Life-long Houseboater Shares Memories with
“Houseboats Buy Terry’s”
Dale Hollow Lake Broker Jake Pyzik
Selling houseboats is interesting and unique everyday. Each customer is very different in his or her own right, and that is what makes my job so enjoyable. I meet people from all over the United States and sometimes even further. The other day, I was on the phone with one of the people for whom I have a boat listed. Her name is Marie Dickson. In the boat sales industry, Marie has one of the most unique houseboating stories that I have had the opportunity to hear.
Marie has a 1968 Stardust that we have listed, and the boat is truly a snapshot of what it must have looked like in 1968. While talking with Marie (a 79 years young retired school teacher who is currently taking tap dancing lessons), I learned that she has been house boating nearly her entire life. Marie told me of her days as a young girl spending time on Barren River, “not the lake…before the dam was built,” on her father’s houseboat “Capper”. This river is out from Bowling Green, KY. Being a big time boat buff, I began to ask more questions about her times on the boat. Marie and I must have talked for an hour on the phone that night. I asked Marie to gather up some pictures of the old boat and let me share her story with the house boaters who visit our website. Marie agreed, and about two weeks later, she telephoned me and said that she was coming to the lake with her daughter (who also owns a houseboat) and that she had found some pictures, which she would like to share with me. I hopped in my truck and headed for Hendrick’s Creek Resort on Dale Hollow Lake. This is where Marie has been coming since the early 60’s. She is one of the longest running customers at Hendrick’s Creek Resort. When I arrived, Marie invited me in and began to reflect on the past. I was captivated and would like to share some of our conversation.
These pictures come out of the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, a time when the country was at war and things were scarce. Marie’s father, Leslie B. Powell, owned a business re-capping tires because during the war, there were no new tires available, and old tires had to be re-capped. Hence the name of the houseboat - “Capper”.
Picture of Leslie on front of “Capper”
In the picture, Leslie stands proud on the front deck of the old wooden hull boat. Marie told many stories of her father and the boat. The most interesting was one regarding the maintenance of the wooden hull. Her father, Leslie, built a diving bell out of an old water heater in order to swim under the boat and caulk the hull to keep it from leaking. Marie remembers having to use a hand pump to supply her father with air when he was in the diving bell. Even with a freshly plugged and caulked hull, these boats still leaked. While on long trips, which they often took, the boats had to be pumped out nightly. Marie’s family would go on these excursions with Tom Kelley Sr. and his family, who were also business owners from Bowling Green. Here is a picture of “Capper” parked next to the Kelley’s boat, “Lollipop”.
Picture of “Lollipop” and “Capper”
Notice the dog, named “Tony”, on the front porch of the “Lollipop”. Pets were also welcome on their excursions. Marie remembers their dog, “Dusty”, could drink Coke straight from the bottle. Dusty also only ate chicken livers, which Marie had to cook for Dusty.
Marie’s father was a stickler for maintenance and pumped the boat out every night. One trip down the Barren River, they went to Green River, then to Nolin River to Kyrock, KY. On the first night of this trip, the Kelley’s boat was not pumped out and it sank at a place called Sally’s Rock on Barren River. This was in the days of barges on the Barren River, and a barge came along and pumped out the sunken boat, which got them going again on their trip! However, when the boat sank, something interesting happened; all the labels on their canned goods got wet and fell off! Marie said that for the rest of that trip down the river, Mr. and Mrs. Kelley would announce that their supper was going to be a surprise!
I asked about the type of propulsion system on these boats. The “Capper” had an inboard engine with the motor in the center of the boat. It was a Continental engine out of a Star Car. A second, small, enclosed boat with a motor pushed the “Lollipop”.
Marie’s father was an amateur photographer and has many pictures of their house boating days. Here is another picture of “Capper” tied up in front of their river home.
The home in the picture was their summer home on Barren River. Marie said that their summer house was two houses down from McFarland’s Beach and Dance Hall, which was the place where all of the local youth would go and hang out! Marie had a smile on her face and would laugh when she would re-live these accounts.
The following two pictures demonstrate how house boating sticks with people for a lifetime. The pictures below are Marie as a teenager on “Capper” and Marie, a 79-year-old tap-dancer on her boat, the 1968 Stardust.
Marie in window of “Capper”
The old wooden boat is long gone, but the memories of family and friendship live on. Marie continues to be a house boater today, but it is time to sell her old boat and relax on her daughter’s boat.
Marie on 1968 Stardust
As Marie was telling these stories, I began to think about the times that I have spent on the lake with my family and how much I have enjoyed being raised on the water. Houseboating is an experience that is like nothing else, and those of us that do it, will remember it forever. Family memories that are made on the boat will surely be passed from generation to generation. This holds true for Marie’s family, since her daughter and her family also have a houseboat at Hendrick’s Creek Resort!