Lo Tengo

The historic Lo Tengo underway on the open ocean.

I've got it.

Whether it is catching a fly ball, picking up the check, or a friend just confirming they have it under control, it is a common phase that translates in Spanish as “Lo Tengo.”

Whenever I drive through Naples over the Reese Bridge towards Belmont Shore, I smile when I see the attractive vintage boat with the turquoise cabin that brings to mind parties with cheese whiz-stuffed celery, deviled eggs and rumaki.

Proudly painted on the transom of the wooden boat, clearly visible from the bridge, is Lo Tengo. Docked at 201 Bay Shore Ave., she is a 36-foot power boat that was built in 1947 by Electric Launch Company (Elco).

The 1947 Elco was designed by naval architect Irwin Chase — whose claim to fame was designing the 77-foot version of the World War II Patrol Torpedo (PT) boats. Government auditors found the Elko-designed boats had “Fittings and finish unnecessarily refined.” It was that refinement, and attention to detail, that made Elco popular pleasure boats.

According to the 1902 Elco Catalog, the company got its start during the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago. 55 launches, each 36 feet long and powered by battery-powered electric motors, carried over a million passengers on the waterways of the Exposition for six months.

The first Elco boats looked like something you would see cruising in Alamitos Bay — a cross between a gondola with its curved lines, only with a canvas Bimini like a Duffy.

Lo Tengo is the treasured “cabinette” model. Of course adding ette, whether it means small — like kitchenette — or meaning female — majorette or bachelorette — just makes it that much more adorable.

It just doesn’t get any cuter than an aqua cabinette with mahogany wood and a vintage alcohol stove.

For the last 25 years, she has been owned by video producer Carter Trigg. He purchased the boat from the estate of well-known Long Beach attorney Clarence Hunt, who died in 1992 at the age of 88.

Trigg, who spends more than 50 hours a year maintaining the paint and varnish, spoke to the passion both he and Hunt shared for the boat: “She is unique and like owning a little piece of history.”

My husband David, who grew up with Mr. Hunt as his neighbor on Claremont Avenue in Belmont Shore, recalls never seeing Hunt home on the weekends, he was always out fishing on his boat.

Despite the high visibility cases Hunt worked on, a quick search of historical newspapers indicated he made the papers most often as a fisherman, like in 1970 when he caught a marlin 15 miles west of Santa Barbara Island. Or when he was president of the Tuna Club in 1976 and during a contest, the team on Lo Tengo caught 25 fish totaling almost 260 pounds. Other winning teams included Barney Ridder’s Current Affair and Dr. Gordon Bateman’s Fighting Lady.

According to the Ball/Hunt/Schooley American Inn of Court website, Clarence Stuart Hunt was a third generation Californian, who graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Economics and went on to attend USC Law School with his friend, classmate and future partner, Joseph Ball, both of whom graduated and joined the California Bar in 1927.

Vern Schooley, part of the America Inn, said, “Clarence Hunt was a prince of a man.”

The website goes on to explain that Clarence Hunt was a lifetime conservative Republican and Joe Ball was a confirmed liberal Democrat, yet the two practiced together in the firm originally known as Ball, Hunt and Hart and eventually to become Ball, Hunt, Hart, Brown & Bearwitz.

Thanks to Loree Scarborough and Dennis McConkey for suggesting Lo Tengo as this week’s story — please share your suggestions to me at Jo@JoVenture.com.

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