In the last couple weeks, we’ve witnessed two very rich men launch themselves into space. Why? Because they could.
In 1947 Orvin “O.T.” Havey, one of Madison’s largest electrical contractors, commissioned what would become, for a time, the fastest thing on ice: an ice yacht known as “The Mary B.” Why?
Because he thought it a good idea and a way to build on Madison’s reputation as home to the largest fleet of ice boats and club members west of the Hudson River. A distinction earned in 1897.
It is often said that the Mary B. is longer than a school bus and faster than the wind. Although she is huge, she is elegant and was brought to life under the guidance of craftsmen with the help of a community willing to lend a hand.
Guest Don Sanford is a historian and the author of On Fourth Lake: A Social History of Lake Mendota. He is also a sailor and a member of the Ice Boat Foundation, here in Madison. In this episode of Radio Chipstone, Sanford and contributor gianofer fields pay a visit to the Mary B. as she waits for cold weather and hard water.
About the Host:
gianofer (JON nah fer) fields is an Art Historian and Material Culture contributor and curates the Radio Chipstone series. The project is hosted by the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and funded by the Chipstone Foundation; a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts. fields is also the host of Refrangible, a podcast about material culture, now available on Spotify, Stitcher, iTunes, or wherever else you get your podcasts.
About the Guest:
Don Sanford is the author of a book entitled On Fourth Lake: A Social History of Lake Mendota. Sanford is a member of the Ice Boat Foundation, the current stewards of the Mary B, a world-class champion ice boat designed and built in Madison. The foundation’s mission is to preserve classic ice boats like the Mary B. Sanford, along with filmmaker and editor Gretta Wing Miller and Aarick Beher, produced the film The Mary B. Madison’s Legendary Ice Boat.
Image: The Mary B. draws a crowd on Lake Monona in 1952. Photograph by Earl W. Brown.