Saturday, February 12, 2011

Third Times A Charm!

Where to begin..... My grandfather, Robert Wise, loved to travel. He would drive all over these great United States. He drove to Alaska from Florida four times. He would turn left and turn left again. Always ready to go down some new road.  G.P.S. for him meant going past somewhere! He returned to Wayzata a lot to visit his sisters and other relatives, mostly in the summers.  

One particular year in the mid eighties, he ran into a man at a boat show who had on display....a Wise boat.  The showman offered the boat to my grandfather for, as I recall, $10,000. Anyway,1985 was not a good year for a lot of folks, Robert included. So the Cherup remained in Minnesota.

Grandpa Robert's Photo and Handwriting

Sometime 2003' or 04'.....

Grandpa Robert showed me a picture of a boat and said that it was the last Wise boat built at the Wise Boat Works in Minnesota and the only one around that he knew of. I remember thinking that was way cool. 

Wise Boat Works Early 1920's

Wood boats touch the fabric of true Americana. Mention a wood boat, most people conjure up an image of  a boat on the water, the sun bouncing of the bow as it slices though a beautiful mountain lake. Every guy wants a wood boat! Here is one that my grandfather says his dad built. Amazing.

I thought, who is this guy that had a boat with my name on it? What is his name? I want to talk to him. I want that boat!

With the power of the internet, it didn't take long to find an article or two with some general information about this classic wood boat guy from Minnesota who had a bunch of boats. Great. This should be easy. Here is a man who likes to by and sell wood boats. I'll tell him who I am, the great grandson of the builder, remind him of the offer he made my grandfather and buy the boat.

Ring....Ring...."Hello.Yes, I remember your grandfather. Yes, I still have the boat. Yes, it's cold in Minnesota. (Drum roll please....) No, the Wise boat is not for sale. It is part of my collection of  boats. It is a Minnesota built boat and represents the Lake Minnetonka area. Well, it is sort of a museum."  

Who does this guy think he is? First he wants to sell, now he's going to hold on to it. Keeping me from a family heirloom. A museum! Ha. Well, I suppose, if it's someplace secure and dry along with other boats just like it. That's okay, I guess..........

So close, yet so far out of reach.

Fall 2010....

As more and more old publications, magazines and public records get transferred in to the "cloud" of cyberspace, it becomes more likely to pick up a tid bits of information here and there.  I like to search the net every six months or so with key words, like "Wise Boat Works" and "Thomas Harvey Wise". I have found a few old ads and small little blurbs from old newspapers that I will share in another post. History about  my family history is not earth shattering. Then one day....

Mecum auctioneers announce the Warner Collection. 127 boats up for sale in a two day auction in Winsted, Minnesota, no reserve, all boats must go. Boats for sale include Chris-craft, Dodge and ......Wise Boat and Bus Works.  (What they made buses, too? ) Wait a minute, is this the same boat? It has to be. But how come its up for auction, what happened to the deal? Didn't I get first pick? Wasn't I first in line?

Mecum Offers Wise Boat

Ring...Ring......"Hello....yes I remember you.  Yes, it is up for sale.  It's a chance of  a lifetime.  Hope we see you in Minnesota.  Good luck!"  Good luck?  Chance of a lifetime?  What happened?

First a sure thing, then a waiting game and now a crap shoot.

September 16th 2010... Auction day!  

Can you say anticipation? 

I was not able to travel to Minnesota for the auction, but was able to bid for the boat over the phone.  Mecum called me around noon to say that the Cherup would be on the "Block" around 3p.m..

The Wise family was at our son Jackson's baseball game and then got wings with some friends. Around 2:30, we got in the car to head home so I could take the call. So, here we are in our Suburban; me, Maguire, our two boys and two of their friends, driving home...

Ring...Ring....."Hello, are you ready to bid on a boat?"  Holy Crap!!! In the car, now?! "The bid is at $5000, now $8000, now $12K, (how did it jump so fast?)

"OK, I bid 13K"
"No you are $12K" (I don't do this much.)
Back and forth we went on the phone, me driving down the road.  Shhh, kids. Focus on the road.

Your bid is at your credit limit. Going, going..... The other buyer folds his arms,

"You bought yourself a boat!"

Woodyboater Photo

NO WAY! WE WON! WE WON! Can you believe it?.....What a great feeling. Wow! Third times is a charm for the Wise family! 86 years after it was built by a Wise, the Cherup returns to the Wise family!

Now I get to go Minnesota and pick up a boat. Only, its in the winter and there is only one route. Straight there and back. No time to wander. Even so, Grandpa Robert would have loved this trip. He would have talked for hours about his dad, his brothers, the boat works and the Swedes that worked there. He passed away in late 2009.  He missed the boat by one year! 

Now that the Cherup is back in the Wise family, awaiting for her debut at the upcoming Lake Dora Boat Show, her hull soaking up the humid Florida air, I would like to say thank you to that boat collector from Minnesota.  

Three Wise Men, Cherup and the Boat Guru

F. Todd Warner, you have probably bought and sold more boats than were every produced by the Wise Boat Works, know more about wood boats than most people and own some of  the coolest woodys on the planet.  For me, the best thing you have done is help keep my family history alive and provide us an opportunity to reconnect with it and share it with this generation of Wises'.  Thanks, Todd!


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