By Tarry & Polly Crumley members of the Indian Lake chapter

As my wife and I spent our youth (in different states) on lakes and boating with family, we continued that life with our family by boating and moving to Indian Lake in northwest Ohio. The local group of antique wood boats kept our fondness for the old boats alive. We would chase them down whenever we heard that oh so familiar rumble of their engine, just to get a look.

Then in 2003 we saw an ad for an old wood boat for sale at Antique Boat Center in Cincinnati. When we arrived at the showroom floor, there was a small 16’ Racing Runabout that I was drawn to, even though my wife quickly reminded me, we were there to look at a larger Runabout. After looking at the runabout and talking with the dealer, we discovered a 1940 17’ Deluxe Runabout-barrel back they had in the back. It was there for a class on how to replace a bottom with a 5200 bottom. That boat, although it was in piles in three different rooms (bottom boards in one room, glass in another, and chrome in another) was to be our future “Sassafras”.

I joined the class and drove to Cincinnati every Saturday and at the end of the class and some money, the boat was mine. After bringing her home I tore into the restoration of the rest of the boat. As I dug into the decking of the boat I discovered orange caulking under the white seams. After some research I discovered that only a handful of 1940 barrel backs had orange stripes and Sassafras was one of them. I also discovered that I was in over my head as far as restoring this boat.

So we hauled the boat (looking like a bare ribcage on a trailer) to Buckeye Lake where it would be restored by Zimmerman Boatworks and after many visits and conversations with Matt Zimmerman, we had a beautiful 1940 Barrelback of our own. She has lived in our boathouse on Sassafras Point at Indian Lake every summer and taken many rides throughout the summer for many years now. She’s given us many rides with older grandparents who love to reminisce about the old days to new grandchildren of our own. She’s part of the family.

1 Comment

  1. What a beauty! Each year, at our Indian Lake Classic Boat Show, I get excited when Tarry and Polly come into the harbor and dock this incredible boat. We had to cancel this year after 22 years but we will be back in 2021.

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