges.

 Finally a couple of us were aboard a strange little small wheel wagon with launches, pulled by a little
tractor about like a golf cart. It let us out at a sort of plywood lean to on the side of a huge brick building.
Here, a fast talking little Irishman shuffled through my papers and asked me a couple questions then said
O.K.! Come on Mills! He led me through a door into what was, in my small town eye, the biggest boat
shop in the world! Overhead cranes with the boats going along. Boats everywhere!

Rows and rows and all kinds and sizes boats everywhere…was I excited? Like the feller said I was as
nervous as a pregnant nun at High Mass! Yes I was! Those boats were in all stages of construction and I
believe they said there were one hundred and thirty people working in that shop.

The shop was a block long. I was taken to a little glass office all the way to the opposite end of the shop
and introduced to the shop superintendent, a neat little man with red hair named “Phil Bachelor.” It was
not like I was intimidated……uh no I was scared spitless! Mr. Bachelor got right to the crux of the matter
and asked me what kind of boats I built. I pulled my wallet out and showed him a little snap-shot of the
sloop Richard and I had built and he said, without hesitating, “you will start here as boat builder 3rd class
day after tomorrow.”

 Well, I guess I was just pretty up tight and not too bright after such a morning. I stood up and said, “well,
I guess I can just get all back to Florida, I didn’t come all this way for no 3rd class! No sir I am a first class
boat builder and to hell with it!” You know he grabbed me and said “anyone who starts at 3rd class, man if
you are good you will make second and first in no time.” So he flat calmed me down, and I am glad I

 Now the Navy Yard, the big boat shop, the big city of Philadelphia, all of these sure did impress me, and
as I walked out of the shop to get back to the exit gate of the yard I told myself, “boy you might just not
be around here long, this is really big stuff!” Then my hunger and fatigue also a real need of a restroom
hastened me to get trusty Plymouth and seek a restaurant!

 The first street that turned to the left a few miles from the yard was Passyunk Avenue. It was pretty busy
arterial connection headed west I believe. All of a sudden I saw a big shiner diner in the middle of a big
piece of land all paved with cinders. I pulled in and got everything fixed up! Boy did I eat, I asked the
lady if there were any people in the area that rented rooms, she said, “straight across the street, Mrs.
Schafer, she has a nice room.” I paid for the dinner and walked right over and coaxed Mrs. Schafer into
renting me her room, I didn’t aim to get too far from that good diner you betcha! Mr. And Mrs. Schafer
became almost second parents to me considering how I kind of bulldozed my way into her room. That’s
another good yarn! You see when I knocked on her door and she first laid eyes on me she must of not
cared for my looks. I patiently explained that I had just stood in different lines at different windows for
about eight hours and I desperately needed to rent a room. She said, “I am sorry my room is being painted
now so it’s not available.” I said, “I said, “oh that’s no problem” pushing right in I said, “please let me see
it?” Well she grudgingly took me up stairs and showed me a beautiful room.

 Mrs. Schaffer said you can see it’s a mess. I told you we are having it repainted. I said happily, “oh sure I
know all about renting rooms my Mom has rented rooms all her life! All I need is to get to that bed
tonight and that feller can paint my suitcase if he wants to. How much do you ask for your room? She
said, “I have to get five dollars a week but…but…but… I said, oh wonderful here let me fix your paint
bill a little and laid a twenty-dollar bill in her hand.

 I couldn’t be sure but I thought she noticeably relaxed a bit. However after I had brought my suitcase up
and had a bath and feeling refreshed thought I’d best find out where I could safely park my car; As I came
down the stairs Mrs. Schafer had decided it was time to tell me a thing or two, she said sternly you must
not come into my kitchen! I said, oh my no I wouldn’t! I wouldn’t ever! She said, “I absolutely will not
have any girls brought in here! Do you understand? I run a decent home here and my husband Floyd
works and when we go to sleep we don’t want any parties, understand!!? Well after assuaging her fears
and explaining that I would only be here to sleep and I would be very quiet, ect….

Eva and Floyd became some of the best friends I ever had. I was invited to eat dinner with them many
Sundays. Eva was one of those special cooks, oh my was she! Eva had got me a garage next door for five
dollars a month. She took care of me like a mother hen!

Philadelphia is called “The City of Brotherly Love.” This may well be, I couldn’t say. Most of my two
years there were spent trying to survive the long hours they were trying to maintain at the navy yard. It
was occasionally several weeks before we would get a Sunday off from work. It was quite often we would
do a streak of ten-hour-days. I was as usual, extremely tired.

 I had been writing to my buddy Richard McGaughey pretty regularly. He had been in the Canadian Air
Force ever since I went to Philly. I told him I had a week off for the coming Christmas and if he could get
loose I’d like to get my car home and not have to pay for a garage.

 Now he showed up all ready and we went to the ration board to get gas tickets. No luck, this was at the
Navy Yard Ration Board. Richard said, “give me your leave paper, I’ll show you how a uniform works,
Boy! He did alright, he asked for about forty gallons worth of tickets and the guy insists he have some
extra and gave him about two hundred gallons of tickets! He said the guy wouldn’t let him talk he said,
no, no, no, you want to take your girl riding when you get home! Sheez, I hate stealing!

 That was a delicious week. I had missed my folks more than I could ever tell them. Of course those few
days passed so quick and I was back on a train back to Philly.

Florida seems really nice when you come to it from the ice and snow up there!

 The visit home to see my folks that Christmas vacation right in the middle of World War II served to
point out to Richard and myself how intensely serious that the total American people were taking the war.
My Mom didn’t have much sugar, for some reason that really bothered her. Many food items seem to be a
little shy at home. Everybody had ration tickets so much per month sort of thing. The biggest problem as I
can remember was gasoline and tires.

 I can remember that vacation was over much too quickly and I was right back in the war effort

 As the shop super had promised me I had some luck in my work. I had sort of filled in here and there at
different times on different jobs and on different boats and all of a sudden I made boat builder second
class. Now the raise in pay was quite normal and of not much importance but having won the rating was a
really fine feeling I was pretty proud.

 It seemed that we had more and more work shoved at us as the weeks went by, and they kept requiring
longer hours of all of us. I seem to remember that there was a pretty long spell of ten hour days that went
on seven days a week.

All this caused a lot of grumbling, but I don’t think it really bothered anyone much. I believe it’s just sort
of normal for a boat builder to fuss and moan and complain.

 This was my first time to work in a large boat shop with a big crew like that. There is no doubt that I
certainly extended my knowledge of boat building here at the 68 shop, quite rapidly I might add. Strongly
enough I also learned pretty quickly that I was not the only one there that was nervous and felt like a
dummy because of his previous small town experience. I don’t know why that was such a comfort to me.

I guess I am always pretty interested in people and as time progressed I became better acquainted with a
whole bunch of these people. Most of them I can remember this half century later as plainly as it was
yesterday. Some of the names I have forgot but I sure remember the faces.

Ken Bailey and Al Giles were two other Florida fellows that I got to know real well.

 One day superintendent Bachelor stopped by at my boat and said, “Mills, did you ever make any stems,
keels and deadwood?” Well I don’t remember what I exactly hemmed and hawed at him but he took me
over to the big boat foundation benches and introduced me to “Pappy Trout” and said, If I wanted to try it,
we would like you to start at 50’ ML stems tomorrow, any questions ask “Pappy.” So in another two
months “Pappy” and I are real buddies and I am made boat builder first class! I was proud all over again. I
always did love to chisel rabbits in stems.

I found out later that no one else would take the fifty foot motor launch stem job, everybody turned it
down in the whole shop! I never figured out why.

 One of the finest fellows that I worked with, that I remember well was a good looking fellow named
Mulvahill. He was sort of a puzzle to everyone. He had graduated from the Annapolis Naval Academy
with pretty high grades, when it came time to graduate and become a lieutenant in the Navy he refused the
commission and came up and went to work at the 68 shop. No reason, no explanation, just didn’t want to
be in the navy.

 There were a bunch of fellows like Fred Tomlinson and Joe Liener who were just flat in love with boats
and woodwork and each lunchtime we sort of got together and had great visits.

 There was one nice older fellow named Frank something. He was a dandy tale spinner and a heap of fun
in general. One day he didn’t show up for work, in a couple more days we began to be really worried
about him. He came back to work the following day all sunburn and smiles. I said, “Where in the world
were you Frank? We were worried about you!” He said, “oh, I went down to the horse races with an old
friend of mine I hadn’t seen in a spell, we had a grand couple days!” I said something about the boss
getting steamed about it. He said, “Son you got to every so often just steal yourself a couple days, and
then you feel better, you know when you think back, you only remember those nice days, you can’t
remember those sweaty, heavy hot job days!”

 Another day after having one of Franks grand talks, I said to him, “Frank you must have gone to college
to know all that.” He let out a snort and says, “college! Why son I never went to school a day in my life,
my old man didn’t believe in a kid going to school.” Why he said we had a little, shallow lake about a
quarter mile long and not too wide. My Dad took an old skiff boat and built a little pilot house on it.
Starting wheel rudder and all, I’d pole it up wind there set in my pilot house and steer her back down the
lake, oh I had a wonderful time! Makes me think his Dad must of known something the world needs!
                            Panama Canal Shops And Fellows
My arrival to Panama Canal Zone Employee, during the last half of world war two was a marvelous thrill
to me and, these first few days were unforgettable.

I had read so much about the place, and poured over photos of it so often, that I felt that I had already
been there! Deja’vu maybe? On the other hand, there were so many things that were different to me than I
had never seen or heard of in all categories, Flora and Fauna, topography of, surrounding country,
weather, people and local attitudes.

 I had shipped my tools ahead from Philly Navy Yard by ocean freight about three weeks earlier, and
spent two weeks at home with my folks in Clearwater, Florida. I had written instructions to board a big
plane in Miami at 8:30, this certain morning, four motor Strato Liner I think they called it (no jets then!) I
slept most of the way to the Canal Zone, not unusual for me.

When we climbed out of the plane at Balboa, I was struck by the thick layer of low menacing clouds
drifting down on top of the hills all about us. I said, “Boy it looks like we are in for a hurricane.” A guy
next to me said, “nah, it looks like this all the time!”

 There was a young fellow with a paper in his hand came up to me and said, “Mills?” I said, “yeah.” He
took me to a big old wooden building, right in the middle of town, unlocked the front door, and handed
me the key. It looked like an old Elks Club dance hall, that had been turned into a flop house. There were
three rows of cots, the length of the building. Two bathrooms with showers ect.

 The fellow said, “This is just for tonight, the Balboa Club House Cafeteria is just a block from here, I
think the food is good if you get up real early for breakfast, fine, otherwise stay right here, I will be by to
pick you up and take you to your permanent quarters in Diablo Heights at 8:00 sharp!”

A very long interesting, and somewhat exhausting day! I met my first leader man, my best too! Young
Mr. McNeil, he was a good boss! Of course I met a score of other people, a couple I had known
previously at the Philly Navy Yard Shop 68. One was Ken Bailey, who left the Philly Navy Yard a couple
months ahead of me.

 At noon I had lunch in the yard mess hall, it was pretty good for war time I thought. The afternoon I
spent getting my tool chest located, and put where I was suppose to be working. I went back to the huge
wooden barracks building. That was to be my house in Diablo Heights for the next two years and sort of
looked things over. Each room had a pair of beds one against side, two little writing tables, two chairs,
and two closets. This room was repeated, ten or twelve times, I don’t remember, each side of the long
hallway through the length of the building, upstairs, and down. I lived down stairs. In the center of one
side, was about a thirty foot square bathroom, six showers, six commodes, six lavatories, directly across
the hall was an equal size room called the reading room, three feet deep in newspaper and magazines and
paperback books, wow! What a fire hazard!

 Well, I want to tell you I have not had any lace on my underpants in a good many years, but I will not
ever forget what my first night was like in that barracks!
 I sort of had the room all to myself the first two weeks, so I got busy and hung up my suit and slacks ect.
I in the closet, wrote a letter to my folks, then got in bed and fell asleep.

 Some time around 2:00 A.M. there was a blood curdling shriek and two or three crashes like broken glass
right outside my door! I sat up in bed and tried to assess the situation, hearing much shouting at the end of
the long hall. I unlocked my door and peeked out, a large whiskey bottle whizzed by my nose so close
that I think it still itches, well I thought, I guess I’ll lock the door and go back to bed! The rest of the night
was not sleepable, the thumps, bumps, crashes, shouts and screams, and noise was several decibels above

 The next morning after getting rigged up, I tippy-toed out my door, all was quiet, but the hall was paved
with broken glass. In the restroom there was a fully clothed guy asleep in the shower with the water
running on him, and after a quick shave I hurried out of there, there was a trio sleeping on the commodes
that had fowled themselves and I never like to wake anybody. Well of course! I found out at the Diablo
mess hall at breakfast the previous day had been pay day! I thought, what in the world have I gotten
myself into?

 In the following weeks I slowly learned that some of the smiles at the shop would bite you in the back, I
also found that a whole lot of really rough looking guys were the best in the world, and I became friends
with goodly dozens of such in that shop that I will never forget.

 Likewise back at the barracks, I had to reassess my first impression of my house mates to a large degree
that is. You see many young guys from everywhere U.S.A. were making about three or four times or
more money per month than they ever did in their life. This coupled with the fact that there was no Gov.
tax on most any kind of booze and some local distillery had real bargains in rum, brandy, bourbon, large
quart bottles and fifths for ninety cents ea. Good dark rum! The rest was just half what it cost in the states
so those young nuts really pitched one every pay day night! After all they were far from their Mama’s!

I tried to get right into the war effort immediately that was overriding reason for my being in the Canal
Zone. I was constantly astonished by various attitudes and viewpoints.

