Ahhh, nostalgia!

GreatSeymour

Ahhh, nostalgia! Behold, it is I, 76 year old Greatseymour. As you might well imagine, I am a great fan for the club grounds as they were back in the day. Even when there was nothing going on we could go there and find it peacefully quiet. Birdies chirping, and a wilderness like atmosphere, shrouded from adjacent noises by being tucked into its mini enclave. It was a painful day for many when the property went to developers in exchange for money.

The Jolly Rogers president when the grounds were sold was Carmen Tom who owned Downtown Harley. He was well noted for negotiating to make the top dollar on his business deals. He was encouraged to do that as he became more involved with the grounds buyers and was able to squeeze more money from them. After the sale, cries of alarm and betrayal came in from the fans of the grounds and he began to feel guilty so he bought another property for replacement.

Unfortunately his lawyers assured him he would never be able to escape liability. In the face of that, he never used his new property for the purpose he intended.

Back in the day, oldy moldy “hill climbers” were mostly old Harleys and Indians with straight pipes, poor front suspension, no rear suspension, that would run the

GreatSeymour

hill with wide-open throttle’s moderated only by a kill switch and looking every part of many failed attempts. Later, when large displacement two-stroke motocross bikes were used with very long swing arms, the spectacle was terribly reduced. The old bikes would thrash around and send great swathes of dirt and rocks behind them, but the later version of hill climb motorcycles greatly reduced that. It reminds me of the unlimited hydroplane races using large displacement airplane engines, when they were replaced by turbines. They used to roar and snort but now they just whistle.

For the most part my wife took the movies while I was racing, although Mickey Fay did contribute some. It was somewhat of a pain to go from movies to video, and then have our web master convert them for use on the Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club website. There is little likelihood they could be sold for reasonable compensation.  However, they are fun to watch.

Have a look!  http://jollyrogersmotorcycleclub.com/homemovies/home_movies.htm

 

The Party! remembered by the Great Seymour

Relying on my old geezer memory, I now describe the party we threw on the Jolly Rogers grounds on a pleasant summer day in the mid 80‘s, a superior event worth recalling.

Attending were bikers and friends. CJ prepared a generous meal of spaghetti, potato salad, green salad, garlic bread, and soda pop. Tim (Fingers) DeHan was there with his musical equipment to perform some of his nightclub presentations, singing and playing keyboard. A few riders attempted the track with inadequate results.

To some degree, Tim also functioned as party organizer, which included a contest involving an activity carrying eggs. After handing all an egg, he described their purpose, but the audience was unresponsive and just stood around with egg in hand. As he continued to describe his activity, CJ threw her egg, hitting him in the back.  Not knowing his assailant, he discharged his weapon in kind, and in short order all eggs were utilized in a communal egg fight. The party concluded and all departed happy for the occasion.

And So I Ride

When I meet people who find out that I ride a motorcycle, I often hear… So…you ride a motorcycle, aren’t you afraid of… Getting in an accident? Falling down? Drunk drivers? What are you crazy? You could get hurt. Do you wear a helmet?, Are you in a gang? Are you in your second childhood? That’s too dangerous, why don’t you grow up.

And I say…

I ride for the freedom, for the breeze in my knees! I ride because I can and because I won’t conform! I ride for the feeling of oneness!

And so I ride…

I ride to feel the V-Twin’s awesome power vibrating below my crotch, the pistons churning, the spark of life that gives me freedom as it cycles through 4 strokes, the thunder pulsating from my exhaust. I ride because I don’t need the False safety of a cage! Or the distractions that result from its operation.

And so I ride…

I ride with the passion that it doesn’t matter what brand you ride, if it’s a crotch rocket, cruiser, touring or dirt bike, or where it was made or if you wear a helmet, all that matters is you ride, that you are on two wheels, even three wheels! It matters that you ride ON IT, not drive IN IT.

And so I ride…

I ride on the sweat of those that rode before me. The One Percenter’s that paved the way for me to be free to ride. The MC’s and RC’s and RA’s and MM’s. The Members of ABATE and the MMA. Those that have stood for and still stand for something, because if you don’t stand, you stand for nothing at all. I ride on the memory of those that have died in the process and are now gone.

And so I ride…

I ride for the brotherhood, for the oneness with the road that it offers me and the fellowship that results! I ride because you meet the nicest people on two-wheels! People that judge less and party more!

And so I ride…

I ride one with the road, feeling the weather. Tasting the humidity, smelling the air (or that dead animal rotting away), basking in the Sun as I sit at a stoplight on top of a 200 degree motor. Shivering in the cool morning’s frost, or playfully being tossed around in the wind as it uses my windshield as a sail.

I ride with the knowledge that some bugs taste better than others and that rain drops feel like needles at 70mph.

I ride knowing that nobody can see me and that everyone is trying to kill me on the road.

I ride with the chance that at any time I could experience circumstances beyond my control.

I ride because Nobody can tell me I can’t!

And so I ride…

Bennie the bug

We get old, we try to deal with it.  Still you have aches and pains.  Ron Bennett takes great care of himself, working out daily at the gym.  He’s was one of the top riders from yester year on the Jolly Roger MX track.  Still has his racing bikes in a spotless garage.  Bennie the bug, a very honorable person, may he live to a hundred @ a day.

These are the guys that deserve respect.  In this case the man makes the patch. As it should be.  He may have a few more wrinkles but he looks the same from his racing pictures on the Jolly Rogers MC Blog.

Written by Sprocket

“Wearing the Patch” by Sprocket

The Great Seymour asked I, Sprocket if I’d care to share with the world my time spent with the Jolly Rogers.  I agreed, and am writing from the best of my recollection starting when I joined the club at the end of 2007.

