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  1. #31
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    Dragging for the Body

    OK, the next act did not include me. I think this occurred in the mid 60's. I was no longer driving endurance. I had been away from the lake for a few days for some reason I don't remember. I walked into the shop to find out that there had been a collision on the North end of the lake during the previous night and Jim Prey was missing. Jim was one of the Wisconsin guys that had come down to drive endurance. He was well liked among the folks. He was one of those that was just a really nice guy. Let me say at this point that I don't know who did what, but apparently someone had decided to turn their headlights off and run the opposite direction on the course to scare the pants off of someone else. As you might have surmised from some of my earlier stories, such acts were not unheard of. We were always trying to sneak up on each other and throw something (like a rotten banana) at or wash the other guy down. Anyway, the tactic turned tragic when they had a glancing blow and Jim was ejected into the dark water of Lake X. Since it was the middle of Winter he was wearing heavy Winter coveralls. We immediatly began to drag the bottom from several boats and motorized barges. This went on for about 3 days and nights. I was assigned to one of the barges with 2 other guys. By then Jim's family had flown in from Wisconsin and was sadly waiting for the recovery. During the search we must have hooked hundreds of logs off of the bottom and we were always a little nervous when we pulled something up. It would ususlly pop up 50 or a hundred feet behing us and we would pull in the next log. On in the wee hours of night 3 we hooked another one but this time it was Jim. It was another one of those images that will be forever burned in my brain. By the time we got back to the boat slip, word had spread and Jim's brother was waiting in the gloom for us. Someone convinced him to move away a bit since it was not a pretty sight. We loaded him into an ambulance and they left us all standing there in the night surrounded by utter sadness. I don't know what transpired after that event, but I think things tightened up considerably. That's all for today. Maybe some more tonight. Remembering this event has left me a little down. For the past couple of years Iris has been a hospice Nurse and we have talked alot about events that she has been a part of. After awhile you get over the shock of it, but it never gets easy. Don't worry, I promise that the next story will be fun. -Steve
    Last edited by seeroy; 05-25-2010 at 12:28 PM.

  2. #32
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    Steve, these have been some great stories I hope you keep them coming. I know you mentioned in a previous post that EC fired Bill several times in one day. From what I understand Bill was one of the few people that could stand up to the Old man and live to tell about it. I guess both of them had a pretty good temper at times.
    I had also heard a story about Janish getting fired one day and getting hired back the next day during the Drift r Cruise Houseboat run by EC. I think your brother suggested to Doug to stand up to EC. Ops!!! Janish got hired back the next day at a Press Conference for the return trip south.
    It sounds like you guys went through some vehicles as well, while at the lake, and that a few Cars went into the ditch on Old Melbourne Hwy. Any drag races on the air strip?
    Keep the Stories coming.
    Bruce Washburn

  3. #33
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    Doug Janisch & Larry Smith tackle the Gulf of Mexico

