CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — Riding in an antique wooden boat is considered by many as a timeless experience. However, the history hidden in a vessel’s wooden beams can oftentimes be even more extraordinary.
Local author David Kunz, and his co-author Bill Simpson, set out to detail this history for the world’s largest runabout “Pardon Me,” which is now housed at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York.
The pair recently published a historical non-fiction book this past summer, titled “Pardon-Me,” detailing the five owners of Pardon Me, J.L Hacker, C.P. Lyon, D.H. Locke, N.G. Beck and J.P Lewis. The book contains stories, told by the owners themselves or family members.
“Each chapter is about each of the five guys who owned the boat and what they did for work then their time with the boat,” Kunz said.
Kunz, however, was not inspired to detail the boat’s over 70-year-long story without cause. The boat was first commissioned at the end of World War II by his great uncle Charles Lyon who was living on Oak Island on the St. Lawrence River.
The construction of Pardon Me was a collaboration between Lyon, Hutchinson Boat Works and J.L. Hacker, known as one of the country’s most famous naval architects. According to Kunz, the boat’s construction was one of the “most extravagant projects Alexandria Bay would ever see.”
Kunz said he was somewhat pushed to tell Pardon Me’s story by one of the boat owners Nick Beck, who approached him with a collection of old photographs. But he said these were stories he always wanted to know and share, especially when it was housed in Michigan under a different name “Lockpat III,” and owned by D.H. Locke.
Simpson, who is a novelist, also has a long history with the boat as he first saw Pardon Me with John Kunz, David Kunz’s father on the St. Lawrence River. He said writing a book about the boat was an idea that’s been on the table for years which is why he also pushed Kunz to spearhead the project.
“We;ve talked about writing a book on this boat for year, the history of it, the crazy people who owned it. So it seemed like a very logical step,” Simpson said. “One of the reasons that I wanted David to find the confidence and actually do the writing, do the research was because it’s a huge part of his family’s connection to it.”
And although Pardon Me has been on display for locals and visitors in the Thousand Islands since it was donated to the Antique Boat Museum by its final owner Jim Lewis, the book aims to preserve those “small stories” that Kunz and Simpson say, “make the boat so special.”
“The boat is really impressive,” Kunz shared. “To see it in person, compared to a picture, it doesn’t really do it justice.”
“I’ve been writing for 40 years and I realize more and more than it’s the small stories that don’t appear to have a lot of big impact, but they are, they are the stories that do have a big impact,” Simpson added.
The book on “Pardon Me” is available for purchase online, as well as local bookstores in the North Country.