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New Read: Whortonsville Yacht and Tractor Club
First On T-Shirts, Now A Book
August 28, 2016

In the book, Nick’s alter ego goes into real estate and partners with another realtor who talked extreme politics all the time. They eventually parted ways and Walter takes over Sunbelt Realty (its real name) and goes off on his own, just as Nick did after his partnership with Billy Paul.

A few years later, he was founding the Whortonsville Yacht & Tractor Club. Most of the members were sailors, and Nick says, “We wanted to be a part of the community.” The “tractor” part was a reaching-out to the people living in the area – some of whom were literally working the land – before the sailors arrived.

WYTC Book tractors
Tractors once outnumbered sailboats in Whortonsville.

As the name Nick came up with implies, the WYTC “was intended from the outset to be as inclusive as possible. Most of the people in the community owned tractors, but not everyone owned a sailboat.”

As befitting an advertising industry background, the name Nick came up with had traction. it was celebrated every June .

For 20 years, from 1990 until 2009, the WYTC hosted a June event called the Summer Solstice Sailebration. The festivities involved a sailboat race (more of a group cruise around an established course), and potluck afterward – no one was excluded for lack of a sailboat. Prizes included loaves of home-baked bread for the winners and for the last place finishers. (The WYTC no longer hosts the event, but a Solstice Day regatta continues in Oriental.)

WYTC Book winners
Some of the locals who won summer solstice races appear in the novel under fictitious names, but their real names are recorded in the WYTC Hall of Fame.

During that 20 year run, a commemorative t-shirt with a new back-of-the-shirt design was drawn up for each year. The 1992 editon riffed on Columbus finding W’ville, another depicted the exploding fireworks barge. Decades later, you can still find them being worn. The new book puts 20 years of design on display – photos of every shirt are archived there.

WYTC Book puccini
Spreading the word. Santoro presented Giacomo Puccini with a WYTC lifetime membership in Puccini’s Square in Luca, Italy. Reports of sightings of Whortonsville Yacht and Tractor Club T-shirts and burgees range from Nova Scotia to Puerto Rico to Cuba to Bermuda.

While the photos provide a fully historic record, the narrative takes a few diversions in to the semi-historical what with the made up names. But the veil of pseodonyms is gauze thin.

Nick says those who’ve read the book easily pick out the characters representing, among others, Oriental’s late police chief, Jim Bunn, late historian Bill Mason, hardware store owner, the late Ray Creech, and of course Miss Winkie.

“Santoro said, “A local audience reading the book will recognize local characters even if they have different names.

By their real names or not, Nick says in writing the book, he wanted to “chronicle our first years in Whortonsville.”

Posted Sunday August 28, 2016 by Melinda Penkava

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