In his mind's eye Jim Cawrse can look forward on his small boat and see a 6-year-old boy. The boy wears a bright orange vest. He is fascinated by the waves.
In the boat with the boy is his dad, a tall, athletic man in a faded straw hat. He’s got a bucket of minnows bought at a bait shop, along with a 5-cent cigar that his wife doesn't need to know about. The two are out on Lake Erie. There is wind and spray and a Cleveland Indians game on the transistor radio. There is adventure.
The boy is Jim, and the year is 1963. Jim smiles at the memory.
His dad, Robert, bought the 14-foot Aero Craft new in 1959. It now belongs to Jim. He has taken his own son Benjamin out for adventures, Tom Sawyer and Robinson Crusoe kinds of things, motoring down the Intracoastal Waterway, camping out along the shore and fishing all night.
Built strong with riveted sheets of aluminum, the boat might last forever, Jim thinks. Benjamin says he would like to have it someday. Jim says he has 20 years of fishing left in him. Benjamin will have to wait.
Jim laughs when asked to list all the kinds of fish that he has caught from the 14-foot boat. He starts off with Lake Erie - walleye, pike, yellow perch, white bass, white perch, Lake Erie sheepshead - moves on to Canada - northern pike and sauger - then the Florida Keys - bonefish, grouper, barracuda - and finally Chesapeake Bay - flounder, croaker, spadefish and striped bass. That's a pretty good track record for a small boat that has been up and down the East Coast and into Canada.
Jim still has the original receipt for the boat dated July 9, 1959 - $290 plus $8.70 in tax from Cleveland Yacht Brokers.
Jim got the boat in 1989 when his dad was too old to fish, something he describes as a sad thing in itself. Years later, though, his dad still loved to tell stories of fishing on the Aero Craft - just like Jim loves to tell stories about his own adventures on the water.
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