A Spring Day on Lake Mendota

Spring iceboat sailing can be magnificent. Wet shoes are easier to ignore when the sun is shining and it’s so warm, the gloves remain in the gear bag. Here’s another video from the Bill and Mauretta Mattison collection filmed sometime in the 1960s. Cast of characters include Skeeter sailors Bill Mattison HONEYBUCKET VI, Dave Rosten PIRATE, Charlie Johnson M99, Paul Krueger M165 (must have been a brand new boat because there’s no RAMBLN name applied yet), and one of the Bluel’s in SHADOW II.

You’ll note that several DNs showed up to play and a few raced without helmets.  Apparently the club’s view on mandatory helmet usage must have evolved since the 1960s because they are now required in order to race.  Some of the DN sailors enjoying that day include Bob Brockel JAY BEE, Harry Fields HARI KARI, and Jack Lowe HI JACK. Jack’s dog, Skipper, makes an appearance. (I remember that Skipper had a propensity to take care of business on the canvas boat covers.)

So take 14 minutes and go back in time with this unedited video from a perfect day on Lake Mendota.


1952 Hearst on Lake Monona

MARY B draws a crowd on Lake Monona.  Photos: Earl W Brown

In January 1952, Lake Monona delivered and the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club hosted the Northwest regatta and the Hearst Challenge. (The Hearst trophy was donated in 1903 by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst.) Lake Monona in the 1950s could be counted upon for sailable ice thanks to the soot pollution from the coal burning power plant on its northeastern shore. The downside for the Skeeters was that the coal dust very quickly dulled runners. Perhaps the coal cinders didn’t affect the big iron of the Stern-Steerer runners.

The three majestic Class A Stern Steerers that competed for the Hearst that year were 2 4LIYC boats and 1 from Oshkosh including the MARY B owned by O. T. Havey and skippered by Carl Bernard with crew Norm Braith and Charlie Johnson; FRITZ owned and sailed by Jim Lunder with Beauford Polglase; and FLYING DUTCHMEN owned by John Buckstaff of Oshkosh, WI and skippered by  Chuck Nevitt with crew Bud McDonald. MARY B was able to defend her title that year.The excitement of the regatta drew crowds and prompted the 4LIYC to set up a public address system at Law Park. Someone provided a play by play account during the racing.

These historic ice yachts are still with us today. Current owner of the FLYING DUTCHMEN, Dave Lallier in Fond du Lac, reminded me that FLYING DUTCHMEN is the correct name of the boat, not DUTCHMAN. The Van Dyke brothers from Milwaukee commissioned the FLYING DUTCHMEN in the 1930s, hence the plural designation. MARY B is back in Madison and owned by the Ice Boat Foundation while FRITZ is owned by Fred Stritt and is available for sale.

These color slides were originally posted on the Historic Madison, WI Photo Group Facebook page by the granddaughter of Earl W. Brown, the man who took them.