by Art Armstrong, Michigan chapter

Molly-O has a direct connection to the descendants of Chris Smith as my grandfather, Milton Meier, was a friend of Owen Smith. In 1938 Owen asked him if he was interested in purchasing one if the seven 24-foot boats that were being built for family members. Apparently one of the family members changed his mind after the boat materials were ordered and the boats were not completed yet so this boat became available. Obviously my grandfather said yes.

She has a few unique options that were ordered from the factory.
• Under the front passenger seat is a “head”
• Under the center front seat is an “ice box”
• The center jump seat is also a copper lined live bait and fish box.
• Behind the engine box is a rear steering bar for steering while trolling.

My grandfather purchased this 1939 24.9-foot Deluxe Utility from Chris Craft on July 23,1938 and had the name Molly-O put on the transom before delivery. The CC employee that lettered the boat was Ed Posey.

All of my grandfather’s boats were named MOLLY-O after his wife whose name was Marie and her maiden name was McQuisten,very Irish. However, she always went by Molly. The “O” was a reference to her Irish heritage.

The boat was owned by two other (very local) families from 1960 thru 1978 and each one changed the name, FIN’S FOLLY and then WOOP’S HI. The boat was always kept on Grande Pointe Cut on Harsens Island, within sight of its old home in my grandfather’s boathouse, which later became my parents retirement home, and has now been home for us for 40 years.

We purchased her back in 1978 and began restoring her to her original condition. Much work was done to remove the previously added chrome grab bars and cup holders, redo the upholstery to its original red, locate the correct windshield and bow light, and generally bring the boat back to her original state.

During the restoration, we considered many names and settled on REFLECTIONS, alluding to the boat’s heritage and the light dancing off the varnish. I refused to name her MOLLY-O as, I’m sorry to say, she was not my favorite grandmother. I’ll leave it at that. So it came time to contact a person to letter the boat with REFLECTIONS, and a former CC employee, Tom Cuthbertson, recommended another former CC employee, Ed Posey, who was well into his 80’s. Ed came to the house one day to letter the boat in gold leaf, and we described the lettering that we wanted. He took one look at the boat and announced, “that’s MOLLY-O which I lettered at the plant in 1938″. He then went on to describe the original lettering style and colors and told us that he remembered every boat that he lettered. At that point we decided that fate was directing us and the name MOLLY-O would live on!

Since MOLLY-O lives in an enclosed boat house, we have been able to retain the Ed Posey work of art to this day.

When we bought her the original engine (CC LB) had been replaced and a search was conducted. We couldn’t even find someone that had ever even seen an LB, so we were forced to repower her with a 5.7 Mercury Marine.

Molly-O has never been a trailer queen, and has been enjoyed by 6 generations of our family.


  1. Art,

    She certainly is a great boat. Can’t miss her sitting in the boat house on the cut. Her bow in with the transom proudly displaying “MOLLY O”. We’ll see you this spring and at the Algonac International Antique and Classic Boat Show. “Where It All Began”!


  2. Thanks Jack. Just a further note………….the last picture of me in Molly-O was taken in front of my grandfather’s “cottages” . The one with the flag was his main cottage and the one to the left was the guest cottage . There used to be a enclosed boat house between the two , where Molly-O resided from 1938 until a new boat house was built on my families property on Grande Pointe Cut a 1/2 mile up stream in 1952, where it resides to this day.

  3. Art
    Thank-you for sharing the amazing heritage of Molly-O. Not only is she all original, she’s just beautiful . . . Although having one of the other seven boats, I might be a bit too partial to her lines. ; )
    Was wondering if you had any pictures of Molly-O taken by your Grandfather back in the day?

  4. As we begin our frequent cruises in our family’s Woody utility on the St. Clair River, we’d often go through the Grand Pointe Cut. One of our rituals was to have Art hear our 95 Hp Chris Craft Hercules K engine with its unique sound. If he wasn’t already outside , Art would come outside and wave to us and we would always perk in the boathouse at Molly O. We’ve been doing that for 40 + years!

  5. Paul
    I have a few pictures, but I also have 8mm film, which has been converted to current technology.

    Unfortantly i think ,as you and I have discussed, that your boat is a reproduction and is a sister ship in hull number only. As you know I supplied numerous photos and detailed dimensions to the previous owner and builder over a two year period. With that said I think your boat, Tradition, is a beautiful boat and some day I would love to see them side by side when you bring her to Harsens Island.

    • Hi Art
      Such a great article. So glad it was republished. I’ll have Tradition at the Algonac show this year. Hope we can get them together. And would love to see the old film footage.

      As a post note, I had it validated by several folks in ACBS that Tradition is actually not a reproduction. She still holds enough of her original parts to be considered a restoration. Nonetheless, it was a major undertaking to bring her back from the field-find that she was 12 years ago. (She actually had a small tree growing through her hull when they found her in the farm field in Algonac. But a great cause to be sure as she was the #1 hull of those (7) 24’ Deluxe Utilities built back in the summer of 1938 for the Smith family. I’ll bring the restoration pictures to the show so we can review.

      Looking forward to seeing you and Molly-O at the show!

      • Paul-
        I can indeed also confirm that your boat is most definitely not a reproduction.

        I was present when your boat (now “Tradition”) was purchased in St. Clair in the late 1990s (in its original and unrestored condition) and was the one who transported to West Michigan for restoration.

        To your point, many an hour of hard work and devotion were spent – carefully restoring her to her former glory. So while a major restoration project to be sure, it was just that – a restoration. A reproduction it is not.

        Was so glad to see another one of these rare original seven boats saved – and now still being used and enjoyed into the 21st century. Trust your family enjoys it in the Les Cheneaux equally as much as those families in southern Michigan have since 1939!

        Vintage boating regards,

  6. Art, always remember you bring her down to Peter Henkel’s while I was working there. What a beautiful boat

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