Skip to main content

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

When I was around eight or so Uncle David built a jon boat out of marine plywood.  Uncle David is really good at woodworking and makes some nice pieces.  As far as I know it was his first attempt at a boat.  I rarely write about living people, but the humor in this piece is not at Uncle David's expense and I bet that he gets a kick out of reading this.

He did a really good job of it, and it looked really nice.  It took him several days to finish it, and since they lived just across the street I watched quite a bit of how he built it.  He had gotten some plans from somewhere, but could have built it without any prepackaged plans because he was that good.

He used screws and marine glue to assemble it, and I am assuming that he used either brass or stainless steel screws because he knew his stuff.  The boat was about eight feet long as I recall, but might have been a bit larger or smaller.  Jon boats are good in the stumpy lakes around Hackett because they have a very shallow draught, thus sort of skimming over stumps.

I remember especially how he turned the boat on its top and glued and screwed the bottom to the seats and gunwales.  After a final sanding, he put several coats of marine varnish (after he stained it) on it and after drying a few days, it was ready to go.  I also remember that he put oarlocks on it.

Once he took my cousin and me to Sugarloaf Lake, about ten miles south of Hackett, to fish.  He had a 9.9 horsepower engine on the boat, because the requirements for boating on Sugarloaf specified engines under ten horsepower.  My job was to sit at the front and watch for stumps and point which way he should steer to avoid them as much as possible.  We made a pretty good team and never hit one that did any damage.

One nice thing about his boat was that it was light enough that two men could lift it into a pickup truck or into his station wagon.  That made it really mobile and there was no need for a trailer.  My cousin and me on one side and he on the other were enough to get it into the station wagon.

I do not remember if we caught any fish that day, but it was fun to go anyhow.  After we were finished, we loaded it back up and went home.

One day Uncle David, my cousin, and my father and I went to a different lake to try some fishing.  It was also a less than ten horsepower lake, so we took his outboard.  He and my father took the boat out of the station wagon and put it in the water.  Dad was going to pull it out far enough to float it after they had attached the outboard, and instead of walking around the boat, just used the boat as a sort of ramp to get to the front of it.

Well, when Dad stepped that last step to the front of the boat, his weight was enough to push the boat down onto a sharp stob of a sapling and it penetrated the bottom.  Uncle David was not very happy, and that was the end of our fishing day!  We loaded up the gear and went home.

Uncle David patched the hole (it was around an inch in diameter) with two pieces of sheet copper and copper rivets, taking care to make sure that everything was dry before he started.  He glued the copper sheeting to the bottom and top surfaces of the bottom of the boat then, whilst the glue was still uncured, riveted the two pieces together.  After the glue dried, it was as good as new mechanically if not cosmetically.

Another time we decided to go to the Arkansas River to fish for catfish on an overnighter.  Dad had a pickup truck with a camper shell, so we took it and Uncle David's station wagon.   I am trying to remember how many of us went, but I know that it was my cousin and Uncle David and Dad and me.  Since the river has a significant current, they decided to take an outboard that Dad had that was around 25 horsepower because the 9.9 horsepower one was just not safe in the current.

We got there in the afternoon and set up camp.  Uncle David had a lot of camping gear, and betwixt the gear that he had and what Dad had we were pretty much set.  We planned to fish in the evening, so we got everything ready and when it started to get towards dusk the four of us got into the boat and pushed away from shore.

We had already started the outboard, but it was just at idle and in neutral.  In those days outboards were not very reliable, so we had a paddle with us as well.  That turned out to be a good thing.  Four people in an eight foot boat is quite a load, but I was about nine and my cousin around seven, so we did not add that much weight.

When we were around ten feet from short, Uncle David and Dad decided that we were in deep enough water to lower the propeller into position and go out a little.  I can not remember clearly if it were Dad or Uncle David who was operating the outboard, but I suspect that it was Dad.  Uncle David is sort of a finesse kind of person and Dad was full bore.  Anyhow, as soon as (I am assuming that it was Dad) Dad put the outboard in gear and revved it, the entire back transom to which the motor was connected failed!  Now we were in a boat with no rear transom, in who knows how deep water, with it getting dark.

Uncle David is a fast thinker.  He got all of us towards the front of the boat so that it was not taking on water (the rear was above the water line) and took the paddle and got us back to shore.  It was hard paddling, because we had an anchor.  Uncle David had installed a safety loop to one of the gunwales and chained the outboard to it.  As I alluded to before, Uncle David is methodical.

We got back to shore safely and Uncle David and Dad retrieved the outboard, took out the spark plug, and poured the water out of the combustion chamber.  They also drained the crankcase and added new oil into the combustion chamber and crankcase, then put it in gear (with no spark plug) and manually turned the propeller to coat the wet parts with fresh oil to save it. It worked, and the outboard was saved.

That pretty much put and end to the fishing trip.  We fished from the bank a little but did not have any luck.  It was getting late, so we decided to stay the night and we went home the next morning.  Uncle David rebuilt the boat, but never invited Dad and me to go fishing with him again.  I do not blame him, since the only two times Dad was involved with the boat there was damage associated with it.

A few months later Dad ran an advert to sell the outboard since he did not have a boat.  Some man called about it and asked to see it.  He liked its appearance and asked Dad how much he wanted for it.  He did not ask too much because he just did not have any use for it.  The man look at Dad and said, "What did you do, drop it to the bottom of the lake?"  Dad was nonplussed and told him that he just did not have any use for it.  The man bought it and we never saw him again, so I assume that it served his purposes.  After he left I asked Dad why he had not told the man that the outboard had indeed fallen into the water.  Dad said, "He asked me if I dropped to the bottom of the lake, and we were on the river."