    Bruce - Thanks for reminding me about one of the most incredible survival stories I've ever heard. 1st let me bring others up to speed on the background of your previous post. Once again I cannot put a date on it and it would be much better (and more accurate) if told by either Doug or Larry. Mr. Kiekhaefer (or maybe it was Joe Swift)somehow decided that it would be a great PR gambit to pull a group of very attractive skiers behind a Drifter-Cruise houseboat powered (I think) by 4 Mercruiser 160's. Since Doug Janisch was a top notch mechanic and organizer (Man I hope Doug doesn't see this) he became the driver of record. I don't know who else ran the boat with him, but 6 lovelies came along to do the skiing, sometimes all six at once. One of them was Alice, Doug's future bride. Anyway, the schtick was to pull the ladies all the way up the Mississippi from Nawlins' to the Great Lakes and continue up through the St. Lawrence Seaway. I'm not sure if they ended it there, came down the East Coast, or went back the way they came. Once the Loooong trip was over the boat and Doug ended up back in Nawlins'. I think he was then supposed to transit the Gulf of Mexico to St Pete, which by my calculation is 450 mile straight line. I don't know who else was with him other than Larry Smith. Larry was and still is a photographer of considerable reknown. He took many photos of Offshore racing and later also took many for us in the Florida Air National Guard. Larry had injured a leg or ankle and was wearing a cast on his lower leg. They set out across the Gulf on calm seas that had a surprise for them. Somewhere in the middle of the Gulf and the middle of the night. An incredible storm blew up and Larry got seasick so he went in the back and hit the sack. Yes there were beds onboard. Doug and Crew fought against the seas for hours just to survive. Somewhere along they way Doug sent someone back to check on Larry. Much to everyones dismay, Larry was gone. I have been in situations where someone just disappears. It is probably the most helpless feeling in the world. Anyway, they sent out a distress signal to the Coast Guard and doubled back on their course. Now, I can tell you this. I have searched for boats at sea from the air during the daylight and in pretty decent weather. It is extremely tough even under good conditions. You can only imagine what it would be in extreme weather, in the dark, in the middle of the Gulf and you have no idea when or where he went overboard. Add to it that you are fighting to even keep your own vessel afloat. Meanwhile put yourself in Larry's situation. Suddenly your are overboard in the aformentioned conditions with only an inadequate life preserver and that is it. The lights of the boat quickly disappear and now you are alone. The cast on your leg is now water logged and is making it very difficult to stay above the water, and getting worse with time. Larry is one of those guys that is a born survivor. I'm not talking about one of these chicken s--t TV programs either. This is the real thing. Many people would have just given up and taken the big gulp. Not Larry. He remembers that he has his car key in his pocket. He very carefully extracts it and taking big breaths, ducks under and starts to saw away at the cast with the key. Good God Larry, don't drop the key! After some time and Hurculean effort he manages to cut the cast away and is now more bouyant. But he is still up a creek without a paddle. Meanwhile the sun is starting to lighten the sky and the Coast Guard has entered the search. I'm not sure about any of these details or how long it took, but I think it was Doug that finally found Larry and pulled him aboard. I've always believed that attitude and perseverence are the most important characteristics of survival. I think even Ernest Shackleton would have been impressed with this event. I think Larry still lives here in Jacksonville so I will try to locate him to get a better handle on this story. Meanwhile, if anyone out there is in touch with Doug, and you can get him to talk about it, pick his brain and fill us all in. Also ask him if he's eaten any skrimps lately. -Steve

  4. #34
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    Steve:

    You are where I was about 4 years ago.....new to this type of thing and laying it out there for anyone to read and enjoy.

    http://www.offshoreonly.com/forums/s...ad.php?t=12464

    http://www.offshoreonly.com/forums/s...ad.php?t=14410

    This stuff is terrific...and a credit to both you and your brother....who was a friend of mine.

    Post away...you're damn good at it!..... and it's a lot better than reading about the cheapest way to buy used outboard parts.....

    T2x

    P.S.....Got any tidbits about the Lake X "motel"?
    Last edited by T2x; 01-27-2005 at 07:04 PM.

  5. #35
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    How Seawall Seavey got his Name

