By Rick Casali, Thousand Islands Chapter
Some classic boats have great stories, but Ol Boy’s background is hard to beat. This 1938 Chris-Craft 25 Sportsman has spent its entire life in the 1000 Islands. Joe Cardamone was a serious fisherman from Utica, NY, who owned a 21-foot utility. He fished out of Dingman Point, and wanted a slightly larger boat for the St. Lawrence River. Joe went to the 1938 National Motor Boat Show in New York City in search of a larger fishing craft. The story goes that he went straight to the Chris-Craft display at the show, and met with the dealer from Utica who was showing the brand new 25 Sportsman. Mr. Cardamone immediately liked the new design and inked a deal for the same boat that the dealer from Utica was showing. The boat remained in New York City over the winter, and the next Spring, Joe’s son Joe Jr. was tapped to deliver the new 25 on her own bottom to the 1000 Islands via the Hudson River and NY barge canal system. A friend accompanied Joe Jr. on the delivery. The 400-mile shakedown cruise took Joe Jr. to north and west on the Hudson and canals and on to Oswego and Lake Ontario. Once in the river he arrived at Dingman Point in Alexandria Bay. No issues arose during the ambitious delivery. Also, after the delivery the name ‘Ol Boy’ was picked for the new Chris-Craft to honor the elder Cardamone.
The Cardamone’s soon added a lined bait well and an anchor horn for their fishing excursions. After a fishing trip to Lake Ontario, they discovered the need for an anchor windlass, so it was added as well. The elder Cardamone reportedly had little patience if the fish were not biting, so up came the anchor to move to another spot. Ol Boy continued to serve the family for fishing and other uses for many years. And during WW II, Joe Jr. went on to serve in the U. S. Navy with distinction, calling upon his experiences boating and navigating in the 1000 Islands and his 400-mile delivery from the city.
Fast forward to John Cardamone who is the grandson of Joe Sr. and son of Joe Jr. John and his wife Sally are classic boat enthusiasts, and own a 33-foot GarWood as well as a very pretty Lyman 26 Sleeper. Starting in 2014, the Cardamone’s initiated a complete refit of Ol Boy at St. Lawrence Restoration. During this restoration, John Cardamone’s cousin Tony Mollica recalled that the 25 Chris-Craft originally had a turquoise bottom line paint as well as leather cushions in the same color. Chris-Craft was able to confirm this, and during the restoration, removal of some hardware confirmed this color.
The original Chris-Craft straight-6 engine in Ol Boy was replaced with a Chrysler hemi V-8 as the Caradmones wanted more hull speed. Today, power comes from a General Motors 383-cubic inch stoker V-8 which has lots more power and is more reliable. Ol Boy currently has about double the horsepower of the original Chris-Craft motor, so she can get to favorite fishing spots in far less time.
Today, Ol Boy continues to offer lots of fun boating for this 1000 Island family. She is safely protected in the Cardamone’s lovely boathouse. Recently, Ol Boy was on display at the Antique Boat Museum’s August 2022 boat show that focused on the Chris-Craft marque. It was interesting to see the pre-war Ol Boy design on display adjacent to the post-war Chris-Craft 25 utility named Riptide IV. We were able to see the subtle but visible evolution of the design of Chris-Craft 25 vessels.
Tony Mollica’s fine book “Classic Boats of the Thousand Islands” has a chapter devoted to Ol Boy. It is accompanied with excellent photos of this Chris-Craft that has spent more than 75 years fishing and cruising in the 1000 Islands.