A brief background first.  Was a parts guy for both an independent shop and dealership.  At the age of 54 I’ve been involved with a half a dozen clubs.  Seen my best clubber and friend die, have owned my FXRS for the past twenty three years, that would be Harley speak for you metric riders.  With that out of the way, lets move on.

 It was a funny thing when I wore that patch between my shoulder blades.  It was instant recognition. Anywhere I went guys would stop and tell me what they knew of the patch, or a story about a long lost relative that had joined, or the conversation would come back to the long lost track and hill climb.  I would stand there and let the individual spout off because I was a newbie and didn’t quite yet know my 60 years of club history.

But that was about to change.  I rode down to the Central Tavern” in Pioneer Square for “biker” night.  It reminded me of high school in that everybody was clicked up into their various groups.  There was a strong showing of Bandido MC, the Resurrection MC, and a whole bushel of wanna be’s like moths drawn to a flame.

I was a curiosity because more people have heard about the club than actually standing eye ball to eye ball to what was perceived to be a ghost.  The membership at the time was in decline but in the following years the club grew in leaps an bounds.  How much you might ask, and the stock answer is that’s club business.

I was introduced to a short jovial fellow by the name of Strokker.  As it turned out in our conversation, we lived a mere 4 blocks from each other.  I remember he had quite an assortment of Bandido patches indicating that he was a member for some time.  Also he had a side kick in civilian clothes with the termination for never letting Strokker’s drinks go dry.  Looking back, I remember making one of my biggest blunders in that I was spouting off my knowledge of Bandido Presidents in order no less, to the point where my habit of talking too much raised it’s ugly head.

For a few uncomfortable moments I was probably perceived as some kind of narc.  And that’s not a good thing in the big boy’s world.  I rallied, talked about his red and gold Shovel which was quite obvious he was proud of his scoot, as he should be.  I left that night with some lesson’s learned, was a Road Captain for the club and my claim to fame is I got everybody safe to the following Oyster Run.  That included members and quite a few quest’s came on the run.

Now, just another old guy with stories.

We are looking for available videos and pictures from the Jolly Rogers Racetrack.

Toward the end of its existence, the Jolly Rogers racetrack was gradually expanded and converted from Scrambles to Motocross. Available pictures and videos from that era are increasingly hard to find. We solicit any who wish to contribute to make them available for posting. Please contact us at cruizin@jollyrogersmotorcycleclub.com. Ron Bennett flying over a jump at the famous Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club Racetrack, circa 1974.

Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club Official website has reached over 50,000 hits

“Gadzooks, Tim! Your site has past the 50,000 mark for visits. While the club may erode, at least it is able to ride on the publicity you provide. Its memory of better days is kept fresh for all. I see hits coming from well beyond this area and out of the country. It is obvious recognition of the effort you put into it.”

The Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club website hit a milestone last week as we reached over 50,000 hits.  We hung the website a little over 12 years ago only receiving just a few vistors each week.  Now the website is visited hundreds of times each week by fans of the Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club (one of Seattle’s oldest motorcycle clubs) from all over the world.

In the late 90s a few of the aging remaining cub members decided to resurect the Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club from almost extinction.  Long time and some lifetime club members, the Great Seymour, his wife CJ, Carmen Tom, Fred Bare and Ron Bennett (Benny) were instrumental in reviving the old club.

The Great Seymour also understood the value of the internet and attempted to create the first iteration of the Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club website. At that time Lets-Ride.com was offering free website space to motorcycle clubs to hang their sites. Seymour not being a web developer enlisted longtime acquaintance Fingers DeHan owner operator of DeHan Computer Services & Website Design to perform the deed in exchange for free membership to the Jollies for the service. After a little less than a year Seymour and Fingers decided that the Jollies web presence should grow and in 2003 Fingers purchased the domain name jollyrogersmotorcycleclub.com and designed and developed a new website. The current site at www.jollyrogersmotorcycleclub.com is still the original, official website of the Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club with now over 50,000 hits.  One of the many highlights of the Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club website is that we received special permission from Norman Greenbaum to use his 1970 hit “Spirit In The Sky” as the Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club official website theme song.  Other great highlights of the Jollies website are the many historical pictures and numerous one of a kind Super 8 home movies taken by the Great Seymour and his wife CJ of early races at the famous Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club race track.

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – I Remember When

I Remember When
by Carmen D. Tom

Emily sitting on my lap.  She loved to take my glasses offas you can see.  the girls used to walk to our house often as they lived only a block and a half away.  They now live twenty-five miles away.  We miss seeing them everyday!(This story was written in 1991. It appeared in a local motorcycle publication. I just thought some would like reading the “story”.

I remember when I bought my first motorcycle; a time I will never forget. It was in the spring of 1946. I had just been discharged from the U.S. Navy. I had just returned from China, where I rode my first motorcycle. That story will keep for another time.

Chickee and Emily on my Harley. I had just returned from my yearly trip to Sturgis, S.D. My boots are still tied to my motorcycle.

In 1946 it was almost impossible to buy a new Harley or Indian; the waiting list was as long as it is today to get a new HOG. I bought a good used 1937 “45” for $325.00. It ran beautifully. I rode it back to the Dakotas to see family & friends. I remember the roads in those days were narrow and went through all the towns; big and small. It was the way to see the USA and how the people really live.

Our three year old all dressed for a party.I remember when Archie Bunkers’ War ended. I was in Leyte Gulf in the Phillipines. Thousands and thousands of ships waiting to go somewhere. The war ended. Some of us went to China; some to Japan and Korea.

I remember the first long motorcycle trip I and Donna went on. We had a new 1948 H.D. “45”. We rode back to the Harley factory in Milwaukee, Wisc. Took the big USS Clipper across Lake Michigan from Milwaukke to Muskegon. Then up through Canada and back East and all over. That too, could be a story in itself.

I remember the first Indian I bought; a 1942 war model 846. I pushed it more than I rode it.