    Sometime during my life at Lake X Ralph Seavey showed up from Sarasota to drive endurance. Ralph had been a good friend all through Sarasota High School and I was really glad to see him at the lake. We had many adventures over the years and I always appreciated his friendly ways. During his first week at the lake he was on the day shift which handed off to the swing shift which ran until 11:30 and then handed off to the midnight shift. This was during my 9 straight month stint on the midnight shift. Meanwhile some of Freddy Kiekhaefer's college friends were at the lake to drive endurance for the Summer. Mr. Kiekhaefer was always very friendly toward guys that were working their way through college and that included me. For that and many other things I will always be grateful to him. Anyway, one of Freddy's friends asked Ralph if he would like to take his place on the swing shift so he could go out with friends to sample a bit of that famous St Cloud nightlife. Or maybe they were going to Cocoa Beach which was always a favorite of ours. Soooo..Ralph said sure, I can handle 16 straight hours on the lake. In reality, we had all done that, and more, on many occasions. Well one of the great fun tricks (besides coating the inside of a newcomers bag lunch sandwich with multi-purpose grease) was to roll a banana on a surface until the inside turned to mush and then throw it at the other guy as you went by him in the middle of the night. What a great splat it made if you were right on target at 40mph. I once got hit by a catfish thrown by my brother while he and Chet Strickland were poaching the lake in the middle of the night. Boy, there is another great story that I'll get to some other time. Back to Ralph....I had reported to work and had walked out to the base of the old tower with a nicely mushed banana to blast Ralph as he turned off of the course at he end of this lap. I saw his lights coming up the West side of the lake and they slowly drifted further to the West and toward the trees. There was a spit off land that jutted about 100' out in the lake where the Grumman Goose (amphibian aircraft) could exit the lake onto a ramp. The spit of land was protected by a wooden seawall that stuck up about 2 or 3 feet above the surface of the water. You guessed it. Ralph had drifted off into the Lake X coma. The next thing I knew his headlights suddenly shot straight up into the air and there was one hell of a boom. Needless to say this awakened Ralph from his comatose state and he wondered how he had somehow suddenly bocome an aviator. Albeit for a very short flight. He completely cleared the spit of landed and plopped into the lake on the other side. Along the way he had gathered a rather impressive hole in the bottom of the boat and rid himself of one of those pesky sterndrives. Meanwhile the mid-shift mechanic (Gene...sorry can't remember his last name) was already in the rescue boat and headed out the slip to retrieve Ralph before he sank. For my part, there I stood with a perfectly good mushed banana in my hand and nobody to blast. Soooo...when Ralph came into the mouth of the slip on the end of a tow rope, I figured, what the hell? and let fly. I think I got him pretty good. Ralph went off to nurse his wounded ego and I ran my midnight shift. The next morning Joe Anderson arrived back at the Lake from one of his forays to Sarasota. After he had been informed of the previous nights excitement he beckoned Ralph to follow him. Remember, this is the end of Ralp's very first week in the employ of the Kiekhaefer Corp and he was already in deep kimchee. Being a good and loyal friend that only wanted to blast ralph with a banana the night before, I walked with him and Joe to survey the damage to the boat which was now on a dolly. We all three bent over to look at the bottom of the boat and then Joe stood back up and said, "Ralph, I think you better go pack your bags". Ralph was devastated. I think it was Freddy that came to his defense and explained to Joe that Ralph had just been trying to be a good guy and took the other guys shift which resulted in 16 straight hours on the lake. Joe relented and Ralph spent several years at the lake and raced many a good race. Circa 1978 I got a call late in the evening from Ralphs brother Kenney. Kenney's exact words were, "Steve, I got out of bed this morning and walked out into the living room. Ralph was sitting there in a rocking chair stiff as a f---ing board." Good-bye too early to another true and good friend. We've all said too early Good-byes to too many friends. Later Gators - Steve
    Last edited by seeroy; 02-02-2010 at 09:35 AM.

  6. #36
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    Lake X Motel

    T2x - I was standing next to the motel with mushed banana in hand the night that Ralph gained the name of "Seawall Seavey". For those of you that are interested, the motel was under the old timing tower. It consisted of 6 or 8 one room....motel rooms. VIPs would be invited to stay there. Mr kiekhaefer always stayed in the Northern most one when he was there and Joe Anderson always stayed in the Southern most one. When running endurance one would see (usually very late) Joe's headlights pull in by his room. He would then stand there in the dark for awhile before he turned in. When Mr. Kiekhaefer was there, one would often see him standing on the seawall in front of his room just as the morning light was beginnig to show. When we finished our shift we would go to the dining room and Joe Dumbolton (the morning chef) would fix us whatever we wanted. Mr Kiekhaefer would almost always come to breakfast while we were in there and he would always have a few kind words. There were 4 round tables (this was in the original kitchen in the old building) and he would sit in the corner at the executive table. I heard some of the most amazing conversations that you could imagine in that kitchen. The food at Lake X was incredible. Mr Kiekhaefer often had the best possible steaks flown in from Wisconsin for "his boys". Sometimes he would do elaborate cookouts for us and he would personally do the cooking. God, those days were great! -Steve
    Last edited by seeroy; 06-05-2008 at 06:29 AM.

  7. #37
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    OOps

    Sorry..Thats T2X, not TX2
    -Steve

  8. #38
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    Great Start

    Tx2 - just read your links back to your first posts. Loved it. I think I need to peruse my way back through alot of old posts or threads or whatever they are called. Here's another one of my "I've always believed".

