Newsletter of the Finger Lakes Chapter, ACBS

Volume 17, Issue 2.................................................................. June 2007

UPDATED june 20th 2007



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According to the research, in 1931, FLASH was sold to John Bernhart of Rushville and Clarence, NY. John was a teacher in the Clarence school system but spent his summers running a speed boat concession at Roseland Park at the north end of Canandaigua Lake. John owned five Chris-Crafts, all 22-ft. triples except for the longer FLASH. In the early '70s shortly before John died, Mo Sherrill had tracked him down and recorded an entire interview with him which Mo passed along to me. My wife, Janet, has offered to transcribe that interview and when she is finished, you will see what I mean when I say, "It is a real treasure."

In the interview John talks about changing out the original 150 HP Kermath for a Chrysler Royal 8, not realizing that the rotation was different on the Chrysler -- until he put it in forward and went backwards! He had two boathouses on Canandaigua's City Pier where he kept the ride boats and always had a replacement engine ready to go. John ran the concession at Roseland until 1960, and because so many people took rides on FLASH, we often have people come up to us and say, "They remember"

At Hammondsport last summer one person told how as an eighth grader, he remembered wrestling with a friend to ride in the starboard stern seat. Another woman fought back tears as she recounted her recollections. Many of our friends remember parents and/or grandparents taking them to Roseland and going for a ride in FLASH. And our son-in-law's 94-year-old father vividly recalls his rides in FLASH. We happily took him for another ride last summer and, for him, it truly was a flash back in time.

After her long career at Roseland, FLASH was sold to John West in 1960, and he offered her to Mo Sherrill. At that time, Mo was recently married and he did not have any place to work on or store an old boat, so he had to pass on the offer. She was then sold to Robert Brubaker of Pittsford, NY. In 1970, Mo found her in a field behind the Shepard Marine on Routes 5 & 20 in Canandaigua in terrible disrepair. He bought her from Brubaker, paying $50 for the boat and $700 for the Kermath engine. There is not a lot of information available for what happened to FLASH in the decade between 1960 and 1970, except there is a story that a young man dove off the boat one night and drowned. One of our WCCB members, who was also a young man at the time, was involved in the search and was the one who found the body.

When Mo bought FLASH, the decks were rotten as was most of the transom. With only a Yankee screw driver and a Craftsman saber-saw, he replaced the deck and transom over the next several years. In 1976, FLASH, renamed OPUS III, won her class and best Antique Runabout at the Clayton Boat Show. This past July, thirty years later, OPUS III, renamed FLASH, won the Peoples' Choice and the Commodore's award at the WCCB boat show at Hammondsport. FLASH is truly a boat to be proud of and to admire. She is still running on her original bottom and shows no signs of quitting. We use her almost daily where she can be seen going up and down Canandaigua Lake. Janet and I are the sixth owners and plan to run her for many years.
One chapter of her history that is missing is her hull card. When Mo contacted the Chris-Craft Corp. in 1972, he was informed that the hull card along with many others was lost in a fire at the Chris-Craft offices. We know the 26-ft. runabout was built from 1922-1930. It was the first production boat built by Chris-Craft and there is no record of the number of hulls built. There were 999 hull cards assigned to this series which included Sedans, Yacht Tenders and some "special-builts." Approximately 324 hull cards are missing and no longer exist, and 144 hull cards do not indicate which model is represented.

This past summer FLASH was the poster child for the Wine Country Boat Show, something that Janet and I are very proud of. I presented David Senn one of the numbered and signed prints of the original art used for the poster painted by noted area artist, Bob Gillespe. Mo Sherrill has also been given one of the prints as a way of saying "Thanks" for the care he gave her over the thirty-five years he owned her. During the show, David Senn rode with us in the parade and fly-by on Keuka Lake. And the following weekend David's daughter and granddaughter, Eugene Senn's granddaughter and great-granddaughter, came to our house and took a ride on Canandaigua Lake.

FLASH was 80 years old last year and there is no reason why she won't be running when she turns 100. I can only hope we still own her and will be the ones driving her on her 100th birthday.

Many thanks to Bob Korts for this article about a wonderful piece of Finger Lakes history. -Ed.