Gina and her dad Rick riding AngelI remember the first motorcycle race I entered. It was at the World famous Jolly Rogers track. I rode a H.D. 125 cc; really powerful: 3 HP. We called the races “Scrambles” in those days.

I remember the first parade I rode in. It was SeaFair in the early 50’s. I rode with the Jolly Rogers Drill Team. We all had white Harleys and black and white uniforms (really sharp). Ask me sometime and I’ll share some pictures with you.

I remember the first NEW motorcycle I sold. It was a 1959 JAWA 250cc.

Tony, Cory and Carissa.  They loved to jump in bed with Papa.I remember when my first son was born; and the second son; and the third son; and the fourth son. I remember the first race John rode at the short track in Woodinville Rodeo Grounds; a 50cc Tohatsu. He and 10-12 others crashed. Donna cried; thought I had killed her son, but he got up and went on to become a real good mot-cross rider. Rick and Russ also did very well in moto-cross. Lots of trophies (and hurts & bruises).

Cory and Carissa one warm day at Long Beach, WA.I remember the first NEW Indians I bought; Floyd Clymer specials, 500cc and 750cc. I sold the 750, but still have the 500cc. It is Velo powered. Only 87 were ever produced.

I remember the first car I bought; a 1936 Olds convertible; beautiful blue. This was in 1946. I paid $650. for it. Today it is worth at least $10,000. I also remember the first NEW carl bought; a 1956 FORD V-8, 4 door for $2500.00. We drove back to the Dakotas just to pick it up!

I DON’T remember the first time I left the farm, but it was in the early 30’s. It was about this time I tried to ride a motorcycle. The guy at the Phillips 66 station had an old ID. Said that me and my buddy Virgil could Donna and I on our Honda Gold Wing.  We've kept this bike in Arizona for over 10 years.ride it if we could get it started. We pushed and pushed up and down the old Court House road a hundred times and not even a POP.

I remember in 1968 our motorcycle store burned to the ground. Over 56 New bikes went to their early glory.

I remember how hard it was to start all over again. With a lot of hard work and prayers, Donna and I did it.

No, I can’t remember the first Harley I sold, but I do remember still, loving to sell them.

My two best buddies, Eeny and Chubby.  They loved to play together.  We lost Chubby in 2000.I remember the first side car outfit I had; 11958 BMW R150 with a new Stieb car. Donna and I won 1st place at the Gypsy Tour in Long Beach, Wa. Those were the “Good Ole Days.”

I remember the first time I rode to Sturgis; in 1972 on my 1971 Moto-Guzzi. A 750 cc. I rode this machine 26,000 miles and no problems.

I remember the first long trip I took with my two grandsons. It was this summer in my beautiful white side car rig. We went to Sturgis, Devils Tower, Dinosaur Park and all over. The best side car made; the Liberty.

Our Arizona homeI remember when my good old buddy Vic Ebbutt and I rode to Sturgis. That too, is another story.

And yes, Don Dorsey is right, I don’t always ride what! sell. But, I happen to love all motorcycles. It just so happens, I now sell the worlds best; HARLEY DAVIDSON.

Yes, I remember the first race I seen old buddy Dorsey race in Woodinville’s short track …. And Don, “You don’t wear Cowboy boots when flat tracking and you are much too big for a 250cc.”

My brothers and sisters and grandsons Tony and Cory

Friend for 50 years, Fred Lang enjoying a swim in Mesa, Arizona

Enjoying the Arizona sun with my buddy

One of my Hondas.  Did that $2 luggage box!

Carissa and papa at Canyon Lake, Ariznoa. We just got off the boat.

Tom's Cycle in the early 1960's. We sold many makes, most are out of business today. We were the first Suzuki dealer in Seattle in 1960.

I rode many different makes of sidecars for many years.  I loved this beauty.

My 65th birthday, a big day at Downtown Harley.

I rode from Sturgis to Eastern South Dakota in August, 1979 to see my mother.

The first Jawa 250" I sold in 1950.  Leonard had just returned from a 1600 mile trip.

We build many trikes and choppers in the early 1960's. This one had an all steel body.

July 1970.  Russ and other kids bury Papa in the hot sand at Long Beach.

My son Russ, now owner of Downtown Harley enjoyed riding at Long Beach, Washington, 1970.

November 11th, 1968, fire destroyed our store.  We closed for 90 days.  It was one of the saddest days of our lives.

November 11th, 1968, fire destroyed our store.  We closed for 90 days.  It was one of the saddest days of our lives.

Big day at Downtown Harley in 1983 or 1984

One of the early choppers we built

Sitting on the front loawn at Russ's home on Lake Tapps.  I learned to fly in a R-22 many years ago.

Our early years.  Space was very limited.

Christmas at Downtown Harley in early 1983.  Just some of the old bikes.

Shanghai, China in 1945

My buddy, J.D. Davis and I in the Caronline Islands in 1944 on the sub Chaser.

My crew: Ingles from new Hampshire, Charlie Burgess form Virginia, J.D. Davis from Mississippi and me, somewhere in the South Pacific in 1944.

On the ramp of my LCM.  J.D. Davis, Charlie and myself, somewhere in the South Pacific during WW II.

U.S.S. St. Paul anchored in the rivers.  A lot of the piers were badly damaged from the war.  We would haul cargo to these ships.  We also hauled sailors to shore.  Shanghai in October, 1945.

Charlie and I enjoying ourselves in a night spot in Shanghai.  Duty was good in China.  December, 1945.

Three beuatiful sunny days into the hills of Mt. Rainier ending up in Ellensburg, Wash.  Donna, Louis and myself.  Cindy is missing in this picture.

Love Run in California, November, 1995.  Dig that beautiful Sportster.  We built hundreds of these.

Tom's Cycle in the early 1960's.  We sold many makes, most are out of business today. We were the first Suzuki dealer in Seattle in 1960.