    I've always strongly believed that the best medicine for a man is to have a good laugh at himself. Anyone that is incapable of laughing at himself has his underwear on too tight. -Steve

  9. #39
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    This is terrific reading. Keep it coming. And welcome to S&F.
    Markus' Performance Boating Links:
    www.toastedmarshmallow.com/performance

  10. #40
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    Best reading I have done in a while keep it up I LOVE it

  11. #41
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    Scramble Izzy!

    Mr. Kiekhaefer had his own one man private Air Force at Lake X in the '60's. It consisted of Izzy Lashmore, a Grumman Goose (amphibian)and a Cessna 310. Occasionally, the Company Beechcraft would fly in from Wisconsin and in later years the Company had a Bizjet that would drop in. Visitors would also fly in on occassion, but only with prior permission. The numbers on each end of the 5,000' asphalt runway were X'ed over, which is the symbol for a closed runway. Izzy was a bespectacled, mostly bald guy in his late 50's or early 60's. He usually seemed a little cantankerous, but in reality he was a pussycat. I got to fly with him in the Goose once and that further sparked my interest in aviation. He didn't always do everything exactly right. On at least one occasion he landed on the lake and forgot to lower the gear before taxiing out of the water onto the ramp and got stuck in the mud at the base of the ramp. We had to attach a tow rope from a boat and pull him back into the lake so he could extend the wheels. On another occasion (Christmas Day, I think) he landed gear-up on the asphalt runway with Mr. Kiekhaefer and family onboard. It didn't do any significant damage but the keel left a very nice groove down the center of the runway. In the world of aviators that fly retractable gear aircraft there is an old saying. "There are those that have landed gear-up, and those that will.". Fortunately, in 7,500 hours of pilot time, I never experienced that bit of excitement. The Lake X property had been designated as a game preserve and was teeming with wild life (Both Animal and Human). Mr. Kiekhaefer had also imported some elegant Japanese deer and you would often see them feeding on the East side of the lake early in the AM. Among other things, there were deer, alligators, wild turkeys, wild pigs. One one occasion I rode around the perimeter road, which was about 17 miles, and counted over 100 deer. When driving on the lake at night, our headlights would illuminate the alligators eyes. They were everywhere. Bill ran over a gator in front of the tower one night. The collision tore the transom loose and destroyed two lower units. The next morning the gator was found dead on the shore with two prop tracks across his back. Apparently he was HUGE. I heard numbers like 12-14'. On this issue it would be prudent to remember my previous post about boatracers, fishermen and fighter pilots being the greatest liars in the world. OK.....I have really gotten off the point. On a number of occassions, poachers would climb the fence and sneak back into the woods. In doing so they would leave tracks across the dirt road and this would be noticed by the security patrol. More than once the call came from Mr. Kiekhaefer to, "Scramble Izzy". Izzy would launch as quickly as possible and conduct an aerial search. Other times he would conduct a dawn patrol. I don't know if he ever found anybody, but it created alot of excitement. One evening I was enjoying the St Cloud night life in the J&A Bar when a very large cowboy sat down on the stool next to me. He looked over at me and asked, "Do You work for Mecury?". I responded, "Indeed I do". To which he replied, " I oughta Kill you". It seems that, while cruising along the Lake X road, one of his dogs "accidently" got on the other side of the fence, went into the woods and was never seen again. The friendly spirit of the J&A had a way of making everybody happy. I bought him a beer and we became great friends for the next couple of hours. I heard that one evening Mr. Kiekhaefer was in the J&A when someone said something disparaging about somebody at the Lake. I understand the Mr. K immediately and loudly came to the defense of "his boys". My experience with him led me to belive that he nearly always came to our defense on contentious issues. I will guarantee you that we were not always worthy of that defense. Back to the point...Each year when hunting season rolled around, hunters would cruise up and down the Lake X road waiting for deer to jump the fence and cross the road, at which point they would blast away. One year, we took the mufflers off of all the vehicles and continuously drove around to scare the deer back away from the fence. In the near future, I will write about fishing in Lake X. That story will involve different episodes with brother Bill, Chet Strickland, myself, Joe Dumbolton, Mabry Edwards and Florida Governor Haydon Burns. Later Gators - Steve
    Last edited by seeroy; 07-17-2006 at 02:12 PM.

