Archive for December, 2011

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – Motocross in Nebraska

Motocross in Nebraska

Motor-cross racing was always big in Europe. Here in the US scramble racing was our most popular dirt racing. Motor-cross was beginning to really catch on here in the states in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. In Europe motocross with side-cars was really big. The Europeans were starting to bring their sidecars to the US. It was a big draw at the races. People really loved the sidecars. They all had a rider in the sidecar. He was called the Monkey. If you ever see sidecar racing with the Monkey sitting and hanging out the side-car you will know why they call him the Monkey. He’s all over the sidecar, hanging out and moving all over the side-car. The American riders were starting to get into sidecar racing. I remember here in Western Washington it was really big especially at Puyallup raceways. This was a beautiful motor-cross track, long straight aways, big jumps, etc. Every rider I ever talked to always liked Puyallup. Sidecar racing was a big added attraction. Wilber, Alfred and Albert had seen a few sidecar races. They had done some racing on two wheels, but not sidecars. They read all the motorcycle magazines and papers. They had seen how big it was getting to be. Wilber read about this big motocross race in western Nebraska in the sand hills. They were having a special sidecar class. The prize money was large. Wilber was drinking beer with his riding pals Alfred and Albert. They were talking of racing. The more beer they drank the more they got excited about racing. Wilber said I’m going to enter that side-car race. Alfred said what are you going to ride, he said I’ll ride my old 1934 Harley 74” Albert said what are you going to do for a side-car? Wilbert said no problem, I’ll pull the side-car off one of my old Indians, pull the body off, bolt a piece of plywood on, put some handles on, and you, Albert can be my Monkey. Albert said wait, now just maybe I want to race. Wilber said you can race the next year. Alfred will be racing his special 1929 HP JD 74”, this is a special built JD he has been building the bike for years. It’s special in that it has an aluminum cylinder and heads. All the stock JD’s have cast iron cylinders and head as one unit. Alfred had built his own engine. It was now 88 cubic inches not 74”. It was super fast. Alfred had tried to see how fast it would go a year ago. They had blocked a part of old Highway 18 off near “Wounded Knee” one early Sunday morning. They had many of their Indian friends help them. They had signs made up; Highway will be closed for 3 hours Sunday the 16” between 5 and 8am. They closed this highway down and raced their motorcycles for 3 hours. If the state ever got word of this I suppose all three and the Indians would still be in jail. But, as far as they could find out no one ever was the wiser. People most likely figured the Highway needed repairing. Elfred had his I-ID up to 178 mph. Wilber and the side car hit 144 M.P.H. These bikes were really fast. They both had the latest brakes, forks and suspension. Both Wilber and Alfred were getting anxious to race, they could hardly wait. Albert would be their pit crew. It was April, 1973, both Alfred and Wilber had sent in the entry many weeks before. They had already agreed to use Wilber’s old Ford truck, with the camper. It was still large enough to hold the HD and sidecar. They knew it would take 8-10 hours to drive to the race track. They wanted to get there Friday night to have all Saturday to get the bikes ready and check the track out.

They left 5:00 on Friday. They drove on old Highway 18 turned south on 27, this would take them south to Highway 2. They would turn south on 87 then on 26 west to ScottsblufY From there, they would find out where the track was located. They drove along at 60 M.P.H. making good time. That old Ford was running beautiftil. They were getting hungry so they stopped in Alliance, a nice small town. They noticed a lot of motorcycles on trailers and in pickups near a cafe, so Wilber drove over to the café. He found a place to park. They got out of the truck, wasn’t long they had a large bunch of riders looking their bikes over. Some young riders said, what you old timers going to do enter the bike show? Wilber said I’ll let you know, we intend to enter the races, the young riders said I think you are 40 years too late with those old bikes. Alfred said you think so, just wait and see. They went into the café; it was almost fill of riders. Most were young men, a few older guys. They ordered the special ham and eggs and plenty of hot coffee. They ate their breakfast and payed the girl. Albert said, “This is the first time none of us have teased the waitress. Wilber said I got too much on my mind. I’m going to win the big one. It’s for $5,000, I’ll show those young riders what an old timer can do. As all three walked over to their truck there was quite a crowd of riders looking at the sidecar and the J.D. Older riders could see these were special built bikes. One older rider asked who built the J.D. He said that’s the first J.D I ever seen with aluminum head and cylinders. Alfred said this is the only one he knew of The guy said I bet it will fly. Alfred said almost if it had wings it could. They looked the sidecar over. One older rider said where in the world did you get those big aluminum cylinders and head? He asked how large is it? Wilber smiled and said it’s large and will it go, watch me Sunday. They bid their new made friends goodbye and drove off. Elbert said they are all in for a big surprise Sunday. Wilber said yes and when I win the sidecar class those young punks will be lost for words. They drove into Scottsbluff and asked a few riders where the track was. An older fellow said I’ll tell you, but if you follow me I’m going there soon. They agreed and in a few minutes they left. The track must have been 40-45 minutes away. When they got to the track they noticed all the bikes and sidecar outfits. There must have been 400-500 bikes, and over 30 sidecars. They found a good place to park their truck. It was now getting late so they got the camper ready to sleep in. They set up their booby traps still not trusting everyone. They walked over to a big stand set up with all kinds of food. Albert said you guys hungry, Wilber said I could eat something before we hit the hay. They ate spareribs and were they ever good. Wilber said we should have some beer, but not tonight and not till after the races. Albert asked one cook where he learned to make such good spareribs. The cook said down south, I was in the army. I learned from an old buddy. He said glad you farm boys like the ribs, wait till you see what I got fixed for breakfast. They thanked their new found friend and said we’ll see you at 7 o’clock. They walked back to their truck, got ready for bed, wasn’t long; all three were in La La Land. Wilber dreamed of winning the side car race, only he was riding a high powered 125cc Harley. How in the world could a 125cc pull a side-car? We all know how dreams are.

Wasn’t long the sun started coming out. They got up dressed, said let’s see that guy who’s going to make that special breakfast. Soon the sun was out and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day. Alfred said we got all day so sign up shoot the bull with other riders and see all the special built side cars. Albert made a comment whoever is putting on this race really knows how to dot it 1st class. Everything was set up 1st class. They sat down with a lot of other riders. They took their plates and got in line to pick up their food. When they got to the food line Wilber said, boy look at all the food, they filled their plates with hot cakes, eggs, steak, ham, bacon, every kind of food you would have at a big hotel and more. They got in line twice, ate so much they could hardly walk. They started making the rounds of seeing all the bikes, one rider asked you guys racing Sunday? Wilber said Alfred and I are, Albert will be the Monkey. Wilber said maybe we had better get our bikes ready then see all the bikes, so they unloaded their bikes. Wilber started the Harley and said Monkey get on lets try this rig out. They rode around, soon they heard practice in 20 minutes. So, they put their old black leather on, put their old helmets on, rode over and got in line with all the other riders. There was lots of bikes and riders.

Wilber heard the man say all sidecars get ready, practice in 3 minutes. Wilber was in line, he noticed all the other riders looking at him. He said to himself I’ll take it easy play dumb, and then when I get in the race I’ll show those young riders how an old farm boy can ride. Wilber was now 50 years old, not real old, but no kid either. The flag was out, the starter dropped the flag, there were 15-16 riders in this practice heat. All those high powered bikes took off like crazy. Wilberjust laid back on a long straightaway he powered the power on, he flew by this big special built 3 cylinder Triumph, got along side and the rider looked over at Wilber, he waved his hand, like let’s go. Old Wilber opened that throttle part way, he passed the Triumph as if it was a stock bike. He played with other riders letting most of them pass him. He felt his way around the track, the flag came out, practice over for these riders’ lots of bikes to practice. So they had to keep the bikes moving along. Wilber rode over to his truck, wasn’t long there was dozens of riders looking his bike over. One fellow from England said how in the world you get that side valve to go so fast? Old Wilber said oh I put in new plugs and changed the oil. The Englishman said you did more than that. How large is the engine 2 cylinder bikes could be as large as 1600cc only thing side valves could be as large as 100 cibs. This gave Wilber the advantage, if his bike would hold together. Wither had built this engine to run wide open and not hurt it, being a side valve it would only turn up to 4500 rpm’s. But, that would be all be needed he could tell by riding with the special built jobs he would have all the power and speed he would need. After practice he watched old Alfred just play with some of those young riders. But, Alfred knew he was in for a real race, he kept thinking about winning and the $5,000 be was going to take home. All three spent the rest of Saturday looking at bikes and just talking with other riders. Saturday night was special; they had a meal fit for a king. Every kind of meat and vegetables you wanted, breads of every kind. Albert said we got to come to Nebraska more often. Soon the sun was going down, the sponsor of this big race had hired a big country band, and they had setup a big dance floor. Soon every one was having a good time. Wilber said hey lets knock it off, we’re not as young as most of these riders, they can party all night we need our sleep if we’re to race and win tomorrow, best we hit the sack. So, they put the bikes back on the truck, locked every thing up and hit the sack. Albert said good night, we’ll get up at 6:00 eat some of that wonderful food they have here then we’ll go racing and we’ll win.

