For years, during the winter season, I would read the boat sales ads and Edythe and I would make a pleasant weekend trip to window shop for a boat. Some of the more interesting vessels were in dfferent locations in the northeast areas. We had decided to look for a boat whose cost would not exceed ten thousand dollars. This did not limit us from looking at and admiring expensive yachts. In the winter of 1968, I saw a steel hulled twin engined, yacht, a luxury Roamer, for sale in Milford, Connecticut. The asking price was three times what I could afford. It was my aim to merely look at that vessel of my dreams. We stopped at Bridgeport to look at two boats for sale, then had lunch before we drove to Milford to look at the Roamer.
In a Milford Yacht club, the Roamer was on land and supported on a cradle. and a large canvas tent had been erected over the yacht.. It was Sunday, yet two men were painting the boat, and a short, non-descript man, seated on a stool was watching the workers. I assumed the pose of a potential buyer. He said we could walk around it, but we could not climb aboard to see its interior. There were men working inside the yacht. The work would be finished during the week, and the boat could then be inspected. We walked around the boat and looked at its sleek hull with its unusual rounded stern. On the way home we said that some day we might be able to own such a yacht.
The next week, we again looked at different boats, and then we drove to the Milford Yacht Club to take another look at the Roamer. No one was working on the boat, but someone aboard the raised vessel heard our voices and looked down at us. The man I thought was the foreman, when we were there the previous week. was the owner. I told him that we admired the Roamer, and came again to see it, but we were not in a position to buy it. He asked if we would like to climb up the ladder and see the interior. We hastily climbed aboard and looked over the magnificent interior. He told us to call him Tom, and invited us to sit down and chat. I told him that we knew we could not afford a boat like the Roamer, but we enjoyed having the chance to be aboard his luxurious yacht.
During our conversation I mentiond that I was involved with Daytop, a drug rehabilitation program. He questioned me closely and I told him that I was a member of the board of directors. Tom was an astute questioner, and elicited the reason for my involvement with drug rehabilitation. Tom was rapt and silent in concentrated attention, as I related the trials and tribulations of the genesis of Daytop, and its growth as a rehabilitation program. I told him how Msgr. O’Brien started the program in a rented facility in Staten Island, and how ex-addicts worked with addicts to rehabilitate them. I worked primarily with parents, relatives, and friends of those in the program, and as an officer of Daytop. I explained how I ran encounter groups and went on speaking engagements. I emphasized that it was a free program, and no one was charged for treatment, and work was voluntary and unpaid.
Then, he sadly told us about his nephew, a former addict. The boy had been involved in many unruly and unsavory situations, including car accidents and arrests. It had been a calamity for his brother, a prominent and well known member of the Italian-American Society, to have a drug addicted son. With wet eyes, Tom told us that his brother had a weak heart, and the family was torn apart by the crisis. Tom was certain that the pressure and shame, contributed to his brother’s death. His nephew finally went into Daytop, graduated from the program, and is now in college. Tom said it is sad that his brother did not live long enough to enjoy seeing his son become an ex-addict and enter college. Then he wiped his eyes and changed the subject. “What type of boat are you looking for, and how much can you spend?”
I told him that we wanted a boat big enough for our family and the most I could spend was ten thousand dollars. Tom suggested that we keep looking until we get the boat we want. Then we shook hands, thanked him, and departed.
Tuesday evening I received a mystifying phone call. A female voice said she was Senator D’s secretary, and asked if I was Mr. Lance Martin. I did not know a Senator D. I was puzzled and wanted to know what it was all about. She said, “The senator wishes to talk to you.”
“Hello Lance. This is Tom. I want you to have the Roamer.” As he spoke, I recognized his voice, and realized that the non-descript man, called Tom was a senator.
“Hello Tom. I would love to own the Roamer, but I can’t afford it.”
“The Roamer, it is yours for $10,000. That is what you wanted to pay for a boat”
I told him that the vessel was worth considerably more, and asked why he should sell it to me at a loss. He assured me that he discussed it with his accountant, and it would be worked out so it would not become a loss. He told me to discuss it with Edythe, then to call him back within a few days. He gave me his office and phone number.
The next evening I called Tom at his private home number, and told him that I would want to be the proud owner of the Roamer, and how much deposit did he want. He chuckled that no deposit was required. His word, and my acceptance of the sale, was adequate. Tom told me that the Roamer would be in the water in April, ready for inspection and taken out for a trial run. Only then, and if Edythe and I were satisfied with the Roamer, would the sale be complete. He also suggested that we arrive a day before we consumate the sale, and we should spend a night sleeping on the Roamer. I was to call him a few weeks ahead of my intended arrival to see if the date was mutually convenient.
We took the train to Milford, and a cab to the yacht club. The guard had been notified to permit us access to the Roamer. It was unexpected and a surprise, to find that there was an assortment of pots, pans, dishes, cutlery, linens and bedding. Our son, Bruce, was to come by train and take a cab to the yacht club. He was to help me bring the yacht back to Freeport,. after I took possession of the Roamer. I called Tom to tell him I had arrived and that my son was coming by train, at ten that night, to join us, and to notify the guard to give him clearance to join us at the restricted club. Tom told us that he would have Bruce picked up at the station and brought to the Roamer. Bruce was picked up by the senators limo, and brought to the Roamer. After the astonished Bruce looked over the yacht and its luxury, we chatted into the wee hours. We slept aboard the Roamer
Early the next morning, Tom arrived in a Lincoln Town car with a captain, and a mechanic. He also brought coffee, doughnuts and bagels. Tom explained that he always had a captain handle the boat, who would standby and instruct me during the trial run. The mechanic would check that everything was functioning, and instruct on the mechanical aspects of the Roamer. I took the Roamer into Long Island Sound, with the captain advising me of the vessels characteristics and capabilities. The boat’s handling was excellent and exhilarating. On returning to the club, Tom asked Edythe if she was satisfied with the vessel. Her smile preceded her affirmative. He said that he would only sell the boat if we both were satisfied, and if we did not immediately sell it to make a profit. We assured him we would not do so. I gave Tom a check and thanked him.
It was noon when I took our Roamer for a run across the Sound to Shinnecock. It was getting dark when we arrived and I did not want to make an ocean run to Freeport with a new boat. I tied up to a wharf, near the inlet. We were excited and had much to talk about as we dined from the bags of food that Tom had supplied. We went to sleep, our second night aboard our Roamer.
I had difficulty sleeping because of the excitement. Around five in the morning, the Roamer rocked gently as fishing trawlers and draggers passed us on the way to the inlet. I saw that Edythe and Bruce were still sleeping, I made a pot of coffee and turned on the radio weather station, very low so as not to awaken them. I listened to the weather, wind and tide reports. There was an incoming tide, and east winds, which would be advantageous for my westward run to Freeport. I started the engines, untied the Roamer, and headed through Shinnecock Inlet into the Atlantic Ocean. Edythe and Bruce joined me at the helm as the purring twin engines propelled us rapidly to our destination.
The Roamer, which we documented under the name Edythe, served us for nine years. We were proud to entertain our family and guests abroad our yacht, Edythe.