Tom's Cycle in the early 1960's.  We sold many makes, most are out of business today. We were the first Suzuki dealer in Seattle in 1960.

A side trip in August, 1975 outside of Sturgis

On the Ambassador Bridge between Michigan and Canada.  There was very little traffic in those days. (Donna took this picture).

Our Harley in Ann Arbor, Michigan in August 1949, a 7000 mile trip.

A stop in Puerto Rico on our way to South America in the winter of 1991

Donna having fun on one of our many trips into Mexico

In front of a cafe in Alaska (August 1949)

One of our many trips to see planet earth

Donna in Alaska (I took this picture).

Clarence Fitting, myself, LeRoy Skjonsberg, Sam Denton in old South Dakota.  All friends since childhood.  We all lived in the Seattle area for over 50 years.

Ron, Al, myself (missing Slimbo).  A beautiful sunny day in 2002.  We rode up to Mt. Baker, Wash. As you can see, there was till lots of snow in the month of May. We could ride in T-Shirts.  We have riden together for years all over the Northwest.

My buddies and I on a ride to Mt. Baker, Wash., May of 2002.

Myself and Clyde McIver. Clyde is now an attorney for the Seattle Mariners baseball team. He had just returned from the "Iron But" run. 11,000 miles of riding in 10 days.  I sold Clyde his first Harley in 1983. He still has the bike. We rode to Sturgis, S.D. many years.

This race was in the early 1960's at the Scrambles track in Shelton, Wash. It was a good fast track. I was riding my twin pipe 250cc CZ. Joe Donners was riding his 250cc Greeves.  The CZ was much faster and better handling. Joe was a better and faster rider. I oved racing against him. We stayed friends, even after we both quit racing. He lost his life scuba diving in Alaska many years ago.

Donna and I on our restored 1942 Shim-Sing. I bought it and had it restored in China years ago.

My beautiful 1961 JAWA Side-car

Just one of the signs I painted in the early 1960's

Just one of the hundres of trucks I have lettered at Walker Sign Co. Today most signs are done on a computer.  No computer will ever match the beautiful hand lettered signs of yesterday

A Chopper ready to ship (in early 1970's)

Some of my great bikes in one of our garages.

My barn, the way I love it.

My barn will hold 4 cars, 20 motorcycles and has two stalls for our horses. The upstairs is divided into two parts: one half is attic for storage and he other half is Donna's Doll Room. She has a big collection of all kinds. Also, our home is full of dolls. Her favorites are "The South Dakota Twins", Danny and Donna. She purchased them a Wahl Drug in South Dakota in the 1980's.

I learned to fly a R-22. This was taken on the lawn of Russel's home on Lake Tapps.

Rikou. The Japanese built this one and thousands more in Japan from 1929 to 1960. I bought this bike in Osaka, Japan in the early 1960's. My son Rick completely restored and painted it. A nice feature in our store, we did everything in-house except for the chroming. I sold this bike to the Harley Davidson Co. in 1988. YOu can see it on display at the Harlye Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

My 1965 Harley Pan Head. This was restored for me by my wonderful family for my 65th birthday.

The World's Greatest Stunt and Drill Team. Just one of the many stunts the Cossacks do.

Myself, Brock Wheaton and Donna, my wife of 56 years. We rode together for over 56 years.

Brock riding, no hands.  Brock could ride two bikes at one time and do many manuvers. Brock was our service manager at Downtown Harley for over 10 years. Cancer got him in 2002. He also restored motorcycles. He did my 1946 Harley "74" and my 1942 INdian Army bike. These bikes, with my 1926 JD are on display at Downtown Harley Davidson in Tukwila.  Also on display are Russ's many custom bikes and many dirt bikes.

The Seattle Cossacks

Brock Wheaton

Three on a bike, no hands on the handlebars

Delon Sandmier riding two bikes at once. As far as I know, only 3 members could do that, Brock, Delon and John Moser.

Devils Tower National Monument

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – The Last Chapter

The Last Chapter

Yesterday’s Memories, Tomorrow’s Dreams. I sure have plenty of both to write about.

Growing up on a farm in South Dakota, selling motorcycles for 40 years, many years in the Sign Business, working in the shoe repair and making all those handmade logging boots, riding my many motorcycles; both dirt bikes, racing and road bikes for over 58 years, driving those LCM’s (Landing Crafts) during World War II and in the South Pacific and China (I was discharged in ‘46), I sure would agree that I do have plenty of memories to write about. I’d like to share some with you.

At 79 years, I still ride. Unable to ride my big Harley this past year, my legs are too weak to hold up a heavy motorcycle. Plus, I am unable to throw my legs over a bike. In April of 2004, I purchased a big Suzuki 400cc Motor Scooter. It is easy to get on and off. It has all hand controls, so I don’t need the use of my legs. I managed to ride this scooter 8,000 miles from April to October; not to bad? I know a lot of big bike riders that don’t ride that many miles in that time span.

I was down to the Harley store (in Seattle) the other day and met an old customer who I hadn’t seen for many years. He reminded me that I had sold him a Triumph in the 1960’s and a Harley in the 80’s. It was nice to hear he was still riding and had purchased a couple new Harleys from my son Russ. We had a wonderful visit. I try to go down to Russ’ Harley store each for a couple of hours. It’s surprising how many old customers I meet. I like going to other cycle stores and one would be surprised at who you may run into. Not all riders own Harleys; so many have dirt bikes, etc.

Having spent 50 years in the Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club, I have many memories from all the rides, races and hill climbs. I am also a member of the V.M.E. I get to see a lot of riders and their old motorcycles. This is a wonderful club. Over 600 members and they all own and ride old motorcycles.

