Photo: Seafarers Yacht Club

Seafarers Yacht Club

The Seafarers Yacht Club is believed to be the oldest active African American yacht club in the United States.

Located on the Anacostia River north of the Sousa Bridge, it was organized in 1945 by teacher Lewis Green and aided in its development by Mary McLeod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1998, Ruth Ann Overbeck recorded this interview with some of the club’s earliest members and officers: Harold Putnam(“Put”), Charles Martin (“Bob”), George William Stockton, and Billy James Cobb. This interview, conducted at the Seafarers’ clubhouse, is one of the original interviews that led to the founding of the Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project in 2001.

Read Transcript
Interview Date
June 27, 1998
Ruth Ann Overbeck
Betsy Barnett
Elizabeth Lewis

Full Directory


OVERBECK: My name is Ruth Ann Overbeck. I am at the Seafarers Yacht Club at 1950 M Street SE, Washington, DC. Today is June 27, 1998. And the purpose of the interview is to capture the living memories of some of the commodores, past and present, of the Seafarers Yacht Club. We’re going to go in order of the gentlemen’s membership dates within the Yacht Club and each of them will identify themselves for purposes of being able to have voice recognition. The first person I am going to ask to speak is Mr. Putnam, and I am going to ask him to give his name, including his nickname, his address, his place of birth, his age, date of arrival in DC, and the reason for moving to DC, and his profession. Mr. Putnam, would you give me your full name please.

PUTMAN: Thank you. Harold H. Putman. That’s P-U-T-M-A-N.

OVERBECK: All right. And you have a nickname.


OVERBECK: All right. Have you had that a long time?

PUTMAN: Yes, quite a while.

OVERBECK: Ever since you were little.

PUTMAN: As long as I can remember.

OVERBECK: Okay. Now that gets us to the next series of questions. What is your address?

PUTMAN: 1301 Delaware Avenue SW, Apartment N-109.

OVERBECK: Okay. And your age please?


OVERBECK: Oh, my. Veneration! When did you come to Washington, DC?

PUTMAN: In July of 1930.

OVERBECK: And what brought you here?

PUTMAN: My father was a bricklayer. He worked [for] one contractor for over 30 years. And they were beginning to rebuild Andrews Air Force Base. My father had taken sick in Florida and come back to South Carolina. The contractor came down and got him to come back to explain to the younger bricklayers how to bring the corner up in arches …


PUTMAN: … because he had to tear down several jobs that went up. And he sent his car down and brought him up. And school was out in South Carolina. We came here to visit him. And mother told him then, said, “I’m not moving anymore because every time we move one city to another the kids are put back another grade because of something we didn’t have.” So, we were supposed to stay here until we finished high school and [unintelligible] going to college because … But we’ve been here ever since.


PUTMAN: And I call this home now.

OVERBECK: Okay. Where were you born?

PUTMAN: In McBee, South Carolina. That’s a little sidetrack on the Seaboard Railroad. Used to be the Seaboard Railroad. And their main fruit was peaches. They grew the biggest peaches that you’ve ever seen and the sweetest. I lived there about a year because my mother and father had a lumberyard there. Then we moved to Hartsville. That’s about 19 miles away and that’s where I spent all my time until I came to Washington.

OVERBECK: Okay. All right. And what is your profession?

PUTMAN: I am a carpenter.

OVERBECK: A carpenter.

PUTMAN: A carpenter by trade.


PUTMAN: And also a professional locksmith.

OVERBECK: Okay. Now, carpenter by trade can mean a lot of things. A finish carpenter?

PUTMAN: A finish carpenter.


PUTMAN: Well, I built my first house when I was 18 years old. And I could do everything from the foundation to the last shingle.

OVERBECK: Very good. All right. Now, we’ll come back to you later but right now we’re going to get Mr. Martin for identification. And, Mr. Martin, if you would give me your name, including your nickname, please.

MARTIN: My name is Charles Martin, known as Bob no matter where I go, up and down the river and all over DC. And I was born right here in Washington, DC.

OVERBECK: What part?

MARTIN: Raised on C Street NE, the 1100 block on Capitol Hill, until I was 16 years old. Then I moved to Trinidad Avenue in the 1300 block until 1963. I think I was about 16 when I moved over there. And I moved from there in—I forget the year, but I’m on 17th Street NE now. Which I’ve been in this …

OVERBECK: And what was your address on 17th?

MARTIN: In the 2700 block of 17th Street NE. I’ve been there for 25 years now.


MARTIN: I beg your pardon. 35 years.

OVERBECK: Okay, all right. What was your profession?

MARTIN: I was in construction all my life.

OVERBECK: And are you retired now?

MARTIN: I’m retired.

OVERBECK: Okay. What type of construction? Commercial buildings? Residential buildings? Large buildings? Small?

MARTIN: Large buildings mostly. Commercial buildings. Schools, that sort of thing. And every once in a while we would go out and do a house or something. We used to call that shanty work because of it being so small. But I was working for a contractor. I was a foreman for a contractor, a leader.

OVERBECK: Fine. Thank you. The next person is going to be Past Commodore—and the other two gentlemen, by the way, were Past Commodores. This is Past Commodore George Stockton, Sr. Now, if you will give me your full name, your nickname, and we’ll go from there.

STOCKTON: Well, I have no nickname really. My name is George William Stockton, Sr. and I’m—I’ve got to think of this—79 years old. And I’ve lived in Washington, DC all my life. I was born here. And I lived in the house I was born in—it’s 1754, it was Oregon Avenue then—for 60 years. And I later moved to another home in Washington, DC. And within the past three years now, I’ve moved to Maryland. And I live with my son now.

OVERBECK: Okay. And what is that address, sir?

STOCKTON: That address is 13309 Katrinka Drive in Bowie, Maryland.

OVERBECK: Okay. And you told me how old you are and your place of birth. What was your profession?

STOCKTON: I worked for Uncle Sam most all of my life.


STOCKTON: I worked, yeah, in the government service. And I was a quality control technician for the supply department.


STOCKTON: And I spent 31 years in the government service. I’m retired at this time.

OVERBECK: Okay. Now, we’re going to come to the current Commodore, Commodore Cobb. Your full name please.

COBB: Full name, Billy James Cobb. And they call me Buddy Ro. That’s my nickname all around. But, presently I live in Fort Washington, Maryland. I am originally from Pinetops, North Carolina. Off the farm. Age 54. And, my profession, you want that?

OVERBECK: Yes, sir.

COBB: Okay. Williamsburg cook, and with DC transit 1966 until 1997. Transportation, I worked in transportation for 30 years. And I’m retired now. I retired last year.

OVERBECK: A young retiree. Okay. Now, gentlemen, this is going to be a free-for-all. You can answer in any form you want, any sequence you want. And I know you have some very special terms that you use for different things that are associated with the club and the river. And I’m going to start off with something that I know as a piece of kitchen equipment, Tupperware. Would somebody give me a definition of Tupperware.

MARTIN: Well, we generally refer to Tupperware as to being a fiberglass boat.

OVERBECK: Okay. All right. Now, when did you all start using that term?

MARTIN: When fiberglass was just beginning to be used. At one time, you didn’t see nothing on the river except wooden boats. And then fiberglass come out. Those that didn’t own a fiberglass boat would call them a Tupperware boat. [Interviewer laughs.]

OVERBECK: Okay. What other types of boats have special nicknames for you all?

COBB: Well, you’ve got one down here that everybody calls a tin can. [Laughter.]

OVERBECK: And why?

COBB: Because it’s an aluminum boat ...  [Laughter and crosstalk]

UNINDENTIFIED: Who’s got one?

COBB: That’s owned by Mr. Putman. [Laughter.] Commodore Putman.

OVERBECK: Okay. What about a sailboat? What do you call sailboats?

STOCKTON: Rag tops.

OVERBECK: Rag top?


OVERBECK: Anybody use the term blow boat?

MARTIN: Yeah. I have never used it. Just rag tops, as you said. Mm-hmm.

OVERBECK: Just rag top, okay. Now, how long have you been using rag top as a term?

STOCKTON: Well, quite often, when we see them out there when we’re motor boating, we don’t like the rag tops at all because they have the right of way if they’re under sail. [Interviewer laughs.]

OVERBECK: They can’t move very fast.

STOCKTON: Well, they’re in the way, really. [Laughs.]

OVERBECK: Okay, anything else? Is there anything around your yard?

STOCKTON: Well, the sail boaters call us stink pots.

OVERBECK: Stink pots.



STOCKTON: Because we’re power boaters and they have the engine and there are exhaust fumes.

OVERBECK: Okay. Anything else? And you call your leader of your organization the Commodore. Does anybody else in the organization have a title?

STOCKTON: Oh, yes. You have a Vice Commodore, a Rear Commodore, and you have a Business Manager, a Secretary, a Treasurer.


UNIDENTIFIED: Fleet Captain.

STOCKTON: And, oh, I think we have a Fleet Captain. Yeah, we do have a Fleet Captain.

OVERBECK: Tell me what a Fleet Captain—the others I think are pretty self evident—but what does a Fleet Captain do?

STOCKTON: Oh, he directs the club on trips, various trips, you know. And that’s mostly what his job is.

OVERBECK: Okay. When you’re out on a trip does the Fleet Captain outrank the Commodore?

STOCKTON: No, never. Sometimes he takes the lead, the Fleet Captain. And then we have some Fleet Captains that don’t know where they’re going anyhow. [Laughter.] So, we can’t follow him all the time. [Laughter.]

OVERBECK: Okay. All right. Now, again, we’re going to go back to the beginning with Mr. Putman and I want you to tell me the date you joined the club. Do you remember the date you joined the club?