 Right up to that fateful Pearl Harbor attack date, the Canal Zone regular employees had a real paradise.
They had moderately easy jobs that was of their own choosing mostly. They paid no taxes, income, nor
sales, income, nor goods, ect. They had Government warehouse privileges in their own departments,
wholesale to them. Commissaries at the zone and all army and naval stations, they lived for far less
grocery and clothing money. The canal zone furnished living quarters for a rent that was a joke. After they
finished their thirty years they usually were really well off by any of our standards! But the Jap attack on
Pearl Harbor scared all of them they just knew they were next!

 They had some fat boys out there digging fox holes that hadn’t really worked in years. They screamed to
Uncle Sam in Washington, D.C. so loud that they had all means of planes, ships, mechanics, soldiers,
mariners, navy, right now! Well by the time I got there I wanted to know why them old fellers sat over
there and glared at us?

The old timers really had their own little world, they would show you some old machine or tool with
great pride, well most of it was there in the first World War. I, having left a big shop with brand new
equipment at the Philly Navy Yard. I probably wasn’t too tactful, in my asking if they came off of Noah’s

 Well, they had a few really good old machines. One was called Daniel’s planer. It had a little carefully
laid rail road track about 22 inches wide, it ran straight as a die, and just as level for about a hundred feet
each side of the planer head, which straddled the track with a couple upright members that lifted the
planer knives, pressure rollers and all quite high off the bed of the wagon, which was about 20” high and
24” wide with a wooden top, this wagon was about 75’ or 80’ long and had carefully turned wheels ect.
And a cable arrangement was controlled up by the cutter head. You could get a real head start on a big
spar or a flag pole! I really liked that machine! They also had a very old resaw that was great. Then too
they had an 8 stationary belt sanders with a nice polished table that beveled down 45 degrees. They were
marvelous machines!

 Well, I soon learned that I had offended most of the leader men in that shop and they soon conspired to
sort of rig up against me. Shortly the new superintendent called me in to the office and attacked me
verbally, accusing me of soldering ect. ect. Well I just had to tell him he was wrong about that and that he
didn’t know what he was talking about.

 So for the next month I drew some really nasty chores. Then finally, the super said, “I want you to report
to the car shop tomorrow morning.” I said, “You mean railroad cars? “Right, ask for Mr. Hammond” he

I tell you right at the time I was really down in the dumps. I had really tried my hardest to serve the job
well, now I was going to get kicked out! That kind of a deal when far from home is quite upsetting. I
didn’t even know how to think about it, it was so unfair!

 Well, I went to the car shop the next morning and introduced myself to Mr. Hammond. I mostly wanted
to talk to someone. I told him I had been denigrated by a couple or three leader men at my shop and the
new superintendent had a cast iron head and sent me to the car shop! I told him I was a rated boat builder
1st class and boats were what I liked. That I neither knew nor cared much about trains! He said, “Now,
now, we will teach you about them, then you’ll really like them!” He was such a nice genial guy
compared to my super. I decided to stay a few days just for the hell of it.

 I never could shoot a gun, mopping decks didn’t appeal to me! And saluting some gold braded ass all the
time would have been terrible for me. So I carried my tools to the track number, as I was told to, and in a
few minutes, a good looking middle aged black man joined me, he said his name was Rahbee. I found out
shortly that it meant Robbie in Jamaican! He was a most unusual helper! I told him I knew nothing about
those cars and all my troubles. He said with a gorgeous smile, “Brodah, don’ you worry none, I show you
everyting, I helped build dat railroad, I know everyting!” He darted off saying, “stay right here, here
comes our jobs.” Robbie was not kidding, no, he showed me how to rebuild a boxcar, from start to finish!
It was a really rotted out entirely wooden antique! Robbie groaned and said, “dis is one of dem real ol’
ones all that damn wood!” I told him that’s good if you can tell me how to get these big old draw bars and
hardware off right quick, I’ll show you how to cut wood!

We got along fine, I found out that Robbie, who I thought was about forty years old, was almost seventy,
he really had been there when they built the Panama Canal! The car shop Superintendent was pretty
pleased with Robbie and I. I had served my time and was due back in the boat shop. Mr. Hammond tried
to get me to stay with him. I was sorely tempted, as I always count friendship as a large factor, but I told
him I was a boat builder, and I’d best go. I told him I sure would like to take Robbie with me! He just

 In the mean while I had become acquainted with a dandy bunch of sailing type people in the shop, and
others throughout the yard. I was asked to join the Panama Bay Yacht Club, which I understand had a real
nice place on the canal in peace time, but the army had commandeered it for the duration. The club met at
prescribed intervals and places and had a bit of activity as would fit war time restrictions. Days of perfect
weather with bright sun, nice wind ah yes, the wind, during the dry season, the wind never stops, it
sometimes gets a little harder, but about fifteen to twenty I would guess would be the wind speed. Then as
the old timers say by government decree the rainy season starts January 15th, if I remember correctly, no
matter for the next eight or nine months you can’t walk across the street without getting rained on! No one
pays it any attention, nor goes and changes clothes, because before you get there you are either dry
already or get rained on again. This takes a little getting used to. I went to get my good shoes out of my
closet and I was startled….. They were bright green! So were my two leather belts. That’s when I found
out that the little wire cage in the bottom was shaped to have a large light bulb or a heating element
burning in it all the time, otherwise the mildew would take over.

 A lot of newcomers to the zone were immediately overwhelmed by all kinds of prickly rashes and all
kinds of skin problems. My friend McIntosh told me early in the game “be sure to wear your slippers in
the shower and bathrooms and when you bathe, dry between your toes, and put powder on, and you’ll be
ok. Mac lived in an older barracks in Balboa and we often went down to the Panama Bay Market area,
where the club kept their boats moored out during the war.

 Mac had a one of a kind Ford truck and very kindly invited me to go with him for a sail. We jumped in
his truck and went to Panama Bay and got his boat. He had built himself an about fifteen foot little sharpie
that sailed real fine and we had some== great sails in it. The sailing group kept after me to build a boat! I
wasn’t there to have any picnic, so I politely declined, but after D Day things started looking different to

 I noticed that what they were throwing out as scraps would frame me up quite a nice little boat! (cracker
style that is).

So I drew a little plan for a pretty simple eighteen footer, it was not a beauty but it did sail good. The
building of it caused some apprehension amongst my friends. I decided what the heck…..

 Nobody refused to help me! I swept all the junk in the reading room up in a pile and lofted my boat,
made cardboard patterns for the frame pieces, stem ect. I worked in my room till I had a set of frames,
transom and stem, then one night I set her up in the reading room, upside down nailed to the floor each
extended frame ends and the like. After that it was not long before I had the chines in and the sides
planked and bottom faired ready to plank.

 At about this time, the janitor of our building stayed late waiting for me in my room. He was another
Jamaican black man named “Colie” he was distraught, he had to warn me that the quartermaster had gone
through the three buildings two blocks over the day before and “I must not be caught wid no boat in de
house mon!” The quartermaster was due here in two more days! Well, I sort of figured I’d get caught
sooner or later, so I told Colie not to worry about it.

 When I got to work the next morning, I casually mentioned that the quartermaster was due the next day
and would probably put me in the clink when he saw my boat. My golly those guys were hopping up and
down you got to get it out! We will help you! Tonight, yeah! Ken Bailey said, “bring it over to my house
he has already inspected my house yesterday!

 So I got off work a couple hours early and rushed home and sawed everything loose from the floor, stem
and all, right down the sheer because I had measured the hall door way and I figured I had an inch
clearance. Everybody showed up there after supper it was moonlight they had some doubts about it fitting
through the door, about eight or nine of us grabbed it, turned it up on it’s side, and down the hall out the
door out to the top of Walter Johnson’s Ford sixty, a few pieces of line and he drove across town to Ken
Bailey’s house. We quietly slid it under the house in back of the laundry room, and then everybody tried
to get into Walter’s car and it blew a tire out. He was MAD!

 Well, I brought the beer that night, and I tell you, I was some relieved. A few days later, Colie saw me,
and said, “oh man, I sure am hoppy dat you got dat boat out of dere! Dat quartermaster asked me who
made all dem shavings and stuff?! I tol him I rekon some one jis whittle a little bit.” Well, over the
months, I moved the boat back and forth 3 times and thanks to my marvelous gestapo the quartermaster
didn’t get zip. The boat turned out well, and I had several cruises to the Perlas Isles in her.

 At some time during my C.Z. stay (just about an even 2 years!) I was told by the Balboa Shop
Superintendent to get all my tools together, and enough clothes for at least a month, that Willie Arsenault
and I are being sent over the other side of the zone to Mt. Hope Yard to help on an emergency job.

 Well, Willie was a very interesting little French Canadian type from Martha’s Vineyard. He was very
aggressive, and though he was quite small sized, as some others in the shop were huge in comparison, he
was very valuable and full of personal opinions, most of which the fellows tired of rapidly. Well I guess
the super figured he and I deserved each other. He sat with me on the train and talked me all the way to
Cristobal he grabbed the bed in the same room I was put in, and he talked me to sleep. When I woke up
in the morning, he talked me to the cafeteria, I tell you, he was a lot of company!

 After Willie and I had our breakfast in Cristobal, we boarded a little bus that carried us to the Mt. Hope
Yards. They were not as large as the Balboa Yards, their graving docks were smaller, I think, One of the
first jobs we had was in the graving dock they had a leak in an old Venezuelan cattle boat to chock and
block then a bunch of planks to replace in the bottom. You’d never guess what came oozing out of the
bottom, when we pried the plank off! OH DEAR!

 Finally they took Willie and I out on a concrete pier to show us the “Emergency.” It was a sixty-five foot
air and sea rescue boat, brand new, that had been cut nearly in two by a sub chaser. Some poor little new
skipper misjudged his turning radius and fetched up pinning that ARP against the sea wall, the big cast
stem went right through the pilot house until it broke chunks out of the wall and the wall broke all the side
frames for thirty-five feet! Maybe this will give Willie a new interest!
 Well the shop foreman sent us a couple more mechanics and a couple more helpers and the job slowly
progressed, Willie spent most of the day arguing with everybody then about 3:30 in the afternoon, he
would spring to work and produce more perfect work in the hour than the rest of us could do in two days!
I learned a lot from Willie! He was a really good mechanic.

 As the war drew to an end, and that wonderful victory day arrived several of us grabbed groceries and
stocked our little boats for a cruise to the Perlas Isles, I tell you that was a fun trip. I guess none of us will
forget it quickly.

 Having been raised here on the Gulf of Mexico, I was a little apprehensive about taking such small that
far into the ocean! The Perlas are about sixty miles from Panama Harbor, strangely enough the greatest
problem is being becalmed. Most of the year in the dry season it blows too hard, so you just don’t go then.
It always amazed me to see a black man out in the ocean thirty or forty miles fishing from a little fourteen
foot dug out that was only about two foot wide!

 I have always loved all kinds of fruit, no matter which land it grows in, it would have to be mighty
strange to keep me from liking it. Now I am here to tell you the fruit in the Republic of Panama and
surrounding islands is beyond my power of description. I know everybody in the U.S.A. think they know
what bananas taste like and oh sure anyone has had pineapple so what they say. Well, I tell you, you just
haven’t had the real stuff till you get to panama. Many people don’t ever know what a mango is, they
think they don’t like avocado, they don’t care for papaya! Oh well, someday maybe they too can….

 Yes, I made some good buddies in the Canal Zone shops a lot of them I remember so well and I can’t
recall their name. That really infuriates me!

 I worked with one big old boy, he was a real tough looking guy and it was a few days before we got
around to visiting. Brooks Hurst his name was. He was from Atlantic City. He did a lot of caulking and he
did pretty good at that, but when it came his turn to do some replanting, boy he needed lots of help! Now
“Brooksy” had a daily black jack game set up over in the boiler shop. The end of the shop where these
steel plates were stacked against three walls, largest sheets at the bottom getting a foot at a time shorter as
they were stacked, made a sort of a little amphitheater and about forty kibitzers sat around on those stacks
and bet pretty large sums on the game that the four players had going all during lunch hour.

 It got when once in a while Brooksy would say, “Millsy, you got any money? I need a hundred dollars!” I
said, “Sheez! I only brought lunch money. How ‘bout tomorrow?” “OK” he’d say. Well in a couple days
he would pay me back, and then next time I’d ask him aren’t you worried about this dumb game? He said,
“Oh no, when they see me borrow money and come back that just fires them up good! The odds are with
the dealer! That’s me!” So he made a whole lot more with cards than with tools!…….

 Brooksy was looking forward to his wife coming down, he showed me her picture, “My” I thought “how
does such a rough looking gent get such a beautiful girl!” He had been employed the prescribed length of
time to be eligible for family quarters on the other side of Diablo Heights. After a few days of his wife’s
arrival he tells several of us that we are invited over to his house to a party to meet his wife, and warm his
house! We tell him “OK, we will be there.”

So, Harry Leudguist and I had been working together that day. He said, “I’m going home and clean up,
I’ll come by and pick you up.” So I go home and get all cleaned up, and about then I was offered a good
drink of Pepsi-Cola with ice and rum in it, so I thought while I am waiting, why not? Then Harry came
and we had a couple more, finally Harry says “Let’s go man, we’re late.”

 We climb the stairs to Brooksy’s new apartment. He has borrowed folding chairs and the room is packed.
Brooksy gets them to slide over and fit a couple more chairs in, I end up sitting beside somebody’s
gorgeous bodied wife, clad in a one strap satin creation straight from Paris, I ‘spose! Wonderful cleavage
O my. Now I had lit one of my favorite King Edward stogies coming up the stairs, and after we got all
seated. Everybody was terribly quiet in straight faced, so prim and proper! Meanwhile myself I am
thinking; “Some party!”

 Finally I said quite loudly “Hey what’s this, anyone awake? Did Brooksy kill somebody?” Now I hadn’t
noticed but I had a three inch ash on my cigar and when I waved my hand it fell right on the Venus de
Milo’s bare bosom, part of it must have been a little warm sliding down that beautiful crevice, the rest sort
of bounced here and there down the front of that nice black sheath. She leaped up with a scream and
started fishing for the hot one and myself always the gentleman I jumped up and started brushing her
down trying to calm and console her with very sage remarks like “oh my, I am sorry, here let me help
you,” brush! brush! “Good for moths! You know, uh, oh, I am so clumsy,” brush, brush.