Being in the motorcycle business for over 40 years, I met and got to know many dealers and distributors. I think of Johnny Coffee. I bought hundreds of JAWAS and CZ’s from him in the late 50’s and early 60’s. We became very good friends. He loved special built cars. He would drive up from L.A. just to show me some car he’d just bought. We’d have dinner that night and he’d drive back to L.A. One summer his son Leonard rode his 250cc JAWA up from L.A. just to see me. Wonderful memories.

How could I forget Frank Cooper? I bought Maicos and Royal Enfields from his company. He would drive up in his pick-up and pull into our driveway and blast his horn. He’d say he just drove up to show me this special bike and what a good price he had for me. If you buy 6 for cash, you could make a good profit. Frank spent many years both in retail and wholesale. He even built his own motorcycle, “The Cooper”. It is a collection bike now.

Floyd Clymen, a wonderful and very interesting man. He sold cars, motorcycles and books. His books are still being printed. He built motorcycles. Some were called Clymer Specials. I bought lots of them. I still have in my collection a 500cc Indian. It’s been in my barn since the 1960;s. I had a 750 Twin I bought from Floyd and like a dummy, I sold it years ago. I can only imagine what it is worth today. I have owned so many wonderful motorcycles in the last 60 years, it’s hard to remember them all. I owned some old German built bikes that would be worth a fortune today. Some were Italian, Japanese, English, etc. It’s hard to imagine their worth. I owned a Japanese built Harley I bought in Japan. I sold it to the Harley Davidson Company. They now have it in their museum. One can see it if you go to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My son Russ has a great collection of old dirt bikes and Mini bikes, all restored. Some are over 40 years old. You can see many of these at his store, Downtown Harley Davidson in Tukwila, Washington.

Speaking of small motorcycles, in the late 50’s and early 60’s, small bikes were popular. Riders rode them all over the USA. I would have rides from our store. On one ride we went to Eastern Washington. We rode to Grand Coulee Dam into Idaho and then across into Montana. I rode a 4-speed Mustang Thoroughbred. We could cruise along at 60-65 mph. We’d stop at all small towns. What wonderful memories.

In the early 90’s I sold a doctor a new FLST-C. He would ride down to our store quite often as he had just retired. One day he noticed I had a hard time walking. My lower back was killing me. He told me I should not have to suffer like that. He said he would make a call to a doctor whom he had worked with for years. I got to see this doctor the next day. He gave me two big shots in my back. He said, “Do you realize you got to see me in one day? It usually takes 5 to 6 weeks to get and appointment.” It’s nice to know the right people at the right times.

I have so many good friends (riders) the last 60 years, most of them gone, some for many years. I remember Lii Al. I rode and drove with Alto races all over the West. He kept the Seattle Motorcycle Club together for a long time. I remember one time we drove to Boise, Idaho. A big yearly race. Seemed as though everyone went to the races at Boise. We had spent a few days there. Al said he had left his pillow at the motel. I told him I would buy him a new pillow and he said, “You don’t understand. I’ve had this pillow for 40 years.” So I turned around and went to the motel. Al ran in and came back with his pillow, happy as a baby. He couldn’t thank me enough.

Vic Ebbutt was the best motorcycle photographer on the West Coast. For many years he rode to the races everywhere. We rode together for years. We rode back to Sturgis, S.D. in the 80’s, to the big race in Boise, Idaho, the Sacramento race, San Jose, and so many other places. Always having such a good time. But cancer got him a few years ago.

I have so many more stories to tell, but I will close for now and get this to my publisher. You ride down to the Harley store some day in Tukwila and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee and we can shoot the bull.

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – (Bob and Kenny) Harley – 74 Side Valve

(Bob and Kenny) Harley – 74 Side Valve

It was the 3rd week of August 1948; I’d heard about this 74” for sale up in North Dakota. This friend of my living in a real small town of Heckla. He rode a late model Harley and flew small planes. I always loved motorcycles and airplanes, so we became good friends. I asked Bunnerd if he was sure of this Harley, as I didn’t want to go on another wild goose chase. He assured me it was true, that his brother knew of the motorcycle and had actually seen it in North Dakota, when he was picking up a tractor and a farmer told him of the Harley for sale and if he knew anyone that might be interested. The owner had been killed in Italy during the war and it sounded like a real good deal. He said I could probably buy it for $200 or less. He said it was on a farm out of Gwinner, North Dakota, so I asked my two buddies if they would like to take a ride up into North Dakota and maybe over into Minnesota. Their eyes lit up when I said Minnesota, they had always wanted to go to Minnesota, they had read that it had over 10,000 lakes. I told my buddies this could be a 2-3, even 4-day trip so we had better take along extra clothes and a good jacket, as the weather is known to change fast up in the Mid-West. I told the boys to keep their clothes in bags so it would be easier to tie onto the cycle. I tied my bag onto the front fender and onto the Springer fork. Bob and Kenny tied theirs onto the side of the luggage rack on top the saddlebags. We looked like a bunch of gypsies!

Come Monday morning off we rode. North Dakota is only an easy 10 miles north of Britton, all gravel roads so you only ride 35 to 50 M.P.H. We stopped in Forman, filled up with gas, regular was 2 1 cents per gallon. There are always lots of men around gas stations, so I asked about the motorcycle, no one had seen any around for a long time or heard of any for sale. One guy said to try Gwinner, he saw a motorcycle there 2-3 months ago, while he was looking for a hay stacker. So off for Gwinner we rode.

