MEMORIES OF YEARS PAST
On or about 1976, we would sail past the derelict yacht club and gawk at the seemingly forgotten boats that never left the docks. Four or five were up on lifts on a pier that no longer exists. Flying Scots and an old wooden Snipe once found in a painting that hung in the clubhouse. San Juans and Ensigns, Rangers and Ventures, they seemed trapped in their slips. Dad was a founding member of the SCOTT--Sailing Club of Tyler, Texas (Early 70's). They were the "real" sailors who could be found out on the lake every weekend. Names like Williams, Dietrick, Orten, Carpenter, Hedge, Sweeney, Zeppa, and boats christened, White Fang, Snoopy, Bodacious (which unceremoniously rots on a trailer at the Club now), and WaveMaker trolled the waters. (WaveMaker was an Ericson 29--fixed keel, and much faster than dad's current 25). Back then, we sailed a Seahorse (Sunfish knock-off) or our South Coast 21, which was a tub. SCOTT would race or raft every weekend, weather permitting and was usually joined by the Hobie Heathens, our local Hobie fleet, which would field eight to twelve 14's and 16's. We would launch from the Petroleum Club, Concession 1, Concession 2, and from private residences which face the main lake. Dock rental was always a concern, and slips were either expensive or rare. This drove Dad and a couple of the others to approach the Yacht Club--which wasn't easy considering no one answered the phone and no one was ever there--and ultimately leaving SCOTT.
I was too young to appreciate the deal made between multiple sailors and the old guard at the Club to let the "long hairs" in. I remember that an official Club rulebook was hard to locate, and many rules were made up on the spot. It was on or around the late 1970s, and Charlie and Ivan (Dubberley and Draper) stood up for the new blood and years afterward enjoyed a posh existence, watching as the new members landscaped, built piers, decks, and cleaned up years of neglect. The new workers, Watson, Bitter, Wilson, Sutton, Simpson and yes, Kidd, mixed with the old guard, and as the Club got painted and cleaned, that smell left the clubhouse, and more and more people began to use and care about the space.
My memories of push mowing the entire grounds through foot-high grass or digging and moving an infinite amount of soil from one place it was deemed unnecessary to a new location at some distance which improved something according to the adults, is still too raw to share politely. I did not appreciate the access this chain-gang style work afforded me. My dad did not believer in monetary compensation for my work, so many days, I would work at the Club from seven until one or so, and then he would let me leave to go to work so I could earn money for a boat. (I bought my first car when I was nineteen--having spent my money on the boat at sixteen). I was an addict. Example: the one blemish on an otherwise stellar high school attendance record was when my best friend (and crew) and I heard there were lake wind advisories, and my Hobie 16 was just one month old; the punishments were overly harsh, and it was worth it!
When I walk around the grounds now, I see the love and care that many others have put into the Club. I see the retaining wall where tragedy struck. I see the piers and remember the old ones as they were replaced one by one, and I see the red floor of the clubhouse where the old couple used to come and use red wax to polish it to a mirror shine and where the children were not allowed to play because the red wax would ruin their clothes. I see the stained glass my mother made hanging in the window and remember stripping out of wetsuits near the fire in the fireplace with numb fingers one November when a sailing coach brought twelve Lasers from Ft. Worth and taught us to race them. I see familiar faces and kind faces; forgive me, but I don't remember many of them.