 Well that prim bunch of people were no longer quiet. They were hilarious, and I found out later that the
guy that laughed the loudest, was the poor girls husband! Brooksy said he sure was glad I came and got
the party started for him! Hah, What a bunch of drunks!

Now I suppose most of the Leader men are in their eighty’s or dead, any rate I never could hate very long
but I certainly never won any laurels in that shop, from the management!

Quite a lot of the fellows that worked there with me have come by to visit me which really pleased me.
Many of them had relatives in different Florida towns so they came. Some that I have heard were in St.
Pete never found me nor I think, I don’t know why, maybe we had the names spelled wrong!

 The work in the Balboa shop Wood division was a lot different than at the Philly Navy Yard where we
built almost entirely all new boats and patched a few. Here in Balboa we had a select crew build about
one or two forty foot long boats each year. Once in a while there was a couple or three pretty little lap
strake Wherry’s were built. My friend Ned McIntosh was the master builder in that department, they were
beautiful! All the other work was patching holes that the black natives put in the Bum boats with great
regularity, once in a while there was a bunch of boats to put in shape there and they were Y.P. boats run
by the army that we kept up and a great deal of planking replaced in some of them occasionally, the army
doesn’t steer too good either. Most of this work took place out on a stretch of concrete along the canal for
about a quarter of a mile. There were several floating docks they had quite some gang planks as there
were regularly an eighteen to twenty-two foot tide on the Pacific side. On the Atlantic side only eighteen
to thirty inches!

In the shop they were building coffins, furniture, scaffold jacks for the graving docks and all sorts of odd
office equipment ect. One time we had a couple truck loads of old life rafts to repair, made me think a
whole lot less about balsa!
Everything was more difficult for me, the three bosses who had sabotaged me saw to that!

 The old bum boats that we worked on had piled up and down the canal and having often ran there
considerable patches of spilled bunker oil, which sort of made a sticky mess of their bottoms. Well when
the man took you over to one with his big piece of chalk and said take out this and this, leave there to take
out this, he really handed you a nasty mornings’ work!

 At some point I had become buddy’s with a guy named Ted Carlson. He was a real nice fellow who was
absent about half the time due to a bit of indulgence, I figured. I found out later that he had gone thru a
shattering, failed romance that just took all the pep right out of him. He would stand in back of me for a
good while and visit like a tourist, then all of a sudden he’d say, “Millsy let me show you a good way to
do that.” Eureka! He was a real master boat builder he showed me a grand bunch of tricks that I am
thankful for. I sure hope he got his life back on track. I feel like I owe him a lot!

That is something I have noticed about carpenters and builders of wooden boats, they are all very
generous and sharing their knowledge and ways of getting something done! I don’t know if this is so in
other trades or not, but I have been showed a heap of wonderful techniques by many fellows I have
worked with in the wood butchering business. For this I have always been grateful.

 As I remember, the war kind of took a turn for our side towards the last and having no more P.T. boats to
load on tankers for the Pacific Theater as they called it then, it seemed a lot of our work was done.

 All my bunch could think about was getting some time off and making a Perlas Island trip! We did this
several times, sometimes with just one boat and sometimes with two.

 I mostly remember the good fishing around there. You could troll up mackerel and dolphin so plentiful, it
would tire you taking them off! Ned MacIntosh being down easter, would cut up a fresh fish with potato
and onions and we would cook it in our single kettle on Mac’s primus stove, then with a couple of spoons
we would sit straddle of the kettle and eat out of the pot lid! Delicious chowder!

 There were many interesting places to explore there, and one place I remember was a real show of
colored fish of all kinds. I spose by now there is a Hilton Hotel there and a scuba school. There were lots
of very large sharks in the area.

 These islands were said to be identical to the far pacific islands where the war was, so this was the
training ground for the advanced P.T. boat crews before they went into the war proper. They would trail
each other in the dark, this led to some accidents and some good repair work….maybe I should say bad

 At any rate, after V.J. Day the work sort of come to a halt and the great bulk of mechanics boarded planes
for god old U.S.A. I stayed another five or six weeks. I had to sell my boat and the old Ford I had bought.
I also had to crate up all the tools I had bought and get them all shipped home with the rest of my junk.

 It was grand to be back with my Mom and Dad, but I dream about Panama yet. It is a beautiful place and
I will never forget it nor the friends that I made there.
                             CLARK MILLS BOAT WORKS
 I have always held my friend Horace Hamlin, Jr. in real love and deep respect. And in our long
friendship and association have enjoyed and I profited greatly from his advice, expertise and wonderful
visiting we have had through the years.

But the last couple times he saw me, he really came on strong in favor of writing a book about my old
boat shop and subsequent boats ect…the people ect…and the like.

 This immediately seemed to me absolutely a bad idea, because even though reading is my best pleasure, I
am (1) a real bad writer, (2) bad speller (3) never have been good at proper grammar (4) I have become
extremely lazy!

 Now, the last time Horace came by to see me, he really gave some hard sell. Telling me how he and a
few of the old friends would enjoy reading what ever I wrote!

 Then he really tipped me up on edge and left me. He said, “even your kids would like it.” So here I am
with pen in hand, trying to start a book, a small book, hoping it will please my friend Horace and my kids,
and anybody else I can get to read it.

 There was a spell of time in my life, that had special significance to me. It was right after World War II, I
had just returned home after working about 2 years in the Philadelphia Navy Yard followed by 2 years in
the Panama Canal Zone. Now having been nutty about all boats (anything that floated all of my life), I
had met a host of really good friends in the various naval boat shops where we worked and some who
lived more permanently close by would invite me over to see their shops. All this firmly convinced me
that I should get home and start my own boat shop.

Eventually we won the war, and finally I got home and got back to peace-time boat work.

 I must tell you a bit about my good friend Walter Prior. He and I go back to (I don’t remember the date)
depression days. I was building a little canvas double ender in my Dads garage and I happened to look up
and see this tall young fellow standing on the walk in front of our driveway.

 He stood there for several minutes. I finally called him to “come over and see my boat!” He came in and
we discussed my project with much enthusiasm. He said, “I am building a canvas boat too.” I said where
do you live? Lets go see it! So I dropped my tools and we walked around to his dad’s garage, now this is
the time that I made a real classic exclamation. “Wow!”, I said, “You got three frames!” “How did you do

Myself at that time could only fair up two frames. It was firmly established that Walter was a superior
boat builder!

 We launched our boats in a few more days and had lots of good trips around the bay together and it
started a life long friendship that has not changed my love and respect for he and all his family.
 Walter had property in Dunedin and I bought a boat shed that he had for sale. I had worked for him off
and on since the war, and when he started his new shop over in Ozona, I thought it time to start my own

I helped Walter with a few jobs at his new shop then finally got around to putting full time in at the Clark
Mills boat works.

 I worked hard and I had a real good time at it. Also made lots of good friends but not too much money, in
spite of what some customers said of how I charged them.

 My shop was only a metal roof and 6”x 6” post over 8’ so I was not ready to lock up at all, nor was there
any floor.

 I hired Del Hait, a young man who lived next door, and a much younger lad named Jimmy Edwards who
lived in the house on the street in back of my shop. The two of them put up metal walls, windows and
large sliding doors so when they were done we could lock up.

 Also they added a lean-to on the side with about 14’ x 45’ wooden floor for lofting. Then I rented a
cement mixer and they put me in a fine concrete floor.

 These fellows worked very hard and I was very happy with them, so I kept them on and had them help
me build a flock or I should say a fleet of Optimist Prams. This was a little boat that Colonel Cliff McKay
called me on the phone and asked to come to his office that evening. He had been a guest speaker at the
Optimist Club meeting the night before and said he really had them all fired up ready to pursue a junior
sailing program, and he wanted me to draw him a plan for a simple little sail boat that a boy and his dad
could build in their garage with simple tools. The boat was not to cost over fifty dollars and his idea was
to have some merchants and business company’s sponsor a kid in return for having a sign on the boat.

 Well, I was glad to do anything for the kids, especially to promote sailing. It was the next couple nights
getting it done. I drew lots of sail boats every night, the problem with this was the price. Every time I had
a nice little sailing skiff drawn, it figured out too much cost. So I finally cut the bow off making it a butt
headed pram.

 Mr. Ernie Green and the Optimist committee also Colonel McKay thought it would do so I finished a
sample the following week.

 I hauled it down to Haven Street Dock in Clearwater and Cliff McKay Jr. got in and took off in about a
20 M.P.H. breeze. He scooted out into the bay on the wind, off the wind, across and then reached back to
the dock, he landed saying, “It was really great!”

Then Dewey Thomas got in, he’s another long legged boy that loves sailing, “perfect!” he yells.

Little did any of us, that day, realize how successful that little boat and Colonel McKay and Ernie Green’s
plans were to be!

The evening of the next Optimist Club meeting which was held in the Grey Moss Inn, I brought the
number one pram down and put it right in the entrance foyer all rigged with sail ect… It caused a flurry of
comment by the members as they came in, and they were most all in favor of proceeding with the
promotion of the program.

 In just a few weeks the Optimist Club of Clearwater had a fleet of 20 or so prams. They stored them in
the old fish processing factory in back of the Yacht Club.

One night the old factory burned totally down, destroying all but one of the prams that a boy had at home

 That night the public spirited Howard Hartley, who was the leading radio broadcaster, got on the air and
delivered about a four hour impassioned plea for donations to replace these poor kids boats! It was a very
successful program. In the next 24 hours the club had collected enough money to finish sixty new prams!

 Not many boys and dads built their boats, they mostly wanted me to. I had sort of evolved a few time
saving methods, like tacking eight sheets of ¼” plywood together and marking with careful patterns, then
running a skill saw around them.

 Then we built a jig, and Del and Jimmy and I had prams coming off about three a day. All carpentry
finished, no paint, hardware or sails, $42.50. So you see nobody can blame the inflation on me!

 The pram program spread and snowballed all over the state and eventually across the ocean to Europe. It
made a bit of work for a small boat shop like mine, and I continuously have tried to explain to various
news media through the years, my share of the credit was only that of an Optimist Club member who had
just as much fun out of the early prams as the kids did!

 One nice morning when we were all in our places, glueing, nailing, cutting, ect… A very neat gentleman
eased in the front door and stopped, standing right in the middle of all the rows of ready built prams.

“Yes sir” I said, “Can I help you?”

“Well” he says with his hands in his pockets, “I wanted to find out if you could build one of these boats
with the strips on the outside instead of the inside?”

 “Well now, I reckon you could, but why in the world would you do that? It would sort of obstruct the
flow of the water around the hull!” “It would not sail as good, besides it would look like sin!”

“Oh” he says, “I don’t want to sail it, I want to mix some plaster in it.”

You know that fellow was momentarily a big disappointment to me, me and my fellows taking the pram
very seriously and all, but then we got to laughing about it and soon got over it.

 But you can seriously impair your relationship or say future friendship by making any kind of fun of a
boat builder’s products while standing beside it, in his shop, in front of him!
 One of the nicest things about the Clark Mills boat shop was the high grade of sociability that was almost
constantly ongoing.
The big sliding doors on three sides made it one of the coolest places in town and I usually had from 2 to
10 people around on the lumber pile or saw horses. I have had to often invite someone to get off that there
bench! How do you expect me to work! Then to turn around and have someone shove a Pepsi in my face.
The point is that I nearly had too many friends to get any production.

But about that time I started getting a bit more family, just one baby at a time you understand. I developed
a very busy demeanor that kind of pushed the hobby lobby to one side. Still couldn’t seem to get rich! I
heard about dedicated priest taking the oath of poverty! I got to wondering about that for us dedicated
boat workers.

 When my wife and I were first married, I would often close up shop and we would take my little putt putt
skiff and go scalloping, just across Dunedin Bay.

Now in case you are from back inland some place, I must tell you about scallops. They are widely
gathered around the oceans and probably eaten by a lot of folks who have never seen them in their shell.
They used to be laying about on the grass flats all up and down the Gulf of Mexico, free for the taking.
Now a days they are a bit scarce and have to be looked for, but back then people seemed to find a little
more time for those simple pleasures.

 We used to go stone crabbing also on the same grass flats, we would bend a piece of ¼” rod into a hook
and when we’d see a sandy hole we would usually get a nice stone crab out of it. A dozen or so claws
would make a fine salad.

 We also made occasionally a clam chowder and sometimes coquina soup. At night we used our putt putt
boat to gig mullet with a gas pressure lantern. This is fun, or was, fishing is now not very good in our bay,
The encroachments of civilization and avid tourist have changed all that. Anyway that’s how a proper
cracker was suppose to do it in this area about the close of World war II. Meanwhile I got a bit of power
equipment along after getting a 10” Delta Unisaw, 6” Delta joiner, a16” Delta bandsaw, and a Delta floor
stand drill press, These four items about took the rest of my capitol or a little drill here and a skill saw
later as I could afford it.

Now I have always been sort of a small boat fancier and seemed we had one or two little jobs coming on
or finishing up year in and year out. Walter Prior preferred power boats, commercial sizes for mackerel
and mullet fishing also some beautiful larger sport fishing types.

This shop not being on the water, I had to get a neighbor to weld up an old car axle and made a fairly
heavy duty trailer, which I would pull with my old 31 Oldsmobile. I would go a few blocks over to Main
Street then go down to the Dunedin Basin and haul a boat back to the shop for repair or painting.

 This was not my favorite work but I got quite a lot of it and finally learned how to load a boat after I
turned the carrier and one fell over on to the turning tire and shot off the trailer into Mr. Hoveys filling
station, turned just right and stopped beside the pumps. I turned my head and caught a glimpse just after it
stopped and I thought “Gee that looks just like the boat I just hauled out!” It was! Mr. Sam says, “Want
to fill er up?” No I said just help me shove her back on the wagon! Which he good naturedly did.