All gravel road to Gwinner which isn’t much of a town. Talked to a man running the grain elevator, they usually know a lot of farmers and hear a lot of bull. The guy’s name was Jack; he was about 40 years old. He said he heard about a Harley a few months ago. The farmer who told him said the poor fellow who owned the bike was killed in Italy. When we heard this we all got excited and I asked where might we find the farmer?’ He said he was from around Wyndmere, that’s only 25 to 3 5 miles away, so off we rode. We got to Wyndmere, it’s a pretty good size town for North Dakota, 1,000 to 2,000 people I would guess. We stopped at a Phillips gas station to fill up, asked the attendant if he’d ever heard of an old Harley for sale, the man had been killed during the war. He said he could have but if 1 was looking for a motorcycle, to ride up to Wahpeton, it’s a good size town that has a couple of motorcycle shops. Also, there’s Breckenridge, Minnesota, across the Red River. I’d heard a lot about the Red River; it would almost flood in the spring, when all the snow started to melt. The road out of Wyndmere was black top, man was that nice to ride on, one could go 50-60 M.P.H. We rode into Wahpeton, it was only 25 miles, and almost in front of our eyes we see this Indian Shop, so we stopped there, all excited. We’d never seen anything like this in our part of South Dakota. The owner talked to us; a really nice guy named Milt Slenton. He gave us his business card, tried to sell us a new Indian Chief, only $795, saddle bags and all, it even had a good size windshield. But I told Mr. Slenton I’d loved to buy a new Indian from him but I didn’t even have a good job, let alone any money. I asked him about the old Harley 74”, said he never heard about this one, we might try John Bendon. I asked who is he? He said everyone knows John, told us how to get to his place, so off we rode, told him we’d come back someday. Little did I realize that Fall I would come back and go to school there, Wahpeton State.

We found John’s place with a big barn out behind his house. The shop was closed, had a sign on the door, “John’s at work, call tomorrow. I met John when I went to school there, we became good friends. We’d ride all the roads all over North Dakota and Minnesota. John would get his hair cut for 25 cents at the Barber College. On weekends, John had a real good job on the Railroad, he’d never give that job up. He sold English bikes, Triumph BSA, and Arials. He was one of the few dealers that sold foreign bikes. We rode back onto Main St. and saw the V.F.W. Hall. I said if anyone would know of a man who got killed during the war in Italy, they would know!

So we went inside, it was a big, dark bar, there were a few people drinking at the bar. Old Bartender asked what you kids want? I told him our story, I told him I’d been in the Navy during World War II. He said, kid when you get a little older come back and see us, we’ll get you into the V.F.W. I thanked him, but said can you tell me anything about the man killed in Italy that had a Harley and now his family wanted to sell it? I found out later he’d been shell shocked, so what he said might not be much use. We started to go outside, he ran out to us and said, try old man Denton in Breckenridge, he runs the Harley store there. So, off we rode, just across the Red River, stopped at a Conaco station, asked where the Harley shop was and a nice kid told us how to get there.

The town was not very large, 2 to 3 thousand or so. We found the store, no problem, we all went into the store. Nice place, they had 56 Harleys, few parts. A young man asked if he could help us, so I told him our story. God only knows how many times I told that story. The young man said, I’ll go ask my dad, he knows everyone within 100 miles. His dad came out from the back of the store, he’d been working on an engine, his hands were real oily. A nice man, he’d heard of the fellow, poor guy got killed in Italy. Told us how to get out to the farm, it was about 10 to 12 miles into Minnesota, about 12 to 15 miles from Fergus Falls.

We found the farm, it was getting late in the day, we were hungry and tired. The farmer was out by a big work shed, looked like he was working on a John Deere. I rode over to him turned my Harley off, we all got off. I went over to this farmer, told him old man Denton had told us about him and he may know about this Harley for sale. He was a real nice man, talked with a heavy brawl. Said sure, I heard of this guy being killed in Italy, said the farmer that would really know would be “Old Man Hanson”. His farm was down by Elbow Lake, he said, get on Highway 54 to 55 turn west a few miles then get on Highway 9 going south. I wrote the directions down on an old piece of paper I had in my jacket. I always wore bomber jackets, still do.

About this time I said, I’m real hungry and tired. I asked any chance you got some work we could do for a meal and place to bed down for the night? He said, you boys look okay, you can sleep in the barn, but no smoking and you leave that motorcycle outside. We assured him none of us smoked, he said he could tell, that none of you boys smelled of smoke, he said you boys want a shot of good ol White Lightning, I said no thanks. He said I thought you had been in the Navy, didn’t you drink there? I said yes, but that was beer, I could tell he expected us to drink with him so we all said we’d try some. I remember my dad telling me if you’re around some big shots and they offer you a drink, take it. Put your tongue on the bottle and tip it like you’re drinking, people will never know the difference, so that’s what I did. I played like I was really enjoying the White Lightning. My buddies actually drank it, they looked like a couple of old drunks and boy were they sorry the next day, both had big heads.

After about half an hour of drinking, this farmer’s wife comes out to the barn, said aren’t you ever coming in to eat? About this time she noticed us 3, she asked you boys eat yet? I said no, but we were all real hungry, we offered to do some work. Old Lars said, too late to work, come on in and eat with us. So we ate a real good meal, boiled potatoes, big hamburger steak, green peas, and that homemade bread, it was wonderful! We all ate like horses. Old man Lars said, you boys don’t look like you ate for a week. We assured him we had but not since this morning. Lars’s wife, said you know you got to eat to stay healthy. After supper we all went out to the barn to sleep. Lars was a nice guy, told us, you boys look like nice kids, come back someday and see me. We all said we would. We had a real good night’s sleep. We must have lay on that hay talking until 11:00, Kenny had the only watch. We all fell asleep.

In the morning we woke to see the sun out, it looked like it was going to be a nice day. We got up, went over to the water trough and washed up, and dried off with our bandanas. Almost everyone carried bandanas in those days. We all went out behind the barn and took a good crap. Lars was nowhere around and we didn’t want to go into the house.

