Grandpa’s Old Motor


When I was seven years old, my grandfather Jay DeYoung passed away, and left my dad a 1979 Johnson 15hp outboard motor. We lived on a small bayou, and I grew up with the tiller of that motor in my hand just about everyday that there wasn’t ice on the water. When I left home, I wanted a boat in the worst way…so I bought a 16′ 1952 Richline aluminium boat from a neighbor for $200. I took the shattered windshield off, as well as the rotten wooden bench seats and transom board. The renovation took weeks but the boat turned out to be a wonderfull fish chasin’ machine! Towards the end of the renovation, I found a 1982 Johnson 15hp outboard in the paper (so much like grandpa’s), and borrowed the money for it from my brother. It was in great condition… really wasn’t even broken in yet. After four years of fishing every conceivable piece of water near Grand Rapids MI, I grew to love and trust that old outboard. I knew exactly how many squeezes of the primer ball she needed.. just where she liked the throttle turned to.. and though few people could get that motor to start without countless pulls on the starter cord, she would start for me in two pulls.. everytime. You just had to know how she liked it. Then one morning I walked out to my mini van, and my stomach leapt into my throat! The motor was gone. Someone had sawed the padlock from it, and dragged it across the yard, over the sidewalk.. and to their car (you still could see the drag marks on the grass). I was heartbroken. It’s been seven years since that happened and I’ve owned several motors since then but never looked at them with much more affection then I do a snow blower or lawn mower. Then a month ago I spotted a familiar motor on Craigslist. I went and took a look at it and had to have it, it’s a 1988 Johnson 9.9hp, that looks just like my cherished motor that was stolen, as well as grandpa’s old outboard! I’m so excited to have this new “OLD” outboard motor. Everytime I take her out here in Montana to chase trout on the reservoirs and big rivers I’ll think of all those good times I had as a kid, out on the bayou with my dad and brothers.. and as a college student.. out on the Grand River, having an evening float with dinner and cocktails with my future wife..