Sunday morning came fast, they were up at 6:00, they cleaned up and got in line to eat. When they seen all the food, they just could not believe they had 3 days of the best food in the world. A place to camp out signup all for $100 this was really the best race they had ever been to. Soon it was time for practice, only 3 laps as there were so many riders the race starts at 11 o’clock. Even then all the races would probably last till 5:00 or 6:00 Alfred heard his beat race, called so he got in line with about 12-15 other riders the starter said 3 laps and please leave the track as fast as possible, we got lots of riders today. Alfred road hard for 3 laps passing a lot of young riders on their special MX bikes but he let plenty pass him. He didn’t want all the riders to really know how fast his J.D. was. Soon it was Wilber’s and Albert’s turn on the sidecar. They let most bikes pass them. Only on the straightaway Wilber really turned the throttle, he could tell he had the power and speed to win. The course was really tough. Big jumps, lots of corners and real tight turning. He knew he would really have to race his best if he was to win. All three were happy they had not drunk any beer or stayed up late. Saturday night, it was 12:30 Alfred was wondering when his race would come up. He didn’t have to wait long, the starter called the numbers out, Alfred got in line, the flag dropped (they were still using flags in the early 1970’s) Alfred let most riders pass him but he knew he had to place in top 3 to make the A-Main. So last lap he turned the throttle up, the old J.D. was fast, as fast as any other bike out there and just maybe the fastest of any. He waited for his race to come up he had made the Amain he had placed third, he got in line. Old Wilber and Albert were at the starting line, to watch Alfred take off. The flag dropped, all 1 8 riders took off 20 laps, the A-Main got underway. Alfred was in about 6.1 place 1 lap, he was happy, he had passed a lot of riders but he had 1 9 laps to go so he just stayed close to the riders up front letting some bikes pass him on the corners. On the long straightaway he would turn the throttle up, that ID was fast. He was sure of himself. Ten laps passed, he had stayed up front was in 8th place Wilber was on the side lines telling him what place he was in and waving him on. Nine laps went by, he knew he had to start passing so on the straightaway he cranked the throttle open. He passed some like they were standing still, 2 laps to go he was in place; he just smiled and said now I’ll show these young riders how a 50 year old rider can fly on a 44 year old bike. He passed 2 riders at once two ahead, 1-long last straightaway to go then the finish line. Old Alfred opened that throttle he flew by both riders in the corner, he took that corner like he was 16 years old he was smiling as he crossed the finish line He had passed the last two riders so fast he was a good 50’ ahead when the flag came out. He had won and he was really happy after the race all the riders came over said how an old farm boy on an old 44 year old bike can go so fast. He just smiled and said watch my buddy on the old side valve side car, he’ll really show you how a 50 year can ride. Alfred enjoyed showing the riders his special built J.D. This was one special bike it looked like it would not make one lap until you looked the bike over really good. It had the latest front fork, big dual brakes; the rear was of the latest mono-shock design. The engine was a beautiful piece of art all polished alloy. Those large cylinders and heads really stood out, Alfred was a proud owner indeed. Many races went by, all of a sudden the announcer said all sidecars in the AMain, get on the starting line now. Twenty five laps of really exciting racing. All those specials lined up, their Monkeys holding onto the sidecar. Everyone wanting to show their best and win that big prize $5,000 cash. No taxes coming out of this prize.

The flag came out the starter dropped the flag. All bikes shot forward, all wanting to get to the corner 1. Wilber knew he had 25 laps, his bike was fast, and he could pass many riders at will. It was about 1 mile around the track, many turns, two big jumps, and two good straight-aways. This is what Wilber liked best, a place to pass. This track was built for speed and those two big jumps were good and wide so a rider could pass even on the jump. After the jumps you went into a curve not sharp, like so many tracks are. You could still come off the jump and go into the corner fast. Wilber really liked this track. His bike seemed to like it. Old Albert was hanging onto the sidecar for dear life. Always moving with the bike, he was a good Monkey, he and Wilber made a good team. Four laps went by those English bikers were fast and the riders were good. They had been riding sidecars for awhile, you could tell these riders knew what they had to do to win. Everyone wanted that 1 place and the $5,000. Wilber came up on this one bike he knew was fast and the rider was super good. They had just come out of a curve over the big jump now a long straightaway. Both riders going wide open they both went into the corner wide open. Albert hanging on for dear life, sliding from one side to the other he was really good. He helped Wilber keep all the wheels on the ground. The next corner came up fast, now there were 4 riders going into the corner one really fast bike slid off the track taking another bike with him. The rider was on Wilber’s right side much too close as they went over a jump, the other bike hit Wilber’s side car both bikes flipped over, riders laying on the ground, a flag man came over to flag the coming riders off to the right. Wilber got up, Albert was already up, they said nothing, they picked the side car up got it right sided and got on old, Wilber gave that starter pedal one big fanner kick. It came to life. Before even looking for Albert he rode off full throttle, they were I lap behind, but still had 20 laps to go and pass other bikes Wilber rode that old Harley like crazy. Every spectator was cheering him on. Old Alfred was near by, he had seen the accident Wilber could see him cheering him on. Wilber rode that old side value like no other rider could. He started passing even in the corners. He came over a big jump filly air borne, his bike was a good 6-7 feet in the air. Old Elbert was hanging on for dear life. Soon he had made up the lost lap. He just kept the throttle open. Riding like no farmer ever could, it was now 12 laps to go. Alfred was on the side with his big marker board keeping Wilber informed of what place he was in. The board said 11 laps you’re in 8th place. All those Englishmen were really good riders and they had fast modern bikes. Wilber however did not doubt for a second he could not catch up and pass all the bikes. He wanted 1 place and the $5,000 prize money. Wilber got along side this one bike he just could not pass him. He was a Chec riding a special built JAWA Twin. After the race was over he checked to see how large the engine was, it was the largest vertical twin he had ever heard of 1,000cc about 64 cubes. It had a longer stroke that the bore. This gave him that extra power he needed. His Monkey had been riding sidecars for 18 years so he really knew how to control the sidecar. I sold JAWA motorcycles from 58 to late 70’s the largest bike they built then was a 500cc twin, it was a heavy road bike I like to have one, I just bought a bike I always wanted, 1982 Honda 6 cylinder with bags and Fairings, a beautiful bike, looks and runs like new. Only it sits a little high and is heavy 635 lbs. At 77 years old my legs are getting weak. Other wise I’m in good shape. I love my KAW 800cc twin its only 500 lbs. and that’s just perfect. My Harley Road King is getting heavy for me. However, it’s so nice to ride once you’re under way it’s still one of the best road bikes made. It will cruise all day at 85 M.P.H. and still get good gas mileages. Now back to the race. I found out after the race the JAWA rider had built this special JAWA, it had taken him 2 years to build. Wilber and him really took to each other. They talked for hours over building big engines and bikes.

Alfred card came out as Wilber flew by he was now in 6th place but he was having a hard time trying to get by the fast JAWA. He thought to himself, I have got to pull something special off in order to get by the JAWA. The high jump was coming up. He kept the throttle near wide open. He was really riding over his head as he came over the jump it was a good 5-6 feet in the air. He pulled the car to his left as far as he could go, he was along side the JAWA he kept the throttle wide open. There was no more. This wasn’t his bike pulled ahead of the JAWA by only 2-3 feet but that’s was all he needed to keep the throttle open going over the smaller jump he was in the air, the crowd went wild watching Wilber this was probably the best race of the day. The sign came out Alfred put up. 4 laps to go you’re in 4th place. He had just passed the fast JAWA there was a big Honda up a head two 3cyl Triumphs there riders had raced all over Europe and England they really were good. How in the world was an old farm boy from South Dakota going to get by these riders. His old side valve was getting tired. He could hear the engine knocking. He said please Lord, give me 3 more laps. Please Harley don’t blow up. Wilber just held that throttle open riding like it was for a million dollars not $5,000. Two laps to go he was still in place. The big jump coming up he worked his way to the left, he signaled to Albert to move to the left, he went over the jump 5-6 feet in the air side car in the air. He kept the side car wheel in the air; he was going as fast as he could go. He passed the Honda, then passed one big 3 cycle Tn one rider to go. One lap left, if he could only pass the remaining Triumph. The long straight away was coming up; then one jump 150 feet of straightaway, then the checkered flag. Wilber said to his old Harley, please don’t blow up now. The crowd was building up; every one could see this was a race they would remember for years. The announcer was giving the crowd a good run down on the race. You could tell he had been doing this for years. I tried announcing at the old Jolly Rodgers Track in 1960’s and 70’s I had a lot of fun doing this. The old Jolly’s Track will be remembered for many years. Almost every day I will talk to someone who raced there or their kids did. The track was well known for 60 years. Wilber got along side the big Triumph, the rider glazed over at Wilber, the jump was coming up. Two riders right on his tail. Wilber flew over the jump so high one could drive a car under him; He kept the side car wheel off the ground, Old Albert hanging on for dear life. He held the throttle wide open. The old Harley had shot ahead of the last big Triumph, but all three riders were right behind. He kept to the left, riding right on the line. No one was going to pass him on the left. The crowd was now going mad. The finish line was 100 feet away. Wilber could bear the engine making a funny noise. But that did not matter now. He would do almost anything to finish this race and win. Even knowing he would have to rebuild the engine which could take 2-3 days and the cost of parts $2-3,000. The checkered flag was out. Wilber could see the flag; it looked like it was almost in his face. He crossed the finish line on two wheels and kept it up for another 100 feet. He then pulled off the track. He rode the bike around to the finish line, the big crowd was waiting. He shut the engine off. Albert got out of the sidecar; Wilber slid off the Harley, The press was there, flashes from all the cameras going off; the crowd going crazy trying to get close to him. He had finished 1 the old JAWA came in 2nd, the two big Triumphs right behind the JAWA, this was probably the closest race all day, and most likely the fastest even for a sidecar. The announcer said he had just witnessed the fastest lap ever set on this track by a sidecar, just under 57 seconds, it’s a mile track. Wilber would have to have been going over 100 M.P.H. on the strait a ways. The old record was set 3 years ago by a rider from Italy riding a big-big Ducati. It was reported the Ducati was 1400cc, it put out over 21OHP it clocked over 190 M.P.H. this the rider did at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The rider had told other riders he had over $150,000 tied up in the Ducati. The sad part is someone had stolen the bike at a big race. By the time the police found it, the thief was long gone, but he didn’t really get far away. He had made it close to Ogden where the police found the bike. The rider had passed a car on a two lane highway; he hit a big Kenworth Truck head on. The guy died, the bike blew up. It burned to where one could hardly tell it had been a motorcycle. The police said the boy was only 17 years old. He had come from a broken home, one of his pals had said the kid had nothing to loose, only his life. The poor owner of the Ducati lost it all, they reported after he seen the burned cycle he just walked away, no one ever heard from him again. Just maybe someday he’ll show up somewhere. Anyone that could build a bike like his deserves a 2nd chance. Wilber collected his $5,000 and a big trophy, he was the most popular rider at the races. Everyone started packing up, putting their bikes in pickups and trailers. It was 8:00, Wilber had talked it over with Albert and Alfred. They decided to spend the night at the track, get up early and drive home Monday. They were all just too tired out to start home this late at night. There was some partying going on but for the most, everyone wanted to go home, all looking forward to next year. Wilber and pals got home 4:30 Monday. He at once tore into the Harley, he got the engine out, tore it down that night, and he checked everything. Only thing he had broken 2 rings on the rear piston. The rest of the engine looked new. He had really built a good engine. He was excited he had won the big one. His name and picture would be in all the motorcycle magazines, also Alfred who had won his race, but the sidecar race was what everyone was talking about. Wilber, Alfred, Albert would be talking of this race for years to come. Will they ever race again, who knows? Ruthie and Evelyn were at Wilber’s home waiting for the men. They were happy to see all three and when they seen the big checks and trophies they were all smiles.

