Just about every evening for 3 years Dad would be out in the garage working on the Betty Boop. He was a very successful TV actor, and when he was not in front of the camera he was working in the trees as a full-time arborist. He learned to do this while attending Stanford in the early fifties, and it was his "Plan B" income for over 50 years. When his wife at the time, Betty (the name sake for the boat) was upset with dad she'd order him out to the garage so he could "screw his boat!" We crafted every one of the little curved angles by hand. There were no power tools used to make the Betty Boop: Files, chisels, hand saws, brace & Bit...that was it!! I collected many of those tools after Dad died in 2004. He loved the Betty Boop, and he rowed it all summer long in 1970, working for Martin Litton.
I have posted pictures of that beauty in all of her glory, and I will post more as I find them. The name was painted across the rear transum, and was never on the side of the boat. We had a hard time coming up with a way to seal the rear hatch, the one the oarsman would lean against. Dad ended up glueing a one inch strip of ensulite padding from his camping supplies on one side of the seal, and on the other he epoxied a thin rope. When the hatch closed the rope pressed into the foam, and the hatch was as water tight as possible. Then he used an old bear-trap cable ski binding from one of his old pair of Head Standard skis to pull a nylon strap across the face of the hatch, which forced the seal down. I crafted the oar mount reinforcements visible on the side of the hull, and the Butterfly decal that did grace the forward hatch was put there by George Mancini without Dad's permission. Dad was upset at first, but after a day or two he warmed up to it. George went on to fabricate thousands of breakdown rowing frames for the commercial river industry throughout the 70's and he learned to weld while living with us at our home in Sylmar, Ca. George stayed with us throughout that summer of '70 while Dad was away with the Betty Boop.
Dad never flipped the Betty Boop, and he was considered a little crazy for some of the lines he ran routinely, like the left run at House of Rocks, the right run at Hance, and I think he never ran anything other than the right side of Lava. He was ejected from the "V Wave" when the Betty Boop did a tail stand and he flew out the back with an oar in each hand. He carried the photo of that moment in his wallet until his death. I suppose it was sort of a spiritual moment for him, and the little boat was waiting for him at the end of the run, upright and proud. Dad did hit a rock on the right side at the top of Crystal, and she leaked a little from that day on. We spent a winter trying to fix the leak, but the hit seemed to have loosened every glued and screwed joint in that little hull. I never rowed the Betty Boop, and I am ecstatic that she is in the loving hands of someone wiling to restore her to her former glory.
Ken offered her to me, which was a very sweet gesture, but I had to turn him down because of the direction my life is taking me. I will send out all the info I come across to help others to see this frisky little boat. Dad, the Boop and the Canyon had a love affair that lasted his entire life.
Ron did almost 70 rowing trips down the Grand, and I think he was one of the very first boatmen to be lowered by helicopter on to a rock in a big rapid in a successful attempt to get a Wilderness World Havasu wrapped for a week in Hance Rapid back in "71 or "72. That chopper lowered Dad on to the rock, and he had to cut a hole in the floor to get it off the rock. Then Dad had to make a harrowing lunge to get on to the chopper's skids. Apparently, it was a very risky scheme, and (ironically) the current owner of the Betty Boop was there on the left bank to see it all.