I used to make one or two trips to Tampa each month for supplies and took the trailer for hauling
plywood or lumber. We used to try to keep about 1000 ft. of juniper ahead.

 They sell juniper in rough sawed flitches, which is when they just cut the log all one way without turning

 One day Del and I were unloading a stack of Juniper, The bark edges were still on each board. Del said
to me, “You know if I had me some glue, I could glue me up a tree!

 Del has always been fun to work with, but we ran out of work a few months later and he left for another

 We didn’t stay out of work long, I had built a few “Snipes” which are a racing class that was very
popular at that time and became largest in numbers in the world. I had sailed Snipes and crewed on them
for several years and thought they were real good boats and all of a sudden I had about three orders for 3
Snipes all at once, That is one mean little boat to build having to measure to very close tolerances and no
deviation from the plans. It has ¾” planks which is heavy enough for a 30’ launch!

It wasn’t long before I had some “Snipes winning races in different states, this brought more orders and a
bunch of publicity that helped us get known better.

I probably built close to forty Snipes in the next three years. They probably did me more good at training
me to be careful than anything else I have ever done, if they didn’t measure in the rule you had to eat it!

 I also met a lot of really nice people in the Snipe Class, some came back to see me year after year when
they came to the Clearwater Mid Winter Snipe Regatta at Clearwater Yacht Club.

 This was how I met my dear friend Frank Levinson, he bought a snipe from me, then his two brothers did
too the next season. Frank and I eventually became partner in another company, bless him, he was the

Some of the most delightful days I have had were those when Walter Prior and I were working together.
We had worked together at Brumbys Marine Ways, after that we were together working for Clearwater
Boats Inc. these jobs were before World War II.

 Both of us were I believe completely immersed in boats, designs, construction, performance ect… even
though we varied in our preferences.

 We became quite used to each other and would on opposite ends of a boat all morning, out of sight of
each other and we had a never ending conversation and visit, never worrying about what the other was

 Walter had been in Key West during World War II also Tampa Ship Yard.
 He told me this story of Key West that with his permission I will repeat. He said that when he was
walking around the fishing piers, on one of his days off, he saw one boat among a group tied there at the
fish house, this particular boat kept drawing his attention repeatedly and he realized that it was a really
strange hull design that just compelled one to look at it!
 After a few minutes, Walter walked over to where an old man was sitting on a box and asked him if he
knew anything about that funny looking boat.

“Yeah” said the old man, it belongs to old so and so.

“Sure is a funny looking boat, where did he get it?” asked Walter.

 “Why he made it hisself!” said the old man. “He was sitting down here back of the fish house, one cold
day, just sitting there smoking, thinking about building a boat and he saw this little ole duck swimming
around down there in the water, all of a sudden he said “WOW, look how good he goes through the
water!” “He’s just the right shape!” So he jumped up and ran, caught him a duck and carried him home
and copied his measurements and in a few weeks he done built her, there she is!

“How does it run?” asked Walter.

Oh, about six miles an hour, real nice, but it don’t plane none, should have put the wings on it I reckon.

 About the time I arrived home after working in Panama Canal shops, I had to find me a car, They were
scarce right after the war especially decent used ones.

I finally paid two prices for a 31 Oldsmobile and used it for several seasons for transportation and pulling
trailers with it, and all kinds of hauling for the shop.

One cold morning I got her going and sat there gunning the motor, thinking how rough it sounded, all of a
sudden, ker-pow! A rod broke and came right through the side of the block.

I got my dad to tow me to my shop and put her right inside.

I asked all my friends that came in for the next couple days if they knew of any Oldsmobile 31 that I
might rob a motor block out of? No luck!

A couple days later Kay B. came in and I told him I needed a motor.

He said “Heck you don’t have to have no Olds motor, there’s lots of motors would fit in that heap.

I said, “Do you know where?” He said, “You know Swede K.?” “He’s got a Chrysler 6 just rebuilt for his
boat, then lost the boat in that storm last summer.” “So now he wants to sell it.”

So Kay took me to Swedes house.

Swede, an elderly fellow who had lost his sight, came to the screen door, “Yeah?” he said.

“Hi Swede.” said Kay, me and Clarky want to know if you still got that old Chrysler red head for sale?

Swede said, “Oh lord no, I don’t never want to see it again!”
“Who’s got it?” asked Kay.

“Nobody, dad gummit! That’s why I buried it!”

Buried it? I asked, “you mean you got junk piled all over it or what?”

 “Well” said Swede, “You know I paid them fellers $165.00 to rebuild it just like new, they done a good
job on it, but time they finished, my boat was done tore all up so I advertised the motor for $150.00, next
week $100.00, next week $90.00, no damn buyers so I went down to Hoveys Hardware an bought me a
shovel, dug a hole beside it and pushed her in and covered her up!”

“Gee!” I said with some disappointment. “How long ago? You recon it’s still alright. Could I dig it up?
How much do you want for it?”

He said, “Boy if you want it, take it and welcome, but don’t bring it back!” “And fill the hole!”

 Well Kay and I borrowed his new shovel and dug it up, he had laid a piece of roofing over it and that
powder dry sand hadn’t hurt it a bit.

I gave the Broadway Garage $2.00 to bring it over to my shop.

I said to Kay, you know I don’t do motors, who the hell can I get to change them for me?

He said “get Uncle Morrissey to do it!”

Now Uncle Morrissey was the Roush boys uncle from just down the street.

He had been building some huge troughs into the ground for Bob Ress Sr. across the street, for soaking
pilings for treatment with cuprinal.

I walked over to Morrissey’s job and asked him “Did you ever do work on cars?”

He said, as he mopped off the sweat, “I have done all kinds of car work, truck work, tractor, drag line,
motorcycle, bicycle, tricycles and kiddy cars.”

I said, “I bet you couldn’t put a motor from a 29 Chrysler into a 31 Oldsmobile car!”

“How much you want to bet?” he said.

“I’ll pay your price if you’ll do it for me, could you?”

 “Tell you what, I’ll do it! Day after tomorrow when I finish this for Bob.” Meanwhile you get two five
gallon lard cans and a couple cans of gunk and start taking Lazarus apart, don’t lose any part of it, just
soak every piece in kerosene and gunk.”
 By the day Morris came I nearly had the Chrysler motor all soaking in gunk and after about an hour
perusal and measurement Morris flew at it and he was amazing, all of a sudden I saw him standing, one
foot on a fender swinging a 16 lb. Sledge mightily over his head and put a 2” dent in the middle of the fire
wall, in a few minutes I see the Chrysler block had a bit of obstruction that fitted right into that dent

 So he put the Chrysler motor together right into the old car, the pedals needed one short end to be even,
the gas needed a longer rod welded in.

The next morning Morrissey said, “You drive my old Chevy and let’s see if old Lazarus is going to run!”

We towed her around the block a couple times, it was awfully stiff, all of a sudden she cranked up and

 Morrissey drove it around the block a couple times then wheeled into the shop and got out, “you know
what?” he said, “this is almost a tractor now, it has a different differential gear than this motor was built

“That’s OK, I said, I mostly pull boats up the bank anyhow.”

Well, Morrissey charged me sixty dollars and I still think it was a real piece of engineering and a
wonderful bargain.

Some of us crackers aren’t too bright, but that Morrissey was something else!

These were mighty satisfactory days to me, and the nice delta power tools I had bought made me happy
by the hour and still makes me happy just to think about them.

 I was getting to work about 7:00 a.m. each morning so I could get a little drawing board work ahead of
the regular work. Some of this was for customers perusal and some was just for me. Not a whole lot of
importance ever came of it but it was real fun to me.

 These recollections are wandering pretty willy nilly, chronologically, that is, but I still feel that shops
comfortable vibrations.

The vibrations came from a roller brush factory right next door that had heavy machines going, whump!
Whump! Whump! Day and night, part of the citrus business.

Most of the boats I built at that time were about 12’ to 20’ so when we put the concrete down I had three
nice hard pine 2 x 4’s about 20’ long put in flush with the top of the floor and built everything upside
down fastening frames to these 2 x 4”s.

A good many people who came in to see me were my old friends, just to see what I was doing.

Mr. Kamensky was my buddy ever since I was five years old. (That’s another story!)
He would stop in on his way to his grove every morning just for a few minutes. Then he would stop again
on his way home to lunch and then again after lunch and also on his way home that afternoon, so if he
didn’t show up all four times, everyday I would phone his house to see if he was ok or what.

 He was a real sailor and a good captain. He sailed all kinds of boats all his life. I had a ride in the
schooner “Hailigonian” twice in the Havana race. He invited Donny Cochran, myself and Marion Ruff,
some seasick ride I tell you!

Anytime I had any problem at the shop, Mr. K. would quit what he was doing and give me a hand, he
was sort of like another father and a brother, not only to me but to all the young people he knew.

Then there was Mr. Whitaker, a neat, small built man. I can’t remember when I didn’t know him, he was
one of Dunedin Boat Clubs best sailors and he had the cups to prove it. He and Mr. K. used to have some
grand visits in my hearing.

About the middle of the morning, one day, Mr. Whitaker came by and I was showing him some
magazine article in the office, Mr. K. popped in. Hi Whit! Hi Clarky! Whew, if I ain’t had a hell of a

 “What happened,” I asked. “Sit down” said Mr. Whitaker, “Tell us about it!” well said Mr. K “You
remember me telling you about working for professor so and so back when I was a young man? “Yeah” I

 Well he came to see me yesterday, 92 years old! “Did he drive?” I asked. “Oh no.” said Mr. K., he came
in a taxi.” I was surprised, I didn’t know he was still with us, we had a nice visit, I gave him a glass of
wine and we talked about old times and all.

Well what’s that to do with your bad morning? You get a hangover? I asked!

 “Oh no! I am trying to tell you about it dammit! Here’s what happened, I got up this morning, had me an
egg and some tea with mama, went out on the porch and got my specs and jumped in my truck and started
to work, all of a sudden I was sick as hell! I just turned around and when I got home I really felt bad, went
right back to bed. I laid there for a few minutes, finally I sat up, I thinks, hell I feel all right ! So I jump
up, put on my clothes, got ready to go to work and damn, by the time I got down to the truck, I feel awful
bad again! I thought, oh lordy I must be coming down with something! About that time a taxi drove up to
me and professor so and so called to me, he said “Ted, I believe I have your glasses here and I hope you
have mine!” Heh, heh, that made both of us well again. What a crazy morning!

These kind of episodes were sorta continual at Mr. K’s house, he raised four children, three boys, one
There weren’t many dull moments there!

It occurs to me that I am not getting much good stuff into this book about the technical aspects of boat
building and having a small cracker boat shop.

On thinking it over a bit I don’t believe I will worry about it because there are dozens of fine treatise on
design and building of boats, all of them containing beautiful drawings, mathematical formulas, rules,
theories, theorems and all means of impressive engineering data.

 I mostly want to tell about some of the people and what they told me when they came to my shop to drink
a Pepsi!

I been told some dandies that I’ll never forget some of these tales I was directly involved in. Some others
were unforgettable chatter.

I used to do a little work for several of the party boat people over at Clearwater Marina. At that time the
marina was smaller and so were the boats they used.

I knew most of them and some used to drop by to say “hi” or get a board cut and such like.

Anyway, one afternoon one of our captain friends dropped in. Captain Tom Anderson I remember as a
very nice man who was an excellent narrator of any previous happenings.

 Somehow the conversation got around to his party business and I asked him, “You have many people get
seasick?” “Oh hell yes!” he says, “you know the drunkest thing happened last winter, I had sold an all day
trip to a little guy and his big old wife, along with her two brothers and one other woman, they were Ohio

 “That was the bossiest, talkenist, big breasted lady I ever had on my boat. Now while I was on the dock
paying for my fuel, the little guy came up to me and whispered, “If you can get my wife good and seasick,
I’ll give you five dollars!” “It’s a deal I said so we got a going, her a bossin and getting into everything,
and soon as we got off shore far enough, I put the wheel over and eased her up across the swell and we
started rolling like a bitch.”

 Well that did it! Big mama went for the rail an man she coughed up everything she ate since she was five
years old.

Two of us got hold to her and got her below into a bunk, I asked her if she was better there, “She
moaned, oh I lost my teeth!” And started crying.

 “Gee, that was too bad!” I said. “well wait a minute” Captain Tom said, “I aint finished my story. About
2 weeks later with another party we really got into some big groupers and had a real haul, now these
people gave me a couple dollars to clean their fish for em so I’m whacking away on a big ole grouper and
I feel something funny in his gut, so I take my knife and slice her open and damn if it aint a nice upper

 “So I goes down and looks up the fat ladies address in my log and I wrapped the teeth up and went down
and mailed them to that lady, with a note telling her how I got em back for her.” She wrote me a letter
about 2 weeks later thanking me, she said they were not hers but they fit much better than hers and she
appreciated them!

A great deal of discussion went on at my shop about how stiff, or stable a boat would be, how much sail
it would carry in how much wind before it hove down on its beam ends.

 At this time I had just lofted out my first boat of any size, in my new shop, it was a pretty 34’ sloop
designed by Fred Geiger, a Philadelphia, Pa. Designer. I had got to a point of worrying about the 6400
pounds keel I had to either make or have made for this boat.

 I had just been telling my neighbor Fred R. about another small ballast that I had messed up through
ignorance of working with hot lead, nobody had told me too much and I thought heck, I just had to build a
wooden box the shape I wanted the lead, melt her and pour her in. Well I rigged up an old water tank with
a spicket on the bottom and a pipe into the box and when she got hot, let her go! Ok, but while I was
standing there admiring the lead in the box, it starts going down! It’s leaking! Nobody told me to bury the
box in the ground first! All of a sudden my foots on fire. It ran through the grass, I was standing in a
puddle of hot lead! I sure done some kind of turkey dance getting out of it! So I said to Fred “I learned the
hard way!” “Bury the mold first!”