  12. #42
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    Steve:
    The stories are great, keep it up !!
    Everytime my dad went to Lake X he would come back with some
    of the darndest stories.... Never knew what to make of some of
    them, as my dad was a racer and a fisherman, but looks like most
    were based on fact!!
    Danny Leger

  13. #43
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    Let's wet a line or throw a fish

    Believe me Danny, some of the stories are hard to believe, but true. One of the problems I have when telling stories is as follows; After I have been talking for awhile and realize how preposterous some of the stories sound, I start to worry that the recipients will probably start to think this is all BS. As I said in my first post, I may not remember everything exactly how it happened and I might occasionally embelish a little bit. But it is only a very little bit. With that in mind, let me talk about fishing on Lake X. Imagine yourself as the only fisherman on a pristine Florida lake with 7 1/2 miles of shoreline. The entire shoreline is populated by Cypress trees that stand in the water. Someone has provided a fishing boat/motor/gas and spinning rods/reels at no cost to you. There are numerous little coves and areas of lilly pads. Birds and alligators are everywhere. That's what it was like for us every day. Quite often I would get off of my shift in one boat, walk 10' and get in another boat, motor out of the slip and I was in Fisherman's Heaven. In amatter of minutes I could be wetting a line in front of some of the best lunker Bass imaginable. I was never an accomplished fisherman and therefore wasn't also that successful. However, early one morning I did see Joe Dumbolton (the morning chef) pull into the boat slip see excited he could barely speak with an 11# Large Mouth Bass on his stringer. The first time I met Mabry Edwards, he was standing in the boat shop with Florida Governor Haydon Burns. They had just flown in and were headed out onto the lake to fish. Mabry was the Governor's personal pilot and he later became the guy that funneled me into USAF pilot training. This is another one of the people that I will forever be grateful to. I will tell that story some other time, but it involves Myself, Ted Jones, Ralph Seavey and cutting a boat in half longitudinally. Mabry was a long time boat racer from Jacksonville and a very close friend of Mr. Kiekhaefer. Don't quote me on this one, but somewhere I got the idea that Mabry designed and built the first speedmaster lower unit. Let me switch gears......Some of my earlier stories involved doing stupid things that could have ended everything. Well, I wasn't the only one that performed such acts. Seems that two people that were living right next to me on the property were having great fun in the middle of the night running a neat little enterprise. They managed to acquire many fish traps and, using the aforementioned company provided fishing boat, would sneak along the shoreline in the dead of night placing them. They where hauling in more catfish than you cold imagine. They would pull the boat up next to our trailer and unload the catfish into the trunk of their cars and deliver to a market in Kissimmee. I think they made out pretty good. The next morning the boat would stink like hell from the fish meal they would bait the traps with. Also they stored the meal under our trailer and it began to stink horribly. One night as I was running endurance around 3:00AM, a catfish bounced off of my windshield and flew over my head. I could barely see the Lake X catfish poachers at the edge of my vision as they were laughing so hard the nearly fell out of the boat. Who were these mysterious men. Let's just say that one of them might have been my brother (Bill Sirois) and the other might have been Chet Strickland. Mind you, I said it might have been them. I think they finally wised up and ceased their entrepreneurial efforts before somebody said, "What the hell is that smell?". -Steve

  14. #44
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    I only wished they had digital cameras in the 50- and 60-ties.... There are alot of pics from the birth of the automotive industry, but not so much from the boatworld (outboards). Old engines are always cool!! Mercury is king on this field and the still are!

    Good job!

    Have anyone got some pics???

    Have a good day!
    EAE

  15. #45
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    I don't know if Mabry Edwards was involved with making the Speedmasters, but he definitly was behind the Martin HS 60 racing lower unit built before Merc made their first "Quick Silver" racing lower unit.

    Most Merc employees had to give over patent rights for anything they came up with while working for Mercury to Carl. Carl's name is on almost all of the patents issued in the name of the Kiekhaefer Mercury company. One of the very few employee's to have their name on patents is Charlie Alexander. His name is on most of the Speedmaster type stuff from the late 1950's thru the 1960's.

    With Edwards' experience with the Martin racing lower unit, there would be no reason to doubt he was at least a contributor to the other racing lower unit's development.


    Keep bringing on the cool stuff, Steve! I love it!

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