• Bonnie Hawk Barney

Part 9: Commodore H. Allen Wagener

The name H. Allen Wagener was, for many years, synonymous with sailboat racing on Keuka Lake. The season opened and closed with his coming and going. Several boats were bankrolled by him or a syndicated headed by him. His palatial yachts were the committee boats, he the chief judge. He directed at meetings, entertained at banquets; with his enthusiasm and leisure donated to the Keuka Yacht Club, it is no wonder the sailors participated in a personality cult around Ally Wagener. Born in the old Wagener place on Bluff Point, the house built by his great-grandfather Abram Wagener in 1834, he attended Penn Yan schools until he was able to shift for himself. Working first as a mail clerk in Penn Yan, then on the railroad mail cars for several years, he settled back in Penn Yan to start a boot and shoe business with his brother in 1890. Within ten years he had stores in Penn Yan and New York, and interest in stores in many large cities throughout New England. At the age of 31 he was the first Democrat and the youngest man ever elected Mayor of Penn Yan. Selling others on his interest in sailing, he headed a syndicate of businessmen who purchased the first A Scow on the lake in 1905, the Tecumseh. In 1912 he bought another, the Skidoo. He was the man behind the $1000-a-heat race staged off Branchport in the early 1900’s to revive interest in sailing...which succeeded. Having served as Commodore of Keuka Yacht Club for most of the years in the first half of this century, he was the keystone of the sailing club around 1930. Commodore Wagener served two clubs: wintering in the southern waters aboard his 75-foot yacht Renegaw, he was chief officer of the Halifax Yacht Club of Daytona, Florida, the largest yacht club south of New York on the Atlantic. The yachting season on Keuka could never be officially open until Commodore and Mrs. Wagener arrived north to take charge and direct activities. The Park Inn in Hammondsport was the scene of the 1928 opening banquet, with Ally Wagener toastmaster, Ally Wagener speaker, and Ally Wagener author of the published menu:

Hoover’s D’Oovers

Envers Pickled Grubby Umquats Stuffed Scroggins Cumfish


Puree of Newts with Schoogles


Fresh Snidles Pomasa Sauce


Fillets of Brummet with Creamed Soummels


Fricasseed Floggs Orseel Sauce Broiled Breast of Gump Sivel Dressing

Roast Prime Socket with Westom Pudding and Eddycurrent Salad

Hearts of Spillage with Hardboiled Grumbles


Slithy Shortcake with Whipped SnawIced Mumsies Grypes

A silver cup was offered for the old-time skippers to race, and Wagener was willing, but for the peril of arterial sclerosis, only those yachts could be used which were known to require little pumping. As the season began with him, so a headline read, "Season Officially Closes as Sweetheart II is Housed for Winter." Driving his yacht onto a specially constructed car, running on rails into the water, he had her pulled out into a great steel winter home at Branchport until another season.

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