PUTMAN: I think it was in August of 1948 when I first came down here to Mr. Green’s. I purchased a boat from a man in Miller’s Yard over here. It was a old Johnson, opposed cylinders. It was a 16-foot plywood boat. And the pressure was so strong on it you had to cut one cylinder out to crank it. And once you get it started, then you throw the other cylinder back in. And you had to be parked where you can go, because it had no clutch on it, no neutral. When you crank up, it’s going. So you got to throw the other cylinder in, jump up to the front to guide it. Because I had a steering wheel on it so I couldn’t guide it from the rear.

OVERBECK: Ah, okay.

PUTMAN: The motor originally belonged to a fellow named Ike Hale that used to be one of the leading racers around here years ago. It was his motor. He drilled it out. It was real powerful and very, very fast.

OVERBECK: Now, did you have to have a sponsor to become a member of the Seafarers Club?

PUTMAN: No. When I came down … I worked at Freedman’s Hospital. And we had an engineer that bought a boat from Western Auto up at Seventh and Massachusetts Avenue and he wanted a windshield put on it. So, he asked me could I put a windshield on it for him. I said yes. And that’s when I came down here, to put the windshield on his boat. And, well, I just fell in love with it. Because I always loved the water. I always fished when I was a kid and I swam quite a bit.

OVERBECK: Okay. The reason you joined was because you wanted to be part of the boating community.

PUTMAN: I just loved the water.

OVERBECK: Okay. Now, had you ever boated before you joined, before you bought this powerful boat?

PUTMAN: Oh, I had been in rowboats, you know, to go fishing. And, well, down in Hartsville, South Carolina, what I call my younger days, we used to go fishing. You pay 25 cents a day for a boat. And luck would always go with us. We’d go out there and we’d fish. It was just one of those things I … I was the only one in my family that was interested in boats or fishing.

OVERBECK: Now was this river fishing or lake fishing?

PUTMAN: Well, it was creek fishing.


PUTMAN: It was called Black Creek. But in some places it was over 75 feet deep in the main stream. At the end of it there was a big paper mill there. Then they had several cotton places called J. L. Coker. He was one of the leading men in experimenting. He had an experiment station in [cotton seed development] there. It was a prosperous town. They had a white college for women. A very, very nice place to live.

OVERBECK: Good. All right, now. Mr. Martin, Commodore Martin, same question for you. What date did you join?

MARTIN: What? Seafarers?

OVEBECK: Mm-hmm.

MARTIN: I’ll have to start back from DC Mariners and go up.

OVERBECK: Well, okay. First of all, I want to know the date you joined the Seafarers. And then we’ll go to the DC Mariners.

MARTIN: I think it was around 1964 or 5.

OVERBECK: Okay. Now, I understand that DC Mariners merged with the Seafarers.

MARTIN: That is correct.

OVERBECK: Okay. So, you are our panel person, so to speak, who has the knowledge for the DC Mariners. Give me a little bit of information about that.

MARTIN: Now. Do you want me to start from the day I wanted or started boating? Or just for the DC days?

OVERBECK: First of all I want to know the date you joined the—this is for continuity—the date you joined DC Mariners.

MARTIN: DC Mariners. I’m the founder of DC Mariners, in 1957. It’s ’56 or ’57. I forget the exact year. But that was one year, you know, ’56 or ’57.


MARTIN: And we had six members to start. And by the time we joined Seafarers, we must have had around 25, 20 to 25 members.

OVERBECK: Now, the Seafarers have been over here for quite a while. Where was the marina or the dock or the shoreline for the DC Mariners?

MARTIN: Now, that’s a good question. We didn’t have a berth or place. We met underneath 14th Street Bridge, the only place at the time that we could launch our boats. We all had runabouts. The only place at the time we could launch our boats. We’d meet over there and waterski up and down the river. Sometimes down the Anacostia. Wasn’t no bar or limit to speed then. And we’d meet over there.

Now, when we decided we wanted to have this club, DC Mariners, we started having our meetings at different people’s basements, back of trucks, and that sort of thing. Now, on toward the end, we were beginning to kind of grow, get a little bit larger boats. Seafarers was here at the time. I came over and I talked with Commodore Green, and Commodore Green says yes, you can use—we wanted a place to have our meetings—you can use this facility and have the meetings. So, we did. So, I talked to him about tying a few boats here. He agreed. So, along toward the last, I talked with him again. I said we are interested in becoming Seafarers. That’s when DC Mariners joined Seafarers.

OVERBECK: Okay. Now, what was your earliest experiences, with boating? You had a runabout, but had you ever boated before you formed DC Mariners?

MARTIN: Long before then. I think I was about 12 years old. They had a restaurant on the wharf [Maine Avenue] called Benny Bortnick’s. I’m quite sure that the Washingtonians and the natives around here remember this. And we used to go over there every Saturday to get a fish sandwich. One day I rode down on my bicycle—I was 12 years old—a friend of mine and myself. And I was working at the drugstore at the time. And I asked this fellow, “Let’s go down and get us a fish sandwich.” He said he didn’t have any money, of course. I said, “Don’t worry about it. I’m working at the drugstore. I’ll get you a fish sandwich.” We got this fish sandwich, we rode over to the Tidal Basin to rent a boat. They had little paddleboats over there. I’d always liked water and airplanes. And I asked the gentleman over there could I rent a boat. It wasn’t but 25 cents an hour. He says “Yes, you can rent a boat but you have to have a five dollar deposit to put down on these boats.” And I says, “Okay, I don’t have five dollars,” I said, “but next week I will.”

Next week, we goes over, get our fish sandwich, goes down there to rent this boat. I had my five dollars. And after we had our fish ... People [were] paddling around on the boats. Of course, things was pretty segregated at the time. And I went back to the gentleman and asked him if I could rent this boat. And he looked at me, he says, “I don’t know why you keep coming down here. We don’t rent these boats to no ‘the N word.’”

OVERBECK: Oh, dear.

MARTIN: And that thing hurt me so bad I just sat up, just water, just tears. It hurts me now to even think about it. And this fellow that was with me, I told him. When he saw me crying over there, he says. “Don’t even worry about it.” He says, “You’ll understand.” I asked him why? I said, “I have my five dollars, I have my quarter.” He said, “Don’t even worry about it.” He said, “One day you’ll understand.” So, I told him at the time, if I lived, I was going to have me a boat. And I worked toward a boat.

So the first boat I had, I built my boat in the basement. It was a canoe. Kayak canoe it was called. And I put it in the water right over here across from the swimming pool. Went to paddling up and down the river and then I decided that I wanted a little bit bigger boat. So I made me another one. By this time, a couple of the gentlemen in the club was—I didn’t know them at the time—but they were making boats at the time. So, we met out on the river. And we would put our boats in the water underneath the 14th Street Bridge. And it all started from there. I had a 14-foot runabout that I had built, with a 7 ? horsepower motor on it from Sears Roebuck.

OVERBECK: Do you remember the kind of motor? Was it Johnson?

MARTIN: [Laughs.] No. I couldn’t afford a Johnson at that time. So, we started underneath the bridge. And I said “Look, how about let’s form us a little club?” They agreed.


MARTIN: So we got together and we started DC Mariners.

OVERBECK: Well, thank you. That brings us a full story on that, full circle. Let’s go to the present Commodore.

COBB: Okay. The time I joined the Seafarers Yacht Club is somewhere—I don’t remember the exact month, date—but it was around ’85. And I joined up with a friend of mine that used to boat in this area. As a matter of fact, he was Vice Commodore at the time, a fellow by the name of John Taylor. And I used to come down with him on his boat and so forth. That’s what got me somewhat interested at the time.

But, prior to that, in the early 70s, way back, late 60s, early 70s, I knew Past Commodore Martin. And I used to ride down here when I get off work in the evenings and sit around a little heater with them out there. They didn’t have the clubhouse at the time. And they would go on trips down to Colonial Beach. I had a little 15-foot runabout. I’d put it in the water, meet them down there to fish, ride around. And, after that, I said, “Well, I think I would like to be a member of this club.” So, just by hanging around, doing a little work on the grills back during that time, too, cooking, the present Commodore at that time, Gasaway, he made me an honorary member, which [meant] I didn’t have to pay dues but I could just come around and do things. And, later on, I was sponsored by Taylor in ’85, and that’s when I became a member of Seafarers Yacht Club.

OVERBECK: Okay. Basically you all have sort of covered your earliest memories of the Seafarers, but had any of you heard about the Seafarers Yacht Club when you were little or when you were young men?

STOCKTON: Yes. I had a friend who was in the club. His name was Bill Daniels and he kept asking me to join the club. And I said, “Oh, okay, one day I’ll come around there.” And I kept putting it off. And I was interested in boat racing at that time. I had just bought a little old boat for $40 and tried to race it. But the bottom fell out of that. And I wasn’t very good with woodwork. So I had a bottom put in there and it didn’t last long. [Laughs.] So I got rid of that boat and I was able to buy a brand new Speedliner, which I have pictured right here. And I was racing. And then I joined the American Power Boat Association, APBA as it is known. And Bill kept after me to join the Seafarers.

So, one day I came down. I met Bob and all of the fellows that were in the club at that time. I don’t remember the year. I think it was around ’50. I thought it was earlier than ’57, but it probably was ’57 or ’58. I know it was that time because I had this boat then. And, so, I joined. And at that time we didn’t need any sponsorship. You just knew somebody and they brought you in. And, so, I became a Seafarer then.

OVERBECK: Okay. Had any of you read about the Seafarers in any newspaper or magazine or anything like that before you joined it?

MARTIN: I—beg your pardon.

STOCKTON: No, I was getting ready to say I had not.


STOCKTON: Because I don’t think we had any write-ups on the Seafarers.

OVERBECK: I didn’t know whether the Afro [Baltimore Afro-American newspaper] had picked you up here or in Baltimore or whatever. I doubt if The [Washington] Post would, but the [Washington] Star might have. [Laughs.]

