View Full Version : Mr. Bumble and Neptune, Lord of the Seas

03-30-2009, 04:28 PM
So many stories in BRF are about well known drivers and never-to-be-forgotten regattas. I have some stories to tell about myself and other less known enthusiasts at long forgotten races.

The first one is about my friends, Joe and Mike. Because of my influence, they decided to join stock outboard racing. The time was 1962 in NorCal. Mike and I were roommates in a large college house, along with 8 other fellows. Mike and I dated girls that lived together, we founded a fraternity chapter together and we raced together. We came to find out that our landlord had raced C service some 25 years prior! Back then as a young enthusiast, I wondered why he or anyone would ever stop racing.

One night 5 of us fellows decided to chip in a buy a pie as part of our group meal. Mike volunteered to go get it and came back to warm it up. When he took it out of the oven, it was too hot and he dropped it on the floor face down. He was embarrassed and he went back to the store and obtained a second scrumptious pie. We had to wait another spell until the pie was warm. Taking it out of the oven, Mike once again dropped the eagerly anticipated delight face down on the floor-splat! From that moment on, none of us in the house ever used his name. Instead we called him “Mr. Bumble” or just plain “Bumble”, after the TV cartoon character that appeared in ads to sell some product or service at the time. Mike hated the moniker but it stuck to him like glue. When we moved into a new frat house, his named was changed to “Brother Bumble”. We surprised him with smashed pie and candles for his birthday.

My other pal, Joe lived about 30 miles away at his parents’ home. I told him and his dad the legend of Mr. Bumble. They laughed so hard they could not stop. At the time, Joe had yet to race. He and his dad were building an A hydro. It was turning out looking beautiful but the old timers and I told them that the chines were dangerously at the wrong angle. A few weeks later the hydro was finished and they were still chuckling about Mr. Bumble, so they decided to give that name to their boat.

The first race that Joe entered was one that he (as race chairman) and I (at that time, East Bay Boat Club Vice-Commodore) put together at a new venue for racing, at Woodside Lake, a swimming and fishing hole in the hills behind Redwood City and Palo Alto. Race day came and Joe proudly displayed his new boat and a repainted KG-4H in the pits. Brother Bumble had his Sidcraft Hydro and 30-H in the pits. When he saw the “Mr. Bumble” inscribed upon Joe’s boat he became enraged and forthwith departed the venue. Everyone wanted to start the race on time but the ambulance was late. Joe, as race chair imposed his wish that the race not start until the ambulance arrived. After two hour wait the ambulance arrived and the race was on! The first heat of the first race at Woodside Lake was A stock hydro - Joe’s class.

Because it was his first race, I took my racing good luck charm and pinned it on Joe’s life-vest. It was a cameo with a likeness of Neptune or Poseidon, Ruler of the sea. I told him, “it brings luck”. In the first turn of his first race in his new “Mr. Bumble” craft, Joe flipped and was run over by a prop. As I assisted the ambulance driver loading Joe on the stretcher into the ambulance that Joe had insisted holding the race up for, I bumped Joes head on the roof of the vehicle. Jokingly, I complained to Joe about getting my good luck charm all bloody. Joe was in pain but he laughed, finding the remark impossibly ridiculous.

Joe received 40 stitches in his leg and a protracted vacation at the hospital. In order to atone for my earlier sins with respect to Joe, I visited often, bringing him a selection of boat and girlie literature. We laughed about the Neptune charm.

Time passed. Joe sold “Mr. Bumble” and purchased a boat that would negotiate the turns. Mike went to the Mideast (probably to escape being called Mr. Bumble) and followed – almost stalking a Greek woman to five different countries until she agreed to marry him. The Vietnam War started. I was already in the Navy reserve. Joe was called in by the draft board. He was very upset at the prospect of fighting a war that he did not believe in.

One day, Joe called me on the phone. He said, “Errol, I want to thank you”. I replied, “You are welcome, but for what?” “The Neptune charm”, he emoted. “It must have been the reason why I flipped at Woodside. I got 40 stitches in my leg. As a result, I am 4-F and they will not draft me!” I remembered the chine angle on “Mr. Bumble” but said not a word.

The moral of the story? I don’t know – you tell me.