the water on skis.
Cliff and I were married in May 1964.
He was 22, I was 19, and we had an
apartment in Addison, Illinois, that wasn’t
close to any lakes or rivers. Eager to go
boating, we took Tuffy on our first camping trip to Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin. We’d
borrowed a tent big enough to put our
car in and a couple of blow-up mattresses.
We brought a card table, chairs, and food
for a week, but forgot the line we needed
to tie the tent down. That was when we
found a new use for our ski rope.
I’d been told by a coworker at Northern
Illinois Gas Company that the best place
to go boating was Lake Cumberland, in
Kentucky. Because of his rave reviews,
V-hull with a Chrysler 105 outboard. The
new boat looked huge in comparison.
That deal not only gave us a really great
ski boat that we had for 10 years; we also
began an enduring friendship with Lestie
and Flora Phelps, the owners of Phelps
Marine, where we bought it.
In 1967, Cliff’s job with Eastman
Kodak transferred him up to Rockford,
Illinois, with the beautiful Rock River,
where we’d go boating and waterskiing
every weekend. Once, we decided to check
out the Mississippi River at Savannah,
Illinois, an hour away. We didn’t have a
chart but assumed the river wouldn’t be
hard to navigate. Wrong! We quickly
found out what a “wing dam” was when
our prop came to a grinding halt on a rock
bar perpendicular to the riverbank. These
rock bars were constructed to help main-
tain good water flow through the river’s
navigational channel. It was a hard lesson
to learn, but we never forgot it. From then
on, we always carried our Mississippi
chart book with us and kept a constant eye
out for those sneaky wing dams.
Adding to the crew
As our family grew with Scott, then Tina,
we’d leave our boat at a marina on Lake
Cumberland and stay at Lure Lodge,
in the state park. One year, we spotted
a new 21-foot Chrysler cuddy cabin
with room for sleeping – perfect for our
growing family. After much thought and
counting of pennies, in March 1976 we
sold our 16-foot Winner and bought 4
Togetherness. It had a V-berth forward
and two lay-down seats in the back. It
was like camping out, but with the flexibility of finding our own anchorage.
We did weekend trips on the
Mississippi, and a trip down to Lake
Cumberland and out on Lake Michigan.
Cliff hooked up a small fridge under one of
the seats but later found that it took a big
toll on our battery life. After three years in
21 feet, we needed a bigger boat with galley and standup head if we wanted to get
all four of us down in the cabin at night.
In 1979, we found our fourth and final
boat, Four’s Enough, a 25-foot Bayliner aft-cabin – small enough to trailer, but with
everything we were looking for.
Cruising down memory lane
We became involved with the Rockford
Power Squadron and ended up going on
some wonderful cruises with them to the
remote Apostle Islands, in Lake Superior;
to the beautiful Picture Rock, along Lake
Superior’s southern shoreline on the
way to Sault Ste. Marie; from Hessel,
Michigan, to the Mackinaw Bridge; then
on to the secluded North Channel of
northern Lake Huron and Isle Royale,
an island 70 miles out in Lake Superior.
I remember frying up fresh fish on Isle
at 19, on their
1964. Right: Cliff
and Freckles share