MARTIN: Well, no. Beg your pardon ... You know, I had Commodore Green for a woodwork teacher over at Brown Junior High School.

OVERBECK: Mm-hmm. Up here on the Hill.

MARTIN: Over here off of Bennings Road, 24th and Bennings Road.

OVERBECK: Right . Campus on the Hill.

MARTIN: And he was talking boats at that time. That was before I made my first boat there. I had just gotten to Brown. And he was speaking about a club, but he never called the name.


MARTIN: But I had him for, I know, a year and a half and I loved—I always did like the outdoors and I loved boating. And the one that I really loved was aircraft but I couldn’t afford that. [Interviewer laughs.] So, I says, “I can make me a boat,” and this is what happened. And, afterward, I had no idea that Commodore Green was Commodore of the Seafarers that I heard from every once in a while. And, then, I think when DC Mariners merged with Seafarers I was the first Commodore behind Commodore Green.

OVERBECK: I thought that Commodore Putman followed Commodore Green. Is that right?

PUTMAN: That’s right.

OVERBECK: Okay. Because I had a list of Commodores and I thought that you were the immediate successor to Commodore Green.

PUTMAN: I was elected to Commodore before we merged with …

OVERBECK: Seafarers.

PUTMAN: Seafarers.

OVERBECK: With Mariners rather.


OVERBECK: Okay. All right. So, then, you were the first after the merger.

MARTIN: After the merger, yes.

OVERBECK: All right. Now, describe the general physical condition of the club and the land and the seawall, the piers, whatever. Just what comes to your mind about the way the place looked the first time you saw it.

STOCKTON: It was in rough shape, I’ll say that much. It was in ill repair. The seawall was in bad shape. Mr. Green had done a lot of filling in of the land here. This was mostly swamp when I first saw the place. I wasn’t even a member then. But, then, we finally got some concrete laid around the place from the concrete company. I think it was a concrete company in Georgetown. They needed a place to dump excess concrete from jobs so we told them to come down here. And they dumped it right in our yard and we spreaded it all around, Bob and all the fellows. Bob, well, he knew about construction and we’d lay it and made this driveway around here out of the free concrete.

OVERBECK: Okay. Now, the seawall. When you said you filled in, did you fill in back of the seawall line?

STOCKTON: Back of the seawall.

OVERBECK: There was enough of a line of the seawall left that you really knew where that was.

STOCKTON: Right. Mm-hmm.


STOCKTON: Right. [Laughs.]

OVERBECK: Wanted to be sure.

PUTMAN: There’s one other thing I’d like to add here.

OVERBECK: Yes, sir.

PUTMAN: When I came down here in ’48, they were still hauling pieces of wrecked cars, 55-gallon drums, and whatever somebody had to dump in the dark, they dumped it in here. Now, at the time, the Navy Yard was burning coal and they used to haul the cinders out. So, Mr. Green went over and talked to the truck drivers. And they said,  “We’ll be glad to.” Because all they had—when they were carrying cinders down in Maryland and they could come down here, they could make four trips while they were making one down there.


PUTMAN: And, so, they began to come in and dump the cinders. Now, if you dig down deep enough in here, you’ll find cinders. In some places you’ll find some of the old cars that we were able to cover up. And, on the seawall out there, it was in better condition then than it is now because the water has washed all the mortar from between the joints. And you can be sitting out there in the yard sometime and you see water ease up out of it. Mr. Green had 100 feet of land from the corner of  [unintelligible] Anacostia Marina to the end of the railway. That was his first land.

OVERBECK: Now, you’re talking about out on the waterfront.

PUTMAN: Out on the —on the waterfront. Yes.

OVERBECK: 100 feet. He has pointed from the west property line of the lease to the right property line.

PUTMAN: Yes. And then later on he got the old inn down there. Well, it was just weeds and junk and stuff down there, like Bob said. And, we came in as [unintelligible], we cleaned that all out. But, when I first came down here, I helped Mr. Green roll cinders and everything else to fill in these holes. It was a mess. It was like a mosquito bed.

OVERBECK: Now, when you talk about that, that brings to mind what the condition of the natural grasses and so on and so forth—were any of the wild rice plants growing down here? Or were any of what we would consider a Washington bog plant or anything? Was any of that along the shoreline left or not?

PUTMAN: No. Well, I really couldn’t tell you about that because I don’t know the difference in one weed from another. But, between the stones, where the stones had parted, you’d have bushes growing out of that place. And sometimes you’d have to cut the bush down behind the seawall before you could dump the cinders down there, behind it, see. Like, this is the seawall here. The brush was growing on the front of it, a little bit, but back here it was big. It was high.

OVERBECK: Okay. So, it would grow through the seawall.

PUTMAN: Yes. Mm-hmm.

OVERBECK: Okay. If you …



OVERBECK: All right, gentlemen, we’ve talked about the land not being, we think, fully filled when the club started. And I’m assuming because of the condition of the seawall and the fact that you do have some open access by the docks and so on, that there is sort of a struggle between keeping the land in place sometimes. Is that true? Does it still wash out a little bit from underneath or is it pretty stable?

STOCKTON: It’s pretty stable right now. When the railway was cut through there, we had—the water would wash it away so we put the cement there to hold it.

OVERBECK: Okay. Talk to me about this railway, when the railway was …

STOCKTON: Well, it was remodeled under the—Let Bob speak on that. He helped on that remodel.

MARTIN: The railway, that was an original by Commodore Green. Commodore Green and some of the Seafarers at that time built that rail. And it’s still the original operating rail, still operating, from the time he put it in here years ago up till today. Now, there have been time as …

OVERBECK: Now, this is a little spur.

MARTIN: Beg your pardon.

OVERBECK: The rail—when you say that, is it a little spur off of the main railroad? Or …

MARTIN: No, no, no, no, no. Not this railway.

UNIDENTIFIED: A boating railway.


UNIDENTIFIED: Boating. To the water.

MARTIN: To haul your boats out of the water.

OVERBECK: Oh, okay. I didn’t know if it was for delivery purposes or not.

UNIDENTIFIED: [Laughter.] [Several people talking at once.] No, no, no.

OVERBECK: Because there are rail …

MARTIN: We’re speaking about … These are marine railways.

OVERBECK: Okay, okay. So, there are railroad tracks that spur off …

UNIDENTIFIED: That is correct.

OVERBECK: … on other marinas on down the road. And some of them were coming over. So, I didn’t know whether that was yours or not.

MARTIN: No, this is a marine railway we was speaking about, to haul your boats. For instance, if you have a problem with your boat, you want to get to the boat in its entirety, you put it on the rail. The railway car just pulls it on out of the water.


MARTIN: Just like putting it on a lift jack if you had an automobile.

OVERBECK: I just wanted to be sure because we’ve got the big railroad right over the road over there. [Interviewee laughs.] So, I didn’t know whether you had a spur or not.

MARTIN: Yes. Now, this is original out there. All that’s original. Now, there’s been times, as past Commodore Stockton has mentioned, it has been washed away. So, we fill it in. We filled it in so many times that the only way to go was to put concrete down to hold it. Now, since we put the concrete down to hold these tracks and everything in place, we have no problems. The motor itself is a four horsepower electric motor, which past Commodore Green installed himself.

OVERBECK: And it’s still in operation.

MARTIN: And it’s still in operation. It’s been repaired twice since we’ve been here, but it’s still operating.


STOCKTON: I might add that it’s been flooded several times.

MARTIN: Oh, yes.

STOCKTON: We’ve had flood waters in here a foot deep and all the way out to the railroad tracks, the real railroad, where we had to paddle around in a canoe to get to our boats and then loosen the lines. So, we’ve had that on several occasions. What was the last  [hurricane]? The big one, Agnes.

PUTMAN: You mean the real big one.

MARTIN: Yes, uh-huh, I believe it was, Captain. But, recently, can’t you imagine paddling in your clubhouse in a boat. That’s what has happened.

OVERBECK: [Laughs.] I’m glad to hear you have a boat you can paddle ...

MARTIN: Into the clubhouse ...

OVERBECK: Otherwise you’d have to swim out there! Now, how many docks or piers do you have? And do you call them a dock or do you call them a pier?

STOCKTON: We call them docks or piers. Mostly called piers.

OVERBECK: Okay. And how many do you have?

[Several people answer.]

COBB: A to F.

STOCKTON: Well, we have about 50.

COBB: Slips, not docks.

MARTIN: Slips, we’re speaking about.

STOCKTON: It’s slips, now.

MARTIN: We’ve got 20 on that dock.

COBB: No. She said how many docks we have. We have about six docks.

MARTIN: Oh, about six docks.


OVERBECK: Okay. Now, how many docks were there, Mr. Putman, when you first came?

PUTMAN: When you had a thing that’s going out—there was four, three boats in this side here beside the big rail, beside the big dock where Mr. Green parked his boat. I say we had about eight, no, I don’t believe it was eight. Because when we put the railway in, we had to move back, we had to move this way some. I’ll say it was seven docks out there until we got the extension down near the end.

OVERBECK: Now, when you came on board, how many boats did club—total boats approximately—did the club members have?

PUTMAN: Well ... It couldn’t be over … I mean, in the water … Well, the big boats stayed in the water, the small boats were tied up in front of the big boats. We had a chain rope or line from this pier to this pier and you tied into that. That’s where the small boat—mine was a16-footer.


PUTMAN: But, then they had the big boats, they had a separate pier going out with a finger to it. I’d say it was seven of those until when we put the railway in.

OVERBECK: And about how many boats do you have now? Commodore Cobb, do you …

COBB: Somewhere in the area of about 35, isn’t it, Bill? He’s the leader who keeps count of it.

OVERBECK: Okay. Now, I heard somebody say something about this building sitting on the site of an old garage.

STOCKTON:The site. An old garage was right here.