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – Vietnam


Where is Vietnam, it is a small country in Asia, until the war between the south and north, which lasted from late 1964 to 1975, over ten years, few people had heard of this country. The way I got it, the war was supposed to drive the commies out of the country, which really never happened. The communists still rule the country. We do have a pretty good relationship with both the South and North. For over ten years our government tried to find a way to end the war. How many really understand why we were ever there? We lost over 58,000 men and women, the Vietnamese lost over two million. The cost of the war was in the billions, tax payers are still paying for that war. ??? and after the war inflation here went sky high. I remember buying a new ford for 3,000 dollars in 1964, after ten years it was worth 10,000 dollars.

In April of 1975 the U.S. forces fled Saigon, helicopters were flying the last ones out they were standing on the roof of the U.S. embassy. The Viet-cong troops entered just hours after we left. Why in the world did we ever get involved in the first place. Our government leaders, both parties, had got us involved in too many places we never should have been. What are we doing in Iraq? How are we ever gonna get out, without more of our men and women dying? Inflation again will start going up and up. Taxpayers will be paying for this war for years. In the end, will we have won, I don’t think so! I no longer trust our leaders of both parties and election is only a few months away. The big question is who are you going to vote for? I know who I’m voting for, Bush. I don’t agree with him on many issues, but Kerry sure doesn’t have an answer for anything. How can you be a Christian and believe in murder, which abortion is. Bush believes in god and he is not a afraid to say so. I can not and will not vote for anyone who does not believe in god and his laws, this would be men of both parties. The war with Iraq, I pray this is. As people everywhere want to be free and they should be. I still do not believe it’s the U.S.’s job to free everyone that should be up to the United Nations. That’s enough talking about the war.

In 1967, I was 41 years old, I had a wonderful business and family and was really happy. Never did I dream our government would be asking me to come and help them out of a big mess, one we never should have been in the first place.

I got a call one day from my old buddy Clarence, he was living in Texas. He asked me if I had a call fro the War Department. I told him yes, they told me they had also contacted you. He said they sure did, he told me they would be contacting both of us soon, and they sure did. They told both of us they had this special job they had to get done in Vietnam. But why us? They have all the men they need to do any job they want to get done. We both should have been suspicious right then. But like big dummies, we fell for their lies and trap. A Lt. Commander Warlick called us both and told us we would be it he M.S.T. and would be working with the Navy and Marines.

Clarence had worked at many jobs since I had last seen him. He was and still is a very brilliant man. He had worked as a motorcycle cop in Tennesee, he taught at a Lauge college in Texas, he worked with the EB.I. and also the I.R.S. He had worked at A Special Rescue work flying helicopters. I had not worked with Clarence since 1945, that’s a long time ago. We both had done special work in France and Japan at that time we were not allowed to talk about our missions for years. I had been living in Sough Dakota and North Dakota for a short time. I got married in 1949 to Donna, I went to school at N.D. School of Science in 1949 and 1950. In 1951 we moved to Seattle, Washington, we have lived here ever since, it is now 2004, we have been married 55 years. We have a beautiful two and half acre farm in Maple Valley and a beautiful winter home in Arizona. Quite a number of years ago I learned to fly helicopters, I just loved it!!! It cost $200 an hour to rent and I don’t go up much anymore. As I write this, my legs are both bad and I’m unable to fly or even ride my motorcycles. But I can ride my big motor scooter, I pray I will be able to ride a motorcycle again soon. Since 1946 I have worked at many different jobs, I was a boot maker for a few years and I worked at painting signs, this I really enjoyed. In 1958 I started a Motorcycle store, I just loved it! I continued painting signs for a few years. I did all our signs at the store, but by 1962 I was just too busy selling motorcycles so I had to quit painting. As I was working at the store Donna worked right with me, she did all the paper work and books, she sold parts, motorcycles, she could run the store if needed. She has been a wonderful wife now for 55 years. Now, I better get back to my story.

Lt. Commander Warlick explained to Clarence and me the job he had for us. It was Special Rescue work, flying helicopters in Vietnam. We would be paid really good for this work, the Army had lots, just too many choppers. Clarence had done lots of Special Rescue work in Alaska and other places. The U.S. Navy had this special work in Vietnam they told us they just could not trust the Army or Marine pilots to do this, we again should have been suspicious. Be we just couldn’t believe the government would be this dirty. The Navy sent us to San Diego, California for 2 weeks special training. We would be using _??? Choppers, these are slow, under powered, but they work good for this kind of work. We were now in the M.S.T. but most of our work would be with the Navy. We ate with the Navy, slept in the same tents, etc. Again Clarence said we should not have taken this job. We both agreed we would try to find a way to get out soon. We were too late, the next day we got our 1st orders. We agreed we got to find a way to stay alive and get back to the U.S. fast. But how? Clarence said we got about I chance in 1,000 of getting out alive. We were told we could never talk about this work for at least 38 years, why 38 years I never did find out. We both kept our mouths shut, till now. About 1:00 we got our first orders, we were to fly north from our camp and follow the river. One side of the river was a real high hill with a cave in the side by the river. Our orders claimed we could not miss the cave, they were right. As we flew low, close to the water and the cave, 2 men came out of the cave. They signaled I was to fly dose, about I foot above the water as there was no place to sit the choppers down. One man got into each of our choppers, we flew back to the camp, neither man would say one word to us. We both thought that was funny. We made it back to camp, no problem before we could get out of the choppers a Nave officer gave us our next orders and just said, go fast. We said we needed to gas up, he said, okay then leave at once. We got a chance to read our orders while the Navy filled our choppers. We read the orders, they looked about the same as the last one, only this time, fly down the river further until we see this island and get back to camp fast. I said to Clarence, there’s something funny going on here, any pilot could do this job, Clarence said this job sticks. We got in our choppers and lifted off, down the river. As we got close to the island, 2 men came toward the shore. We both noticed both men, looked real dirty and unshaved, their clothes looked old and worn out, the men had no shoes on. I thought to myself, these men could be prisoners, and they turned out to be just that. We found out later the North Vietnamese had been paid big money to get these men out of prison. I at once picked one man up, Clarence picked the other one up. We tiled to get high in the air fast, we got about 150-200 feet high when guns started going off. It looked like they were shooting at us, the sky was all lit up. We were both scared, but tried to gain altitude, just then I noticed my chopper had taken a hit, I kept flying. I noticed that Clarence’s chopper had taken a hit too, his chopper was smoking, it looked like it was on tire. We both kept flying as best we could, we both knew if we went down her it would be all over for us.

We got about 5 minutes out and the sky lit up again, it looked like lights at the 4th of July fireworks. We did get up to 500 feet, we kept flying back to wards camp. All of a sudden I noticed that Clarence’s chopper was going down, he had taken a big hit. I turned and flew back towards him, his chopper went down hard. I got as close as possible, I noticed that Clarence was wounded. bad, bleeding all over, the man he picked up was dead, most of his head was gone. How Clarence managed to get out only God knows.

