Osterhout, Willard - Memories
Our family moved to Warner’s Lake in November of 1970. For several years after that, we ran a snack bar, beach and a marina with a launch ramp, boat rentals, dock space and a gas pump. After we closed the beach and snack bar, we continued to operate the launch and rent boats until 1997 when we lost part of our house to fire. At that time, we decided to retire.
During our time here at the lake, we have gained many fond and often amusing memories. In the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s, the State maintained a trout-stocking program at Warner’s Lake. Each spring they would stock 2500-3000 rainbow trout. During this time, after April 1st when the trout season opened and the ice melted away from the shore, enough to provide some open water, fishermen and women would line our waterfront (elbow to elbow) to fish for these trout. There was always a 55-gallon drum and some firewood on the beach so they could build a fire to warm themselves. Many times, people would gather at our window inside to watch these dedicated fishermen as they fished during a spring snowstorm.
Another aspect of the trout fishing was those who chose to fish at night. Everyone would fashion some kind of reflector with a snap hook on it that would mount on the oarlock of the boat. They would hang a Coleman lantern on the hook so it reflected into the water. This would attract the trout. Favorite baits were worms (either night crawlers or dug) and whole kernel corn. Many fishermen believed that their success depended on which worm or which brand of corn you used! As if the fish could tell. Every fisherman had his or her favorite spot to night fish. There were many evenings when you could see a couple dozen boats with their lanterns scattered about the lake. All of this trout fishing ended in the 70’s when the state stopped their stocking program.
One of my favorite stories to recall is about the man who decided to rig the mast on his sailboat across the street in our parking lot prior to launching. Unfortunately, he forgot about the telephone cables hanging along the highway and as he backed across the road, his mast got caught and flipped his boat off the trailer into the middle of the highway. Traffic was tied up until the mast was removed and we found enough people to pick the boat up and put it back on the trailer.
During the winter of 1971-72, our good friend Tom Arcolano decided he would build a wooden boat strictly for use on Warner’s Lake. It was 16ft long, 4ft wide and had a flat bottom for stability. The power was supplied by an antique 19hp Johnson Sea Horse. It was launched in the spring of 1972 and was christened “The Blue Goose” by Jerri Osterhout. The name came from the lovely dark blue color used to paint it. The Arcolano’s and Osterhout’s used the “Goose” for many years, and when it was retired, the front was cut off and used as a doghouse for many more years. The remainder of the craft was used for kindling wood to start many a warm fire in the Osterhout’s wood stove.
Dan Stadler, a good friend of Jerris and myself, launched his older wooden boat one beautiful warm summer day. He had his wife and daughter with him and was checking the boat out after replacing the steering cables. You remember those old cables that wrapped around a drum behind the steering wheel under the dash. It seems that Dan had them on wrong because when he turned right, the boat went left and it created quite a sight until he got back to shore where he could fix them.
One Fathers Day, a young man rented a rowboat to take his father fishing for the day. Upon their return the son beached the boat and jumped out. He grabbed the front of the boat to pull it up on shore at the same time his father stood up in the back of the boat; you know the rest of the story, a big splash as dad took a swim. I’m sure that is a Fathers Day he will never forget.
As all you boaters know, you must put your drain plug in before you launch your boat. How often people forget to do this and we watch on shore as they try to figure out where all of the water is coming from inside their boats. My wife can often be found standing on the porch reminding people to check their drain plugs.
At one of our Lake Association Dinner Dances, my friend Tom Arcolano won the infamous Bacardi Rum Canoe. A beautiful bright red inflatable craft with the logo printed on the side. It was very popular and we used it for years. There were many disputes over whether the adults or children got to play with the float.
A special attraction at Osterhout’s Beach was a 15-foot high fiberglass aqua slide mounted out in the water. It became very popular and always had a line waiting to go down it. You could go down it any way you chose, except standing which was not allowed. I recall one night after my wife and I had retired for the evening, a relative who shall remain nameless, and some of his friends decided to go skinny-dipping. The large Aqua slide we had in the swimming area had to be wet down before you could use it. Unfortunately, this individual had never heard that before and neglected to do so. Have you ever heard a wet bare bottom sliding down a dry fiberglass slide before? It makes your hair stand up on end. If you didn’t know who the skinny dipper was that night, you sure could tell the next day by the way this guy was walking, and how he sat down!
One Sunday morning a man arrived early to use the beach. We didn’t open until 11:00 so he sat in his bathing suit in a lawn chair and read his Sunday paper. About this same time, I was walking by my workshop at the corner of the building and noticed a couple of bats hanging under the porch. I decided I should get rid of them before we opened. I got a can of wasp and hornet spray from my workshop and gave them a quick spray. One immediately fell to the ground; the other however had enough strength to flutter towards the beach. You guessed it, that bat landed on that mans shoulder and slid down his chest onto his lap. Never before have I seen a man leap out of a lawn chair like that scattering his paper all over while doing a bazaar little dance across the beach.. I quietly slipped into my shop out of sight while trying to control my laughter.
For a couple of years, the East Berne Businessmen sponsored ice-skating at our house on Wednesday nights and on weekends. A sizeable area was kept plowed and occasionally was flooded to provide smooth ice. It was illuminated in the evening. This encouraged the entire town to enjoy the splendor of this beautiful lake.
As you all know, Loch Ness has Nessie, Lake Champlain has Champ and in 1998, Warnie (so named by Lee Jones) appeared at Osterhout’s on Warner’s Lake. Warnie was a strange looking green, yellow and orange sea serpent that showed up one summer and every summer since. Many visitors stop by to say hello, especially those with small children with them. It can’t be determined at this time how long Warnie may stay at Warner’s Lakes, but he sure does love his time here, and he has a big smile for everyone who stops by to see him.