OVERBECK: A wooden garage?


OVERBECK: Tin garage.

STOCKTON: Tin garage full of junk.

OVERBECK: Sort of a prefab, one car garage or …

STOCKTON: A one car garage.


STOCKTON: As I remember it.

OVERBECK: Okay. What else was on the property? The docks, the garage, the railway …

STOCKTON: The house. Mr. Green’s office.

OVERBECK: Okay. And you call it a house. Now, what—describe that for me.

STOCKTON: Well, the house was a wooden building which, if sitting inside, you could look up and see the sky at night. [Both laugh.] So, later we covered it with a roof, you know. And half of it was his office and then half was our little clubhouse there.

OVERBECK: Now, was this board and battens or vertical siding? Or was it clapboard on the outside? Or did it have … How was it fixed?

MARTIN: The outside was covered with roofing felt.


MARTIN: The whole outside of that building was roofing felt.


MARTIN: And then we just kept patching it up as the years went past. And it was still sitting there until we decided we’d put some wood on it. But that’s the original one that Mr. Green had himself. And that… Sitting right there.


MARTIN: And that pier, we got— the same pier when Mr. Green was here is still here.

OVERBECK: Now, there is a lot of problem along the Anacostia with soft bottom.


OVERBECK: And some of the seawall, I know, had to be anchored with cribbing that was brought clear back into the shoreline and guyed in and so on and so forth. Do you have any trouble with your piers? How are your piers fixed so they stay in place?

MARTIN: Those piers are down below the silt line. Some of those piers you might not see but about ten foot showing, but there’s another ten feet under it, down into the clay. On, on, down, it’s about four foot of silt under that, still.

OVERBECK: All right.

MARTIN: If you fall in that river, fall straight, you’d go on down to your neck before you quit sliding down. And the pilings are down below the silt line into the clay.

OVERBECK: Now, who did that work? Does anybody know? Did Mr. Green do all that work? Did he have other people come and help him? Did he hire a crew to do this? What …

PUTMAN: Pile drivers. Pile drivers come in and put the pilings down and Mr. Green put the fingers out in the walks, see.

OVERBECK: Was it a Corps of Engineers pile driver or was it a private pile driver?

SEVERAL: It was private.


MARTIN: Had permission from the Corps of Engineers, of course, and the National Capital Parks to do this. Anything that’s done, you’ve got to mention it or make notes or write a letter to National Capital Parks East.

OVERBECK: Okay. Now, tell me the kinds of professions that you have had represented in the club and the background. Are we talking about people who are mostly from the District of Columbia and south or from all up and down the North Atlantic seaboard or all the way west to California? Where have all of your members come from?

MARTIN: Members? I would say all over really. They’ve come …

OVERBECK: Okay. Do you have any who lived originally west of the Mississippi?

MARTIN: I can’t say that we do. Not west of the Mississippi.


MARTIN: Yes, we do. We have one. We have Twan [sp]. I’m quite sure he’s far west of the Mississippi.

STOCKTON: You’re right. Yeah. [Laughs.]

MARTIN: He’s Korean. He comes from Korea.

STOCKTON: Twan. Right.

OVERBECK: Oh, okay. That’s far west. You’re absolutely right.

MARTIN: And we’ve got one from Colombia.

OVERBECK: That’s the nation of Colombia. Not Columbia, Maryland.

MARTIN: The nation. Not Columbia, Maryland. No, no. [Interviewer laughs.]


MARTIN: Panama, right.

OVERBECK: From Panama, okay.

MARTIN: From Panama.

COBB: Talking about Burt?

MARTIN: Yeah. Panama. You’re right.

OVERBECK: Are most of them people who work for the government? Are they in private industry? What are their professions?

MARTIN: You mean the membership?

STOCKTON: They were government workers.

MARTIN: You mean the membership you’re speaking about.

STOCKTON: No, she’s talking about these people.

MARTIN: The two?


MARTIN: Oh, yeah, yeah. Government.

OVERBECK: How large is your membership?

MARTIN: Our membership? We have, what is it, 54 members?

COBB: Uh—52.

OVERBECK: Okay. What’s the largest it’s ever been?

UNIDENTIFIED: That’s about it now.

COBB: That’s about as large as it has been, right now.

OVERBECK: Tell me, gentlemen, about the kinds of events that you all do. Now, you talk about having a Fleet Captain. That means you go on trips.


OVERBECK: Okay. What kinds of trips do you take? What’s the longest ago trip you remember, Mr. Putman?

PUTMAN: About three years ago we had a trip down to Windmill Point. I mean, the one that I was on. And I think we were gone for seven days.

STOCKTON: Then we’ve been to Baltimore Harbor, which doesn’t sound like any distance …

OVERBECK: Oh, it is.

STOCKTON: … but going by water it’s quite a distance. It’s almost 200 miles. We’ve been there, we’ve been over on the Eastern Shore at Crisfield, and like he said, the Virginia side—what is it? What was that place? Windmill Point, yeah.

COBB: Windmill. Norfolk.

STOCKTON: Norfolk, also.

OVERBECK: Oh, really. Okay.

STOCKTON: Uh-huh. And, well, we’ve been many places all up and down the Potomac on both sides, Maryland and Virginia. My son has just …

COBB: North Carolina.

STOCKTON: … moved our boat down to Solomons [Island] so we can get a little bit more experience on the [Chesapeake] Bay. Mm-hmm.

COBB: Also, [unintelligible] we had a group that went all the way down to North Carolina a couple of years ago, too.


COBB: Yeah.

OVERBECK: How many people went down to there? How many boats did you have go down?

COBB: We had three from this club that went down and one of them left and went all the way to Portsmouth. And one of the members from here left Portsmouth and come back this way. Two other members of our club and a member of another club continued on down to North Carolina. I think it was the Outer Banks, Joe? As a matter of fact, Fogle [sp?], Joe Fogle was one of the captains on that trip.

OVERBECK: Okay. Do you have any social events here in the clubhouse, like an annual barbecue or a dance or anything like that? Or are you just strictly focused on boating?

COBB: Sure, we have social events every year. And we have, like, you know, little dances and stuff like that. And we also have what we call a family day, which is annual. That’s every year, where we bring out the family, the kids. We have a moon bounce. And neighborhood kids, anybody who want to come. We have that and basically that’s about it for social events.

STOCKTON: If you look up on the board to the right, we have a list of events for this year.

OVERBECK: All right.

MARTIN: May I add something as well. Now, we’re leaving out the fact how we work with the kids or have worked with the kids. We usually have taken barges over on the other side of the river to give kids boat rides that haven’t been exposed to boats. Now, this is something that I can tell you about. I used to love boating and couldn’t get to it.


MARTIN: That’s what I was just saying. And it struck me that there must some kids out there just like me who want to get on a boat and couldn’t. So, we would give boat rides, just about every year, to kids on the other side of that river. We did that through the Department of Recreation. We’d set up a time with them where they’d have a date and we’d meet them over there with our equipment. All the boats in the club. Not just this club sometime, and some of the other clubs participating in the thing, including the concessionaire next door, to give these kids boat rides.

Now, on our family day and the days of events that we have a lot of people in the yard we would take the families and the kids out, some of us, and give them—let them be exposed to this thing. Because I feel like, I don’t know, I guess I feel like all kids have something they want to look forward to and I did at one time. And I felt like, if I could get somebody interested or the members could get someone interested in liking boating, they’d set their mind on that instead of just what you call hanging out. [Laughs.] Let’s put it that way.

So, we catered a lot to not just the kids. Schools, colleges have had their dances and so forth in our clubhouse. Not just the colleges, neighborhood civic associations, government, police department, and I could go on down the line naming different organizations that’s been here in our yard to use the facilities to enjoy themselves. Which I think is great. And the point that I’m trying to get to now, I’m quite sure it won’t stop. It’s going to continue as long as possible that we can help these people, not just the people, the mothers, the fathers, the sons, we just bring families together that way. And we have a nice time doing it and it’s just such a nice time. In the years that we’ve been here everything has been in order. We’ve never had any wrong type of event down here. And I can go back to years and see that myself and Captain Put here can go further than that and say so. And which I think is a very, very good record. This is the kind of environment we set for the community. Not just that. Marion Barry even had a couple of affairs down here. [Laughs.] Well …

OVERBECK: I had heard about that, as a matter of fact.

MARTIN: But, nevertheless, what I’m saying is we do enjoy ourselves being here as well as helping the others. We just don’t consider ourselves just plain boaters, we’re community inspired, which everybody needs. If there is a kid involved anyplace, Seafarers will help them somehow, if we can. See, some kids don’t want any help until they get exposed to it. And, then, we also had the scouts, Sea Scouts, in our midst. We sponsored Sea Scouts for a long while. And the events that we’ve had, not just pertaining to boating, I would say we had just as much outside as we had boating.

OVERBECK: How is your club governed? You obviously have officers.

MARTIN: Mm-hmm.

OVERBECK: And you have dues. What is your dues structure in general? Is there—I know you talked about—I know that at one point you all paid $13 a month to the [National] Park Service for the land. You’ve got to have dues to support that and the other activities, the construction and so on and so forth. So, are the dues—what were the dues when you joined, Mr. Putman? Do you remember?

PUTMAN: I was paying Mr. Green 50 cent a foot.

OVERBECK: That’s [unintelligible] the boat length.

PUTMAN: No, in other words, I paid $5 a month.

OVERBECK: Okay. For the boat length?

PUTMAN: For the boat. Yeah.

OVERBECK: Okay, okay. So, everybody would pay that per month for their boat .... the total length. Was there an upper limit?

PUTMAN: Oh, yeah. You paid according to the length of your boat.



OVERBECK: Is there an upper limit of the size boat you can have here? The length of boat?

PUTMAN: As long as—you can have anything you can afford. [Laughter.]

