June 16 – 22, 2017 Vol. 19, No. 2


Summertime in the Belgrades

June 16 – 22

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Local Boy's Love of Outboard Motors Turns Into Small Museum

by Doris Mathias

It was 1953 (or 1954), when at age 5 or 6, my now husband Rod Johnson secretly (he thought) snuck into old Bill Pulsifer's boathouse to try and catch a perch. An old outboard stood in the corner closet, covered with a film of oil, spider dung, and dirt. None the less, the intrigue began right there.

After being "caught red-handed" by the old man Bill P., he was asked if he would like to use the motor if it would run. Things were never the same again. The 4-horsepower Champion plied the waters of Mill Stream and Great Pond for a couple of years until more horsepower seemed interesting.

Every year or two, a "new" motor (actually a tinkered up clunker) would appear. Teenage life brought a racing skiff with a hopped-up Chris Craft outboard, then young married family life sported the cat's meow, a wooden 21-foot Grady White with an 80 horse Evinrude. Evening barbeques on the boat were the in thing for the locals and often we'd overload the boat with as many as a dozen folks at once. Working at Day's Marina offered many opportunities to acquire trade-ins from the summer crowd, thanks to bosses Darryl and Linda Day.

During mid-life, carpentry had to take over as employment, and sailing began the new intrigue. After 15 years of Morgans and Mainships, the time has come to scale it back to where it started.

The collection of 38 antique outboards has been ongoing for several years, with many donated and some purchased. They have been paraded through town on the 4th of July, but now it's time to let them rest in their new home, our basement museum. This spring after returning from Florida, Rod told me he would like to build an outboard museum, and add a display of ice harvesting tools from days gone by. I thought it was a wonderful idea and we immediately made a rough plan.

The next morning, we were off to Tukey Lumber for some wide green hemlock boards to make our display walls. After working many hours over the last month, the Antique Outboard Museum is ready to show off the motors, the old boathouse office and desk, a torn down motor in the workshop and the ice tools — and a few grand old pictures.

On June 28 limited hours will begin each week on Wednesdays 1-6 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m.-noon, through Labor Day. Admission is by donation, funds being shared with the Museum's overhead costs, GPYC kid's sailing program and Belgrade Historical Society's Town House Renovation Fund. Cellar stairs have to be used to access the museum. For questions, call Rod or Doris at 495-3302.

Antique Outboards of Belgrade is located at 51 Dry Point Drive, one eighth of a mile past the former Wings Hill Inn, in Rome.