Here’s the secret story of a boat that never sailed

This is a story that starts off with a stuffed fish — a northern pike to be exact. But, it’s not a fish story. It is the story of the S.S. Blub — a boat that never sailed.

Dad had caught a 3-foot-long northern pike in Canada in August of 1942. He was so proud of it that he sent it to a taxidermist in Toronto so it would be memorialized in perpetuity and be stuck on an oak board. It was to have arrived before Christmas.

Of course, he bragged about it to his Warren friends and neighbors who were a bit dubious. A photograph would have helped Dad’s cause. Where was it? In fact, a neighbor nailed a 9-inch fish to a piece of board and brought it to his birthday party in early December.

Christmas came and went. Dad was finally exonerated when it arrived in about May of 1943 in a huge wooden packing crate that was around 4 feet by 3 feet, and about a foot deep. Nice stuffed fish — nicer potential boat — to us kids, at least.

Tomboy Jackie, Janice, my sister and I immediately took possession of the crate. It would be a boat that could take us on wondrous cruises. We used the wooden cover boards to form a prow and one single 1-inch-by-8-inch plank to span the 3 foot width of the crate for a seat.

Jackie found some caulk in her dad’s garage, and we smeared all the seams with it. We christened it the S.S. Blub with a coke bottle that wouldn’t break, and immediately subjected the boat to a leak test. It was turned upside down, and we played a garden hose on it. It was waterproof! The next step was to figure out how to get it down to Mosquito Creek for a launch.

You can’t imagine how many dreams we had of derring-do and adventure! Maybe we could play pirate. Mom had a ceramic parrot we could perch on someone’s shoulder — if we didn’t drop it or tell her we had it.

Dad overheard our plans, and asked to inspect our little boat. He told us that it wouldn’t be safe. We protested that it was completely waterproof and didn’t leak. Dad explained that our house roof was waterproof and didn’t leak, but it wouldn’t float. He forbade us to try to sail it.

All of our potential little crew were deeply disappointed, but soon went about their merry way to pursue other ideas — except for me.

I carried my disappointment a little further. I took Dad’s axe down from its hanger in the garage. I was going to chop the S.S. Blub to pieces. That’ll show him!

With all the might my wiry little 7-year-old body could muster, I swung the axe at the seat of the Blub. Instead of the seat being smashed to smithereens, the axe head merely bounced off the seat. The axe handle flew up and hit me squarely under the chin. I bit my tongue, bloodied my chin, and loosened four lower front teeth.

I stumbled into the house and explained to Mom that I had tripped and fallen and hurt my chin. She bandaged me up and took me to see our dentist, Dr. Staton, who pronounced that the loosened lower teeth would survive.

Up until this day, I’ve never told anyone of this little misguided misadventure.

This ends the story of the S.S. Blub — the boat that never sailed. It would end its existence as part of a little hut that we had built.

As far as the stuffed fish is concerned, it still exists. My sister’s son in Arizona is the proud owner of this 74-year-old stuffed northern pike. The last time I saw it, it was looking a little scruffy.

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at columns@tribtoday.com


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