Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kappy's Boats

I have this sign in my workshop today.
My Dad inherited the "caretaker of the right-of-way" role for the Franklin Tract at Sandy Pond. Roughly, it included all the properties from the Bayview to Tott's Pavilion (also known as the Poor Girl and later The Beacon) to County Route 15 to water's edge. The right of way was established to let all property owners gain access to the Pond at the end of Ontario Avenue.

Dad inherited this role from Scotty Hayward in the mid 60's. It used to be Scotty's Boats. Scotty was a great guy. He always had a stinky cigar in his mouth. I bought nightcrawlers from him for my boyhood fishing excursions. His wife May was a saint and baked some dynamite cookies.

Dad inherited 6 Starcraft and 1 Lonestar aluminum rental boats and from Scotty. I think he paid May for them anyway. I still have one of the Starcrafts now. He also got a dock and a boat lift. Dad expanded the facility with another very long dock built by Mr. Bardechewski the welder (Bardy) over on South Pond. I worked for Bardy one summer as a youth, welding ski lift assemblies for the Greek Peak ski facility. Dad rented dock space to summer residents. He also bought another used boat lift for our family boat, a 16 ft. MFG runabout with a 40hp Evinrude outboard.
I spent a lot of time pumping gas and maintaining /renting out the boats at the livery. We got $3 a day for a row boat and $10 a day if you wanted the motor on it with a half-tank of gas free. My folks gave me the Lonestar boat and a Johnson 4 1/2 hp outboard when I graduated from 8th grade. I rented that out a lot. $10 was a lot of money for a teen in 1968. I still have the Johnson motor too.
Kappy's Boats, August 1984. This a view from the end of the Long Dock...
One time as a teen I was mowing the lawn on the waterfront on a beautiful sunny summer morning. The docks were full of boats and many neighbors were on the docks and in the boats. I ran over a yellow-jacket (bees) nest in the ground and they swarmed out after me. I left the mower running and ran as fast as I could towards the water. I ran down the boat ramp and lunged out in a running dive, taking in a huge breath of air. I dove down and held my breath for just as long as I could, praying that the yellow-jackets would fly away.
Then I started to the muffled sounds of people screaming above water.
Oops. Sorry!
The angry yellow-jackets lost me so they started attacking everybody there. I came up fast, took another huge breath and dove down again. As I was up there I glimpsed people flaying their arms and swatting and screaming. I kept coming up for air and going back down several times until the attack was over. Several other people jumped in and did what I was doing. I don't know how many stings everybody else got but God shone on me that morning - none at all.
I don't think anybody knew they had been chasing me...
On calm days when the surface of the Pond was like a mirror, we used to have a BB-gun contest on the end of the Long Dock. The boy who could shoot straight up and have his BB come straight down closest to where we were standing was the winner. Bloop! That was fun.
I came in from duck hunting just after sunset on Halloween in 1979, and there was Dad, feverishly trying to finish off the freshly-poured reinforced concrete boat ramp all by himself. The water was abnormally low that fall, and Dad took the opportunity to construct the ramp. He needed help so I dropped my duck gear and grabbed a float and we floated that thing by the headlights of our cars until it was too set up to work and our arms were about to drop off.

It is a huge boat ramp.
While we worked we had a real good talk. Dad was concerned about my future. I hadn't done any thing of value since college. He didn't know that I had enlisted in the Navy the day before. I told him so and he stopped his work, choked a little, and cleared his throat. "I met a lot of good men who were Navy... OK let's finish this thing and have a beer". I think that was his way of telling me that he acknowledged me as a man that day.
Kappy and "Kappy's Boats" and are gone now, like a vapor in the wind, but that huge concrete boat ramp is still there today. It has survived the pounding waves and thick cold ice of Sandy Pond for the past 30 years. To me it's a wonderful monument to that time with Dad...

Brother Pete at the end of the Long Dock, 1982

Pulling out the family boat.

Kip and Daughter Stephy at the end of the Long Dock, August 1984.

Kappy's Boats was next to the Mayer Camp, which used to be part of the Jappyland dance Pavilion.


  1. Hi Steve, great blog! We had such fun at the waterfront. I remember painting that sign -- I think I hand-cut the stencil for the big letters from a Schoeller paper roll-end, and for the small letters used interlocking brass stencils that Scotty had. I also painted all the nameplates for the dock spaces Dad rented.

    I took my turn at renting the boats too. I used my toy Superior rubber-type printing press to print up rental forms. I always hated having to wash the boats out when they came back all muddy! And having to count out nightcrawlers when people bought them gave me the creeps.

    Remember the green traffic light that was on the boathouse? The spiders loved it, it was always covered with spider webs. One time Jeff Cannon, Bobby Newton and I were goofing off down there at night and Jeff sprayed the spider webs with the water hose to try to clean off the light. Since the light was on, the lens was hot and the cold water cracked it!

    Bardechewski's house was later sold to the Nature Conservancy, and it's now their Northern New York project office.

  2. So Jeff's the one who cracked it. AHA! Now 30 years later the mystery is solved! HA HA!

    I confessed to Doc Newton that I used to borrow his 10 horse Johnson he stored in the boatshack year-round. It would make the little Loanstar fly like 25 knots. All Doc could say was "so THAT"S why in wouldn't run right! "No, Doc" I said, "It wouldn't run right because the thing was like 35 years old and you only used it 2 weeks out of the year..."

    Remember the storms coming up and all of us running down to pull the boats out of the water. That was a 4 alarm emergency situation right there, mister...

  3. Pete - Do you have any photos related to Sandy Pond you could send? Amy's got all the good ones and I don't know when I'll be there again. I'll just scan them and send them back to you.

  4. I'll look, but probably not -- I didn't get a decent camera until the mid '80s, and used it mostly on trips and holidays. But I realize now the memories of everyday life can be the most cherished!


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