We didn’t need another boat, but Gary and I fell in love with 1922 La Tâche when we saw her at Antique Boat America. We loved her lines and we loved the history.
“She was made right there,” I would say as we sat on the dock at cocktail time. “Ten years from now, we’re going to be kicking ourselves. If we don’t buy her, we’ll be sitting here looking at the Hub and asking ourselves why we didn’t buy the Lindsey when we had a chance. Besides, she was made in 1922, the year your father was born.”
The boat’s history was one of the major reason we bought her. We knew she was built by John E. Lindsey at the Lindsey Boat Company on Hub Island, but we knew little about John E. or the Boat Company that had been situated 400 yards off our front rock. I scoured newspaper archives for weeks and found nothing.
Next stop, the Antique Boat Museum Library in Clayton. I was thrilled when the librarian delivered a folder of information to me. The man seated across from me as I started going through the folder was Tom Frauenheim. How serendipitous! Tom acquired the Lindsey in the 1980s and restored it. While I went through the packet of information in front of me about John E. Lindsey and the Lindsey Boat Company, Tom filled my husband, Gary, in on the restoration of our Lindsey.
Tom was gracious enough to copy and send all the information he had on the Lindsey. We were delighted to learn that while she was made on Hub Island she had spent her first two decades on Grenell as the first motorboat for the Kerr family. Her original name was Glimpses I, though she never was called Glimpses I. There were many other Glimpses motorboats to follow. While doing the restoration, Tom collected as much information as he could. He received this from Clarence Kerr III written in 1981:
I think you will be pleased with the enclosed photograph of “Glimpses I” The “I” was never officially used but each boat my grandfather purchased was named Glimpses. Thus I, II, III.
Tom also heard from Mary Kerr Taggert who wrote:
The Glimpses was a super family boat at that age---we wanted a speed boat! A nifty boat for 4 of us growing up as “The speed boat craze” was making waves. The Glimpses at best, could do 25 mi. per hr.
The Kerr’s had the boat from 1922 until about 1939. She had an engine fire and from what I can piece together, I believe she was returned to the Lindsey Boat Company. Duane Chalk told us soon after we bought the boat that he remembers seeing her hanging in the boatworks on Hub Island when he was growing up in the 1940s.
When Tom acquired the boat, she was a shell of her former self. She had had an engine fire, but was still structurally viable. He put her on a trailer and took her back to his marina in Buffalo. He also salvaged a windshield from Lindsey Boatworks, though it was not the original windshield for this boat it was Lindsey designed and made.
First order of business, was to get her to run. Initially he put a Chrysler V-8 engine in the boat. Yikes. The engine was too big making the boat unbalanced. Tom went back to the marina and asked his marine manager if they had another motor. He was told they had buried a boat that morning, a Chris-Craft. Tom told them to dig it up! It was a common practice back in those days to dispose of old wooden boats by burying them. They dug up the boat and took the 4-cylinder Model A Chris-Craft motor out of that boat and put it in the Lindsey.
Oh, man what a sweet purring engine that is. She doesn’t have quite the get up and go as the original, but still gives us a lovely evening ride.
Next, he needed to restore her interior. Tom took two seats out of Miss St. Lawrence a boat he still owns today to be used as her seats. He dropped the cockpit floor. He added the scoop and rudder he had salvaged from another boat from the same era. He made a mahogany grate to cover the bilge area of the boat, which looks remarkably like the mahogany grate in Long Rock II, another Lindsey-built boat. Tom had an upholsterer cover the front bucket seats and back bench seat in a supple hunter green leather. He painted the hull to match.
Before he had her finished, Tom had an interested buyer, a man from California. When she was finished she was put on a trailer and shipped out to some small lake in California. But the lake did not allow inboards, so the buyer shipped her back to Buffalo and told Tom to sell her. She was sold to a guy in Michigan.
Tom next saw her in 1995 on a trailer in Clayton at the Antique Boat Museum’s auction. Same beautiful lines, green hull and lots of brass. The guy in Michigan had added the spotlight, the claxon, an old fire extinguisher and a hand pump.
The boat was purchased by Bill Young who renamed her 1922 La Tâche after his favorite bottle of wine. Bill took the Lindsey to Canandaigua Lake where she spent a delightful decade and a little bit more before she turned up at Antique Boat America on Route 12.
She’s traveled to California, Michigan and around the state of New York, but we’re delighted to bring the Lindsey back to her St. Lawrence roots. Today she is moored in sight of where she was crafted on Hub Island. She is back on Grenell Island where she was enjoyed for nearly two decades by the Kerr family. She’s a river girl back on the St. Lawrence to stay.
By Lynn McElfresh, Grenell Island
Once again we thank Lynn McElfresh for her special story. Lynn is a regular contributor to TI Life, writing stories dealing with her favorite Grenell Island and island life. Lynn has been research many new stories this summer for our winter issues – we will learn a great deal more in the coming months. See all of Lynn’s 50+ articles here.
Editor: Be sure to see Lynn’s matching story in this issue, Renaming Ceremony