We loaded up the Harley and went down the road. We rode for about 10 miles on Highway 59, saw a sign that said 55, so I turned onto road 55 just a few miles saw a sign, highway 9, turned south, rode just a few miles and saw another sign, Elbow Lake, rode a few blocks, the town was really small. One gas station, so I pulled up, filled up the Harley with good old regular, 21 cents a gallon. It was getting around 50 miles to the gallon, so we didn’t spend much on gas. Real easy on a 45” right side tank with a nice oil stick to check the oil. All bikes should be this easy! I paid the guy in the station for the gas, and asked were we could get something to eat? He said best and only place in town is Old Alma’s place. First I asked the fellow if he knew of a farmer named Hansen. He said there’s lots of Hansen’s around Elbow Lake, but ask in the cafe.

So we rode to Alma’s Cafe, all 3 of us went in and sat down in a really nice booth. A really beautiful girl came over and asked, you boys want to see a menu or just order off the board? We looked up at the board, a big sign said, ham and eggs, 55 cents. We all ordered ham and eggs, boy was it good! None of us drank coffee at that time, we always ordered milk. The pretty girl came over, gave us the bill and asked what you boys doing? Kenny told her our story, I think he liked her. But who wouldn’t, she was young and such a beautiful blonde, we could hardly talk!, she said, what’s the matter boys, cat got your tongue? I finally said no, we just haven’t seen someone as beautiful as you in a long time. (Liar) She said you boys should stay awhile, get a job on a farm. There’s a big barn dance Saturday night at Larsen’ s farm. We said we’d love to but first we have to find this Harley, so I told her the story of trying to find that 37. I asked if she knew of a farmer named Hansen? She said there must be 10 Hansen’s around here.

Just then a man in the next booth said, which Hansen you looking for? I got up and told him our story of trying to find the Harley. He asked where you boys from? We told him. He said, you’re a long ways from home, aren’t there any motorcycles in South Dakota? I said yes, but I wanted to find this one, 1937, 44” Flat Head. He told us there’s an old man Runi Hansen, he’s got a farm about 3 miles out on old road 63, he said he’d seen a motorcycle there a few years ago. He had gone over to pick up some apples, for his wife, she wanted to make some apple pies and Hansen’s apples are supposed to be the best for making pies. We all thanked him and off we rode again, it was getting close to noon.

I told my buddies, we have got to find that Harley and we should head home tomorrow. Little did I realize we would be gone a few more days. We found the Hansen fann’s old mailbox out by the road, it said Hansen’ s, so we rode up to the farm. There was a girl out by what looked like a chicken house, we got off the Harley, walked over to the girl, she turned around, said what you boys doing, are you lost? Kenny popped up, no. I said, are all the girls around here beautiful? She must have been 16 or 17, she blushed and said all Norwegian girls are pretty. I said you’re right, all the girls we’ve seen last 40 to 50 miles are just beautiful! She talked with us for 15 minutes or so then I said, we just have to find the Harley, she said you already have a Harley, why don’t you just buy a car? Look at all the girls you could pick up if you had a car. I said lots of girls love to ride on motorcycles. She said I’d love to go for a ride. Just then a lady came out of the house, headed right for us. She was an old crab and said what are you boys doing bothering my girl? We told her we just stopped for some information. The girl’s name was Abc, she said mother, these boys seem like nice boys, they are only being nice to me. I tried to tell the lady our story of the Harley, she said I don’t like those old motorcycles or anyone that rides them. I’m sorry you feel that way, I said. But did you ever hear of a man having a Harley? He went off to war and was killed in Italy. She popped up, oh for heaven’s sake that’s Jim Larson, he was such a nice boy and those Germans killed him! Her daughter popped up mother, you don’t know if it was the Germans. Her mom said, well who else would do that to such a nice boy? She said to go see Bert Hansen, his farm is only 2 minutes up the road. We thanked her, told the girl thanks and hope we see her again someday, we never did.

We rode off for Bert Hansen’s farm about 2 miles, found the right mailbox that said Bert Hansen Farm. We rode up to the farm about half a mile off the road. I saw a man driving a Farmal Tractor over by the barn. So I rode over toward him. He stopped his tractor when he saw us and asked what you boys doing? I said we were looking for an old Harley. He got down from the tractor, said now what you looking for? I told him again. He said that old Harley had been his boy’s motorcycle and he was killed in Italy. I said yes we know, we were just looking to see if we can find it. He said I don’t like to talk about the war. I said I understood, I’d just like to find the Harley. I had on a t-shirt he could see my tattoos, come over closer he said you were in the Navy? You must have been real young, I said 17 when I went in. He said you don’t look much older now! Remember that was the summer of “49” I assured him I was 23, I don’t think he believed me. I asked again, can you tell me of the Harley? He said I probably could, just don’t know if 1 want to talk about it. I assured him I meant no harm or hard feelings. He said follow me.

