John, age 73,
has been the Commodore of the Central Park Model Yacht Club off
and on for years. He follows in the wake of his wife, Madeline,
who was elected Commodore for eight years in a row before him.
didn't start out sailing boats, I started out with power boats,
about 40 years ago.
I'll tell you the whole story: I needed to have something to
do. I lived on the other side of the park and my wife and I
were walking through a hobby shop one day and she looks over
and says, "Gee that looks like something nice to do,"
so I built this great, big, ugly chris-craft.
I used to sail on the west side of the Park, in the rowboat
pond, for about year, before I knew this place even existed.
So a couple walking by came over and said, "Hey, how come
you're not on the other side of the Park?" I said, "What's
on the other side of the Park?" and they said, "There's
a sailboat lake over there."
So I brought my boat over, and the guys who were sailing over
here regularly took me under their wing. I ended up in a guy's
house up here on the East Side, and he went inside my ugly boat
and took out all the wiring and rewired it. His name was Leo,
and Leo was the Master power boater down here. He was building
German U-boats and we had a Coast Guard cutter, and an aircraft
carrier; we had cruisers, destroyers, and, yes, submarines.
We had a fleet! And every Saturday we'd come down here, and
the sailboats were here, and the sailboaters objected to the
power boaters. So we had to go up to the lake at Belvedere Castle,
and sail up there.
But I always used to come back down here. So one of the guys
said, "Why do you want to mess with one of those things?
Why don't you get yourself a sailboat?" So I got myself
a sailboat, and I've been here ever since. And I've been here
I've lived on the West Side all my life, except for a little
stint of living in the Bronx, and now this park, which was my
backyard when I was a kid, is my backyard when I'm older!