Chet Warrington’s return to Chicago meant that he was into yachts. Here are the yachts he owned.
The Cavalla, Chet’s last “major” yacht. Another Chris Craft, It was 48′ long, 13′ beam and 3′ 6″ draught. It was the flagship of the Chicago Yacht Club when Chet was Commodore in 1950.
With World War II over, it was time to move up, and move up Chet did with the Courier, his largest yacht, 53′ long. It was built by Grebe, and the Grebes were Chet’s personal friends. Chet bought the yacht from Arnold Horween, who, after a brief career in the NFL, owned Horween Leather in Chicago. Grebe built and sold the yacht to Horween in 1939 as the Rusty II. My thanks to Donald P. Kusterer who furnished much of the information about the Courier.
Courier in the “place of things to come:” the West Palm Beach Municipal Marina, during Christmas 1948. Courier took a long cruise from Chicago nearly all the way to the end of the United States, a long cruise in a yacht then and now. More of Palm Beach is in the background. Chet and his wife Myrtle would move to Palm Beach in 1957, where they would live the last years of their lives.
The first was the Buena, named after his father’s yacht and the part of Chicago he grew up in. (Spanish-speaking people are well aware of how “buena” is supposed to be pronounced, but old Chicagoans pronounced it “boo-ena.”) The family’s first Chris-Craft, she was compact and thus far easier on the fuel than his father’s larger steam yachts, which in part reflected the fact that she was Chet’s yacht during World War II, with fuel rationing and all.
Courier in the “place of things to come:” the West Palm Beach Municipal Marina, during Christmas 1948. Courier took a long cruise from Chicago nearly all the way to the end of the United States, a long cruise in a yacht then and now. In the background is the Flagler Bridge, the northernmost bridge from the mainland to the Town of Palm Beach. Fairly new when the photograph was taken, it has been replaced by a new bridge. Chet and his wife Myrtle would move to Palm Beach in 1957, where they would live the last years of their lives.
Especially with the Buena, the modest size of these yachts (especially looking at what we have today) is striking. But it also represents a willingness to live below one’s means. Chet had a lifelong aversion to debt, an aversion doubtless reinforced by the Great Depression of the 1930’s (which Chet got through in style.) Since the 1980’s the pressure to borrow and live large has been relentless, and Chet’s way of life has largely gone out of fashion, something that has expensive consequences for the country now and moving forward.
Chet’s also flying the three flags that adorned family yachts from start to finish. On the bow is the Chicago Yacht Club burgee. On the mast is the Warrington family burgee, a simple red burgee with a white “W” in the centre. At the stern is the Yacht Ensign, basically the American flag with the “Betsy Ross” thirteen stars in a circle and an anchor in the centre. Technically the use of the Yacht Ensign was ended in 1980, but it is still permitted by custom and regulation. Technically it isn’t supposed to be flown in foreign waters, but we did it anyway.
Cracker Box Manor
In his last years in Chicago, Chet purchased a summer home on the other side of the lake, in Spring Lake, Michigan. My mother always said that Chicago had two seasons: winter and August, and for the latter a trip across the lake to the Michigan side was a welcome relief. Because of its size and shape, my grandmother Myrtle dubbed the place “Cracker Box Manor.”
Even with a craft such as the Thistle, a lighter was in order. Docked with the Thistle was a craft with a good New Orleans (Myrtle’s home town) name: Lagniappe.
The golf cart, along with everything else Chet had, had his initials stencilled on it. (Take a good hard look to the left of the URL at the top of the screen, and you’ll see some things don’t change.) Also armorially positioned are the crossed Chicago Yacht Club and Warrington family burgees, another conceit we’ve retained on this site. Myrtle wasn’t very enamoured with the practice: she declared that, if she ever fell asleep on Chet, he would stencil her bottom!
A view of Cracker Box Manor in living colour.
Cracker Box Manor in its glory, July 1953. Not terribly large, it did make for a nice summer getaway.
Golf cart, 1950’s style. Cracker Box Manor may not have been large, but Chet insured that it had all of the amenities.
Earl Steinhauer at Cracker Box Manor, 1957.
The appliances of the 1950’s. Especially note the television, probably black and white.
Cracker Box Manor was designed as a summer home; in the winter, the lake effect snows didn’t make it the most hospitable. There is beauty, however, in this photo from there, taken the winter of 1957-8, the last winter they owned Cracker Box Manor.
The yachtsman’s dream, one’s own boat dock. To go with Cracker Box Manor was a much reduced Thistle, a Chris Craft Commander and the last of Chet’s Chris Crafts. It recalled the glory days of a half century earlier only in name, the lake it cruised and the fact that it floated. It was a lot of fun, though, and much less maintenance than a steam yacht.
Ted Steinhauer at Cracker Box Manor, 1957. The “red table” she’s sitting at is still in existence and plays its part in the development and maintenance of this website.
Sometimes the getaway was for his heath: the August 1953 Rotary Gyrator (the newsletter of the Rotary Club of Chicago) noted that one of his fellow Rotarians:
…found him making very satisfactory progress in his recovery from two attacks of pneumonia. Chet’s idyllic lakeside home is fittingly named “Cracker Box Manor” and Chet, who is in the Pile Driving Equipment Mfg. business, has built a pier large enough to accommodate an ocean liner.
It was also a good place to receive friends from Chet’s long career in aeronautics (such as Earl Steinhauer) who were all too familiar with Chet’s “Bologna Club.”