As we walked over to a big old shed, he noticed I walked with a limp, said you got hurt in the war? I said no. He said then how did you hurt your leg? I said I’m sorry but that’s something I never talk about. He opened the shed door, it had a big lock on it and it looked rusty. He said you will be the only one in this shed since I found out my son was killed. I locked the shed up and told myself I’d never open that shed again. But you seem like a nice boy, then told my two buddies to stay outside, at least for now. I followed him into the shed, he reached up and pulled a cord, a light came on, now maybe I could see. He then reached over on the wall flipped a big light switch, the whole shed lit up. Mr. Hanson said, young man that’s the first time those lights have been on since I found out Jim had been killed. I told myself and everyone else, as long as I’m alive, I’d never open that shed again. He told me, I like you young man. What I’m about to show you, no one else will ever see. He pulled some heavy blankets off the motorcycle, must have had 4 or 5 blankets, see he said this is what you came to see. I almost passed out, what I saw was on of the most beautiful Harley’s in the worlds It was bright Fire Engine Red and the side of the fenders were painted a beautiful cream color. Also, on the side of the gas tank was a beautiful blue pin stripe. I said Mr. Hanson, that bike didn’t come from the factory with that paint job. He told me the red did but Jim had worked in a body and fender shop before going into the army. he painted the cram and a buddy of his pin stripped it. I looked the bike over real good, it had a beautiful Buddy seat on it, no windshield or bags. In a box covered up was a new windshield and a beautiful set of tan saddle bags. Mr. Hanson told me Jim was always going to put the shield and bags on, but he just loved that bike the way it was. he said Jim was about to put them on when he got his draft notice and a week later he was off to Texas for basic training. Then he was shipped overseas almost at once. He never had leave he told me Jim had been overseas little over 2 years and was due to come home on leave. Then I got word he had been killed. Mr. Hanson said, I’ve never been the same since. I told him maybe now that you showed me his motorcycle, thins will start to get better for you. we covered that beautiful Harley up. I didn’t even ask him if he would sell it. we walked out of the shed, he turned out the lights and locked that shed up. My buddies were waiting outside, they asked if they could see the Harley. Mr. Hanson said – NO-, this is the only man ever to see the Harley, as long as I’m alive no one will ever see it again. I asked Mr. Hanson what will become of it when you and your family pass on, I said not soon maybe 30 or 40 years down the road? He laughed and said I’m 76 now and if 1 can make another 10 years I’ll be happy. I said you’re a wonderful man, God will continue to take care of you and your family. I told him maybe you should think about leaving Jim’s Harley to a good Museum. He said maybe that sounds like a good idea. It was getting late, my buddies said let’s head for home, that sounds good I told them. We bid Mr. Hanson goodbye and I thanked him again. As I was walking over to my motorcycle, He could see I was limping. He shouted, I still say you got hurt in the Navy. I said nothing, we all got on my Harley and headed down the driveway. As I looked back, I could see Mr. Hanson wiping tears from his eyes. I thought to myself, what a wonderful old man.

We drove down the driveway in silence as I turned on to Highway 9 heading south, it was 6:00. We were all hungry so we stopped in a small town called Morris. We saw a small cafe, parked the Harley, and went inside. We had a wonderful meal of pork chops, mashed potatoes and ye, green peas, all for 65 cents each! I told my buddies we had better find a place to bed down for the night, tomorrow we can ride home. We went down by the stockyards, found an old barn with no one around, lots of hay and water nearby. I parked the Harley inside the barn, and made our beds in the hay, boy I was all tired out. I kept thinking of Mr. Hanson, what a wonderful old man. There are so many good people in this world. Why do we have just a few really bad people that cause all the big problems of the world? We fell asleep fast. Wasn’t long the sun was out, we all got up, went over to the water faucet and washed up. I always like to run a lot of water on my face, seems to wake me up fast.

We rode out of town, found Highway 25 going to Browns Valley. We stopped and ate, yes, at a small cafe with a big sign on the wall that read, bacon and eggs, 50 cents. Boy did we eat good, that milk tasted so good too!

I knew Browns Valley to Sisseton wasn’t very far and we’d be back on Highway 10, back to Britton before too long. We pulled into Britton at one o’clock, we had almost a whole day ahead of us. I took my buddies home then I rode down to the Drugstore to see my Sweetie Pie, Donna. Boy was I glad to see her! I had been gone three and a half days and it seemed like weeks, Donna was happy to see me too. I tried to talk to her but I could see she was real busy, her boss stuck his head out from the back room, he was an old crab. I don’t think he liked me, I know he did not like motorcycles. He always said I think they should outlaw them, I asked why? He replied, you’re dumb kid, they’re dangerous, don’t you know anything? I never said anything and I didn’t want Donna to lose her job.

The next day I went to work, crop spraying for Dan Augustine. he was a good pilot, I flew with him a lot. He had been in the Air Force, was a pilot. I heard years later he was killed while spraying. He flew under high line wires, hit an up draft that took him into the wire, his plane burned up. He always told me never, never fly under any wires, it’s dangerous! He made one big mistake and it cost him his life.

After working that day I went home and Donna asked me if I was going to tell her about my trip and did you find the Harley you were looking for? I said I just didn’t want to talk about it for a while, I’m sure she understood. In time I did tell her of our trip and the Harley. She also felt sorry for Mr. Hanson and said he must have really liked you to let just me see the Harley and no one else. I had found my dream. but I’d never have that beautiful Harley, and maybe no one else will either. It was truly a piece of art.

In September, Donna and I moved to Wapeton where I went to school and she worked in a Dry Cleaners for sixty-five cents an hour. I got one hundred and five dollars a month on the G.I. Bill. I loved that school!

We rode my “45” Harley home a couple times a month. One hundred miles of gravel roads and twenty-five miles of blacktop. We had planned on riding home for Thanksgiving. When we woke up a day before we were to leave and looked out the window of our small apartment, it had snowed, that killed our riding for the winter. We road to Britton with a couple who lived in a town by Aberdeen, I can’t remember the name of the town.. We had a week or two off and the fellow picked up up on his way back to school. Our Harley sat outside in the back yard all winter long. I did find an old cover to put over it, took out the battery and put it in our apartment.

It is now fifty-three years later, our four boys are grownup and have children of their own. I spent forty wonderful years in the Motorcycle business, mad many wonderful friends, I wouldn’t trade my last fifty-three years for anything else! I’m happy living out my life in Maple Valley with my wonderful wife Donna, our grandchildren, six girls and two boys. Our youngest grandchild is nineteen months old as I write this on January 24, two thousand and three, 1/24/03. Donna and I get to see her almost every day, Emily and Chickie, Russ’ girls live down the street two blocks away. We have a home in Arizona and we go down there a couple weeks each month from October to May. I am happy, have a motorcycle at both homes and life couldn’t be any better.

I was always going to go up into Minnesota and see Mr. Hanson, but I never made it. Oh, I still dream of that 1937, 74 inch side valve Harley in Minnesota and that beautiful young girl in the Cafe.