WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — After being hidden for more than 70 years, Jim Loudermilk removed a vintage sailboat named Play Baby from an attic and restored it, before sailing her again for the first time in nearly eight decades.
Now a year later, the old snipe sailboat is being retired. Loudermilk thought about selling the boat several times until he got an idea that will preserve Play Baby in a safe space all while educating those walking through the doors of the Museum of North Texas History.
If it was tough getting her out, you can bet she’s going to be just as tough to get back in.
It’s not every day you see a sailboat going through the front doors of the Museum of North Texas History, but this is no ordinary sailboat.
“This boat was built in Wichita Falls in 1935 in Charles Warman Jr.’s garage. He and a bunch of fellas got together, and they got the plans from Rudder Magazine for free, and they started a fleet of snipes here in Wichita Falls, and they sailed actively from 1935 to 1942 and probably even after that,” Loudermilk said.
But how did Loudermilk get his hands on it nearly seven decades later?
A rumor about a sailboat hiding in the back of an attic.
“Oh yeah there’s a boat, and everyone thinks, oh yeah there’s a boat? Well, yeah there was a boat up there,” Trammell said.
Loudermilk spent years restoring the old boat back to its original condition and said after sailing her several times, it was time to drop the anchor for good, and that’s where the museum comes in.
“He had contacted us. We went out. We looked at it, and we did a lot of measuring on the doors and things like that, and we decided yeah, we’ve got a place for it,” Acting Director for the Museum of North Texas History Becky Trammell said.
But getting Play Baby to her final resting place was not smooth sailing.
“My fear one, was finding a parking spot in front of the museum, and the second is how are we getting it up the stairs? And thanks to the Wichita County trustees they sent four of them over, and they picked it up and carried it right up the stairs like it weighed nothing, the scariest part was putting it on the stand,” Loudermilk said.
Trammell said Play Baby will be on display for the public to see and hopefully learn from.
“This is a part of our history and it’s a very different part of our history. Our history normally circulates around cowboys and oil fields and wheat fields and things like that. A lot of people don’t know the history of Lake Wichita and what happened on Lake Wichita way back when this boat is a living part of that history,” Trammell said.
History that will now be preserved for future generations to learn from and maybe even become inspired by.
Trammell said in the coming weeks they will be working on building an entire display for Play Baby with tons of background information. We’ll bring you that opening date as soon as it becomes available.