“Captain Bill” LEBER (6/11/29--)
Interviewed May 4, 2008
John R. Shack
[To be linked to the Saugatuck Yacht Club file and to the Leber-Switzer file]
“Bill” Leber (b. 6-11-29) was interviewed alone on May 4, 2008 for a focused
look at his early experience with the Saugatuck Yacht Club. Bill was about to turn 80 and had some
memories of sailing on Lake
1941-46. After college, the US Navy,
marriage and starting his family, he was able to return here for summer stays. His children and grandchildren have since
benefited from the SYC sailing instruction program.
St. Louis was Bill’s primary place of residence through most of
his life until he recently retired to the area.
His summers in Saugatuck were spent in such places as the Valentine Inn
on Campbell St.
and the Idylease Boarding House run by Cora Campbell of the Captain John
Campbell family. He also stayed in what
was then called the Elkhorn Lodge on Lakeshore near Center, which is now the
Joseph Bredeman home.
recalls that the SYC sailboat fleet was moored near the present SYC site and
was then the West Shore Marine facility, where the Singapore Condominiums now
stand. The SYC at that time was across Lake Kalamazoo
in Saugatuck, at the foot of Butler
Street on the water. An old garage had been moved to this site by
club members. A “fashionable”
screened-in porch was attached to allow family and friends to sit in the shade
while watching the races held each Saturday and Sunday during the summer. The racers would sail over to the start in
front of the club house, a bell would be rung after all the competitors arrived
and jockeyed for position to start the race around a triangular course. The bell was again rung as each boat crossed
the finish line.
two boats used during that era were the 19’ round bilge Mower sloop and the 16’
Papoose. 19’ hard chine Lightings and
16’ Snipes slowly began replacing the Mower’s during time as they were faster,
more stable and becoming nationally popular.
Bill crewed with his brothers on a Mower and recalls being beaten often by
a team of girls.