Fred says, “You had all that trouble pouring a 500 pound piece, then your gonna have a hell of a time
making one 6400 pounds!” Then he says, “You know them old big paving bricks out there at the end of
Virginia Street? They make good ballast and you know you can get old window weights over to Tampa
Salvage Company for 10 cents a piece!”

“Oh yeah!” he says, “You know what makes the best ballast for shaller draft boats?”

“What’s that?” I asked. “Gophers!” he said.

 “You mean salamander or turtle types?” I asked. Turtle types like all out in the groves and woods, box
turtles ect…

“Oh get out Fred!” I said.

 No kidding! Old man Joe so and so used to sail all up and down the Gulf in a 36’ sharpy schooner, every
little dock he came to, the kids were waiting with croaker sacks full of Gophers, he bought them for 10
cents each and dumped them in his bilge. Every time he tacked, every one of them Gophers would climb
to the high side and really hold that old sharpy down, best ballast you ever saw!

“Fred!” I said, you’re the limit! “Oh it’s true!” he said, he made real good money selling them gophers at
New Orleans! Trouble was he had to hire a couple big ol fat girls to help him sail the sharpy back to
Tampa and they couldn’t climb as fast as them gophers!

 The Geiger 34 footer I mentioned here, we were building for a Tampa man called Francis Crow, he was a
mighty fine feller to work for and it was sure a pleasure to have him for a customer. He used to come over
every day he could and help me.

 We got all set up with a big iron pot that I bought out of a junk pile and we poured that lead just like we
knew what we were doing. It was one long hard days work too, with everybody in the neighborhood as
 The job turned out nice and Captain Crow won a lot of races and he had that boat at Davis Island for a
number of years. That was one of the good times.

 The launching was sort of nerve wracking. Mr. Holly, our local launching man was kind of spectacular in
his engineering methods and when he jacked one end of the boat up on one tall old jack, Mr. Crow sort of
turned pale!

 We tailored over to Clearwater Beach and Mr. Holly introduced her to the water. “Avalon” she was
christened, one more boat I am proud of!

One thing about that era that I relished was the variety of work that I was asked to produced.

 At that time, up to the 50’s maybe you could say, there were lots of kit boat projects going on in lots of
peoples garages and car ports. These fellers would buy the kits and some got them right together in no
time, others couldn’t seem to do more than uncrate the pieces. Then there were a few that after a couple
months would be tired and quit.

 So I have starter kits and finished kits and everything in between. I think maybe I lent those people a
little encouragement, those that came to me anyway, because I am basically a back yard builder myself!

 I did quite a lot of small boat repair, a lot of trailer boats, outboards mostly they ran into each other and
also get in car wrecks, they hit Cyprus stumps ect…

I got real deft at putting new bottoms on plywood boats. For plywood doesn’t do well with rain water and
oak leaves! It turns the wood into compost!

I almost always brought my lunch from home in a paper bag.

 I had an old folding beach recliner type chair over on the wood lofting floor, where I would sit and eat
my sandwiches and read my mail. More than once I fell asleep and had someone wake me about 3:00
o’clock P.M. and say “You alright?” Jeez! I thought you were dead! Well I was a bit sheepish ok, but I
wish my wife Helen hadn’t heard about it! Even after that if I said something about a job being bad or
something she would say “Humph! Sleeping in that canvas chair!”

OK! I slept a little each noon, but there was someone asleep in that chair all the time!

My late brother-in-law Richard McGaughey spent a bit of time with me on his vacation. He brought a bit
of his furniture he was building and generally whittled a Queen Anne leg or two each time.
Richard said,” You know I sure like this shop! It’s not fancy but it just has an air about it that I don’t
believe could ever be recaptured or copied.”

I guess I agree with that!

 I am trying to be sure to tell about some of my customers in this here journal. One I must tell you of was
a large nice looking fellow. He walked in one afternoon while I was trimming out a skiff for somebody,
he stood around for a while then he said, “Did you ever build a scow type boat?” I said, “Oh yeah a
couple, more than that if you count the little prams.”

 Well he said I am thinking about a 20 foot eight foot beam straight sided boat that I could put a stand up
cabin on. What do you reckon that would cost?

 Well I grabbed a scrap of plywood and my pencil, having the price of plywood in my head I just doubled
the cost of the plywood and added 25 dollars contingency. “well it would cost between 4 and 5 hundred
dollars” I said. “Oh my, that’s way too high! I wouldn’t pay that, I always get my boats real cheap!” “The
last boat I had cost me a dollar and 65 cents!” Yes sir!

Why, I said that’s about what a good rubber duck cost!

“Rubber is the word” he said, I paid the $1.65 for the fellow to haul a big roll of conveyor belting to my
back yard. It was thrown away in a factory dump and they gave it to me.

 And then I had a bunch of nice larch 2”x 2” and 2”x 4”s in my barn left over from some other work, I just
made my frame out of that and then cut that old conveyor belt to fit the sides and bottom, bedded them in
roofing cement and nailed them on with big headed roofing nails that I had laying about.

 “Made the best boat I ever had” he said, our river is shallow and full of rocks! “Didn’t hurt my boat!”
“That conveyor belt was ½” thick!”

I told him I was sorry I couldn’t help him, but I thought over around Lakeland they had lots of conveyor
belts at the phosphate mines.

 At this time I was not too pleased with this mans ideas of prices and methods of boat building, I guess at
that time I took it all pretty serious and it made it hard for me not to smart off at him and ask him if he
ever molded a hull out of horse manure? I didn’t proud to say, by that evening I was giggling about it.
And have listed that man as one of those special customers that I will always remember!

I hired a feller I had known since he was a little kid. His name, Edward Whatley, I went to school with
his older brother John.

Edward was a natural mechanic and did good work for me from the start. We worked well together.

We got a job from a doughty small built naval captain, retired but still captain, you know?

 A custom designed and built 18 footer. Very ordinary design but top quality materials and I thought quite
good craftsmanship. The captain picked up a deal on a five horse Briggs and Stratton air cooled engine
that he wanted in his boat. I told him it would do fine but why didn’t he get an outboard motor? He
wouldn’t think of it.

So one day at noon I told Edward to jerk that crate off the motor and crank it up. Ed said, “Naw, I
wouldn’t do that!” “It aint even bolted down.”

I walked over, wrapped the rope on it and gave it a pull, she fired right up, chug, chug, chug! Now she
had an extension about 8 inches long on the crank shaft with about a 3” flange coupling.

 That old Briggs climbed down off the blocks and started dancing around the shop. It never did tip over
just got to moving faster and faster and every now and then it would tip backwards and put that coupling
down on the floor and just reverse direction and scoot clean across the shop, hit some little obstruction,
make a right angle turn and go again! A couple times it nearly got up on that coupling and spun like a top.
All this time Ed is chasing it, leaping over it, trying to bull dog it and stop it.

 Meanwhile one of the Tampa hardware salesmen had walked in and got charged by the wild Briggs, he
ran out the door and stood in the yard. Ed finally pulled the spark plug wire off and stopped the beast!

“What the hells going on?” the salesman called. “Oh, said Ed, we are just testing this motor.”

 A few weeks later we had the boat all ready to launch and the good captain says, “you know I am worried
about the shaft angle, do you think that motor will run all right like that?”

Ed says “Captain, you aint gotta worry none about no angles, that SOB will run any angle including
upside down!”

I have never been very good at keeping books of any kind and had made kind of a mess of it pretty early
in the game.

 This really upset Helen who had been a bookkeeper and ran an office before we married. She got a cigar
box and put a few dollars in it and said “Now!, listen to me! This is your petty cash! Every time you take
any out, put a slip in to tell who to and what for.”

 Well, I would have an out of town buddy drop by and we would go down to Brandenbergs and have an
Irish lunch, you know, one hot peanut and twelve cold beers.

 Before the end of the week the petty cash had “pepsied” plumb away and I hadn’t put any slips in the box
so I had another lecture coming!

I don’t know how we got by!

 I asked Richard K., Mr. K’s #2 son if he could joggle my memory of any interesting happenings at that
time. He said “you remember the guy with the cypress knee?” “No I said, tell me!”
 “Well, Ritchie said, you laid your tools down and said to him, can I help you sir? He said, I heard you
were pretty good at drilling a hole, so I wondered if you could drill through this cypress knee so I could
make my wife a lamp?”

 “I could try!” I said, taking it and squinting down it I took my pencil and made an x on the bottom, then
putting a croaker sack around it I put it in my vise and with Ritchie sighting the up and down from the
side and I sighted the north and south and drilled right from the top through the x.

The man said, “By golly that’s pretty good! How much do I owe you?”
“About two dollars” I said.

“Holy cow! Two dollars? Aint that kind of high for one little hole?”

Ritchie said I got sort of angry and told the fellow to take his stump and get out of there! I don’t know
why Ritchie thought this was so funny.

I did lots of favors for lots of people and all my neighbors knew I was happy to do it as a neighborly gift,
but I didn’t know this fellow and he kind of upset me!

One thing I must remember to say here is that through the years I met many very nice sales people from
both large and small companies, generally from Tampa or St. Petersburg.

 One was Jackie Robson, he was driving weekly hardware route for Poston Marine Company in Tampa.
We have been friends since shortly after the war. There are several in that category, some have moved
away and I don’t see them much and I am constantly hailed by name, By familiar faces that I can’t get the
name to until the next day, drat!

 One day an old man, a tall old man with a worn and sagging gray suit came in and set two huge suit cases
on the floor. He shuffled a pair of cracked shoes a little and pulled a big handkerchief out and lifted his
fedora and wiped the sweat off.

 I said, “Would you like to sit down a little bit?” “It’s a mighty hot day to lug those great big cases
around!” “Thanks,” he said hoarsely, “could I have a drink of water?”

He sat on top of the lumber pile, and I see his color was pretty gray and he was about played out. “Are
you ok?” I said, “want another drink, how do you feel?” “I’ll be fine.” he whispered, “I would like a bit
more water if I may?”

 I thought, “poor old soul! Must be quite old! Imagine a poor old guy with sore feet having to work like

After he had his second drink, I said “what are you selling?”

He pulled out a card from his vest pocket and leaned over and opened the two big cases, he said, “Combs,
pencils, key rings, pocket knifes, your names on them free. We also have metal and plastic name tags and
company logos and decals.”

I ordered a bunch of plastic name tags and a stack of business cards and stationary, I just couldn’t help

Do you recon I did that because I was raised a Christian or did I just see myself dragging through a tired
old age! Anyway every time I think of him I feel fatigued.

I gave him a check for twenty some bucks, all the stuff came in the mail in first class shape!
Now another time there was a small built man, came bouncing through the door and sailed right up to me
with his hand out. I laid my hammer down and shook it. “Yes sir? Can I help you?”

 With his other hand he gave me his card and said very briskly, “I am so and so from Panther Oil Products
such and such Texas!”

Are you Mr. Mills? “Yeah” I said “Clarky Mills!”

Ah, Clarky, I have a wonderful deal for this company today! “We are running a special on this cold mop,
never leaks superior roof tar, It is exactly so much for a 20 gallon drum! Isn’t that something.” I guarantee
you would never get a better deal or better quality! How about an order today, to take advantage of these

 Not today I said, can’t buy anything. “Well he said, think it over, here’s some brochures to look at! I’ll
see you next week!

He did, next week he came in and gave me even a more impassioned pitch.

The next three weeks he came once a week and I tell you I never seen a more hyper, keyed up

I thought, boy he’s sure getting a hell of a lot more out of his cornflakes than I am!

Finally I said, ok, will you take my check? All right, make me out an order for sixty gallons.

 Well the three 20 gallon drums came in a week or so, and the freight man laid them down in my door
way, I signed his book and then rolled them over by the office door and stood them on end and they made
dandy seats for the peanut gallery. So I felt like maybe I figured out a whole new way to get rid of a
salesman, just buy something from him!

I had a pesky leaky tin roof, Walter and I had put it on upside down or nailed it in the wrong spot and I
was up there with a tar bucket quite often.

 Years later a friend told me if you knock them nails down tight then take cold mop roof tar right down
the seam then unroll tarred fiberglass eight or ten inches wide and mop it again it will never leak again!

You know that was about twenty five years ago, I don’t think it leaks yet!

 Now I know I keep sort of harping on salesmen, but I did chat quite a lot with them this ten year period,
and there is one more story sticks in my mind.

There was this one pretty fall morning, one of those golden days that are the reason we crackers can’t
move north very often. I had pretty well caught up my cash jobs and was sort of sweeping and polishing
machines and tools, housekeeping you might say.

A real nicely dressed young fellow, I’d say thirty years old or about, came up and said good morning are
you the man? Yeah this is my shop if that’s what you mean, what can I do for you?

 Well I got a line of polyester resins here and some plastic varnish and some real good glue, could I
interest you in it? Or any of it?

“I am afraid I am pretty well stocked at present and no jobs right now” I said. “Could you leave me some
brochures and price list and your card?” “Yes” he said, “I will!”

 He eased over to a saw horse and sat down. “What do you produce here with all this good smelling
lumber?” “Boats” I said.

“Do you use much fiber glass?” he asked.

“No” I said, I don’t know too much about it.”

It’s great stuff really!

“Are you a glass boat builder or just a supplier?” I asked.

 “I am a graduate engineer and have majored in commercial chemistry and I have been head of several
companies who made plastic and glass products.” “I am with this company to help promote wider sales in
this area.”

By the time I had taken him into the office and shown him a bunch of snapshots of some of the boats I
had built, we were having a really good visit.

 I said, “Which end of the country you hail from?” “Oh” he said, “I’ve worked all over, the last job I had I
helped a company with a three story injection molding set up That I designed.” “It was all electronically
operated and the drums of resin on the third floor were all piped to a manifold that led to the second floor
where electric solenoids operated valves to meter the hardeners and fillers and the whole system had
automatic thermal control at each mixing station.” “Boy it must have been a proud day for you.” I said.
“When you cranked that critter up!”