Clarence got into my chopper, he had to sit on the passenger’s lap, we had no seat belts and he had to hang onto the passenger. I had a hard time lifting oft, it was real hard to get any attitude. It was especially hard with all the weight off to the side. It was very hard flying, the chopper kept wanting to go down. The highest I could get was 300 feet, my chopper started misfiring. I did not know what else to do but keep flying, if we went down it would be all over for all of us!

I thought if I could make it back to camp we should be okay, but it would be hard landing. Clarence said to me, old buddy you’re bleeding your arm looks real bad, I knew that as it hurt, but I had to use it to fly. My left leg was also hurting, I could not see if it was bleeding. Old Clarence was having a hard time hanging on, my chopper was misfiring bad and smoking. I looked at the oil pressure, it was way down, thats really bad, if the engine stops, we’re all done. I noticed the camp up at my front, I at once flew close as I could to the level area, I tiled landing my chopper, it hit the ground real hard.

Old Clarence fell out at once, he was bleeding bad, at once I shut the chopper off, it was smoking real bad, the engine sounded like it was ready to fly apart and gas was coning out. I said to myself I had to get away fast, the passenger was out fast. All 3 of us got as far away as possible from the chopper. The chopper blew up, parts flying everywhere. All most at once 10 – 15 men me to us, they all helped us up. Suddenly there was a 3 Star General that cam over to us, he grabbed my passenger and left at once, never said anything to any of us.

We were taken to a small aid station, a young doctor treated us, he got the bleeding stopped on Clarence, he was realty hurting and there was nothing I could do for him. A Major cam over to me and asked about my passenger, I told him the 3 Star General had taken him away. He asked about Clarence’s passenger, I told him he was dead, we left him on the ground. He said how do you know he was dead, I said his head was gone, I’m sure he was dead. He said don’t get smart with me, I’ll have your head also. I said sorry sir but I’m just telling you the facts. The men helped both of us into the back of an Army truck. The driver took oil at once, no one said anything, we drove for about an hour.

We finally came to a camp, they at once rushed us to a 50 bed hospital, it looked real dirty. The doctors treated our wound the best they could. One young U. said you’re both lucky, no broken bones, just flesh wounds. Another young LI. came over to us and I asked him if we could get something to eat, we haven’t eaten all day. Another officer a Major said, why should we even feed or patch you guys up, you both screwed up bad today. Clarence that was hurting pretty bad said, why because we screwed up 2 new choppers today and one man. We could see he was real mad, he said to hell with the choppers, it was the passengers we wanted. I said sir, we did the very best we could, we were under tire all day. He just said, you both get paid real good, you should be more careful not to get hit or hurt I kept my mouth shut, we both said no more. We both agreed this would be our last job working for the government.

The next day we were flown to a large Navy hospital ship. They had lots of doctors, they all took real good car of us, treated our wounds, etc. They fed us real good too. I said to myself I wonder what’s up? Almost at once we were taken into a large room with many high ranking officers, they questioned us for hours then finally left us alone. The doctors told both of us it would be months before we could fly again. We both agreed, now is the time to get out of here.

We have to find a plan going back to the States and find one fast, and we tried the best we could to find a way back to the States. I talked to a Lt., he tried to tell me something but I could tell he was afraid to say anything. I could tell he did not Ike his job and what was going on in Vietnam. Clarence and I were sleeping one night when the voice of the same officer woke me. I could hear him talking about the war and saying it was all about drugs and bid money. He thought we were both still sleeping. Another officer told him to shut up, you have said too much, you could get us both killed.
The next day we heard of a plane going back to the states, we immediately tried to find out if they had room for us. One officer said, yes we have to take care of you Navy men, I did not say anything, we were not Navy men, we were just given some Navy clothes to wear because we had lost our. We finally got on the plane, both of us said nothing, we let everyone think we were Navy and had been wounded, this helped us, as they always take good care of their own.

After a long flight, we landed in Los Angeles, California, got off the plane and walked away as if nothing had ever happened. We caught a Taxi to the office of the M.S .T., we told them we were and we would like to get paid for the jobs we had done. Some big shot Officer seemed to know all about us and what we had done. He again said, you both keep your mouths shut if you want to stay alive, you do just as you are told. We both agreed to say nothing and told the Officer that maybe someday you can use us again. One big Commander said, I’m the one that does all the hiring and firing, when you guys heal and can fly again, get in touch with me. We both played dumb and said sir, we sure will. But, when we got away and were by ourselves 01 Clarence said, are they crazy, do they really believe we are that dumb?

We said nothing for 37 years and this is why I wrote this story, now we could tell it all. When we did try to telling some high-ups they all just said you were both big suckers. They told us that what happened 37 years ago is history, who really cares? We tiled telling some reporters, they just said forget it, that’s old news and no one wants old news. So we just said nothing more.

It is now 2004 and we are both still hurting from that war, I am 78 years old and I forge how old Clarence is, but he’s up there too. We both still ride our motorcycles and have not ridden to Sturgis since 2001, but sure would like to ride one more time. I can’t fly anymore, my feet are both really bad, without good feet you can’t fly. Besides, renting a small chopper cost $200 an hour, that’s too steep for me. Clarence had to quit flying a few years ago, he’s lucky to be walking, he has been hurt just too many times. I still try to fide my bicycle 4- 5 times a week, but even that is hard to do. We’ll both just keep riding until God calls us home.

Clarence rode by our home here in Maple Valley just this past week, he had bought another BMW, a beautiful black 1100, only had 11,000 miles on it. He has 3 BMWs now, claims he’s owned over 50. A lot of people like to buy and sell a lot, he’s had so many cars this past year I’ve lost track.

The weather is beautiful here in Seattle and as I write this, it looks like we got 4 more good months of riding the rest of 2004. Then I’ll head south to our home in Arizona, one can ride there in comfort all year around. I thank God Donna and I have the best of 2 worlds, summers in the Seattle area with our family and winters in Arizona.

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – The Big Race of “72”

The Big Race of “72”

It was the winter of 1972, Wilber, Alfred and Albert were drinking beer, having a good time shooting pooi having fun with the girls. The old pooi hail is a very busy place during the winter months. Most ranchers and farmers have more free time this time of year. One younger fellow asked Wilber about racing at the Sturgis Rally. Wilber said yes, I’ve dreamed of racing on that half-mile flat track, it’s a fast track, not in the best condition. The long cold winter in the hills is hard on tracks, ball parks etc., especially if they get a lot of snow. One has to spend a lot of time and money, “which most of the time they don’t have,” to put the tracks back in good shape.

The young man’s name was Fred, most people called him Freddie. Old Wilber said, you know what, I’ll talk to Alfred and Albert if they agree to race we’ll start getting our bikes in shape. If we start this winter we should have the bikes in shape by July, of course we had plenty of work to do on the farms, so we’d better hurry and get the bikes in condition to race.

The more beer they drank, and the more fun they had, the more they were sure that they would race in August, 1973. Wilber talked to Alfred and Albert about racing at Sturgis. They said it sounds good, only you know how we all hate the big crowds and all the traffic, but what the hell, let’s do it once. So after the tavern closed, they all went home, but agreed they would get together Monday to plan on which bikes they would use and see what they would have to do to get their bikes in shape. The rules say 750” is the biggest you can race and the bikes must be twins of 500” singles. Stupid rules, but that’s the way it is. Wilber asked Alfred and Albert what bikes they would be using. Alfred said I think I’ll start right now and build a flat traveler out of the Army Indian “45” we bought at the surplus sale after we came home from the Korean war. Albert said, these old bikes will really need a lot of work to build them into flat trackers. They had bought a truckload of surplus Harleys and Indians. They have been sitting in the barn for over 17 years.

All three agreed to get to work at once, they would use all their spare time on building the race bikes. The first thing they would do is strip the bikes down and make a list of parts they would have to order to build nice bikes out of army bikes. Albert said old Wilber what bike are you going to ride? Wilber said, I have three Harley “45”s, I’ll build a flat tracker out of one of them. So all three got to work, they knew they would have a lot of work ahead of them once they got the bikes built. They would have to have a track to run them on, they all agreed Sturgis was too far to go to test the bikes, plus the city would not let them use the track unless there was a race coming up. So Wilber said, we’ll just build our own track. Nothing fancy, but a true half mile track, that way we can practice on it. We’ll all be in good shape come August. Those big city racers will think we’re just some farm boys out to have fin but wait till the big 30 lap, 1 5 mile race comes up, we’ll show those city boys how old farm boys can ride! They all agreed to build the bikes into real racers, but we will have the bikes look old. No fancy paint jobs, no chrome, just pure racers. So they got to work, Wilber had his “45” stripped in one day. He put the engine on the work bench, he would tear it down soon, but first be had to get that list of parts made, they knew of a big dealer in Ohio, they could get their parts there.Wilber decided he would use the stock 45” springs front forks and save money, a new race fork cost lots of money. He stripped the rear wheel down, he would order 2 new lightweight rims. Wilber had been to a lot of races in the last 20 years so he pretty much knew what he had to do. He took that engine apart. Once he took weight off the flywheels and polished the rods, made sure the rollers were good as new he knew what pistons to order. He machine the heads, he did all the work on the carburetor. He let it look stock, but if the other riders really knew what he did to that carburetor. Wilber knew a stock 45” put out around 2 1-23 H.P. he would need 70 to 80 H.P. He cut every bracket off the frame he would not need. A stock 45” is around 550 lbs. he wanted his down to 300.-325 lbs. He cleaned the frame painted it black, he stripped the gas and oil tank and painted them fire engine red. No front fender was needed, the rear fender he made out of aluminum. He used an old Bates Salo seat, with pad on the back fender. He stripped off the Anny paint from the exhaust, he didn’t need a muffler, just the exhaust pipes, he really put work into them and tapered the pipes just right. He built a real simple bracket he could kick open with his right boot and close it at the correct time, he knew he could get a lot of extra H.P. this way.