OVERBECK: I like that.

PUTMAN: You can pay for it. Like I said, when I started, it was 50 cent a foot. And the gas was 27 cent a gallon.

OVERBECK: Oh, okay. Somebody mentioned you did not have to have sponsors at the time that they joined. Do you have to have sponsors for membership now?

UNIDENTIFIED: Now. Now you do.

MARTIN: Yes, yes.

OVERBECK: When did you put that in place?

STOCKTON: That’s been in place —we have printed by-laws and a constitution. And it’s in the constitution. Now, I forgot when that first began. When did it begin, Bob? At the time you were Commodore.

MARTIN: Oh, it’s been some time ago. And the reason for this is that, you know, a lot of people come down and want to join the club and want to have a place just to keep their boats. They don’t believe in contributing to keeping the place clean, they won’t believe in the outside that might want to come down to enjoy the yard. They just don’t believe in nothing but themselves, their own needs. This is the reason why the sponsorship came. If you sponsored a person, you know them enough to know they want to help, that sort of thing. And they don’t mind getting their hands dirty and helping someone else out that might need help with their boat or with their kids or whatever. This is the whole thing.

So, this is the main thing. I’ll repeat. It’s not just boating. It’s not just boating at all. It’s a neighborhood that we’re in. See, we even planted a few fruit trees for some of the kids and the people that like to can and so forth. Of course, I, like [unintelligible], end of the season, my wife likes to can and so forth, too. But we have our own orchard at home. But, nevertheless, the kids and the people in the club that might want to come down and pick grapes or whatever, we have them here for them. Something for them to do to stay out of little mischief that some kids would get into.

OVERBECK: Yeah, that’s true.

MARTIN: See, because as kids, I’ve been a kid once myself and I’ve always had wants and still do. But, nevertheless, if we can help this kid out some, this is what we’re going to do.

OVERBECK: Now, what do you do in the wintertime? I see all the paraphernalia for shooting pool, so, do you work on your boats in the winter? Do you have a way to pull them up and work on them here or what?

MARTIN: Yes. That’s the railway.


MARTIN: You haul your boat up on the rail, those that want to come up on the rail. Oh, it’s a limited time we give them time to work on their boats, should someone else want to get on this rail. And we work on these boats. Anyhow we come and we shoot pool. We have picnics inside the clubhouse. Picnics, cookouts, dances. Fish fries, as well. Don’t forget the fish fries, now. We’ve got to have our fish fry.

OVERBECK: Those are not Potomac fish, are they? [Laughs.]

MARTIN: No, no. Uhn-uh. We don’t have Potomac fish. But, nevertheless, sometime [when] we have a fish fry, I would like for you all to come down and share a lot of fish. [Laughs.]

OVERBECK: Oh, I’d love to come to a fish fry, believe me.

MARTIN: Yes, I would. We do have some . . .

OVERBECK: I would love to be invited to a fish fry. That’s one of my loves. I’ll . . .

MARTIN: Well, see Commodore Cobb is the best fish fryer in the world.

OVERBECK: Oh, he is? Oh, wonderful. Very, very good. That’s a good recommendation for you, believe me. My father was a great cook and he loved to fry fish and particularly those we’d just caught. And I had to learn how to gut them and do all that. So, I admire you for that.

MARTIN: Mm-hmm. We’re not just boating oriented, we’re community as well.

STOCKTON: About our dues you asked though, and we got off on a little different subject. These are printed [unintelligible] but we are also as the members—Bob stated it— a working club. So, that’s particularly made mention of when you want to become a member because we do all our work here, all our maintenance, and everything.


STOCKTON: So, we have the lowest rates for dues of any club around that I know of and our dues are $2 per foot per month, which is the cheapest around that I know of. And, of course, there’s 33 feet . . .

COBB: 32.

STOCKTON: 32. We have a …

COBB: Minimum.

STOCKTON: … a minimum of 32 feet. Say, if your have a 28-foot boat, a new member will have to pay on the rate of a 32-footer. That’s the least.

OVERBECK: Okay. What is the largest boat you have in the yard right now?

STOCKTON: Well, actually, there’s a 62-footer out there. The gentleman was here—he’s just left—that owns that boat. It just sits there.

OVERBECK: That’s a good sized boat.

MARTIN: But, you know, you’ll find a lot of people buy boats to have a place to come sit on the water.

STOCKTON: They call it home away from home.

MARTIN: That’s correct. And it’s not a thing of living on the boats. No one lives on a boat here. But, I find that if you get around water, if you had a hard day on your job, if you’re tired, you’re exhausted, you come down, you sit on your boat, you open yourself a cold soda or beer, or whatever it is you consume or drink, and all your troubles go away. That water seems to just pull it away from you in such a manner that you really enjoy just being around water. And that’s always been my philosophy. See, I’ve been in the construction all my life and sometimes I leave my job dead tired and come down here. An hour later, tired is gone. [Laughs.]

OVERBECK: [Laughs.] I can appreciate that. I really can.

MARTIN: Tired is gone. But the fact that we’re here . . . I would like to go back a little bit on Past Commodore Stockton’s statement about our lower boat fees, the money that we pay. The reason it’s so low, we try to attract people that cannot afford to go up on Maine Avenue and James Creek and those different places to come down to join us. And we have done so. See, now, we have as many people just who want to be part of in our club, but don’t own boats as we have boaters.

OVERBECK: And you allow non-boat owners to be members as well.

MARTIN: Yes, we do. Yes, we do. If they want to be part of, fine. If you’re the type of person that you don’t mind working with us, fine. If you love kids, the community, and what we stand for, beautiful. No problem. So, this is the reason—this is our main goal for being here, not just ourselves. We look forward to getting others here as well.

OVERBECK: Well, I want to ask the present Commodore a question because he has on one of my favorite things, an Earth Day cleanup shirt. And what is your relationship to the river, because you all see all the nasties that come down from everybody who dumps anything.

COBB: Well, really, what happens every year—it’s become an annual thing now—it began, like, 13 years ago. And back during that time it was the past Commodore Gasaway who was in charge. And he was talking to the mayor one day and he was talking about the river, how dirty it is, and it needed to be cleaned up. And he was telling him somebody needs to do something about it. So, the mayor told him, “Why don’t you do something about it?”

Back during that time he got the members here together, the Corps of Engineers, the Navy Department. And they began going out cleaning up the river banks and the boats come along pulling the logs out. And, from that point, up until now, right on up every year, it has become a annual thing now. Now we have the Citizenship Watershed, Recreation Department, Park Service, we have sponsors, several sponsors come down here every year now and they go in different phases. This year we was up at Kenilworth Park. And we have different groups, religious groups and so forth now. It has become a real large thing. As a matter of fact, a lot of kids from colleges and so forth that need their credit hours and so forth for working, they can come down and work that day with us. And that’s what this Earth Day is about now, cleaning up the Anacostia. And it runs from Bladensburg all the way down to the Pennsylvania Avenue Bridge. We even work with Bladensburg, Maryland. They come in. Matter of fact, we have all our meetings right here. The town of Cheverly, the mayor from Cheverly, they all come in on that particular day and pitch in and everybody bring in a dump truck and everything that they can get. And that’s one big day all the way up the Anacostia.

OVERBECK: And the idea for that came from you all talking with the mayor right here in the club.

COBB: It started off with Seafarers.

MARTIN: It started right here.

COBB: It started right here at Seafarers Yacht Club.

MARTIN: Originated right here in this club here.

OVERBECK: Now, when something like the [1992] Phillips Petroleum spill happens, what does that do to your environment here?

COBB: Well, when something like that happens, it does a lot to the environment. It’s just a matter of what, when EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] come in, what they do. Before, when we had the oil spill, I mean the oil come down, get on the bottom of the boats and so forth. They have to clean it up, it’s true. And, the Coast Guard wouldn’t allow any member to take any boats out of the slip for anything during that operation while the oil was out there. And at the end of the spill and so forth, for the bird life, wildlife, and all that, yes, it has an effect on them. But, Phillips Petroleum and Steuart, they were responsible for it. So, therefore, after this is over, then they are responsible for all the cleanup, including the cleaning up of all the bottom of all the boats that were affected by this. So, but, you just can’t do any boating. They wouldn’t let any boats out of here to spread that oil down the river because the bottom was contaminated with the oil until it was pulled and cleaned and hauled and everything was cleared out.

OVERBECK: Did you all have any booms or anything you could put around your particular portion to divert it? To divert the spill that was coming in?

STOCKTON: We didn’t have the booms in time.

OVERBECK: You didn’t have them in time.

STOCKTON: In time for that.


STOCKTON: The next marina, next door, Tommy Long took care of all the boats here. Of course, Steuart Petroleum must have paid them. But, I know my boat was hauled over there.

OVERBECK: Over to Tommy Long’s?

STOCKTON: Yes. Cleaned up. And he had booms all around. He had the facilities to do that and contain the oil that was cleaned off the bottom.

OVERBECK: Well, that brings me to my next question. And that has to do with what is the relationship to the other marinas up and down the Anacostia River.

STOCKTON: We’re friendly. At one time we merged together. At some—what was that?

STOCKTON: Twenty years ago?


STOCKTON: We all merged, the four marinas together. Called ourselves the Anacostia Boating Association.

OVERBECK: Is there still an Anacostia Boating Association or has that sort of gone by the boards?

STOCKTON: Well, it’s kind of …

MARTIN: It’s kind of gone down. Mm-hmm.

STOCKTON: … gone by the wayside since. But, at one time we had, you know, a little fight with National Capital Parks East in which they were trying to get rid of the boat clubs then. And we joined forces and showed where, you know, we were an asset to them and really helping to clean the river and keep it clean.

OVERBECK: So, there’s you all, Tommy Long is next west,  next west of him is …

STOCKTON: Well, he’s the concessionaire. That’s a difference.

