A few days later they
returned and inquired as to the boat's owner. Tom told them that he had taken it
in payment of a bill owed to him by the previous owner, and he agreed to sell it for the
amount of the bill - just a few hundred dollars. The couple agreed to buy
the boat and asked how it could be restored. Tom replied that he had a
craftsman, Glenn Jackson, who was quite capable of restoring it, and a price was
agreed upon for the work to be done during that winter when the marina's work load would
When the couple returned the following spring, they were thrilled with the appearance of their long slender launch with her gleaming white hull, and richly grained mahogany foredeck stretching endlessly before them. Since they had several friends with old, wooden boats in their boathouses, they invited those friends to join them in displaying their boats. This plan was discussed with the officials of the Clayton Chamber of Commerce and the Clayton Village Board, who agreed to provide some publicity for this event, as well as dock space to display the boats. About twenty boats appeared that first year, with many of their crews in period costumes.
The next year, 1966, it was decided that this event would be a great addition to the activities of Clayton's Old home Week, so the chamber published the event in its bulletin and included it in all of that summer's other advertising. Esther Levy, Publicist for the Thousand Islands International Council also entered the picture, enhancing the chamber's efforts. This time, there were nearly forty boats entered, and Clifford Carpenter, Editor and Publisher of the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle, was present with his camera. He interviewed exhibitors, took many pictures, and wrote an article entitled "The Floating Smithsonian" which appeared in the July 1967 issue of Yachting. He returned the following year as a judge for the Third Annual Antique Boat Show.
|By the Spring of 1967,
Vincent Dee, President of the Thousand Islands Museum, and trustees of
that museum were aware of the increasing interest in old
wooden boats, and they formed a
committee, chaired by Tom Turgeon, to develop a larger, better organized
show to demonstrate the beauty of these boats. In this way, they hoped to
encourage the restoration and preservation of the many old wooden boats
stored away in this and other areas where boating is a way of life. At that time,
we still had no facility for displaying any but the smallest boats, a
skiff for example.
The Third Annual Show, held in August of 1967, was attended by Walter Juettner, Editor and Publisher of Motor Boating, and his well-known marine photographer, Pete Smyth. There were nearly 100 boats at this show, and judging was performed by a number of local men who were prominent in the boating world. Prizes were awarded in a number of classes. To dock this many boats, we used the entire Town of Clayton dock, and most of the dock's at Tom's Thousand Islands Marina. Tom's regular customers were very cooperative in finding other dockage for the weekend of that third show.
|As the show grew, we felt
that we needed judges of national reputation inthe boating world. Bob Cox,
lifelong summer resident of Grindstone Island, was well-known in the
boating world through his marina in Fort Lauderdale. He contacted
judges for us, and at other times, gave us names of men whom we could
contact. Through him we found men like Howard I. Chappelle, Curator of the
small-craft collection at the Smithsonian Institution; John
Gardner, who held
the same position at Mystic Seaport; and Atwood Manley, who had written a
book on the wooden canoe. Others who served were editors of
representatives of national boat and engine manufacturers and
associations of manufacturers, and frequent contributors to recognized
boating magazines. In addition, the group coordinating the boat show felt
that we needed an official sponsor. Since the only chartered entity in
Clayton was the Thousand Island Museum, it was decided to make the antique
boat group a subdivision of that organization. Thus was born the Antique
Boat Auxiliary of the Thousand Islands Museum. A statement of purpose and
membership forms were originated during the winter of 1967-68, and the
museum thus became the official sponsor of the annual shows for a number of
Tom Turgeon's son, Bill, was killed working in his father's marina in April of 1968. Tom felt the loss deeply, and found that he was no longer able to run the marina. Not long afterward, the museum acquired the Denny Building, largely through the generosity of the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, and their representative on the boat show committee, Bolling Haxall. For the first time, the Auxiliary had a place to store and display donated boats and boating memorabilia. Tom became the manager of the museum's displays, and so began a period of frenetic acquisition of boats and boating artifacts. Tom knew where to find most of the old boats in the area. His knowledge of and love for the boats of the period made him a most persuasive advocate for the museum. He managed to convince many of the old boat owners that their treasures would be better preserved displayed in the museum than they would tucked in a damp, dirty corner of an old boathouse. thus, the collection soon outgrew that first museum building and early in the development of the museum, the need for larger quarters became apparent.
| Many individuals
and organizations contributed to the early development of the museum, but
the major stimulus was, and continues to be the annual boat shows. The late Vincent Dee,
working largely behind the scenes, as was his wont, arrayed the resources
of the Thousand Islands Museum, the Clayton Chamber of Commerce, and most
important, the Thousand Islands International Council, behind the Antique
Boat Auxiliary. The Watertown Daily Times and its publisher, John B.
Johnson, were solidly behind the effort, and proved prophetic in stressing
the stimulus preservation of old boats provided by our Annual Antique Boat
Show. Esther Levy, Publicity agent for the International Council devoted a
great deal of her time, skill, and knowledge to promoting the museum's
cause. She booked the "Bob and Bolling Show" on radio and TV stations, far
and near - Bob Cox and Bolling Haxall, that is, with their collection of
color slides of the boats and the shows. The National Bank of Northern New
York, now Key Bank, supported our efforts from the beginning,
in finance and personnel. The Town and village of Clayton were most
cooperative, initially providing dock space for the shows, and continuing
in many other ways.
The Clayton Chamber of Commerce provided broad support from the very
earliest days. |
The Clayton Antique Boat Show was the first of its kind in the world, and continues to be the model against which all of the more recent shows are measured. It is widely known as "the show to win!" This is largely because of the approach strongly advocated by Bob Cox and other members of the original committee, of providing unbiased judges of unquestioned character and competence for the increasingly difficult task of sorting out winners in the many classes of magnificent old boats entered in each show.