Most of you have probably heard of Roy Rogers and his famous horse Trigger but, how many of you know he was part owner of a boat company?
Jeff Scott was one of the boat owners that displayed his boat and memorabilia at the North Coast Ohio Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society’s (ACBS) Portage Lakes Boat Show. Jeff is well versed in Roy’s off the horse and on the water history. Rogers was half owner and vice president of the Yellow Jacket Boat Company.
Jeff was thrilled to recently locate, with the help of ACBS member Gil Maringer, and purchase a four-foot replica of the 1956 Yellow Jacket Roy owned. Rogers had the boat makers at the Yellow Jacket Company make the model for him detailed to match his 1956 race boat “Miss Yellow Jacket” right down to the perfectly upholstered seats. The replica was in Roy’s house for years and then in his museum up until 2010 when the museum closed due to lack of attendance and many things were auctioned off––guitars, Trigger, Nellie belle and Buttermilk. Jeff has a catalogue from the auction displaying pictures and information about the items that were auctioned. He acquired the catalogue from an antique shop.
During the Portage Lakes Boat Show, Jeff displayed many items he has collected relating to the King of the Cowboys and Yellow Jackets including a photo of Roy holding the boat replica in 1956. He displays a picture of Roy, Dale and their kids boating in a Yellow Jacket used as an advertisement for the company.
The model boat is especially meaningful to Jeff and he said he was “pretty thrilled” to obtain it.
“I grew up with Yellow Jackets,” he said. Jeff’s family’s boat, first owned by his great grandfather, is a 1959 Yellow Jacket Rivera. That was the boat Jeff displayed at the Portage Lakes Boat Show. It was the first Yellow Jacket he experienced. His great grandfather bought it new in Akron, Ohio in 1959 and “ran it at Berlin Dam,” said Jeff. “I still have it as the fourth generation.” The boat is mostly unrestored and has won awards as a survivor boat. Jeff has toured the country with his best friend finding Yellow Jackets and bringing them to Ohio. They currently own 14 of the boats, “They are pretty scarce, and we are trying to save what we can of them,” he said.
Jeff tows his Yellow Jacket Rivera with a 1955 Pontiac Chieftain, which was Pontiac’s version of the Chevrolet Bel Air.
The Roy Rogers model is special to Jeff, “I like the history of it. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with him (great grandfather) telling me stories about Roy Rogers.” The Roy Rogers shows with Rogers chasing the “bad guys” in his Yellow Jacket is what piqued the interest of Jeff’s great grandfather in Yellow Jackets. “I remember the stories and to actually have a replica model boat Roy owned is pretty special. It is sentimental. It is cool,” Jeff said. Since that time, Jeff has watched the Roy Rogers shows on You Tube and the boat chasing of “bad guys” including the shows Fishing for Fingerprints and Mountain Pirates.
The Yellow Jacket Company made the four-foot models for salesman to take out on the road with them to boat shows and for sales purposes. They have all disappeared except the one that Roy owned, now Jeff’s, and Roy’s partner’s that he handed it down to his nephew.
Jeff said he wants to keep the model out in the public where everyone can see it.