I enjoyed the experience of building my first sailboat, with the help of my brother Ralph, and my mother in making the sail for it. The lumber was donated by a friend of mine, named Leon Kitchens, whose father owned or worked in a lumber yard. The boat was about 12 foot long, and was built with a folding center board, instead of a regular one. When it was ready and painted, we put it on my wagon and I hauled it from 508 Seal Avenue to the Biloxi beach, at the foot of Seal Avenue, and tied it to a post in front of the Palmer House Hotel. I learned to sail it, after the planks and boards swelled up so it wouldn't leak. I took guests of the hotel out sailing, and taught their children how to swim. I never charged anyone for this as there was no charge for me to tie my boat up in front of the hotel pier. After the boat went through a storm, I gave it to James Elliot, who swapped it for a Model T Ford which he used when going to Perkinston Junior College to go to Gulfport and back on week ends.

During this time my friend Harold Elder and I decided to buy a 14-foot sailboat from a boat builder who had a shop near his fathers ice factory on Back Bay. When the boat was finished, I paid my half, and then I sailed it by myself to the East from the factory around through the Ocean Springs Railroad and Highway bridges, around by all the shrimp and oyster factories, by the Biloxi Yacht Club to my favorite stake in front of the Palmer House at the foot of Seal Avenue. For me this was quite an adventure as I had to call the bridge tenders by using an air horn, giving three blasts, signifying that I wanted each bridge tender to open the drawbridge so I could get my boat through. It took a little time to do this and with some pushing of the boat, under the drawbridges, I managed to get through the process. I can well imagine the people on the bridge wandered what was going on, as I was strictly an amateur at that time. During this time Harold and I were to sail our boat in the 1933 Regatta, because he had signed us up to do so without me knowing about it. However I am glad he did. We did not win the race but had a lot of fun doing so. Later on when he and I were going to join the CCC, I sold the boat for $45, for just what it had cost. To my surprise, he had forgotten to pay for his half when we bought it. In this case the man was a very good friend of his father's and he had just overlooked it.

Cat Boat # 4 was operated by Alfred Stillman


During the Great Depression