OVERBECK: Okay. We’re changing tapes.



OVERBECK: We were talking about members’ dues and then you started talking about the fact that members who do not own boats, people who don’t own boats are also entitled to be members. What kind of dues structure do you have for them, because you can’t charge them per foot of boat?

STOCKTON: Yeah. We have a minimum fee for those who want to be, would like to be associate members. And that minimum fee is $275 a year.

OVERBECK: Okay. And do they get to vote?

STOCKTON: Yes. They can vote. They can have the use of the clubhouse on special occasions, like their birthday or wife’s birthday. They have the use of the yard, the party. You know, they have a party.

OVERBECK: You know what? You just suddenly, Mr. Stockton, triggered something. Do women belong to the club in their own right or is it all men who—is it an all male membership?

STOCKTON: Right now, we don’t have any women members. We had one who was a member for many years. She was our Secretary. She is deceased. During the Gasaway’s regime, all the ladies, the wives, were first mates. And we still carry them as first mates.


MARTIN: The women are automatically …

STOCKTON: The women are just auxiliaries more or less.

OVERBECK: All right. That was the question.

STOCKTON: No, we do not discriminate. [Laughs.]

OVERBECK: [Laughing.] [Unintelligible] on gender anyway. Now, the Anacostia Boating Association, let me make sure I’ve got that name down right, the one where you amalgamate or you merge with all of them …

STOCKTON: Mm-hmm. All four.

OVERBECK: Or you associated with all of them up and down the river.

STOCKTON: All four clubs, right.

OVERBECK: Okay. And that would be Anacostia . . .

SEVERAL VOICES: Boating Association. A.B.A.

OVERBECK: Okay. A.B.A. All right.

MARTIN: I have the bylaws and everything on it at home. If I’d thought about needing all that stuff, I sure would have brought it with me.

OVERBECK: Okay. The Seafarers. Now, there’s a Seafarers Club in Annapolis.

MARTIN: Correct.

OVERBECK: What relationship does that have to you all?

STOCKTON: That’s a whole different ball game. That name was carried from here down there.

OVERBECK: By former members of here? Or joint members?

STOCKTON: Former members of Mr. Green’s club, the Seafarers.

OVERBECK: Okay. And where is that based?

STOCKTON: That’s in Annapolis, Eastport.

OVERBECK: Okay. Eastport, okay.

COBB: Eastport. You said Newport or Eastport?

STOCKTON: Eastport.

OVERBECK: Eastport. Okay. Now, do you have any formal associations with any other boating organizations?

STOCKTON: Yes, we’re a member of the P.R.Y.C.A. That’s the Potomac River Yachting Clubs Association. In fact, we meet on the 17th, 18th and 19th at Fort Washington, with the clubs that are affiliated with the P.R.Y.C.A.

OVERBECK: Now, are any of the other marinas on the Anacostia affiliated with them as well?

STOCKTON: I think so, I’m not sure.

COBB: All of them.

OVERBECK: All of them?

STOCKTON: All of them now.

COBB: I think all of them except Tommy Long, which is the concession.

STOCKTON: No, that’s . . .

COBB: But, the rest of them, matter of fact, some of the members at Eastern [Power Boat Club], I know they have some members that—I think one of their members is the treasurer or something for P.R.Y.C.A. It’s not just Potomac River. It’s the Anacostia and the Chesapeake Bay. They have something like about 60 different clubs that’s members.

STOCKTON: It’s a big organization.

COBB: Yeah, and what George was talking about, the 17th and 18th at Fort Washington marina, that’s an annual thing they have every year. What they call a P.R.Y.C.A. Float In. You have boats coming from all the other marinas that’s associated with it, that will come down here for an annual big dinner-dance every year. As a matter of fact, that’s what we’re getting ready for now. So far I think we have about 12, 14 boats going down from here alone.

OVERBECK: Now, do any of your members have professions that relate directly to boating? Anybody a boat salesman? I know that some people used to do something that was called transporting or ferrying boats.

MARTIN: I used to sell boats years ago for L & M Boat Center.

OVERBECK: Okay. And what about ferrying boats?

STOCKTON: Charlie, Charles Whiting, he’s a member. He’s not here present at the time. But, he’s a full captain, a licensed captain. And he can ferry boats.


COBB: He’s also a boat mechanic.

STOCKTON: And also a mechanic, yes.

OVERBECK: Okay. Good. So, that’s that one.

MARTIN: Marine mechanic, mm-hmm.

OVERBECK: All right. Do you all teach boat safety classes or encourage … What is your relationship with the Coast Guard about using boats?

STOCKTON: We’ve had several classes right here. And all the older members that are—a few of the new members haven’t participated in the class—but all the older members, we’ve gone through at least three courses. In boating safety and regulations, and navigation also, too.

COBB: As a matter of fact, we have a class that’s going to be starting up here in the month of July, we just haven’t set the date yet because HABA [Historic Anacostia Boating Association] was having another class, a diving class. I’m supposed to call the [unintelligible] next Wednesday. He’s going to set up a class here for the new program that they have on the river. You probably heard about it on the news, read about it. Anyone that’s operating in the District waters have to have a safe boating course.


COBB: So, if you have a group such as we have, they will come out and give the class on site.

OVERBECK: Oh, okay.

COBB: Because they’re going to be doing that.

OVERBECK: Now, would you be inviting other people from the neighborhood or whatever?

COBB: Mm-hmm. Other marinas, anyone who want to come.

MARTIN: Not only that, we have also had lessons on how to use a life preserver. You know, we have a lot of life preservers out here that you put them on, you put your head under but your other hand [goes] up ...


MARTIN: And we have had lessons on how to use those over at Banneker swimming pool. That was pretty successful. We had that several times.


MARTIN: But, in the last couple of years we haven’t had that. But, nevertheless, these are some of the activities that I’m mentioning now, see, that has been done in the past. And I’m quite sure, should we find it necessary, we’ll do it again. But, you’d be surprised. People have these things, some of them, aboard their boats and don’t know how to use them. They don’t know how to use them. Or the class of life preserver that they’re using.

OVERBECK: Mm-hmm. Okay. Let’s talk about this clubhouse itself. Now, tell me when it was built, who built it.

MARTIN: I guess that goes right back to me again. [Laughter.]

OVERBECK: Okay, Mr. Martin.

MARTIN: My son and I laid this clubhouse out in 19 —I had the thing yesterday, looking at it. What was it?


MARTIN: ’68. That’s exactly right, George. In 1968. And we laid it out and got it ready for the bricklayers. Me being in construction, I took the bricklayers off my job, brought them here one Saturday morning, and run this thing up in one day. Of course, that’s just the walls, now, that doesn’t include the ceiling, the roof, and all that.

OVERBECK: It’s concrete block, right?

MARTIN: It’s concrete block, yes, cinder block we call it. And the Department of Interior, let’s say National Capital Parks East, of course approved it and all, upon the stipulation that we put bath facilities for both men and women in the building. Of course, at one time we had a house out in the yard with a moon on it. [Interviewer and interviewee laugh.] So, we had to get rid of that and they were glad to see us wanting to …

OVERBECK: Now, that wasn’t too good for the ground water or for the Potomac water.

MARTIN: So, upon agreement with that, they approved our drawings for this. And I was the one that did it.

OVERBECK: Okay. And how high is the highest the water’s ever come in here?

MARTIN: Oh, I would say about 15 inches, the middle of that second block.

STOCKTON: I’ll tell you there’s a waterline mark on that bar.

COBB: See this mark. It’s a waterline right on the bar.

SEVERAL VOICES: Yeah, it’s on the bar. It’s under the bar. Right there.

OVERBECK: Oh, okay. All right, now, that’s a good 15 inches.

MARTIN: Mm-hmm.

OVERBECK: That’s only happened once?

MARTIN: Oh, no.


UNIDENTIFIED: We’ll never get rid of .... [Laughs.]

OVERBECK: Sorry. [Laughs.]

MARTIN: It has happened several times. It has happened several times. But, a lot of times we have floods that don’t get in the clubhouse but they flood the yard. It’s bad when it …

STOCKTON: At that point, we come in that door. But, the flood tides come in, we have to leave by this door.

OVERBECK: Oh, okay. That’s part of the problem of being around a river. I guess it’s also part of the pleasure. The boat windows—now, are those ones that were a pre-fab kit kind of boat window or …

MARTIN: Those boat windows I had made like that from I forget the … I had all that stuff yesterday and was looking at it. I had those windows made for this. Like that. The dimensions that I give them. The front windows, it was my own idea as well. I just wanted to make them different. And leaned them out. And they had to have some sort of ventilation so I had jalousies made that opened to let the ventilation in and out for these things.

OVERBECK: And you’ve got what kind of a roof on the front here?

MARTIN: That’s a truss roof, truss, joists going across. And the roof is asbestos shingle.

OVERBECK: Asbestos shingle, okay.

MARTIN: And, now listen. When I say “I,” that means the club members. [Laughter.] It wasn’t just me, you know, because all the club members had a lot to do with this.

OVERBECK: Now, did you take a special donation to buy the materials and to have the contract work done?

MARTIN: The club dues covered it at the time. And, then, I didn’t have to pay it all at once. The only person I had to pay at once was the suppliers for the concrete, which is the concrete companies. And Ernest Maier [Building Supplies], for the roofing. But, later on, I paid him for, you know, the masonry, the blocks, and the mortar and the sand and so forth.

OVERBECK: Well, they were very fortunate to have you as the contractor involved in this. [Laughs.]

MARTIN: Well, that’s right. And, then, a lot of this stuff …

OVERBECK: Probably saved a bunch of money.

MARTIN: A lot of this material come off the jobs that I was on. I wasn’t even going to mention that part of it. [Laughter from interviewer and others.] But, a lot of it come from off the jobs.