One sunny spring day the mailman came by, and left Wilber a big package. The mailman said, what you got in that package? Wilber laughed and said garden seed. The mailman said from a motorcycle shop? Old Wilberjust grinned and said I’ll tell you come the middle of August. Wilber took those special race pistons and installed them. He laced the new alloy rims to the stock hubs, which he had cleaned and painted black. In two weeks he had the engine together, and the frame painted. He was now ready to put the bike together. He had started work on the track in April, Alfred and Albert had also worked on the track. They used old tires around the track.

One sunny day in April, a small airplane flew over, he must have noticed the track. He banked the plane around, flew real low, 50 – 100 feet off the ground. Wilber could see this guy was a real pilot, be flew around the track a few times. Wilber signaled for him to land in the pasture, which be did. He set the small pipes cub down like a real pro, got out of the plane, walked over to Wilber, and said old boy, just what the hell are you building it looks like a race track. Wilber said you’re right, a true half mile. He told the pilot the story, how he and his pals were going to race at Sturgis. The flyer said, by the way my name is Joe Foss. Wilber almost fainted he was the big hero of World War II. He seemed like a regular fellow, he had also been governor of South Dakota. Wilber called his friends Albert and Alfred, they came over in a few minutes, riding their old Indians. Wilber broke out his special home brew. Foss said I’d like to drink with you boys, but not when I’m flying besides he said here its 4:30 I’d better fly away, I have to be back in Sioux Falls by 7:00. He said he would come by sometime, and try to make it to the Sturgis Races. He never did fly back or come to the races. But Wilber knew Foss was a real busy man. It was a nice gesture but old Alfred said hell were just old farm boys, we all been in the army but we’re not heroes. Alfred said, I’d rather be an old farm boy any day than a city slicker. Wither said yes were just old farm boys, but we’re going to show some of those city riders this August at the Sturgis Races.

By end of April Wilber had his bike built, it looked good like most Harley 45” racers. He told Alfred lets get the track finished so we can get our bikes tested and practice our racing. Alfred and Albert had both the Indians stripped down. They agreed to use the stock Gircter front forks. They laced 19” alloy rims to the stock hub, which they hadstripped of all brake parts. Both really knew how to build Indian engines, they ordered special pistons out of California. They new of the old Indian racer named Ed Krent. He had won the Daytona 100 mile race on an Indian. They built both Indians the same. They built their own exhaust pipes and they did all the work on the stock carburetors and the air cleaners they built out of light aluminum, tapered to just the right shape. They painted the gas tank a bright Indian red, and the frame black, by time they got them together, they looked good. Just like factory racers.

By the end of April, they had their bikes race ready, now they would help Wilber finish the track. It rained a lot in April ad also in May. As soon as they would get the track ready to race on it would rail like crazy and make a mud hole out of the track. They knew they would have to put special clay on the track. This they would have to get down by Wounded Knee. There was a friend of theirs who had this large ranch on one section was some of the best clay in the Mid-West. They drove their old big Ford trucks down there one Sunday and loaded the trucks with clay, took it home and put it on the track. They knew at once they could never haul enough clay in their trucks to finish the track by June. So, they hired a trucking firm that had a dozen big trucks. In a weeks time they had moved enough clay to really build a good track. This cost them more than all three bikes did to build. Wilber said, I’ll sell some of my cattle to pay for the clay. He had to sell over 20 head of good Steers to pay for the clay. He did not like doing this, but they had come too far along to quit now.

Come the second week in June the track was in beautiful shape and their bikes were running beautiful. So come Sunday they started running the bikes on the track. The first Sunday they spend testing their bikes they got to gearing down. The third Sunday they started practicing racing. They must of used up 50 gallons of fuel, they ran those bikes until almost 9:00 at night. Their old friend Ruthie had been clocking them on the track, she said you guys are going as fast as the top racer in the U.S. do. Old Wilber said let’s try some of our special fuel, let’s see if these bikes will really fly and hang together. So come Monday, they tried the special fuel. All three bikes set record speeds, they were going around the track as fast as any Pro Racer.

They knew the bikes could go fast, they knew of an Indian friend who had bought a Triumph 500” twin in California. It was built to race on half-mile tracks, so they invited their friend over the next weekend. He asked Wilber if he could bring a friend of his along. He had this super fast B.S.A. 500” single. Wilber said bring anyone with a fast bike. The next weekend they spent all day Saturday and Sunday racing and testing the bikes. The Triumph was real fast, the B.SA. could take the Triumph. But they thought just maybe it was the rider, they switched riders. All five riders tried all the bikes, it was about 5:00, and old Ruthie had been clocking all the riders. She said lets try a 10-lap race and see how all 5 of your can do. So they all lined up, Ruth dropped the flag and all 5 riders took off like real racers. She clocked all the bikes. She could tell Wilber, Alfred and Albert had built some fast bikes, they stayed right with the Triumph and the B.S.A. Now they would have to get even faster if they could beat the B.S.A. and the Triumph, they knew they had a good chance of winning at Sturgis. They continued to race on their track all July.

They were now ready for Sturgis. They had just gotten their copy of Cycle Magazine, it had a large add on the races, $5,000 to the winner of the 25-mile main event. They checked and re-checked their bikes. Trying different jets and air filters. They were readyto race. Wilber said, we’ll take my Ford truck with the camper. We’ll camp out at the track, no need for a motel, besides they were all taken months ago. They drove to Sturgis on Friday and made arrangements with the track to camp out in the parking lot. They spend all day Saturday testing and practicing. Now it was time to race!

Sunday looked like it was going to be really hot out. Wilber liked that, because his bike would really run fast in the hot weather. The ate all their meals at the track and didn’t even go into town at night. Sunday came and bikes were arriving from all over the U.S. and they even noticed three riders from Canada. Alfred said if we can all three win, we can take home over $8,000. On Sunday morning they all signed up, practice would start at 10:00 sharp. The track looked good, Albert said good thing we build our track, we learned a lot about flat track racing. It was a good thing our friend came over and raced us on the B.S.A and Triumph. Wilber said let’s play it cool, no showing off, we’ll make sure all three of us make the main. Practice was underway, all three did real good. Albert came in 3rd, all 3 made the main. There was a big crowd on hand, the stands were full, standing room only. The word was out, the farm boys were running real fast. A lot of the west coast riders didn’t think much of the farm boys, Wilber heard one rider from Seattle say lets not let those fanners get ahead of us, we’ll hold them back and push them to the back first chance we get. Albert said to Alfred, we’ll show those city boys just wait and see.

The announcer said all riders in the main on the line now. There were 25 riders lined up in 2 rows. The flagman was on the starter line and all the riders were on the line with their engines running, it was very loud, riders were eager to start. The starter dropped the flag, and the race was on! The hot Triumphs shot to the front fast. Dick Washer from Seattle was really going fast, his Triumph seemed real fast. Wilber was back in 14th place, Alfred and Albert right behind Wilber, five laps passed and those farm boys were trying to work their way up. The Triumphs were really fast and it was hard to stay with them. Old Wilber was now in 9th place he was thinking to himself, I have to do something, then he reached down and pulled a lever on the carburetor, his bike shot forward fast. He could see Alfred and Albert were playing with their carburetor; they were all trying to get more out of their bikes. Fifteen laps passed, dick Washer on the fast Triumph was in place and really flying. Now 20 laps, Wilber had worked his way to 6th place. Alfred and Albert on the old Indians were really flying, they were in 8th Twenty-five laps went by, they flag came out, 25 laps to go, half the race was over. Thirty laps and the farm boys just could not work their ay up. About 20 riders went into the 3rd corner, really flying and all of a sudden one rider went down, he took 4 or 5 riders down with him. The flag came out, all riders kept their positions, 3 laps went by, then the flag came out, go again and all the bikes just went flying. Wilber had done good, he missed all the fallen riders. Alfred and Albert on their Indians had missed the fallen riders too and had worked their way up front, 40 laps gone by, 10 laps to go! Alfred had passed Wilber with Albert right behind him, now all 3 riders were up front, 6 or 7 riders were riding almost side by side down the straight a way. Wilber had now passed Alfred and Albert, 3 laps to go, the farm boys were now up front. Dick Walker on the fast Triumph was in front, 2 laps to go. Dick’s Triumph starting missing, it was back firing bad, he dropped way back. A California rider was now in 1 place on a Triumph. The white flag came out, 1 lap to go, Wilber was in 2nd, Alfred and Albert right behind him, the crowd was on their fee. Six riders went into turn 3, coming into turn 4. Wilber was now just inches ahead of the Triumph, Alfred and Albert right behind. All the riders came down the home stretch, side by side, Wilber now 6-8 inches ahead, Alfred and Albert were right with him. The checkered flag was out. Old Wilber had stayed inches ahead of the Triumph. This was going to be a photo finish. The crowd was going crazy, the Announcer was telling it as it was. All of a sudden, he said the three farm boys had won, just by 68 inches, it was so close they called all three winners. The crowd was going wild, and the race was over. All riders parked their bikes, engines off. They announced the winners, the boys on their old bikes had won! The hot California riders just could not believe it, they called for the engines to be tore down to see if they were legal. After 3 hours passed, the 3 Dakota farm boys were declared the winners. The race was over and the farm boys went home with $8,000. This was a race that all riders would be talking about for years.