“Well I tell you it really didn’t turn out so good.” “What happened?” I said.

 “Well I went all around the molds to see everything was ok and that the opening mechanisms were
alright and checked everything all the way up to the supply manifolds on the third floor.” “Then I phoned
downstairs to them to throw the switch and let her go!” “I sat around a few minutes and called down and
asked them had it got to the molds yet?” They said, “No!” So I flew around up and down stairs and you
know what? “What happened?” I said. “Why hell the metering devise put too much hardener in and I had
a three story factory full of solid plastic in every dern pipe!”

“What your boss say?” I asked.

 He said I was fired! And get the hell out! That’s why I took a job selling, cause I am defrocked,
So being nearly lunch time he shook hands, gave me his brochures and bid me goodbye. I don’t know
why I wrote this but it has always vastly entertained me!

 In our earlier married days, Helen used to spend quite a bit of time helping me at the shop. I was into the
snipe building in earnest. She would hold up the ends of the planks for me while I ran a screw driver.

 One day she let me take our little boy “Berny” who was about 3 years old then. This was not a good day,
as it turned out.

 I had a salesman a couple weeks before, try to sell me some wood preservative concentrate called Penta
Chloral Phenal! Very black, very strong, very poisonous! He insisted on pouring about a cup of it into a
coke bottle and setting it on the shelf over my work bench, for a free sample.

After an hour or so of playing in the scrap pile, Berny jumped up and ran vigorously over to the work
bench, dragged a saw horse up and I started over from the other side of the shop, arriving in time to grab
him around the waist just as he grabbed that coke bottle.

 He never got it to his mouth, thank God! But in the struggle to keep him from getting it, one little drop
splattered on his stomach.

It wasn’t two minutes before it started burning the little guy and he was really yelling.

 I grabbed my rag and wiped the place, then took him over to the sink and lava soaped him over and over,
but he was in real pain so I grabbed up my GE vacuum, put the hose so it would blow and spent the rest of
the morning blowing cold air on Berny’s hot spot.

It was nearly noon before he could stop crying. That was just not a good day.

Needless to say I threw that stuff away! Never bought any more either!

One good cold afternoon, Mr. K. came in all bundled up and said “Whooee!” “This life and then the fire

His face was kind of flushed and he admitted to having had a good drink of rum.

I said, “What are you celebrating anyhow?”

“I am not celebrating!” he said. “I am trying to revive frozen body and spirit.”

“It aint that cold!” I said. “What you been up to, or what happened?”

He said, “Well I was over to the fish house (this was the one that later burned down, and the Clearwater
Yacht Club had half of it to store their snipes) I was working on my snipe and I had driven my air flow
Desoto right up the ramp onto the dock like everybody else does.”
 “Ritchie came by and borrowed the car for a few minutes, then an hour or so later he came in yelling
“*%+!” It had to happen to me! It had to be me!

Ted said “What happened son?” “What happened?”

 Ritchie said, “I brought the car back up on the ramp and put it right where you had it, then I went over to
the club for a few minutes, when I came back the car was gone! It rolled down the dock and fell off of the

Ted says, “Oh now, son It couldn’t have done that! Do you think? Really! Lets go see.”

 “Sure enough” said Ted, “There she was laying in about ten feet of water, little bubbles and oil still
seeping out!”

“So you went swimming, right? In that cold water huh?” I asked.

 I had to borrow a bunch of anchor lines, said Ted so the wrecker could pull from way down the beach on
an angle to miss the end of the dock and I damn near froze I tell you!

Now I am sure all families have some interesting daily calamities occasionally but Ted Kamensky and
his boys had more than average, I believe.

Now I have only briefly mentioned my original neighbors.

 There was Mr. McCurdy’s Lumber Yard across the street, Mr. McCurdy was a wonderful fellow, he was
elderly and shortly after I came he had sold his business to a couple young fellows named “Doug Davis”
and “Skinny Beatty.” The latter I knew in school also his two brothers.

Davis & Beatty enlarged and improved their business continually. They were very handy to me and I
dealt quite a lot with them. In spite of that, I believe they became quite successful, as the years passed.

 Also across the street was Bob Ress Sr. and his two partners. They had a barn full of government surplus
items that they bought sight unseen. This end of their business didn’t do very good and before long Bob
Ress Sr. was sole proprietor and ha started a dock building business that is still going strong today with
Bob Ress Jr. now in charge.

 Now Bob Ress Jr. was only about eight or nine years old back then and he was right over there helping
his dad every day he wasn’t in school. I used to look over there and see him driving a big old army truck,
he was not tall enough to sit in then seat but would sort of stand up on the pedals and hang from the
steering wheel!

 One day Bobby Junior came over to see me and got to fiddling with a little three horse air cooled engine
that I had taken in pay for a couple days work.

Bobby said “How much you want for this engine?”
“Oh, I said about twelve dollars, it’s a pretty good motor you know!

 “It don’t have much compression and the mag. Needs replacing,” said Bobby. “Sides that I haven’t got
that much money.”

I said, “Ask your dad to loan it to you.”

“This didn’t work out for him and you know ever since then I have been real ashamed that I didn’t just
give the motor to him, he wanted it real bad.

As the years slid on, Bobby and I got to be real good friends and he turned out to be about the best dock
builder around, also the best motor mechanic and just a real fine man!

Right next to the north side, Frank P. and family lived in the building that Walter Prior had lived in.
There was a considerable shop in front, where Frank did motor and car and body work, painting ect…

One day Frank P. came in and said look here Mill! I want you to make this boat. He handed me a
magazine folded back which showed plans for an eighteen foot cabin outboard cruiser.

How much that cost, you recon?

“Well,” I said, “I reckon it would be around eight hundred dollars for the wood work, which is all I really
do here.”

Ok Mill! “Here’s four hundred dollars when can you start?”

“Monday, I said, I got to deliver this job first.”

 Well in about three weeks or so we had him pretty well along and he was real thrilled. I said to him, you
got almost six hundred dollars time and material, how about another payment?
 He said, “Oh yeah, I just bought a 30 horse outboard and I aint got it right now but don’t worry I’ll have
it in a couple days.

 So we slid his boat the bay a few days later and Frank and his family and brother in law cranked up that
second hand outboard and I didn’t see them anymore for a couple weeks.

 One morning Frank showed up and said, “Mill, you know that motor the Clearwater Yacht Club bought
for their judge boat?” “Well the bottom fell out of that old boat and I really made a good buy on that

“Dad gummit!” I said, “you keep buying motors!” “When are you going to pay for the damn boat?”

“Wait Mill, he said you gonna get paid directly don’t worry about that.”

What I want you to do is put this engine in my boat, can’t you do it?
 “No I said, the boats too short, you would have to have the fly wheel right up against the stern , It’s just
too short!”

“Could you add on to the stern about six feet?”

I said, “I haven’t nearly been paid for the bow of your boat! And you want another stern, you crazy,

 Frank said, “Look Mill, here’s a hundred dollars as he agitatedly thrust the bill at me. Put that on the
stern not the bow!”

Well I don’t know how I always got into these strange deals!

A few weeks later the boat got it’s stern sawed off and all of a sudden was 25 feet long instead of 18.

 I am happy to say the boat performed well and looked good enough, so about a year later Frank sold it for
enough to finish paying me what he owed me.

 Just north of Pulsifers Garage was John Wilsons grocery he started not too long after I did. He was a
dandy fellow and a real good neighbor. He bought out a nice old lady who used to sit in a padded rocking
chair by the till, and tell you where to find the merchandise. It was pretty hard to find because there was
only one little light bulb in there and was pretty dark.

 About ten o’clock, myself and any friends or hired hands I had, came over to Johns and bought Pepsi
Cola and perhaps a little sack of Toms peanuts. Now I would always take my peanuts and pour them right
into the bottle of Pepsi. This terribly upset Mr. C.R. Wickman. One day he said, “What do you do that
for?” That looks disgusting! Why, I said when I was a paper carrier for the Clearwater Sun us boys would
go next door and get pop and peanuts and just a little sack of them, you wouldn’t get two peanuts with all
your buddies begging for some, so if you dumped them into your pop and kept the bottle in your mouth
you got a lot more peanuts! Besides it’s more efficient! You can do it with one hand!

Well John Wilson was a hard worker and a real smart fellow, a couple dozen years and he became pretty
well off. He had dozens of Pick Kwik Groceries in this county.

One time I talked him into going in with me and buying an outboard speed boat that I thought was a real
bargain. Well we couldn’t sell it at all. So, John said, “Let me raffle it at my club.” “Ok, I said, by golly
we just about broke even. I got to give him credit for having the know how.”

 Well to get back to other neighbors, just in back of Wilsons Store, and Pulsifers Garage, the brush factory
was just even with the corner of my shop. It was run by a couple really nice fellows, Mr. Jernigan and Mr.
Thomas. Now these fellows were both kind of inventors and engineers, a good part of their equipment
they had designed and built themselves and they were sure a hardworking bunch over there and kept all
the machines making brushes for the Florida Packing House nearly year round.

 Directly in back of my shop was the home of Mr. And Mrs. Staub. Mr. Staub came over quite often to
visit me. He worked on a great lakes ore boat for about half of each year as a steward. His wife never
showed up except to fuss a little about something, I don’t think she liked boat building much.

 There right next door to Staubs was Mr. Edwards and family. They were nice people and Mr. Edwards
came over to visit quite often. He had run sawmills up in Indiana all his life and had lost a leg in some
logging mishap.

 One morning he came over and said, “Hya Clarky, how ya this morning?” “Well I aint too good.” I said,
to be honest I am about mean enough to hunt bear with a switch!

Now I just said that as small talk, you know. I guess my blisters and splinters and where I stepped on a
nail and stuck it in my foot, they were all vexing me a little I guess.

 Anyhow he got in front of me and gave me a serious and lengthy discourse on how brutally dangerous
and mean a bear is and told me in no uncertain terms “You don’t never want to hit no bear with a switch,
no sir!”

 They sold out the next year and their son Jimmy, who worked with Del and I, died of Pneumonia. He was
an awfully nice kid and we hated to lose him.

 Now directly to the south of my shop was a nice garden that belonged to Del’s dad, Marion Hait. He was
just as much fun as Del, and would come by and visit, often we would be working on carving a stem or
something important to us, he would say, “Hey is that all you got to do?” “Where you stacking them
anyhow, gee whiz aint you gonna do anything around here?”

 One day Ed Whatley brought a box in that had screen wire tied over it. He said, “Do you what this is?” I
thought it was a rat at first but look at those feet! “What is it?” I said, “Why that’s a ground mole,
otherwise known as a “Salamander!” “What will I do with him?” asked Ed. “Knock him in the head!” I
said. “Oh said Ed, I haven’t the heart to do that!” “Well I said, give him to Mrs. Staub, she needs a pet!”
So, Ed tosses him through the back fence.

 The next day, here comes Marion Hait, “Hey you guys! Did you put that digger in my garden?” “Oh no, I
said, we put it in Mrs. Staubs back yard.” “Well said Marion, he come over to my garden and eat off a
whole row of tomato bushes just below ground, every time I pick a tomato the whole bush came up with

 All of this took place thirty five years ago and I tell you I sure made a lot of good friends in that shop,
and had some good jobs from friends older than that, made many young new friends also, who I still see
some of them occasionally. I haven’t nearly listed all of my good customers nor described the boats too
much, but just remembering them and the fact that they let me do the job still gives me pleasure!
Clearwater Bay Marine Ways mid 1950’s
                        Remarks and Conversations Overheard
 Down through the years I have occasionally been startled and generally entertained by some remark or
Conversation overheard on different jobs.

When I first worked with a crew of carpenters as a helper and apprentice I found the men to be mostly all
very friendly and good natured. There seemed always to be a continuous stream of kidding and repartee.

 This all took place back around the time that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was running for president. I
thought I would just try to remember some of the funny things I heard…

One carpenter said to another who was sitting on a scaffold plank 6 feet off the ground, “Take a good
hold of your hammer I’m gonna move this plank!”

When putting on sheeting mostly one x six knotty pine at that time one carpenter says, “Does she fit?”
The man on the other end says, “No nail it!”

 Sheeting a roof a carpenter pulls up an extra long board putting his end right, he shouts “Is she long
enough?” The other man answers, “Not quite!” The first man says “Pull her across real quick!”

 Old Alex, a fine old black man was our concrete expert. He poured a small slab for an entrance stoop and
forgot to put the Portland cement in the mix; he had the red die and smoothed it all up beautifully. The
next day the boss discovered it was faulty. After the boss gave Alex a chiding, Alex was heard to mumble
“Well, I remembered that red stuff anyhow.”

 Old Alex came to work every morning and spent a considerable time tying a piece of string onto a greasy
brown paper bag that held his lunch. He would find a limb on a little tree or bush and leave his lunch up
so them ants can’t get it. Work started at eight o’clock. About nine o’clock I’d see Alex pull his bag down
and start wolfing down his lunch. One day I asked him why he did that rather than wait for twelve noon
and eat with the rest of us. I said, “Come noon you won’t have any lunch” his answer was good. I had
remembered it for 53 years. “Well, sah you suffahs tween breafus and lunch don’t you?” Yes I said,
“Well, sah,”he continued “You suffahs tween lunch and suppa don’t you?” I admitted that was so. “Well
sah,” He said “I thinks you suffahs twice and I only does one time!”…

 I worked on several jobs with different bosses and the town being smaller than now, I was often with
some of the same carpenters I had worked with previously. Mr. Alec Campbell was a grand old gent to
work with. He told me about working on a real fancy house when he was younger. The boss had hired a
special cabinet fellow to do all the kitchen cabinets. The owner’s wife was making a general nuisance of
herself. She told that fellow she wanted all those cabinets and cupboards and drawers to be absolutely
roach proof. Well the kitchen got finished and one day the lady pulled open a drawer and a couple big old
roaches scurried around in there. The lady landed on the cabinet feller in a frenzy, she screamed. “I told
you roach tight!” Yes ma’am the feller said, “I brought them from home and put “em in there just to test
‘em see, there they are, still there!