OVERBECK: Okay. If it’s left over and it’s not going to be used …

MARTIN: It’s left over.

OVERBECK: … something’s got to be done with it.

MARTIN: Yes, it is left over.

OVERBECK: Somebody told me that was why all the back porches on Capitol Hill used to be painted gray, because they had too much paint at the Navy Yard [laughs] and it had to go some place. [Others laugh.]

MARTIN: But, you know, when we was doing this, it was a fun thing doing it.

OVERBECK: Sure. A group project, if it goes smoothly, is a really wonderful thing to do.

MARTIN: Mm-hmm. We had —it was a fun time.


STOCKTON: I remember then, back in ’69, my son was a relatively young fellow then and he joined in. He wasn’t even a member of the club. But, we had wheelbarrows trying to dig in dirt at the other end of the yard trying to fill in this place that Bob had hauled out for the cement floor. And [unintelligible] said that’ll never work. But we’ll work about two or three days with them wheelbarrows and we just got a little pile of dirt like this. [Interviewer and interviewee laugh.] And, fortunately, finally we had to get a truckload.

MARTIN: Yes, fortunately, we caught some guys going to a dump with some dirt and they started dumping it in.

OVERBECK: Okay. All right. When you’ve been around this site, have you ever found anything of any Indian arrowheads or anything that looked like …

MARTIN: Any artifacts? I haven’t myself.

OVERBECK: Do you know of anybody ever having found anything along here?

UNIDENTIFIED: I don’t think so.

MARTIN: Ma’am, I may intercede one more time concerning the construction of this building. This is all concrete. We had one of our members, Captain Quarterman. He was a mason, a concrete mason, and he had something to do with his union. And he had some of his members from his union to float this thing out free of charge as a donation to us because they saw what we was after.

OVERBECK: Very good.

MARTIN: It was four of them. And they spent a whole day, an entire day, finishing this concrete free of charge.

OVERBECK: That was a labor of love …

MARTIN: Yes, it was.

OVERBECK: … and very nice for you. Do you remember what Mr. Quarterman’s first name was?

MARTIN: Allen.


MARTIN: There’s his son sitting right behind you.

JOSEPH QUARTERMAN: I’m right here.

OVERBECK: Okay. Now, tell me about something—Mr. Green seemed to have been the leading light for years.

MARTIN: Mm-hmm.

OVERBECK: Now, I assume that since he was a school teacher that several of the members may have taken classes from him in school, from the different schools. Because he taught at Brown and I think he taught at Armstrong [Technical High School] maybe.

COBB: Yes.

[Several talk at once.]

STOCKTON: But I went to school …

OVERBECK: You were too young?

STOCKTON: … across the street, at Dunbar.

OVERBECK: Oh, you did? Oh, well. Okay. Anybody else that you know of, besides Mr. Martin, who had classes from Mr. Green ever?

QUARTERMAN: I did. A short substitute in woodwork art for Mr. McArtiss [sp].

OVERBECK: Now, the voice you hear behind me is Mr. Quarterman.

MARTIN: It’s Mr. Quarterman, yes.

OVERBECK: The [son] of Allen Quarterman.

MARTIN: That’s Joseph Quarterman.

OVERBECK: Joseph Quarterman, okay. Very good. Thank you. What other memories do you have of early members? Mr. Putman, you’d be a good one to start this one off. Besides Mr. Green, who were some of your favorite or your least favorite ... You don’t have to identify it by that, but … [Laughs.]

PUTMAN: No, it was Curry. He was in the undertaker business. He had a undertaker parlor, him and his sister had a parlor out in southeast on Nannie Burroughs Avenue. Or somewhere over there, I think. And then you had Jones …


PUTMAN: He worked for the school system. Is Jones still living?


PUTMAN: I can tell if he’s not, then. Jones would bring a quart of Old Crow [laughter] down here every day. He’d walk on his boat, he drank his Old Crow, and then we had to help him off and he’d get in his car and drive home. [Laughter.] Never had an accident. And we had another guy here, Davenport. He was, at the time, he was the highest ranking black in the Pentagon. He had a Steelcraft. The first boat he brought in here was a Steelcraft.

OVERBECK: And what was his name?

PUTMAN: Davenport.

OVERBECK: Okay. What was Mr. Davenport’s first name?

PUTMAN: I don’t remember his first name.



STOCKTON: Ted, yeah.

PUTMAN: Ted Higgins …

UNIDENTIFIED: Theodore Higgins.

PUTMAN: … was a real estate man. I think you should have heard of him. And then there was a Dr. Washington. He had a boat like it was 50 feet wide and 45 feet long. [Laughter.] And every time he’d come in, he hit—the columns on the port side of the boat, would just wiggle one side to the other. Because the thing had to come in here, to squeeze through. After the wide part got in, the other part come in all right. But, it was a big one. It was a place to come in the afternoon where you had a mixture of different races and people, different kind of jobs, but when they came down here and got together everybody was the same. And that’s one thing I say. I’ve been on the water since 1948. And I’ve never had any trouble. One of the highlights then were the Watergate concerts, up behind Lincoln Memorial there. They had all of the service bands, would come down. They’d have a date due to come in and play. And then they would have a group come from Lorton, used to come over and perform. And then they had the artists like Lionel Hampton and …

UNIDENTIFIED: Duke Ellington.

PUTMAN: Duke Ellington. No, Duke never—I never saw him down there.

UNIDENTIFIED: Count Basie was there.

PUTMAN: Yeah, Count Basie. And the guy Louis Jordan was the last one to be down there before they’d closed it off. When they started bringing jets in, the smoke and stuff from the jets—you’d go down there with a nice white dress on you. Next morning you’d look at that dress, you wouldn’t want it anymore. And, so, they closed it out. But Lionel Hampton was the last one to play down there. And the concerts were usually over at 11:00, but, since it was the last one, at 2:00 he was still playing “Flying Home.” I mean there were canoes from the Georgetown and George Washington schools. They had canoes that stretched all the way …

UNIDENTIFIED: Across the river.

PUTMAN: I mean, half of the river, halfway across the river.

OVERBECK: Well, this is that floating—it was like a floating stage.

PUTMAN: They had a floating stage.

OVERBECK: It was down by the foot of the stairs.

PUTMAN: Yeah, it had a cover over it once. And then they took the cover off and just had the band sit out there. But, one of the highlights of the concerts down there was the Army brought in artillery down there. I think it was the last concert for that season. See, it was a season thing. And they had the artillery. Everybody thought it was just something to show off. But, when they started playing—I can’t remember the number of the concert then, but where the drums would come in, the cannons would go.

OVERBECK: “1812 Overture,” I’ll bet.

PUTMAN: Yeah, that’s right. The “1812 Overture.” The cannons would come in. And the first time some people were jumping out of the boats. [Interviewer laughs.] They thought we were attacked, because nobody expected this. The telephone was ringing because—and the radios and all—what’s going on? And they didn’t get anything straightened out until about 5:00 this morning. But, I tell you, when you were down there and when that concert ended that night, those people applauded for over half an hour. It was something to see. And that’s one thing, the reason why I hate jets today and the National Airport, they broke that concert up. And every night, except the night’s when we had pouring down rain, you’d have over 10,000 people down there. On bridges …


PUTMAN: Everywhere you looked, just people. And everybody had a good time.

UNIDENTIFIED: Enjoyed themselves.


PUTMAN: Oh, yeah. Beautiful.

UNIDENTIFIED: ... segregation was still prevalent.

OVERBECK: Well, there are a lot of things like that I think we miss. Too much television and too little being out of doors.

MARTIN: Before you wind up your tape, you know, there’s something I wanted to add in. The fact that some of the main events of the year, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, there’s not a year goes by that Seafarers don’t give away baskets to the needy. Christmas, our [unintelligible] distributes shoes from the armory for the needy, that sort of thing. I’m trying to make a point of the fact that we’re just not for ourselves. We’re for people that need us. Of course, we need them as well. And it just so happens I’m one of the persons that love people and I can’t forget where I come from. So, last Christmas, last Thanksgiving, how many? We do about eight baskets?

COBB: Mm—something like that. Somewhere in that area, about ten.

MARTIN: About ten baskets. I mean had turkeys—you could eat for days with those baskets. We [unintelligible] to give them away. But, nevertheless, these are some of the things that we do and are doing them now, the current. And we haven’t stopped that and are not going to.

OVERBECK: Well, gentlemen, I really, you know, unless you have something you want to bring up, I think you have really done a wonderful job of covering the history and so on of your organization, certainly, as you all have experienced it and know it. And we have some documentary evidence of what happened before you all were involved but this has really been a wonderful opportunity to talk to you and get your experiences. Does anybody have something else they want to close with?

STOCKTON: No, I just enjoyed joining the club. I remember back my racing days, and when I heard I was coming in for an interview I brought this book down to show a few of the pictures that I have. But I was always in the boat or in the water [unintelligible], the boat in the water so I never got many pictures. [Laughter.] But people have given me [some]from time to time.

OVERBECK: Where did you race primarily? We didn’t ask you that.

STOCKTON: I did join the American Power Boat Association. And we …

UNIDENTIFIED: Oh, you gave that money.

OVERBECK: Go ahead.

STOCKTON: We raced all up and down the east coast as an association member.

OVERBECK: Now, did you have your powerboats here?

STOCKTON: Yes, we had …

OVERBECK: You kept it here at this dock.

STOCKTON: Yes, right here. I was a driver at that time. I didn’t own the boat. I owned this little boat that I have here which was a CD class boat, that’s what they’re called in the American Power Boat Association. And we graduated up to larger boats.

OVERBECK: Now, how did you get your boat from here to the race?

STOCKTON: Trailers. A trailer on the car.