Dad never did get a boat (he had one when I was really little, but it went with my brother when he married because he and his wife liked to ski) after that, but years later when I lived in southeast Arkansas would sometimes come and visit and I would take him out on the river to fish.  He always enjoyed that.

That about does it for My Little Town tonight.  Please add stories about growing up of your own in the comments, whether or not you came from a little town.  I enjoy reading them, and so do the other readers here.

Warmest regards,

Doc

Crossposted at

The Stars Hollow Gazette,

Docudharma, and

firefly-dreaming

Originally posted to Translator on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 05:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Genealogy and Family History Community and Personal Storytellers.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tips and recs for (14+ / 0-)

    remembering distant memories?

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

    I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

    by Translator on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 04:58:04 PM PDT

    •  Folks, I shall be back (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lefty Ladig, raster44

      in half an hour.  I am helping The Girl's mum get the car ready for Her return tomorrow.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 06:42:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow! My readers must have some (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raster44

      love for me, because this is the eighth or ninth consecutive piece to make the Recommend List!  I very much appreciate your loyalty, and I shall attempt to continue to post pieces of the quality that deserve his place of honor.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 09:04:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I enjoyed reading this (5+ / 0-)

    I live in the city where I grew up (Christchurch, NZ) and love taking my kids to places that have not changed much since my chidhood. There aren't too many left.

    Today I took them to a suburban park that still has a number of playground pieces that I would play on. Everyone knows it as "the elephant park" because there is a slide that goes over the side of an elephant. That is still there, as is the flying fox - a zip line, I have no idea if they're even called flying foxes outside Australia and New Zealand. The big metal rocking horse that seats five or six is still there too. Different color now, but works as well as it did a few decades ago.

    Your mention of a Sugarloaf Lake brought back another memory, the local use of that name. The transmission tower for television and FM radio on a hill overlooking our city is known as the Sugarloaf. I grew up assuming that was the name for such a structure everywhere. It wasn't until my twenties, travelling to other places and getting strange looks in response to "oh, there's your sugarloaf up there" that I realised it was just our local name for it.

    •  Hello, my dear friend! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      retrograde, raster44

      Actually, the word "sugarloaf" has to do with the conical shape of early refined sugar pieces.  They were around two to there feet high and looked sort of like a modified volcano cinder cone, just a less sharp angle.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 08:33:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is Me Sailing My 8' Pram Dinghy (Flat Across (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, BusyinCA, retrograde, raster44

    both the bow and the stern) just a few years ago, which must have a fairly similar footprint to the boat you're describing. It weighs around 70 pounds and so is easily carried on rooftop, in a truck bed etc.

    In stature I'm the median size human male for the whole species (which means smaller than median American) so you can see 2 adults and 2 kids in such a boat would be the max. I've taught sailing in this identical class of boats on open Great Lakes waters with 2-4 kids or 2-3 adults in them.

    Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

    My youth in a small town came shortly before my teen sailing years, so I was limited to stringing ratlines up trees and rigging blanket sails on Radio Flyer wagons, with the steering tongue in the rear of course!

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 07:19:15 PM PDT

  •  Great Story Doc (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, retrograde, raster44

    So well done, my feet are a bit wet.  

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 08:31:48 PM PDT

    •  Thank you for the kind words! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      retrograde, markdd, raster44

      Hey, anyone can write.  It is not that difficult.  I just seem to be faster at it than many.  Once I have a topic, I write lots.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 08:44:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, anyone can write. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, raster44

        Writing well enough that I can feel the water rising in your boar, or smell the smoke that was choking Nurse Kelley is talent, not just practice.

        “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

        by markdd on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 10:26:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Do you really think that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          markdd, raster44

          I write well?  I can meet The Girl tomorrow.  I know that this is confused.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 10:29:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Perhaps I'm not choosing my words well (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            raster44, Translator

            You are a very good storyteller. That may be different from writing well.  I'll leave the writing well grades to the English teachers who seem to be failing me this evening. 8^)

            “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

            by markdd on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 10:38:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Your remembrances stirred some of mine. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, retrograde, raster44

    I had an Uncle Eddie who was quite the outdoors-man. Every year when I was living at home the entire family packed up for a summer week or more of lakeside fun at Uncle Eddies cabin at the lake. It was over 250 miles away, so it was not some place we went to on the weekend, or on a whim.

    Uncle Eddie had two boats, which greatly impressed everyone, since we had none. The smaller was a 14 foot aluminium fishing boat (w/a 9.9 hp. motor IIRC), and it served its purpose well. The other was a slightly larger boat that had a much larger motor (40 or 50 hp.) and we used to be able to water ski behind it.

    One fine afternoon my entire family went for a cruise of the lake and the river, and the next lake, etc. A three hour tour. At the point farthest from the dock, Uncle Eddie decided to turn around in some unfamiliar shallow water and hit a rock with the prop.

    Thunk. We all heard it. The knowing looks of horror went all around. The boat continued to move, very slowly. Uncle Eddie had some caution left, so he slowly increased the engine rpm. Not much change. He stopped the motor and pulled up the prop. It was still there, but the design was such that the hub and the blades were two separate pieces, held together by a rubber bushing of some sort. The rubber had torn under impact, so there was very little torque imparted to the blades.

    We made it back to our home base much, much later than anticipated. It was faster than rowing, but not by much. It was after dark IIRC, and a pot roast that had been left on for supper was charred beyond salvage by the time we got back.

    Good times!

    We built a small boat out of marine plywood also, and the transom went out on that as well. We should have used something stronger than pine and fibreglass, ha. And that was using the 9.9 hp. motor.

    Thanks for sharing the memories, and for bringing up some old ones.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site