Wilber, Alfred and Albert decided to spend the night at the track, all 3 were just too tired to drive home. They would get a good night sleep and leave in the morning. They would of liked to see the Sturgis Rally, but decided the next year they would spend a few days at the Rally, just maybe they would not race, they had proven they could still win at their age and on old bikes, if people really knew. All 3 bikes were special built, no factory could ever build racers like these 3 could. Wilber said what you boys think, just maybe we’ll have some races on our track. Wilber could hear Alfred and Albert were asleep, so he turned the lights off and soon was in La-La-Land.

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – All My Cars

All My Cars

We all remember our 1st car, how anxious we were to drive, we just couldn’t wait to drive, drive, drive. These are some memories I will never forget. Cars, girls and what more does a young man need?

My first carThe 1 car I drove, I did not own, I was only 12 at the time, living in old South Dakota. When school got out in the spring, most boys and girls would look for a summer job and being in S.D. there just weren’t many jobs other than farm work. If you worked on a farm, you could get out of school earlier in the spring to get the crops in early, etc. I was working in the Nelson Shoe Shop, this one farmer used to come in for his shoes and get his harnesses fixed, I got to know him real good. He also went to the same church, English Lutheran in Britton, this is. the same church Donna and I got married in, only 11 years later.

This farmer’s name was Ted Larson, he was the son-in-law of Joe Grope a big, big farmer. Ted came from Minnesota. I also drove my 1St tractor, a John Deer H, 2 cylinders. What a wonderful tractor, those of you who are or were farmers know what I’m talking about. In order to start the tractor you had to turn a big petcock, this let the gas into the carburetor. The tractor had a large fly wheel on the right side, you would give it a big turn usually and the engine would start at once, if not you gave it another turn, once the tractor started, you would turn another petcock, which let diesel in, then at once, turn the gas petcock off and the tractor would run all day long. I used this tractor to cultivate corn after the 4th of July. We would start haying, we’d us the tractor to mow the grass, then we would use horses to rake the hay. Then days later we came along with a tractor to pick the hay up, it goes on and on. Well, we used a car to pull the hay stacker up with. This is when I got to drive my 1st car, a 1924 Chevy, a little 4 cylinder, 3 speeds. We would pull this stacker up, then back up 30 feet or so and repeat this all day long. But at the end of the day is when my fun really began! I got to drive the Chevy back to the farmhouse, along a small narrow dirt road, going maybe 25-30 M.P.H. Boy that was just plain fun and I got paid to do it, $2 a day, plus room and board. I learned more working on that big farm than one could ever learn in school. I just loved that old Chevy, and I loved working for the Gropes’, Ted was a wonderful man and boss. Just one of those guys you never forget.

My brother and I on my Army INdian.  At left, my 37 Ford.The next car was an old Model T-Ford, this belong to a good friend of mine, Cubby Price, I have told of Cubby in other stories. He was a nice boy, a good friend to have. He would come down to our house and pick me and the other kids up. We’d all take turns driving that old Model-T. We’d all chip in and buy the gas at 17-18 cents a gallon, so we would drive until we were out of gas, this went on for a year or two. That’s a wonderful memory.

The next car was actually a Chevy pick up, old Herman Johnson had this big grocery store in Britton. In that day they would deliver groceries, Herman would use his truck to deliver the groceries, he would let me drive the truck many, many times. I would always help him unload the freight trucks, so I got to drive quite often, again such a wonder memory.

My good looking fast 1949 FordNext was a 1929 Chevy, 4 door, my older brother bought this car. He would let me and the others use the car at times. One beautiful spring day, a good friend of mine Noreen said, let’s skip school and use Rubin’s Chevy for a nice ride. So we got some money together, filled the tank and with a couple of other boys, and we took off. We drove up to the hills east of Bntton, went to most of the small towns, we ended up in Kidder only 8 miles from Bntton. We called Noreen, Garlic, well he was driving along at a good clip, a Ford passed us, old Garlic said hey don’t do that, so he floored the old Chevy. All of a sudden, bang, bang and the engine stopped. We got out lifted the hood, boy there was oil all over, and one big hole in the side of the block, we had thrown a rod or two.

We hitched a ride back to Bntton and walked down to old Sam’s. He had a big auto wrecking and used car lot. He also sold Farm tractors, etc. Old Sam made this homemade wrecker, it was made out of an old Cadillac. He let us use it to pick up the 29 Chevy, we were all tired out when we got back. Sam told us he would sell us an engine, but we had to remove it from the car and also take the blown engine out. We skipped school for 2-3 more days, we used old Sam’s tools, none of us had ever done this before. With the help from some of the old guys that always hung out at Sam’s, we got the engine out of both cars, and got the new engine into Ruben’s Chevy. It ran beautiful, much better than the old engine, this kind of helped ease the hard feelings with Rubin. The car ran beautiful for a long time, only thing we never got to drive that Chevy ever again. It also taught us all a good lesson, don’t drive an old Chevy hard, they will always throw a rod.

I had for a real short time a 1947 Continental V-12, one of the most beautiful cars in the world. I bought it at Sound Seattle auction.  I can still see that big smile on that old balck man as he drove away.Well this about ended cars for a while, I joined the Navy and the rest joined some Armed Forces. When I got discharged in spring of 1946, I got a good job in my beloved Seattle, saved some money and bought this 1936 Oldsmobile, straight 8 old flat head, gut-less wonder. It didn’t have power to race other cars, let alone do much more, but it was beautiful, blue, new “Carson” like top, red leather like seats. It was really fun to drive and boy did the girls love that car. Back then drive in movies was a big thing. I’d get a friend and we’d pick up girls and go to the movies, and you know what young people do.

I had this car for a few months and one day I noticed water on the ground. I checked every thing I knew. This old friend of mine knew cars real good, he checked it over and it had a cracked block, a big break on the side of the block. Old Bill said, no problem, said to me, you got $5, I said yes. He said, let’s go, we drove to Renton, pulled into this old garage, Bill knew these guys. They opened the hood, took a wire brush, cleaned the crank off, took his welder, ran a few welds, said there you go kid, $5 and you’re good as new. That Olds ran good for a couple months, nice weather was here, I wanted a motorcycle. So I sold the Olds, I believe I got as much as I paid for it. I bought this 1937, Harley, 45” for $325, I rode this back to South Dakota.

My first new Lincoln, a 1972 Mark II. It had a big powerful 460 V8. It only got 10 mpg with gas around 35 cents per gallon.The next car I bought for $600, a 1939 Ford Coupe, I loved that car. That old V-8 would out run any General Motors car. I was working in the Shoe Shop, which also did car upholstering. I redid the seats and doors in red leather, we thought it looked like the real thing, of course it wasn’t. But it looked good and the girls loved that car. I had lots of fun with that car, ones I’ll always remember. Time went by, I sold the car and got married to one of those cute little blondes. I had my motorcycle and we moved to North Dakota.

My next car was a beautiful 1937 Studebaker-6, 4 door, I paid $65 for this car, a fanner had traded it in on a new Chevrolet. That old Studebaker was a much better car than the Chevy ever would be. Well Donna and I loved that car, we had good times riding in North Dakota and Minnesota. When school got out late May, I welded a trailer hitch onto the rear bumper rails, and we towed our house trailer to South Dakota. We left on a Sunday morning, as I didn’t want to buy a license for the trailer. We drove on all gravel roads to South Dakota., 125 miles. I made it home to my parent’s home in Britton, they had a huge lot, big trees on the east end, so I backed that trailer into a place Donna and I had picked out. We put the house trailer on blocks. I drove the Studie back around into my parent’s back yard. Donna and I were happy to be back, but we did miss ol North Dakota.

My brand new Ford Model A bought new in 1984. I had lots of fun with this car, but like most of my cars, I sold it.One day a Deputy came by our house, he was real nosey, he thought he was Dick Tracey, wanted to know when I was going to get South Dakota. plates on my Studie. I said hey, I only been back a week or two, he said you got 30 days to get South Dakota. plates on the Studie. By the way, he asked how did you get the trailer down from North Dakota.. As long as it is on private property you didn’t need a license. I said hey, Dick Tracey, I had a friend tow it down for me. He said I heard you pulled it with the Studie, I said no, and leave me alone or I’ll tell dad’s attorney you bothered me. He left me alone, I never liked Dick Tracey after that.

Life went on. I went back to the Shoe and Sign business, and did really good for those days, I bought the Shoe business. One day a guy came into the store, he wanted to buy the Studie, I let him drive it. He said who painted those cartoons on the doors, I said I did, he said I can’t believe it! He said sell me the car, I’ll send you a lot of customers in for signs. He knew all the right people in that little town. I sold the Studie and I got a lot of signs to paint. One customer had 2-3 big gas trucks I painted Phillips 66 on both sides of the tanks and the truck doors.