STOCKTON: And two fellows in the club, one’s named Tommy Butler and another one John Henry, they purchased the first boat, which was a JJ-15. Then they initiated a second boat, JJ-16, a couple of years later. This was in the latter years of my racing days, about ’67 or ’68. And we kept the boats right here and we toured up and down the east coast. And the boats did very well.

OVERBECK: Why don’t you hold up the yellow page because that’s going to show up very well. Can you flip back to that where you had your boat there?

UNIDENTIFIED: It’s the one with the …

UNIDENTIFIED:  One like this, George.

STOCKTON: Yeah, I know. I was trying to find it again.

OVERBECK: Oh, my, there’s some good reading in there.

STOCKTON: Yes, that was at Columbia Beach. And more or less there was a society [unintelligible] covering a boat race. [Laughs.]

OVERBECK: There you go. Now, if you can hold that up, just hold the whole book up. You don’t have to take it out and let’s get it up and you can hold up where the tape can see it, the videotape. Okay. Excellent. Thank you.

PUTMAN: While he’s doing that, there’s one other thing Mr. Stockton didn’t mention. That our racing boats, we had a team and they did race in that race from New York.


PUTMAN: From Albany, New York to …

STOCKTON: New York City.

PUTMAN: Down to New York City.

STOCKTON: Yeah, I drove in . . .

PUTMAN: He drove in one of those races.

STOCKTON: . . . one of those races and I finished sixth overall out of 143 boats.

OVERBECK: Oh, very good.

STOCKTON: So, I thought it was pretty good.

OVERBECK: It is, very, yeah.

COBB: Good race.

OVERBECK: Now, did anybody ever participate in the President’s Cup races?

STOCKTON: I participated twice.

OVERBECK: Did you really?

STOCKTON: Yes. And this is one boat I’ve raced, this little boat I just held up.


STOCKTON: I [unintelligible] us in that boat there at that time. But, I never won, but I did pretty good. I think I finished third one year and did not finish another year. I had a wreck. [Laughs.]

OVERBECK: Oh, okay. That happens. What point in time was that because I did not know that the President’s Cup was necessarily open to everybody. I thought it might have been more like …

STOCKTON: No. Once you became a member of the APBA, Anacostia, I mean American Power Boat Association, you could join. You had to be a member club of the American Power Boat Association. So, I looked through the brochure and found the cheapest club to join at that time. They didn’t realize I was black or white. And I sent the $3 registration fee [laughter] up there to New Jersey. And I joined a New Jersey racing boat association so that made me eligible to join the American Power Boat Association.

OVERBECK: Were there any other African Americans in …

STOCKTON: Not at that time. There was one fellow, and he was from Columbia Beach, named Facey [sp?]. I understand he had joined that, too, also. And he was an older man and I was a younger fellow then.

OVERBECK: So, you really were pretty much of a pioneer.

STOCKTON: Sort of. Yeah.

OVERBECK: Right. Congratulations.

STOCKTON: But then it went off. You know, Tommy Butler and John Henry bought this big racing boat with twin motors on it. [Laughter.] And I just wanted to drive one and Tommy took me as one of his drivers. And there was another fellow was in the club, Elmer Diggs [sp?], at that time, was the driver of the other one, Pokey II. It was a JJ-16. And, so, he and I raced together, all around the east coast.

OVERBECK: Very good.

STOCKTON: And we did very well. Any race that we finished we won it all or placed second.

OVERBECK: Outstanding.

STOCKTON: And some races we did not finish because of breakdowns.

OVERBECK: I see. I believe, Mr. Martin, you had something else you wanted to …

MARTIN: I was just going to add a little bit of something that went on within our club. At one time, you know, you spoke about the women in our club. And I thought it would be a good idea at one time to give a prize to the first woman that took a boat out and brought it back, first wife or first mate, without any instructions or without hitting a pier or even to get it in the slip. [Interviewer laughs,] To give her a prize. And we had all sorts—all the women were trying, but we did have a winner. And to my regret she’s deceased now. I think her name was Vera Jones, was the first one to take a boat out and bring it back, and her husband’s sitting right there. But, nevertheless, she did a beautiful job and it was an inspiration to the rest of the first mates.

JONES: [Unintelligible.]

MARTIN: I beg your pardon.

JONES: She put a big scar on it, that big. [Laughter.]

MARTIN: But she got it in there, though.

JONES: Yeah, five tries. [Laughter.]

MARTIN: So, I was just trying to get the women more involved in having a boat should something happen to the captain of the boat while they were in the river and they had to get the boat back. And it worked.

OVERBECK: Okay, good.

STOCKTON: I might add something else since we’re speaking about the first woman and the only woman who was in our club, Lucille. Lucille Hicks was her name then and she married a fellow who was in the club named Lucas. So, she had a boat herself, about a 15, 16-foot, outboard engine, and from the place where they had their cabin, it was Longview, and they started a boat club. And she wanted to race. And she would be out there with all the men racing that boat. And she did pretty good. I said, “Lucille, you’re going to kill yourself because you don’t know what you’re doing.” But, she’d be out there trying, and if she couldn’t catch up with us, she would cut the course and catch you way over ... [laughter] on the other side. [Laughter.] I said, “You can’t do that,” and she said, “I did it, didn’t I?” We used to have a lot of fun.

OVERBECK: Does anybody here use their boat for fishing?

MARTIN: Very few men.

STOCKTON: There are very few. John Williams, sitting over there, has a nice pleasure boat.



STOCKTON: And we had a ball that day. We had more gear in that little boat. You couldn’t move. After you got a seat, you had to stay there because he had so much stuff on there—depth fish finders and sandwiches and sodas. And I just loved the water. So I was running along and we’d stay one place for a half an hour. [Unintelligible] not catching any fish here, let’s go up to the lighthouse. And that was about two miles away. We’d go up to the lighthouse, mile a minute, he said, “Okay, I’ll troll a little while.” And I opened up that 100 like I was in a race. And his little thing was trailing behind, jumping out of the water. [Interviewer laughs.] He said, “Dad, I can’t catch any fish this fast.” [Laughter.] So, he’s never taken me fishing with him anymore. And I don’t blame him because I didn’t want to go then …

OVERBECK: Well, I’m really not surprised.

STOCKTON: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. We did come back to the bridge and I threw out a line because I had nothing else to do. I threw out a line and, all of a sudden, I got something. And I was winding and I was sweating and I was winding. And the line was bending over. Power boaters were coming down and shutting off their motor and dropping anchor to see what I had, you know. Nobody [unintelligible] catch. He was standing up on the bow with his net. He said, “Come on.” I says, “I’m tired.” And in a few minutes he told me, “That’s all right, forget it.” “What’d you do? I’m almost up there.” He said, “You got the anchor.” [Laughter.] That was the end of my fishing. I said, “What did you tell me to stop for?” He said, “You got the anchor.” And I said, “Well, that’s it. No more fishing for me.”

PUTMAN: I’ve got one that beats that.


PUTMAN: When we were down at Windmill Point, Captain Skip over here carried the group out to fishing. And one of the ladies said, “I don’t know nothing about fishing.” Well, she went on along with them and she caught three fish on two hooks.

OVERBECK: [Laughing.] How’d she manage that?

PUTMAN: One of the fish had one by the tail as she caught it. So, we made her the champion. That was—the fellow that recently died ...


PUTMAN: His son got the boat. Tolliver. Tolliver’s friend. Mm-hmm. She had three fish on two hooks.

UNIDENTIFIED: There are some tales.

OVERBECK: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen come down the Anacostia River?

UNIDENTIFIED: Clean [? ] wind.

UNIDENTIFIED: We’ve had two men that we found out there.

OVERBECK: Two what?

UNIDENTIFIED: We found a couple of bodies out there.

OVERBECK: Oh, wonderful. Okay. Had they been in the water long?

UNIDENTIFIED: Not too long.

OVERBECK: Okay. Well, if they’re in the water a long time, it gets kind of not so pleasant.

UNIDENTIFIED: They float to the top.

STOCKTON: You know, since I like speed so much the first thing that stuck with me was this big speedboat, powerful speedboat that came down this river flying one day. And he slowed down for the bridge and then I heard, you know, you hear the engines wind down. And then he wound back up where I could hear him, I couldn’t see it, out of sight. And then all of a sudden I thought the engines had, you know, they’d just [unintelligible] like a sound distance. And later we heard police and everything coming down there. He had hit a log out there and the boat went up and hit that bridge . . .

UNIDENTIFIED: The top of the bridge.

STOCKTON: The top of the bridge.


STOCKTON: And killed two people.

OVERBECK: Mmh. A river can be very dangerous. I’m very glad that you all put the emphasis on safety that you do.

MARTIN: That’s what we’re about, trying to prevent such stuff as this.

OVERBECK: Again, gentlemen, I thank you more than you know. It has been my great pleasure to do this and be able to tap into your memories …

STOCKTON: It’s been enjoyable talking with you.

OVERBECK: … and thank you so much. And I look forward to fish maybe. If you’ll get me a date for a fish fry, you just might see me down here eating.

MARTIN: We don’t [want] you to “might”, we want you to come. [Laughter.]

PUTMAN: We don’t know about that because we’re getting a group together now to impeach the Commodore, the Business Manager, and all the officers. We used to have a fish fry every Friday. You see, there’s a lot of bachelors in here and we’d come in here and eat. Now I have to go home and cook. [Laughter.] So, we’re going to get them because they stopped the fish fry. We’re going to impeach them.

OVERBECK: Well, I think the Commodore has now been very well aware [laughter], made aware that he’d better get on the ball. Thank you, again. I really appreciate it.

VARIOUS PEOPLE: Thank you. I appreciate having you. Yeah, I really appreciate having you come down or you coming down.

OVERBECK: Thank you. Thank you very much.


Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project

Seafarers Yacht Club Interview, June 27, 1998

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