A Little Pip History January, 2007
Well it is January in Minnesota and not too much
going on outside ‘cept maybe some frost. So let's get down to it, and
see if I can remember what I was told as to how Howard Pipkorn, hereafter
referred to as PIP, got started in this boating thing.
It seems his father, Werner (Uncle Pip), had a
factory, building military parts for the Korean War. One of these
contracts involved landing mats for LST boats and another was a tent rope
tightener made of ¼"wire, looped and ground and stamped
"FT9". Nowadays the same job is done with a 5" X 3/4"
wood dowel with two holes drilled through, but that is the military for
you. Next door was the Lake Craft Boat Company; and the eight year-old
spent many summer days getting in the way of three guys gluing plywood to
stringers. Pa PIP bought one of there products (long before
fiberglass was available to the public) and planted himself on the rear
seat of a 14' Lake Craft (what now would be called an open plywood rowboat
with a 24" fore-deck). Ma PIP sat in the middle seat with her
knitting and little Howie sat up front holding a 16" ship's wheel
connected by brown cotton braided covered cable to an open flywheel 8 HP
Johnson as they plowed up and down the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers.
This developed into an almost habitual Sunday trip from Stillwater up
river to what was called "Desert Island" from where our hero
developed his distain for inboards or better put, those who operated them.
In the mid fifties Uncle PIP began developing a 160
acre family-owned plot about 20% underwater by virtue of a Polk County
Wisconsin lake. Over one winter he and our boy wonder decided to build an
11' center deck mahogany veneer plywood runabout from plans out of a 75
cent Boat Builders Handbook magazine. It hit the water with a 10 HP Scott
Atwater robbed from the Lake Craft and ended with the Big Twin 25 Evinrude.
Howard's lifelong friend at the corner of the block
had a family owned 16' Crosby powered by a Merc 800 which Pa PIP bought
sans the power so the neighbor could acquire a '62 Switzer Shooting Star.
Barefoot waterskiing was the objective, but the 25 on a 16' round bottom
fiberglass runabout with mahogany planked deck was not getting it.
So Pip finagled a 90 ci. Merc 850 (with the thought of switching carbs and
reeds to make a 100HP some day). All this happened while commuting to the
U of M engineering school. Well this is getting long and we haven't gotten
into racing yet! More later.
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