Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Meeting Postponed

The Post-Trip Meeting schedule for this Thursday is being moved back one week to next Thursday the 15th. Circumstances beyond our control, etc.

Monday, May 05, 2008

They Don't Write 'Em Like That Anymore

Buying large, heavy, metal gear has been an RRCC tradition longer than you think. Here's the correspondence that documents the first acquisition almost exactly 60 years ago. The Grumman and its sailing rig may be the most "hereditary" of all.

June 20, 1948
Mr. Bill Kerfoot
Gunflint Lodge
Grand Marais, Minnesota

Dear Bill:

I hope you remember me from last summer. You may recall that I considered buying an aluminum canoe, but decided not to, because of the lateness in the season and the difficulty of the storage problem.

Now, I am apparently about to have my own cabin; at least Bob Zimmerman** has solemnly promised to build it and have it ready. Accordingly, I now wish to order a canoe. I enclose a check for fifteen dollars as first payment, and ask that you get for me a 17’ standard weight canoe with floorboard, aluminum yoke, and paddles. I expect to arrive at Hungry Jack Lake some time in the last week of July and hope that the canoe will be ready for me then, but since there is some uncertainty about the exact time, you had better hold it until you hear from me again.

Last year you offered me a little bargain: you agreed to furnish a pair of paddles without charge, and also to reduce the price of the floor board by a dollar or so. I hope you will repeat the offer, but do not intend to try to hold you to it.

Please let me hear from you. If you have published a new edition of your catalog since the first one, please send one.

Looking forward to seeing you, I am

Cordially yours,


**Yes, you read that right. It says "Bob Zimmerman has solemnly promised..." The cabin at issue is about an hour north of Duluth where The Other Bob was born. In 1947 Dylan's father quit his job at Standard Oil and moved the family even farther north to Hibbing. Draw your own conclusions.


June 26, 1948

Dear Mr. H

I readily recall my conversation with you last summer, and was most happy to hear from you concerning your desire to obtain an aluminum canoe.

I accept with thanks your check for $15.00 as deposit on this canoe. I am entering your order at once for a 17-foot standard-weight unpointed (sic?) canoe with floorboard, aluminum yoke and paddles.

I will expect to hear from at a little later date as to your arrival at Hungry Jack Lake in late July, so that I can deliver the canoe to you at that time.

I am sure that we can get together on the cost of this transaction without any difficulty. The paddles I have on hand were made by one of the local men, and these will be furnished with the canoe, as per our conversation of last summer.

. . .

Thanks a lot for your letter and order.

Most sincerely,

November 24, 1948

Dear Bill:

Last spring and summer you were good enough to spend considerable time in helping me with my problem about securing a rowboat. Since the whole situation seemed somewhat discouraging I solved the problem by doing without a rowboat.

My boy, now fifteen years old, wants a sail outfit for the aluminum canoe, and will be in a position to pay for it before too many weeks. I have never understood why more sailing is not to be seen on the lakes in Minnesota because sailing makes a rather strong appeal to me, but so far as I know no one up there has had sailing rigs for an aluminum canoe.

I would like your opinion about the desirability of one sailing rig, and would also like to have a quotation on the price. My idea is to purchase the rig at any time now, and pick it up at your place when we arrive at the lake in June.

I hope you have lots of time for letter writing now, and that you will give me the benefit of your experience with respect to both of the questions I have raised.

Looking forward to seeing you,

December 5, 1948

Dear Skip:

Plenty of time now? I’m in the darndest jam I ever got into as the mail orders have piled in from my catalog and I’m up to my ears for the next three weeks! Beaver season is on too and I’m buying fur so I’m in hot water plenty.

As to a sailing outfit. We got one this summer for one of our canoes. Got a complete outfit with the red nylon sail and it is a peach. Very easy to set up and when the leeboards are left on with the rudder, the sail comes off in about 5 seconds and goes on in the same time. Justine** went plumb nuts over it (I got it for her to use to get away from the place a few hours a day and relax), and has certainly praised it a whale of a lot. Its performance has been swell on our lake. One can tack almost directly into the wind. We were more than pleased with the complete outfit.

Best regards to you all for a swell holiday period.


Bill Kerfoot


** Justine Kerfoot was a Boundary Waters legend and author.


January 3, 1949

Dear Bill:

The sail outfit is the idea of my boy . . . , and I think he will go ahead with it. I do not care to interfere, and will leave it to him to write to you himself, although it might be a good idea for you to write to him before long, especially if any new information is available. . . . He does not have the money on hand now, but I believe he will be able to collect it before the summer. You understand, I guess, that we are counting on being at the lake about June 10, and on staying until the first week of December. It gives us all quite a thrill to consider this prospect.

We have just finished a fine vacation, with a minimum amount of work. Lots of egg-nog parties, etc. I certainly hope that you have been having a good time, and that you are now able to relax a bit. Give our best regards to Justine and the children.

Cordially yours,

The Grumman on Hungry Jack Lake, 1949:

In "Fishing Magazine", 1958:

On Dale Hollow Lake, 2008:

Old Grand Dad.

He went by Skippy. Nobody gave him a hard time about it.