During our aquisitive years (these are now our get-rid-of-it years) Elaine was big on garage sales. Almost every good-weather Friday and Saturday she would be buzzing around our end of town in her red 1970 Chevette going to garage and moving sales (her CB handle was "Rummage Queen"). She collected Depression Glass ( Jeanette Pink Cherry Blossom) and Hall's "Superior Quality Kitchenware" (Crocus Pattern) among other things. She also found most of the furnishings for the rental house we owned at that time. Anyway, she came home one day and said there is a canoe at the garage sale down the street so I went down there expecting to see some aluminum or fiberglass clunker when lo and behold,* hanging upside down overhead in this garage is a beautiful green wood and canvas canoe. I immediately spotted an Old Town decal on the front deck and knew I had a find. It had a "For Sale" sign on it so I asked the lady "How much?" She said $250 and I said "I'll take it!"
When I asked her about the history of the canoe she invited me in to meet her husband. I found him to be a victim of Lou Gehrig's disease. The canoe was for sale because he was no longer physically able to indulge in his passion for fishing in Canada. The canoe had been used for many years to fish on remote Ontario lakes after being flown in lashed to the pontoon of a float plane.
Sobered but still pleased I got my step-grandson Todd Tury, then a skinny kid, to help me carry the canoe home which was just up the street. This took place in the summer of 1981.
I sent a letter to the Old Town factory in Maine with the serial number of the canoe. They sent back a nice letter and a photocopy of the original "build card". The card revealed that my canoe was a 15-foot Old Town "50#" model, CS grade, built in 1952 and shipped to the VanDervoort Hardware Co. in Lansing in April of 1953. That meant the canoe was the same age as my daughter Karen. It was being built in Old Town, Maine, as she was being born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The build card reveals that it was canvased on September 15, the day before she was born. I am glad to report that they are both aging gracefully. They are both still sleek and good looking, but while the Old Town is hanging in my garage Karen is commuting between her home in DeWitt, her job in Ann Arbor and her cottage on Black lake near Cheboygan.
* I reserve the phrase "lo and behold" (which I guess is biblical) only for happenings in the minor-miracle category such as coming upon the fly-in fishing lodge during our 1948 canoe trip when we were starving for sweets.
The Wisconsin River flows 430 miles across the state from Lac Vieux Desert in northern Wisconsin to its junction with the Mississippi River ar Wyalusing State Park in southwestern Wisconsin. Known as "the nation's hardest working river," it has many power dams and resevoirs, mainly on its upper and middle portions along the lower stretch with beautiful scenery and numerous islands.