 Alec Campbell had some good yarns. He told about a fellow advertising for carpenters on a big old
rebuilding project. One old man applied and was being questioned. “Do you have your own tools asked
the boss. “Some of them” the old man replied. “My dad burned dog ate half of them.” The boss said,
“What the hell you talking about? A dog can’t eat no tools!” Well said the old man “All I had was a rusty
saw and a bacon rind.”

 Back just before they started Social Security in ’37 or ’38 I remember a lunch time conversation about an
article in the previous days newspaper, all about the army testing a few bombs by flying over a flock of
goats and dropping it on them. When it went off the goats all fell down but immediately got up and ran
away. The general consensus of opinion was that “That there bomb wasn’t no good!” Wait a minute said
one carpenter did you ever try to kill a goat? You can’t hardly do it with an axe!” “They are the toughest
critter there is, that yonder bomb is probably just fine.”

 In the early days of my duties as a helper and a learner, I was employed by the White Bros. Construction
Co. they were two really two fine gents to work for. I remember one pretty summer morning I was
mesmerized by the beauty of the day and I stood there and fell into sort of a daydream, suddenly I heard
some one laughing and came to my senses to see Roy White walking up to me. He said “Now Clarky, I
know everyone has to stop a minute or two sometimes to rest and get their breath, but I really think it’s
time you started again.” I can’t even remember what I was supposed to be doing. Roy said “You know I
keep seeing a little bird flying around this side of the house, I think he’s looking at you, if you stand still I
am afraid he would build a nest in your hair!”

 There are plenty of old people who remember the Bechett’s they were a pretty large family here in
Clearwater. Most of them that I knew best are deceased but I can always have a smile when I think of the
two brothers that I knew when they were both carpenters and I had been on a job or two with both of them
present. Fred and John, neither of them were married. They did a world of hunting and fishing and their
long suit was visiting. They were for sure entertaining to say in the least you could sure hear a lot of
current news as well as history when they started talking. Later John bought a floor sanding business. He
had the job sanding and finishing floors in a nice house that we had just built for a very fussy St. Louis
man. Mr. Lee his name was, he is looking over the floors and says to John, this is suppose to be White
Oak! How come all those darker boards are in there. John scratched his head and looked very serious, he
said, “They shore is a lot of them ain’t thar, dogged if I can tell if they put some white boards with the
brown ones or some brown ones with the white ones!”

 One day I was working right beside a sprightly young lad who was helping myself and another older
carpenter with some real dirty loading job or unloading, I can’t recall. The older man was pretty poorly
dressed and wore somewhat ragged, not too clean, bib overalls. All of a sudden he plunged his hand into
his pocket and brought out a jackknife and a big plug of “Uncle Tom” chewing tobacco. Carefully cutting
a one inch square, he held it out between his thumb and knife blade and said to the young man “How
about a chew ole buddy?” The boy sort of drew back with a frightened look on his face and said “Hell no!
I’d rather chew chicken manure than that stuff!” After less than a split second the old man said “Well ok,
everybody to their own taste, I reckon.” I was so delighted with this spontaneous comeback that I have
remembered it all these years.

 We had another older man who was a helper when I was apprenticing with the contractors. He told us a
continuous string of his adventures and hunting trips and mean jobs he had when he was younger. He
was, I guess either a Georgia or north Florida man. His hunting tales were great. He said “I was a man; I
could put a deer over my shoulders and run down a rail fence!” He said he had a job guiding some of
them thar rich fellers and they had a great trip, shot everything except the warden.

 He said, “We ended up in Jacksonville and the head man took us into a big ole hotel and got us all a room
so we could wash up then he takes us down to the dining room and man, they was three fellers hauling
stuff in to eat and three more hauling dishes out outen the way, boy I tell you I done some eatin.” Then
one of the fellers told him, “Hell man you wasn’t suppose to eat all of everything they fetched in like what
you done, why man you done swallered every morsel of a sixteen course special dinner!” He never
stopped his stories, we all sort of walked over to the shed where the water keg full of ice water was and he
drew a quart jar full and swallowed it saying, “That shore is good branch water, if I’d known it was so
good Id’a brought the old lady!”

 In my early days, while trying to learn, I was working with the White Brothers contractors. We took
some terrible jobs, out of desperation no doubt, as the great depression was still grasping the business
world and money was really scarce in our locality. We did concrete steps, driveways, termite repairs
which is really nasty work, and it seems that we got the job of reproofing numerous old buildings that our
low bids brought us. A good many of these roof repairs were done in mid summer, and the older
carpenters had many desperate remarks to vent their feelings. One said, “Ooh, well! If it gets any hotter I
am going to hell just to cool off!”

 Now I thought at the time that he had stated the facts in a most picturesque fashion and I enjoyed it
enough to remember what he said. I also remember that it was truly intolerably hot and every hour or so I
was sent down to run the spigot on the tin snips, crow bars and try to cool them enough to handle again.

Mr. John Gore was one of our regulars. He was a big tall slim man, tough as leather; he would straighten
up and pull out his big old red bandanna handkerchief and mop his sweaty face, he would say, “How are
you coming with your work Clarky?” After I’d give him some kind of answer he would say with a final
wipe as he put his bandanna away. “Oh well, it’s this world and then the fireworks!”

 On one job, I don’t remember which now. I recollect it was a nice cool fall morning and whatever the
task at hand was, I was feeling pretty strong and so I started carrying up two each time. The Beckett
Brothers who I had called Uncle John and Uncle Fred, all my life, they grabbed one each and said for me
not to make a hog of myself to leave some for them to carry up. Uncle Fred said, “Clarky don’t never do
that no more! You will strain your milk and all your baby’s will be born naked!” This worried me a little
for a few minutes, then I remembered neither of them was ever married.

 I have always wondered about the term “Generation Gap” I suspect there is something wrong with me
alright that I don’t understand that term.

 In sorting out my reminiscing in my own rambling way I keep thinking back to the pleasant years of my
youth and I do believe I have had about as many adult and older people I would have to list as good
friends as I did youngsters.

 Clearwater has been sort of a tourist town for a good many years so some of the friends I made when I
was a kid, both young and old, sort of moved out of my life. Of course a good lot of them at this late date
are long deceased.

 I can remember with great clarity back in about 1929 I was carrier for the now defunct “Clearwater Sun”
I delivered my route with an old bicycle, It had a big wire basket on the front that would just hold a bag of

I was delighted one day to discover that Walter Prior’s folks had moved onto my route. Nearly everyday I
would look back in the one car garage to see if Mr. Prior was building something back there, usually he
was. These were fearfully hard times and money was hard to come by. Mr. Prior was an engineer of the
designing kind and was, I believe at that time, overseeing the technical part of the Crystal Ice Co. on
Drew Street. About every time I rolled into his driveway he would say, “Come in out of the sun, Clarky, I
want you to see something!”

 That got to be a regular stop that I really looked forward to. Mr. Prior was a tall spare man, very soft
spoken, and one who seemed never to waste any moves. What he was doing utterly changed my life for a
spell. He was building wood working machinery out of old rails, hard pine blocks, odd bits of shafts that
he had scrounged from the refuse. He had built a lathe out of the bed rails, and there was a table he would
swing down over the head stock and change it into a table saw. On the other end was a wooden jig saw.
All of these machines did very good work and he was proud to demonstrate to me and explain how he had
done it. Now such a notion really thrilled me, I went right home and started to try to copy him.

 I have always remembered him as one neat fellow who was very kind to me. I will say I must not have
been paying attention though, my first attempt at a jig saw nearly shook my Dads garage down! Merely a
“counter balancing” problem that Mr. Prior put me straight on the next time I saw him.

Mr. Prior’s ingenuity and his reasonable application of a really good education towards these novel
machines all built of “nothing much” as he put it, all conspired to lodge itself in my memory and I have
been making “steady bearings” of hard pine to his design ever since.

 Mr. Horace Hamlin senior was the father of my good friend Horace Jr. As is generally the case in a small
town, one can’t really tell when they first became acquainted with various people and their families. It
seems I have always known the Hamlin’s. Horace Jr. and I have had a friendship of many years so I
naturally knew his Mom and Dad.

I have had many real laughs from Mr. Hamlin. When he set out to, he could really entertain you. I said
something to Horace Jr. about that and it seemed that he was not greatly pleased about it, saying that his
dad’s continues line of witticisms and repartee had become sort of tiresome to him. Even so, Horace Jr.
told some good stories of his dad.

 But Mr. Hamlin Sr. liked to give you a tale at every given chance. He ran a blueprint service on Garden
Avenue for years. I was there to get a print of something one day and he launched into a tale about how he
had bought a special pen that would write under water, he thought that he would test it so he got in his
boat and went off shore about ten miles and dove down and did some writing just to be sure down about
50 feet deep! One day I had a new center board all fitted up and edge drilled for 3/8 galvanized rods to
drift it together. I lacked about three pieces a couple feet long, so I jumped on my bike and started for
town. I come by Mr. Hamlin’s house and he was standing out in his driveway. I stopped and asked how
he was. He said, “I am overwhelmed by nervous prostitution” then he added, “I am too hot too!”

 He then asked me if there was a chance I could help him a bit that he had hurt his back and he had loaded
his trailer out of balance and when he undid the tongue from the car, the load of tile he had slid out of the
back of the trailer. So I said yes I would help him. So after about an hour I had with his supervision, got it
all back in the trailer.

 He said, “I am so grateful, is there anything I got you need?” I said, “I need some pieces of 3/8 diameter
galvanized rod, do you have any of that?” He said “why, by George I believe I do, here take the key and
unlock that first garage there, you will see it immediately.” Well now there’s when I made my second
mistake of the day. I should never have unlocked that garage! Talk about Fibber McGee’s closet. Mr.
Hamlin was a collector of everything I would say, truck loads of it, when I swung that door open the
mightiest array of “second hand goods” of all descriptions slid out into the yard. I fell to stacking the stuff
back in the garage and sure enough all of a sudden I came upon the bundle of my size rods! Well after
another sweaty hour or so I managed to get the doors closed and locked and I thanked Mr. Hamlin and
went home, I had to explain to my Mom why I was late to lunch!

 Another time Richard and I came across Mr. Hamlin I can’t recall exactly where or what the occasion.
Mr. Hamlin immediately started to regale us with a really different sea story, a dandy one too I would say!
He said, “When I was a young man I had a good friend who went partnership with me in a deal to buy a
schooner. We sailed her down to Trinidad and found a place where the natives would bring us big baskets
of asphalt chunks for just a few pennies per basket. Some decided to take on a full schooner load and take
it back to New York where they use lots of asphalt. Well everything went well and we were good on our
way home we ran into the trade winds, also it was dreadfully hot. What we didn’t know was that the
miserable asphalt had melted and run over the lee side of the ship. As we went north, the weather cooled
and the asphalt became solid again, not only that, it was firmly attached to the inside structure of the
schooner, so from then on no matter which tack we were on the schooner leans to port, she steered badly.
We lost an awful lot of money on that deal, there was no way to get the asphalt out! Richard and I enjoyed
that story and I have always remembered it as one of the good ones.

 Jack Cheney once told me of an acquaintance of his who had been in the early stages of buying a lot from
Mr. Hamlin, this was just when the lad was drafted into the armed forces in World War II when the boy
returned 5 years later he went to Mr. Hamlin apologized for not finishing the deal and telling him he was
still going to try to buy a lot. Mr. Hamlin said, “My boy, I know you have been in the army and our deal
still stands if you want it.” This was as amazing as there had increased about 300% in property values
since before the war.

 The point is that the young man got the lot for a pre-war price and I’d say most realtors would have
already sold the lot to someone else for big bucks! We just have to admire that. I mean the fact that Mr.
Hamlin put that deal on hold for that boy for 5 years.

Mr. Hamlin owned a lot of property in the Indian Rocks area and one piece close by the inland waterway
he was using to store his strange purchases, such as a few truck loads of old rail road ties, old telephones,
poles, second hand lumber from different house wrecking jobs, old plumbing, water tanks ect.

 One day when they were tearing down the old “Bay Hall,” a large bay front residence where the Mass
Brothers store was later, I happen to meet Mr. Hamlin there. They had just started jerking the porch
columns down in a very rough fashion when they hit the ground they broke apart like water melons and
they seem to be in pretty bad shape. Mr. Hamlin was loading the pieces onto the trailer with great
satisfaction. I said to him, “Mr. Hamlin, those are in really bad shape, what in the world are you going to
do with them?” He turned to me with great dignity and said, “my boy when I buy columns, I am going to
buy columns, I am going to build another Apian Way, wait till you see it, it will be beautiful.

 Well I saw in front of his little rental cabins this double row of columns, this was at Indian Rocks, just
before you got to the old bridge. When I saw him I said, “How did you ever get them back together?” He
said, “Why I just put a row of telephone post where I want them and nailed the pieces on carefully!”
                                 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS

Being somewhat of a “now’s the time sort of fellow” I have all my life loved fruit, all kinds no matter
where I am it’s always of great interest to me to find out “what do they grow here?” What are those things
on that bush, when are they ripe ect. ect.

 One time my wife and I were visiting Wiley Marx in Virginia. He asked me if I’d like to help him hunt
up a bunch of fox grapes and pick them for his wife to can. Of course I enjoyed that, they were delicious.
Of course, every now and then I popped one into my mouth, but all of a sudden Wiley spotted me! “Hey”,
he shouts to his other picker “Clark’s eating all the damn grapes!” It took some time to explain that I was
sampling them. He told his wife, who asked how we had done, “We got a few, but Clark ate most of
them!” I hoped he was kidding, he later told the folks that I had near about ate the whole mountain. That’s
putting it strongly, though I did sample some good stuff like chinquapins, wild cherries, water cress,
Jerusalem artichoke, and wild onion roots. Wiley said you’d be a pretty hard feller to starve if you was
turned loose!

