Grumpier Old Men boat rides on Otter Tail Lake
Dave and Amy Sobieski know that every boat holds a few special memories; tales of time spent riding with friends and loved ones on the lake.
As owners of Canvas Works, the couple thought they had seen it all - until Rick Lundeen stopped in this spring.
Lundeen's boat holds tales that could entertain for hours - ones that consist of special guests Sophia Loren, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, all of whom have spent hours relaxing on the Minnesota pontoon boat.
Lundeen purchased the boat after working on the set of Grumpier Old Men, filmed in the Twin Cities area in 1995. A medic for the crew, Lundeen went just about everywhere the stars did, including the pontoon that to took them to and from their lake boat scenes, including the famous boat fight between Matthau's and Lemmon's characters.
"That's where they drank their coffee in the morning," Lundeen said.
The film, a sequel to "Grumpy Old Men," was filmed mainly in St. Paul and Stillwater. Sets included the St. Paul's Tschida Bakery and Mayslack's Bar, known as Slipper Bar in the movie.
A fireman by trade, Lundeen took on the job, which lasted from the beginning of July through the end of November. He was referred by a friend and colleague, who had worked as a medic on the set of "Mighty Ducks," "Little Big League" and "Grumpy Old Men."
On the set, he'd tend to the cast's medical needs, often from early morning to late evening.
"It was great, but I'd never do it again," he joked, focusing on the long hours.
He had coffee with Sophia Loren (clearly a highlight for him) and treated Walter Matthau's jammed finger while on the set.
"She (Loren) is the nicest lady I've ever met in my life," he said.
He was also there to see the scenes that didn't make it into the movies, which often make some of the most hilarious tales for the storyteller.
With such good memories with the crew, Lundeen jumped at the opportunity to take the boat from the set home for good. The set director approached Lundeen near the end of filming and told him to make an offer.
Coming in well below the initial cost of the boat, Lundeen did just that - and it worked.
The Lundeens have since painted an insignia on the side of the boat that reads, "Grumpier Old Men."
While riding around Otter Tail Lake with friends, Lundeen said he gets plenty of people who curiously question the boat's name. And they're often shocked and interested to learn the story behind it.
"At first, they think we're just a bunch of grumpy old men," said Lundeen, who pointed out that they're actually quite nice.
And now, with the help of the Sobieskis, the boat will continue to ride, with a little more style. Canvas Works in New York Mills, which designs custom-made canvas tops, along with covers for other transportation devices, built a new bimini and fabricated a new cover for the famous boat.
Every time Lundeen climbs into the boat, he's reminded of the time the actors did the same thing - and the laughs that came along with the long months on set.
"It just has so many good memories," he said.
Now, those memories will continue as his boat sets sail for another summer on Otter Tail Lake.