It was a Thursday night, I was editing pictures and the phone rang. The caller ID simply showed that it was a Michigan call. I figured it was a sales call but around 9pm was a little weird. So I answered the phone. It was Don Comtois, President of the Saginaw Marine Historical Society. He said that there was a man who was donating a Defoe boat from 2015 to the historical society and the boat would be dedicated the following Friday.
This was exciting news. A piece of family history that old was something I had to see and be a part of. So I marked my calendar and sent out a few texts. That Sunday there was a family gathering at my parents to celebrate my niece’s marriage. This was a perfect opportunity to let the family know about the dedication.
The following Thursday night (the night before the dedication) I had just come back from the kick-off party for Hells Half Mile Film and Music Festival and the phone rings again from the same Michigan number. My first thought was the time had changed because of predicted rain. I answered the phone and to my surprise the news was that the donator of the boat was the great-grandson of the original owner. He wanted me, being the great-grandson of the founder of Defoe Boat and Motor Works, to pilot the boat. Now I was really excited.
Friday morning came and I went down to the docks. There was a moving ceremony with a few presentations. We went for a ride down the river. The boat was in amazing shape and most of the boat was still original. I did get to pilot the boat and it was a pleasure.
It was a fun few hours learning some history about the boat and my great-grandfather Harry. It did make me wish I had been able to meet my great-grandfather Harry Defoe who died before I was born. Thanks to Eric Baxter for donating this boat to the Society, Don Comtois for inviting the family to be a part of this event, and Mlive for capturing a picture of me steering this amazing piece of family and Bay City history.