I checked with family, and learned that the first trailer my father bought for that first boat was a kit purchased from Sears. This is a throw-back to the day when almost anything could be purchased from Sears, and harkens back to the days of America’s rural, innocent past, when, once the natives were cleared from the land, only a catalog was needed to turn forest and prairie into a subsistence farm with a sod house, and, eventually, turn that into a corporate farm with twelve-hundred head of hormone-injected dairy cows, and genetically engineered feed.
The trailer was delivered in several large boxes. My father and brother tore open the boxes, laid out the pieces on the lawn, and assembled it as if it were just some over-sized Chinese puzzle. That did not go well. Things didn’t fit quite right (who knows if they read the instructions) and had to tear it apart and start over.
They realized one of the pieces was missing, and so the project was delayed. This being the era of telephone operators and typewritten letters, it was two weeks before they could try again. The only remaining challenge was setting the boat supports at the proper distance for the twelve-foot aluminum.
I wish there was a more interesting kicker for this one, like the trailer coming to pieces somewhere north of the Dells on that trip to Minnesota, and the boat skipping across the highway and, ironically, crashing into a reefer truck laden with frozen fish (such a story would stand proudly beside the giant mixing bowl tale). My father had something like that happen, but that story will have to wait until I broach the subject of camper-trailers.
I’d be amazed and shocked to hear of such a kit these days (although I know they exist) when it’s so easy to buy a boat with a trailer and the shopping mall-like dealerships. In the era of four-dollar a gallon gasoline, it may be twelve-foot aluminum rowboats, intended for fishing, that once more reclaim our lakes.