We built this custom Cadillac in 1983. WE took a beautiful four door, cut it in tow, cut the top off, etc.  My sons Rick and Russ did all the work.  Rick painted it white. I had a new black top and R&R grill installed by Durham's in Seattle.Donna and I were riding the Harley, no car, fall was coming fast, starting to get cold and the nights were real cool. Donna said let’s ride up to Fargo and see her uncle who had a big Tavern. He was a wonderful man, loved cars, like I did. He told me he knew of this 1940 Ford, 2-door I could buy for $300, so we went with him in his beautiful Buick. It had port holes on the side of the hood, that’s the days Buick built big quality powerful cars, not like the junk they have passed off as cars for the last 1518 years, small V-6 push rod engines. I guess I’ll get a lot of Buick lovers mad at that one, but I happen to like the powerful V-8 modem, overhead cam engines, like our Jaguar, 4 liter V-8.

Custom CadillacI bought the Ford, we stayed over night. Donna drove the Ford back to S.D. and I drove the Harley, the weather was nice, I could have rode all day, but it was 150 miles home and almost all gravel roads. We got home early, drove that Ford all day and showed it off to all our friends that night. It was really a nice care and ran like new.

I was driving by the Oldsmobile dealer one day and saw this beautiful car, 4 door Kaiser, looked like new, a farmer had traded it on a new Oldsmobile 6, big dummy, the Kaiser was twice the car. I traded the Ford in, I didn’t have all the money so I financed the Kaiser with G.M.C. credit, first car I had ever financed.

Fall was here and it was getting cold out, I said to Donna one day, I’d like to move back to Seattle. She said when are we leaving, I loved that. So, I sold the Shoe business. It was late November and I said to Donna, we got to go now if we’re going to go at all. So we packed up our 1st born son John, he was only 8 or 9 months old. Our parents just loved little Johnny boy, it was hard leaving, but off we went. We didn’t get 10 miles out of town and ha a blow out, had to go back and get a new tire put on, then off we drove again.

The 1992 Toyota trucks are the best made.  I've driven Toyotas since early 1960.  I delivered a new Harley to a customer in Custeer South Dakota.All the roads were 2 lanes, small and narrow. We got through S.D. into N.D. we were on Highway 12, about 90 miles from Miles City, Montana and it started to snow and real hard, it was piling up real fast. Thank God for the big visor on the outside, it kept the snow off the windshield so I could see. We came to a good size long hill, we got stuck. I had no shovel so I removed one hubcap and used it for a shovel, they always had big barrels of gravel on the sides of the roads. So I put gravel under the tires in front for 10-15 feet, got back in the car and took off, we made it over the hill, Donna was praying all this time, little Johnny was fast asleep.

We made it to Miles City, that Kaiser was wonderful, good heater, road nice and handled beautifully. We got a nice motel and got a good night’s rest. We got up early and looked outside, it had snowed all night, the snowplows were out. We went over to a small Café and ate, we were both real nervous. A worker in the Café told us to wait for a snowplow and follow it out of town, so that’s what we did, 40-45 m.p.h. We were both pretty much worn out when we got to Billings, Montana, 145 miles later. We filled the gas tank and the guy at the station said, get out of town fast there’s a big storm coming down from Canada. So off we went, going was slow, just too much snow on the ground. The plows and the gravel trucks were also out, thank God we were on the main road east and west. Lots of travel and big trucks on the road. Billings was 100 some miles away, lots of big long hills but we made it, left on 12 headed for Helena, 350 miles away. It snowed hard at times, let up just enough so we could keep driving. We finally arrived in Helena, cold as hell, must be close to 6,000 feet up. We got a motel and some sleep, little Johnny was just wonderful all the time.

A wonderful car I bought new in South Dakota for $2500. IT had a small V8, was fast and good on gas.The next morning it was snowing, we followed a snowplow for many miles, over the big pass, we finally made it into Missoula, a beautiful town. We had a good meal, filled that Kaiser with gas and left. The snow had stopped, but it was cold out, every time we stopped for gas Donna would get coffee. The Kaiser got over 2 1-22 miles to the gallon, it had a big tank so we could go a long distance between stops. We got to Look-Out-Pass on the Montana, Idaho border. It’s high and going down was just plain hell, the road was bad, snowing and slippery, even with the gravel on the road. We spun around going down a couple of times, each time hitting big snow banks on the side of the road. We finally made it to Mullins, Idaho, at the bottom of the pass. Donna said you think we could stop for a cup of coffee, she was just holding little John, taking it in like it was nothing. The snow had stopped and the roads were pretty good until we got to Fourth of July pass, then the snow on the road was deep. Big trucks, stuck cars off the road and no police, we got through the stuck cars, wheels slipping all the time. I made it to the top! I said to myself, you big dummy, if you ever do this again, I’ll !*!. We made it to Spokane with the Kaiser running like new. We filled up and left small narrow roads, old 10 is always narrow. We made it to Seattle that night, it was raining out, but warm. We stayed at one of my sister’s homes.

I bought this Bug new in 1998.  TDI never got less than 48 MPG, could cruise 85-90 all day.I got a good job, in a few weeks we moved into a housing project, nice house, they all had coal stoves, and ice boxes, nothing fancy but real clean. I had a good job in a Boot factory but pay was poor, 85 cents an hour. I painted signs at night and on weekends, soon we had money for a down payment on a house. We found this house, one bedroom, large living room, full basement, big wood stove and another wood stove in the large kitchen. The house had wood pilled up to last us years, it had its own well, our payments were $35 a month. The house was only $3,400, that’s hard to believe now. We could live real cheap and save money for a bigger house.

Well, one Saturday I was driving around, I seen this beautiful black Chevy Coupe. By that time we had our second boy, they fit into the back seat nice. I traded that beautiful Kaiser in for that Chevy Coupe, what a dummy. The Chevy was nice, we drove it to S.D. one time I think, you just could not push it. Those old 6 cylinder, push rod, no oil pump engines just would not take much. I remember the rods going through the block of the “29” Chevy. I could stand it no longer, I wanted a car that would go. I saw this beautiful blue Kaiser one day, so I traded. We drove the Kaiser for a year of so, the looks were getting old. I saw this 1951 Ford Coupe on a lot one day, it looked and ran good, so again I traded, one big MISTAKE that was. The car wasn’t a week old and the engine blew up. I took it to Renton Ford, they pulled the pan off, it was full of sawdust. The big crooked car dealer had took me. I had to buy a new motor, Renton Ford was a good dealer, I got payments so it wasn’t so bad, I loved that car so one day I had it painted a beautiful Maroon. I painted some signs for the paint job, the body shop needed signs and I wanted a paint job. Old Bill was a wonderful painter and body man. He taught me a lot about spray painting. I used this when I got a good job in a Neon Sign Shop before I lettered them. The Ford was a good car with the new motor, I would cruise all day, 80-85 M.P.H. and in those days that was real good. Well, I kept that car for a while.

Poor picture of our new 1966 Chevy Caprice wagon. ONe of the rare snows in Seattle, it lasted 3 days. The boys loved it and their horse did too. We have had horses for over 40 years. We still have two, just feed and love them.One summer we drove back to S.D. to see our parents, brothers, and sisters, when I seen this beautiful blue, 4-door, Ford, brand new. You guessed it, I traded my “51” in on that new 1956, total price $2,500 they gave me a good trade in as the “51” was really good looking and I had the papers to show. It had a new motor and the work done by a Ford dealer. We drove the ‘56 ‘back to Seattle.

I got a real good job painting signs for $3 an hour, this was about 3 times as much as most jobs paid. We bought another house up on Beacon Hill, nice neighborhood. I bought this 1948 Indian Chief “74” for $125, I rode this one over 2 years. I started buying used Motorcycles and fixing them up at night. Soon I had a basement full, so I put an ad in a small paper and got lots of calls. Donna would sell the motorcycles during the day, I’d buy more, fix them up, Donna would sell them, and I sold and worked on Saturdays. The Sign Shop was seldom open on Saturdays, when we did have to work on Saturdays, we would get double pay. Man, that was big money.

Somewhere in Montana. Our 1963 Lancer wagon had a slant 6. Our four boys loved it. My only complaint-it was slow.I started looking for a lot with a house on it when I saw this one place. I day dreamed that this was my next home and store. I knocked on the door and asked the man, you want to sell your home? Nice old man, he said, you got any money and a good job? I said I got both. He said he wanted $8,500, nice house, old but nice. It had a full basement and a garage ready to fall down, but I said to myself, I can fix it up and sell bikes from it. The lot also had a small house on the back of the lot that rented for $35 a month with a nice couple, she was a school teacher, they had no kids of their own, but sure did lover our boys. I bought the house, made payments to N.B.C. Bank, right down the street. We moved in within a month. I sold our house up on Beacon Hill, this gave me a few dollars to fix the old garage up with, my old friend Sam Denton helped me. I bought a used large window for the front, made a door out of old wood. I always bought used lumber when possible, half the price of new. I started selling motorcycles fast, still working at the Sign Shop. I sent in for a JAWA dealership, I got it, I had to buy 2-3 cycles. I still remember the first one I sold was a JAWA 250cc. The bike sales were really good, so I had to quit the Sign Shop. But I continued to paint in the garage or in the basement. We had a large wood stove in the basement, it was nice and warm to paint there.