 To get back to remembering earlier days I can never forget while visiting a farm lady out on the Gillettes
lake road Jackson, Michigan. I was about 2 and a half or less years of age and had escaped my mother
momentarily. I made a bee line for an apple tree that had a limb hanging pretty low full of big red apples,
slightly out of reach. There were stacks of white boxes all around the tree so I just started climbing. I hear
the lady and my mom yelling at me but I aim to have an apple. Well about the time I got hold on the apple
my mom got hold on me, at that exact moment a bee stung me right between the eyes! I didn’t know there
were bee hives. Oh well, all life is a learning experience! I spent the rest of the day with my eyes nearly
swelled shut. I got that damn apple though, you betcha!

 I keep remembering the really great time after we moved to 129 Osceola Ave. Clearwater, Florida. I was
a nuisance high speed toddler and this was a whole new world for me, of course to my folks also. It was
not many days gone by and I had cruised about the neighborhood and met a whole lot of new buddies.
Some were better buddies than others but isn’t that the way the world is?

 One summertime trip that we took often was from one backyard to the other to see who had the best
guavas. Now I have always been a guava lover, I realize there are people in northern climes that never had
them, but I have introduced them to newcomers who recoiled in horror holding their nose. They are
highly aromatic when one lays on the ground and gets ripe, a cat will dig a hole and bury It! But to get
back to my story…

 After spending several hours pursuing the Guava crops in everybody’s yard all us kids had eaten about
twenty pounds each and when we returned home bowlegged and pot-bellied from the fruit we had
ingested we were not going to ever eat the next meal and our moms would get real worried and want to
give us a dose of something. Shucks! When you’re full you’re full!

As the seasons passed, my mom, who was a great canner and preserver, had found out about Guava jelly.
By the time we had moved to the grove she was in a frenzy about the Guava jelly. It didn’t jell right! It
was too dark! It was too rubbery! Always something.

One day a visiting lady heard mom complaining and told her about a Mrs. Wires who lived out on Largo
Road. Mrs. Wires was the prize winning jelly maker at the Largo Fair for years and years. So Mom got
Dad to drive her over to see Mrs. Wires, that was the first of many trips. Over and over she instructed
mom exactly how to make Guava jelly. Mrs. Wires even went with us to meet some nice people named
Giesleman who lived over in Largo. They had about an acre of guavas fenced in with their chickens. They
said fruit was good for the chickens and vice versa. Mom got another bushel of prime guavas and went
home to ruin them in her usual fashion. I told her it was great, I ate it with relish on bread, biscuits,
pancakes, corn bread, If it’s guava I gotta have it!

 The Guava is a tropical fruit and the trees will occasionally freeze to death. Down through the years it
seems we have had colder winters in Florida and only a few people have a guava tree in their yard, now
you have to drive for miles and find yourself a contact I think its easier to buy a jar at the supermarket.

 Now I doubt need to go into any dissertation on the beauties and benefits of more northern fruits such as
peaches, pears, apples, plums, ect. I give them all high marks in my book but.. I have been occasionally
dismayed at people moving here who adamantly refuse to even taste of any of our fruit other than maybe
an orange or a banana! I know people who have lived here many years who never have bothered to taste a
Mango or Papaya and who don’t even know what a Surinam cherry or Loquat looks like! When you try to
tell them, they go into their back home dance! Other than the fact that Florida markets a lot of citrus fruit
and that is widely advertised.

 Many fruits that were here when I was a kid disappeared to the great extent I believe due to weather
change. I remember back in the 20’s and 30’s it rained and rained hard for days at a time each summer.
Dad and I once had to take two by fours and prop up our grapefruit trees at the grove, they just tipped
over because the ground was so muddy this happened several times. Now we do not get 1% of that kind
of rainfall.

I used to always be bringing different goodies home when I was exploring the countryside as a boy. Most
of that stuff is no longer available due to the rapid growth in population. There are now stores, streets, and
houses where I used to chase my cows.

 I used to spend two and three mornings scouting for Huckleberries. Oh yes Florida has them or did then,
they are on a little, low bush or plant seldom over eighteen inches or so high and the berries are identical
in looks and flavor to the northern huckleberry. I have not seen nor heard of any of them in years. I have
heard that they now have successful plantings of blueberries in various places in Florida.

 My mom and dad used to be terribly fond of “Avocado” there were a couple huge trees back in the corner
of their property on Oak Ave. Dad had a four car garage practically up against them. They were barren for
many years, then one summer both trees put on a tremendous crop. They were quite large light colored
about eight inches long. Dad couldn’t wait for them to mature.

 Well he didn’t have to wait, we had a hurricane and they kept banging the sheet metal garage roof like a
bass drum sonata all night long, the next morning the back yard was paved with avocados. They were
hard as rocks, so we got all our baskets and boxes and started gathering them up, finally had our spare
bathroom pilled three feet high with them, you would never believe how hard it is to give a truck load of
avocados away! Everybody’s had blown off and they didn’t want anymore!
 You know those avocados ripened quite rapidly. Mom dad and I were eating them 3 meals a day, and
between meals. We finally had to give the rest to the garbage man! Sheez, no wonder I’m so fat!

 I have as a kid often brought a hand of horse bananas home. I would have three or four of these oversize
bananas which grew pretty much all up and down the shore of our bay. They are a type of white plantain,
not very good except to cook, they are delicious fried. I no longer see any of them growing, I don’t think I
stole them all. Most people now plant lady finger bananas it’s very nice to eat in the usual fashion.

 I have many times brought sea grapes home to my mother, she made wonderful jelly with them. She said
it was the easiest jelly to make, it almost made itself.

 Each year I have always eaten a goodly amount of Loquats. There seems to be as many of those trees as
ever. I was given a pie made from them, it was wonderful, but my friend said it was labor intensive
peeling them and taking out all the pits. I only eat, I don’t know about cooking.

 I also am quite fond of Surinam Cherries and it seems that they seem to be getting scarce. Maybe the
watering ban caused it. Any how I don’t suppose it’s seemly for a seventy-five year old fat man to be
standing in someone’s hedge eating their cherries!

 I guess that’s enough fruit for a bit, you now know where my preference lies. I dream about fruit; so, I
am a fruit freak. I won’t tell you about my dreams or you’d say I was giving you a falsehood.

Now it has occurred to me after visiting with some of my older friends and acquaintances that people
vary in what they remember and in what they forget.

 I have asked several people how early in life do they remember, many have told me that they don’t
remember anything earlier than the first year in school! On the other hand, a few have told me they have
memories of babyhood like one and a half and two years old.

 This is all very strange. I distinctly remembered several things and happiness in my earliest years. I even
told them to my folks in great detail, they said oh you couldn’t possibly remember that! You were just a
baby, you just heard us talking about it. They were wrong, when I am impressed, I stay impressed.

I will admit that when they spun some tales about yours truly, I did not remember some of them at all,
not any, no matter how distressful.

 After I was nearly grown, my mother used to tell me what a hell of a worry I was when I first got mobile
and just crawling good (I didn’t recollect of any of this happening but, hey, a fellows got to get on with
his life don’t he!) About this time lots of her lady friends were dropping in to see mom and her new
house. Then they would all get set down comfy in the front room.

 And myself, I had been crawling up the stairway, which was a well type stair, with walls on each side, so
mom never worried about it. About the time they were all settled back ready to chat. I was at the top of
the stairs and like the great Zucchini at the fair about to be shot out of the cannon I charged the stairs head
first, coming down belly first with my hands out in front of me like a body surfer, I made it all the way to
the bottom and rolled out onto the floor giggling. Those ladies were all on their feet dashing for me with
alarm “poor baby, poor baby!” My mom said she told them it’s all right, he does that all the time’ he’s
fine, he’s all right! She said she got some real hard flack from a couple of her friends about that little
caper. That episode was related to me by my folks down through the years. I don’t remember a thing
about that, it just failed to impress me I guess. My dad said it probably was real good for my bowels!

 Another incident my mother used to tell about when discussing troublesome younguns was the time
when she had me out in the yard so I could push around the housewalk on my kiddy cart she gets to
looking at a flower bed for a few seconds and when she looks up I ain’t there, well she chases around the
house about twice runs out in the street and looks both ways. She comes back to the house and makes
another circuit. While she’s standing there getting really worried, she hears me crying, she dashes in the
back door down into the cellar and there I am hanging by my fingers from the cellar window bellowing
like a bull calf, my feet back about three inches of touching a big old kitchen table that’s used to sort
laundry on. Everything conspires to make a feller look like an idiot. I know my mom wouldn’t lie to me,
but I sure don’t remember that incident. I guess I am glad.

 Nor do I remember anything about what my mother told me about myself and a real strange eating habit.
She said she was constantly hauling me away from potted plants that she had often caught me sitting with
one between my legs and after tasting a few leaves I would settle down to eat hands full of dirt out of the
pot! She said the doctor told her lots of babies did that, and that he thought it was because my system
lacked some trifle of some sustenance or something and this explanation seemed to infuriate mom even
when she told me the yarn.

 One other (related to me, but not remembered) feast I was told of by my mom. She said I was sometimes
not too happy about the afternoon nap time. After some bit of contumely and finally a lullaby when I
finally dozed off she tip-toed out of the room to finish a chore or two downstairs. An hour or so passed
and she came up to check me out. I am laying there on my back with my legs crossed, I looked at her real
wide-eyed peacefully chewing away. She said she stood there for a minute or so trying to figure out what
I was eating, then she saw: I fished her laced curtain through the slats and ate about a foot off the bottom!
Sheez, I never liked lace curtains.

 I’m sure that some of these childhood recollections are of little or no interest, generally speaking that is
but the very fact that I remember them so well after all these years makes them interesting to me if no one
else! Note these last three episodes I did not remember. I sure did the bee sting, that impressed me.

 When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I had a pretty special little neighbor buddy who I spent a lot of time
with. He was an extra bright boy and his doting parents had furnished him with an array of toys and stuff
that would have stocked a toy store! Now Wilyum wasn’t to leave his yard ever, but I was always
welcome to come over to his house and play, which I was glad to do on the account of he had oodles of
more stuff than I had.

One thing he had that I dearly loved was a small bike, it was no plastic rig up but a high quality real bike
with coaster brakes, and all, boy I did love that bike.

 One Christmas Wilyum received a baby billy goat, it was very small when he got it, and all of us had just
about petted him nearly to death. Along with the goat, he got a really fancy goat cart, a little seat in front
with stake body in back all varnished with red wheels, rubber tires and all, we hauled the goat in the
wagon for months. He grew pretty fast. We never succeeded in hitching him to the wagon, in fact he was
absolutely intractable. He had a cast iron head. He grew to be a great nuisance to me. I learned to hate

 He would spot me and walk right over and put his head against me and start pushing. Wilyum said he
liked me, I said he didn’t. Several times I had to walk home backwards holding on to his horns!

Now looking back on the situation I can see why Wilyum was so glad to have me over, I was constantly
his pigeon. I think he had an intelligence quota that exceeded genius level! How he could rig up a deal on
me! Boy I was really out of his class, no contest, simple trusting me!

 One day Wilyum was waiting for me, he had an old dry cell doorbell battery and a coil of wire on it, he
had a hammer in his belt and an ice pick. He explains to me that all we got to do is fasten the ice pick onto
the wire battery then drive the ice pick into the lead cable that comes down the power pole in his
driveway. Now he being a super salesman convinced me that I was the ideal one to drive the ice pick into
the cable so we could get “lectricity” into our battery! So I done her, boy we got “lectricity” alright a great
big ball of it Ker Bang! I don’t know why it didn’t kill me, the only good thing about it was it didn’t
affect the power or lights on my side of the street. Wilyum’s side of the street was in trouble that night.

 Wilyum had been absent from school quite a lot this one year. It seemed that he had picked up an
infection in his thigh from a thorn or a splinter or something it seemed get worse from day to day, I
remember we were in the third grade at North Ward School and this day the principal came to our room
and announced that Wilyum had died the night before! I have always felt bad about that. I feel like I owe
him for teaching me a lot real quick! I never hold a little joke or prank against any of my friends as long
as I recover and stop bleeding in a reasonable length of time. Well there is no doubt that Wilyum was my
friend and I sure miss him. Every time I would see his mother she would start crying. This was something
that I really hated. It went on for forty years!

 Time went along that year very tediously. My mother said to me, “Listen now, next month is Christmas.
Dad is working on a grand surprise for you. He has it in the store room in the garage. Now if you want a
nice Christmas, you will have to promise not to peek in there.” So I promised. Every day for five weeks I
would walk out to the garage and decide I had to see! Then for some reason I can’t explain, I would turn
around and walk away. I’d tell mom, “I got to see what that is that dad is doing in the store room!” She
would say, “Suit your self, but if you do I don’t think you will have a very nice Christmas!” That done it I
couldn’t go near the store room.

 Christmas came and while I was trying to stuff myself with all those goodies, Dad came wheeling
Wilyum’s bike in. He had painted it all up like brand new! Of course I was instructed to get right over to
Wilyum’s mother’s house and properly thank her. She cried and hugged me. I don’t think any ten year old
could handle that too well.
            Some of Clarks designs

Optimist Pram the most prolific sail boat design in the world
Windmill Racing Dinghy
          Three masted schooner “Sunflower” which has since been renamed

Deep sea fishing catamaran Double Eagle II which was the fastest one around at that time
13’ Picnic Cat                           16’ Compac

                          23’ Compac

                 23’ Compac rigged for cruising
17’ Sun cat possibly the best day sailer ever
Clark in Fort Pierce on a Compac23 cruise
Self proclaimed Captain of the seawall

Shared By: