Friday, January 29, 2010

Lady McQuay - Repost

A commentator asked about this post.  (I mentioned it in my Happy List).  Some may have not read others may be bored, but here it

I have never been sailing. I have often thought that I would like to I decided to build a sailboat.

“Boy why are you throwing such a fit?”

The boy had reached a point of hysterical aggravation. The six cylindrical one inch long chrome shafts rolled helter skelter across the weather worn porch. The covered porch attachment had been added many years after the original construction of the hand hewn log cabin. The boy had been trying to stack the rollers from a 1946 GMC one and a half ton pulpwood truck rear axle bearing. Three side by side, two on top of those, in the cracks, and the last one would finish the pyramid. As soon as his smudgy fingers released the last roller bearing, the weight would push the others outward and it would all hit the fan.

Several reruns of this exercise and the boy commenced to wailing out load as a hand full of those bearings bounced off the cabin wall. Suddenly the boy heard what he thought was an Indian war chant. He instantly ceased his fit throwing.

“Daddy, what are you doing?”

The daddy had stopped working on his truck and looked as if he was stomping grapes and hollering “Heyyy Yyaaa Yaaa Yeaaa”, or something to that effect. “I thought that I would dance along with your singing‘”. A serious expression turned into a big grin when he saw the young boy’s face hanging with a look of disbelief.

“Let’s find you something else to mess with. That don’t seem to be working out for you”. He was wiping grease from his hands on an old piece of bed sheet or some other scrape piece of cloth.

“Can you build me a boat?” The question might as well have been a statement as a question. The boy never questioned whether he could or not. He just didn’t have any idea of what kind. To a preschooler, movies with ships had made an impression on the lad. Going to the “picture show” was a grand adventure in comparison to the rustic environment around the old home place.

Reaching behind the time worn seat of the GMC, the Daddy pulled his double bit axe free from a strap that held it in place. The sun gleamed off the honed edges that would slice through a pine sapling with more of a swish than a thud. He propped the axes against the front tire. He knew that the axe would be safe there. Lessons had been taught about the respect of the tool. He himself had lost his left eyesight at five years old, chopping kindling firewood. The floor beams of the house had been set up on huge sandstone rock and were several inches off the ground. He reaches underneath and pulled a short piece of lumber from a small stack. Using the axe like a hatchet, a few short chops had turned the 2x4 into a hull of a ship with a sturdy pointed bow. A couple of shavings alone the side and it was sea worthy.

“Where is the sail?”

An old wooden box held the answer. Plucking a long slender spike nail from the box, the Daddy turned the axe sideways, with a few whacks, set the main mast in its proper place.

The better part of the day had been spent rebuilding the motor in his truck. This mainly consisted of putting new piston rings and rod bearings in the old engine. This does not mean you even have to know what I am talking about here, but this type of repair was common during this era because of the economies of it all. The only thing that has a hoot and holler to do with any of this is that, he felt that a certain manufacturer made the best replacement piston rings. McQuay Norris and that was it. Hands down. Each set of rings came in a tough wax coated paper envelope. Snatching one of these envelopes off the ground, cutting a couple of slits with his Barlow pocket knife, my new “ship” had a sail.

The spring fed creek down under the hill from the house, had a washed out spot that could be used for taking a bath or just cooling off. Many battles and voyages took place in that “ocean”. In cold weather or when no one was there to watch out for the boy, the sandy spot up by the iron ore road worked just as well for a “playlike‘ sea. . The boat must have been magic, because after a period of time the wax paper sail disappeared, but the performance of the gallon was hampered not one bit. The final fate of that slippery sloop is hazy in my mind, but the spirit is resting on its spine in my barn.

Gray hair and time will twist the vine, but doesn’t necessarily wash the green from the leaves. A stoke of the tongue was always an asset of the Dad, but a stroke had taken the tongue as the shadows had lengthened, but speech had regained a large portion of its loss.

“What are you looking for?” not as much a question as a statement he asked the boy as they were strolling through the sporting goods section.

“Electric trolling motor.”.

“How come?”,, that was a question. The boy had learned to guess what was being said or asked before the wording patterns had started to return.

“I am going to build a sailboat. You built me one, once upon a time, now I am gonna build one. Wanna ride in it with me?”

“Shit naww, them thangs turn over. Get yer ass drown”. This also was not a question.

The bluntness and spontaneity caught them both off guard and they broke out laughing.

“What ya gonna call it?”

“I am going to call her Lady McQuay.” The memory of the wax paper piston ring sleeve danced between both their thoughts.

The daddy shook his head with a sly grin.

“You ready to eat some fish?” The boy asked. That was really not a question

“Yep” …that was not a question.

There were never many questions of any kind.


  1. Wow! You built a wooden boat--(more a statement than a question).
    You don't happen to hang around the WoddenBoat forums, do you?--'cause there's a few Texans ove there who sound a lot like you...:)

  2. I really enjoyed this post and all of its many lessons....sailboat looks great.....:-) Hugs

  3. Wow! You built a wooden boat? So impressed! We are a coastal family...with an enormous amount of respect for anything wooden that floats!

  4. Good story. But then your writing is always enjoyable.

  5. Touching story; great boat(s). Thanks for sharing.

  6. This brought a little tear to my eye. Your father must have been something when you were growing up. It appears that he had that "knack" for teaching and loving and it was all delivered by way of doing more than saying. I also really liked the ending. I am glad it got to come back full circle with your dad. You could have built the boat without him, and named it the same, but it was a lot better this way.

    BTW, I finally found your comment yesterday on my blog. Thanks for stopping in. You're welcome anytime:-)