By Dick Caradori member of ACBS
July 5, 1958 it was a Saturday and my dad Leno (an industrial arts teacher) said he wanted to buy a boat and would I like to go along. Me being fourteen and the oldest of seven children, said of course and jumped at the chance to go on this boat hunting expedition!
We arrived at Omaha Marine Center located in Omaha Nebraska just before lunch. A salesman introduced himself and proceeded to ask questions, like what type of boat were we looking for and what we had in mind for its usage.
Dad started telling the salesman that he had seven children and needed a boat that would accommodate the family. We were shown the fiberglass boats which were on the showroom. You have to remember that back in the fifty’s fiberglass Runabouts were just starting to make an appearance.
Dad immediately stopped him and said, “I teach woodworking at Boystown and I really want a wood boat.” The salesman said he had just one in stock. It turned out to be the 16’ Owens Speedster. Dad started walking around it, checking it out from front to back.
He asked questions about the mechanical steering and what size engine could the boat handle. The dealer was also a Mercury Outboard dealer, so he proceeded to tell dad that the Owens could handle either a 45 or 70 horsepower engine. Dad then asked other than the horsepower what other differences were there between the two. The last question remaining that dad had was; Does the 45 have enough power to pull two of my boys out of the water at the same time? The answer was, yes if they don’t fight the takeoff too much. He decided to go with the 45hp as it had a neutral and we would be using the fin on the engine to be getting back into the boat and he said with his luck he would have his foot on the fin and one of his boys would hit the starter!
Then dad asked what I thought! Looking at the boat I said, “This boat is neat dad, except for those ugly fins, Dad if you buy this boat you have to get rid of these fins!” Looking back many cars at that time had fins and as time and age would have it, I eventually came to appreciate them.
The next items on the list were lifejackets, waterskies, a tow rope, paddle and of course a horn. The dealer installed the horn and oh- that original horn which is powered by compressed air still works today! Then came the trailer, the salesman showed us the perfect trailer for the boat. Today the Owens is still sitting on its original trailer with the 45hp engine it came with. Not to mention the seats, waterskies, paddle and tow bar are all still there and intact.
Due to dad’s work schedule we had to wait for a week to get the boat home. July 12th Dad & I went to pick her up. After we arrived home, he backed the boat into the garage and he no sooner had it in park when mom appeared holding a small white box. She handed it to dad and said; “Leno this is a new clock for your boat, so you know what time to come home for supper. All you have to do is wind it up before you leave.” That clock, well it still works and keeps excellent time, just as mom predicted.
Mom insisted she would not get in the boat unless it had a top, (her fair complexion I guess). So, Dad had the dealer install the top at a cost of $60 dollars. She only went for ONE boat ride! The joke around the house was “I could have bought an umbrella for a buck and saved $59 dollars!”
Well that’s the story, I still have her in almost original condition, I take her to many boat shows. I think Dad would be proud of the way I have kept his pride and joy.