Craftsman Jon Boat

Dad Was Right

By J.J. Clarke


You don’t have to believe in ghosts to feel the hair on the back of your neck stand straight out when you find yourself in what seems to be a supernatural event.

For thirty years, this old cabin and five-acre fishing lake had been the setting for our families’ summer holidays. My husband, Barry and I drove to Missouri from Florida for the yearly gathering. My daughter-in-law, Amy, my daughter, Emmy, and granddaughter, Audrey, arrived early to set up camp. It’s Memorial Day weekend and the first without my dad.

A 1969 Craftsman Jon boat  lived face down at the end of the dock, readily available for all who loved to fish. We could always count on my father saying, “Watch out! There’ll be snakes underneath that boat.”

The second warning came later in the evening. “You better go out and flip that boat over. If you don’t—one of these days, that boat will fly right into this house.”

This day, the five of us settled on the back deck, catching up and chatting about the estimated arrival times of family. Barry had readied the boat for the first launch of the season.

The Missouri wind picked up out of nowhere and chased leaves and debris across the yard. We grabbed our hats as the second gust hit. Across the lake, a bolt of lightning struck.

I jumped up, opened the sliding glass door. “We better get in the house.” We single filed in. Amy closed the door, then yelled, “Oh my! The boat’s flying!”

Like a demon chasing its prey, the boat hit the corner of the porch, flew straight at the kitchen window where I stood, hit the gutter, then flew on top of the house. We all ducked as it rolled across the roof.  

It took flight again. This time, as if it had wings, it flew over the power line, over the two new cars, the golf cart and Old Squeaky, the farm truck. It landed in the yard, missed the burn barrel, and rolled angrily up the hill through the neighbor’s soybean field, and disappeared.

That ended the storm.

My crew scampered into boots and ran out to retrieve the battered boat. They laughed and giggled as they carried it pall-bearer style back to its parking space, and placed it face down and tied it securely.

We chattered about the microburst. I cut the cake. We all gathered around the kitchen table. My daughter mimicked her grandfather’s warning.

“One of these days, that boat’s gonna fly right into this house.”

Audrey giggled, grinning with chocolate filled teeth.

I looked up toward heaven, “Yeah, Dad, we hear you.”


That night, when I picked up the book I was reading, my hair stood straight up on end. I was reading a fantasy story where the Boatman played the role of the Angel of Death.

 You know, I never finished that book.


9 thoughts on “Dad Was Right”

  1. What a well-written tantalizing story, even though you kinda knew either snakes or flying boats would likely make an appearance. But there’s something both unnerving and tantalizing to us control freaks—and that is not everything has to have an explanation. I wonder how many readers recalled their own experiences with the unexplainable and nodded their head as they read yours.

  2. Thanks for sharing your family story with us.
    It would have been a great story for Halloween, but I’m glad it was published now.

  3. Not the first time I heard your story and I am electrified every time!! I love strange happenings and your words brought this one to life again. Our parents are gifts that keep giving!! Great story. Expert writing.

  4. JJ’s story tugs at my heartstrings. Close family who have gone on before us always have a way of keeping in touch. There is a poignancy to JJ’s story that reaches deep, deep inside. I loved it! Well done, JJ.

  5. Your descriptions had me sitting straight up in my leisurely recliner! I half-expected your dad to appear with his oars! Ha! Loved it! How about a sequel? Your Pal, Dr. Rosie…

  6. Well done, JJ! Love the story. Universal themes of family together at camp, ghost stories, and shared memories, all told with a dose of humor. I’ll watch for more.

  7. What a great story, JJ. No one could doubt you’re an award-winning author. I love it when we get a powerful reminder of those who have gone on–I’m just glad it was with a boat and not snakes!

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