Buzz and the Boat
In 1953 Phyllis and I bought our first boat. It was a 14 foot ski boat with a 45 horse power Mercury outboard motor. We bought the boat and the motor and the trailer, but not in the conventional manner. I made a deal with Al Sentenn, who was the owner of Ivys Furniture Store on the corner of 7th and D street in Victorville. Al had become a water skier and was dabbling in selling boats as a sideline. The deal was, to get his boat business started; he would sell us the P14 hull for 600 dollars, which was considerably below market. Phyllis and I came up with the 600 dollars and bought the boat hull. Now all we needed was a motor and a trailer and all the little trinkets that people generally put on boats.
Among my boat connections was a Highway Patrolman named Buzz Banks. Buzz, like Al Sentenn was dabbling in boats as a sideline. Buzz’s main thrust was motors and trailers and repairs and such. Buzz had his shop at home on a side street in Victorville, probably C street and out toward 4th or 5th street. Buzz worked on boats in his driveway and it could get pretty hot and breezy out there in the driveway. It could also get rainy at times. Buzz needed a shelter.
Buzz and I made a deal. I would build him a shop-shelter in exchange for a 45 horse power motor and a trailer. I built the shelter and he came up with the motor and trailer.
Now we had the boat and the motor and the trailer. All we had to do is put it all together and install the accessories. Our son Jim was a big help in the accessory installation. At six-years-old he was just the right size to crawl under the foredeck and put nuts on the stainless steel machine screws that I was using to fasten the tie-up cleats and the port and starboard lights and the other stuff that goes on boats.
When we finally got it all put together we headed out for our first boating week end. As we were returning from this first trip to Lake Mojave with the new rig, in the late afternoon just as we were leaving Barstow, I saw the red light of a patrol car in the rearview mirror!
I thought “What the hell I’ve done?” I pulled over and the Highway Patrol car pulled in behind me. In the mirror I saw a Highway Patrolman walking up. As he got closer I recognized him as Buzz Banks!
When he came up alongside I said, “Hi Buzz, what did I do? Buzz replied, “Oh, you didn’t do anything. I just wanted to get a look at your new rig!”
I got out and we both walked back and I showed him the rig and all of the things I had done to it, like the cup holders and the ski rope attachment and other nifty little things.
This was the most benign encounter that I have ever had with a Highway Patrolman.
Three or four weeks ago a few of us were at Marie Calendar’s, waiting to be seated, when two ladies approached us. They asked if I was Brian Moore. It turned out that they were Buzz Bank’s widow, Evelyn, and his daughter, Janet!
We had a nice talk about Buzz and about old times. It had been 56 years since we swapped that boat shop-shelter for the motor and trailer.
Chance encounters like this show us that a little bit of the past is still left.
AN ASIDE ABOUT AL SENTENN AND ME
A month or two after we got our boat put together and operational, AL said to me. ”I’ve got the key to the gate at the Sage Hens Ranch reservoir. Lets take your little boat and go do some water skiing.” I said, “I don’t think hat reservoir is big enough.” Al said if we shorten the rope down to about 40 feet, I think we can do it.”
So we towed the boat to the reservoir, unlocked the gate, launched the boat, shortened the rope and took turns pulling each other around the lopsided figure eight shape of the reservoir for a couple of hours!
The reservoir at the Sage Hens Ranch, where we skied, later became the lake at Victor Valley College! As far as I know Al and I are the only ones that have ever water skied on the College lake.