Our beautiful StudabakerWhen I got my Dealers’ License I got a used car license for just a few dollars more, I started buying used cars. Every Wednesday, South Seattle Auto Auction just 3-4 miles down the road. I would buy One, at first, sell it during the week, the next week do the same. Business was good, we were buying uLselling motorcycles and used cars like crazy. We had taken on Suzuki in 1960, they sold only 50” to 80” and 250” the T-10. All good bikes and they sold very good. I must tell you in early 1956 I joined the world famous Jolly Rodgers Motorcycle Club. I rode in the drill team for a number of years, I was busy day and night. By the time our 3rd boy came along, also our 4th son a few years later, next door to our store there was a huge lumberyard lot in the back. The boys started riding the 50cc, next door in the big lot, boy did they have fun.

About this time I tore the front porch off the house and built a store from the house to the sidewalk about 30’ by 50’, boy, I was sailing right along. I needed more money to buy more motorcycles and cars, so you guessed it, I sold the “56” Ford. I bought this like new Simca pickup for $425 at auction, I painted it, signs all over it, it was a wonderful truck and used little gas. Donna had been working right along with me, she even helped with the repairs. When I put a new piston in a cylinder, she would hold the cylinder, I push the rings in with screwdrivers, I had no ring compressor until later on. Donna had to have a car to get around, the pick up was always busy. I bought this old Austin, 4-door, what a ;, wonderful car, fun to drive, I started loving small cars. I still do, I have a 98 VW Big Turbo charge L. . For the last 1 5 years we have had a winter home in Arizona, I drove the VW down a number of years ago, I was driving on old “99” about 20 miles north of Bakersfield, 65 m.p.h. zone, I was driving 70. When all of a sudden this big Dodge Viper goes by, then another one and then others, 7 in all, I said to Donna, I’ll get behind them and see how fast they are going, 90 m.p.h. My V.W. stayed right with them, I did this for about 10 miles. I told Donna I didn’t need anymore tickets, I backed off to 70. We never saw those Vipers again, but at least I know my V.W. can cruise at 90, no problem.

Sitting in the drive way of our beautiful home in Renton, WA. I drove this Datsun for 72,000 miles and only put gas in , changed the oil and installed one set of tires.I was buying a lot of cars, I had a beautiful big Dodge 500, this was a fast car, poor handling on the road like most U.S.A. made cars, just bounced along. I sold the Dodge in a few months, I bought a 1941 Lincoln Continental, V12, big black, beauty, I had planned on keeping this car. But a real good customer friend, Bill Blackman wanted that Lincoln, he talked me out of it. That Lincoln got me started in liking Lincoins and I’ve had a number of them through the years. I next drove a small Renault, Dalvien, what a wonderful car. Little 4 cylinder, engine in the back, this car used very little gas. It was really fun to drive, but I sold it. I bought this little MG Midget, what a wonderful handling car, 4 speed, really fun to drive. About this time our oldest son Little John was driving, he talked me out of the M.C. one night. The next day I drove it, it handled bad. I checked it out, the right front side-wheel rim was bent bad. I finally go it out of John, he hit a curb, he always drove fast, people said just like his dad. Well I fixed the MG and sold it, I was buying and selling cars like crazy. I bought this beautiful blue gray Studebaker 6, only paid $400 like new for it. We both loved the Studie.

Donna wanted to go back to S.D. for Thanksgiving, so we drove the Studie, nice trip back, no problems, we had a nice time. It was early December when we left old Britton, no problems, we drove on 12 out of Aberdeen going west, very few towns in western S.D. It snowed on and off, not like in ‘51’ until we got to Mullins Pass. Cold out and snow coming down the pass, snow on the road and slippery. All of a sudden, the Studie spun around, by time I got straightened out, we hit a big snow back on the side of the road. Thank God for those big snow banks, it keeps you from going over the side, down to La-La land. We finally made it to Mullin, Donna was really scared. We had the 3 small boys in the back seat, they were just eating all this up. We stopped and Donna had her cup up coffee, I didn’t drink coffee until about 10 years ago. We got to Spokane, it was snowing and raining some time and freezing out. You could hardly go 40 M.P.H. it was so slippery out, by early evening we had made it back to Seattle, it snowed on Snoqualmie Pass, but the plows were out, on the west side of the pass it started raining, good for us. That Studie was a wonderful car, it had the best radio of any car I’ve had since. Going through the Mountains I could pick up Del Rio, Texas, what a wonderful station. They sold everything from socks to nuts, played one song, sold junk for 10 minutes, it was fun to listen to. I always wondered if they are still in business. I haven’t had a good radio since that Studie, even our 2002 Jaguar can’t match the Studie’s radio.

A beautiful car I only had for two weeks.  I made good money on this car.After a lot of cars I had for a week or 2 I bought this beautiful white ‘62’ ford Ranchero and painted it fire engine red, with painted signs all over it. I used this in the business and I remember I and a good friend drove it to Sacramento, the 25 mile National, super good races. Sacramento and San D?? always had super good races. Only God knows how many times I’ve rode down to the races. After the races we drove to San Francisco, I was buying Vesp parts from this one distributor, so I loaded the Falcon up, I had it so loaded down that the rear spring didn’t work. I got parts so cheap, I could not pass them up, besides no freight. We made it back to Seattle with no problem. We always took in the sights in San Francisco, it’s a good city to have fun in. I could tell you a story of John driving the Falcon through Oregon in California, plus, plus, plus, but I’ll save that story for another time.

I had seen this 1966 Ford Ranchero, just had to have it! It had the 289-V8, what a wonderful engine, a fast car. I drove this car back to S.D. one fall late 1960’s. My dad was getting old, was very sick and so I asked brother Alex if he’d like to go to S.D. when are we going he asked. We took off from Seattle feeling good. Drove the first night past Helena, Montana and got a motel room, ate and went to bed. We left early, 6:00 a.m., we took that lonely road, Hwy. 12, 100 miles to Forsythe, Montana. No towns, nothing but big ranches, none close to the highway. I thought we’d have plenty of gas to make it to Forsythe, I was wrong. We had been driving 80-85 m.p.h. all day, the wind blowing against us, our gas mileage was real poor, about 3 miles from Forsythe, we ran out of gas. Brother Alex hitched to town in about an hour he made it back with the gas. We filled it up in town, ate and left. We were lucky, we could have run out 40-50 miles back, I don’t know what we would have done. We stopped more often from then on, towns are far and few between in Eastern Montana and the Dakotas. We made it to Britton, no more problems. Had a good visit and drove back to Seattle, only we had that 2 gallon can filled this time, just in case. I drove that Ford to California a few times.

I wanted a new car and we had the money, so I purchased this big beautiful 1966 Chevy, Caprice wagon. Had the wood on the sides, I take that back, it only had what looked like wood, good old plastic. That big 396 put out 325 H.P., at least that’s what the manual said, it would go fast, real fast.

We were going back to S.D. one summer the 4 boys were all in the back seat. We were east of Billings on 90, cruising along at 80-85 when a big Ford went by like we were sitting still. The boys kept saying dad don’t let that Ford beat you, go faster, faster. All this time Donna was saying oh for God’s sake slow down, let that guy get the ticket. We had the Chevy up to 115 on the speed-o–meter, I backed off. You could go as fast as you wanted in Montana at that time, but you had to have your car under control, period. That 396 was a good, fast motor, the Chevy went through brakes every 15-20,000 miles. Tires you were lucky to get 20,000 miles. The car had much to soft a suspension, it should have had sway bars, etc., American big cars were just too soft sprung. They had poor shocks, etc. But those big V8’s would really fly. The 66 Chevy would break motor mounts, then the engine would stick wide open. By the time you got the engine shut off, you were in trouble. I came close to getting killed several times, so I traded that fast Chevy for a big Mercury. I bought the Mercury in the fall, I didn’t realize it didn’t have air. Come summer it was crazy hot, poor vents. I don’t see how they could have made such a good car and not put air in it.

I seen this big beautiful 1972 Lincoln Continental, Metallic brown, really a sharp car, so I bought it. It was my 1 new Lincoln. We drove this car for a couple years or so. Big gas hog, lucky to get 10 miles to the gallon. We drove this car back to S.D. one 4th of July. Coming back, cruising along 85-90 our second son Rick was in the back sleeping when all of a sudden he woke up, said he had a real bad dream, that we had crashed the car. We were at the top of the pass, east of Butte, Montana, when all of a sudden, Bang! We seen smoke from the back, the car started handling bad. Smoke coming from the back, I got that big Lincoln stopped, got out the right rear axel had broke, was sticking out about 1 foot. We hailed down a car, they stopped in Butte a couple of hours passed then a big wrecker came and towed us to the Lincoln dealer. We got a nice motel close by, went back the next morning. Car not fixed, no axels, they had tried everywhere to find an axel but had to order one from the factory. We all flew back to Seattle, 2-3 weeks later the dealer called, our car was fixed. I had bought an extended warranty, only it was not a Ford warranty. I tried to get the to pay the bill, no luck, I forget what it cost but it was a lot. I was real busy at the store, no time to go get the Lincoln, so I sent my 3rd son Mike over to drive the car back. He bought the car home, told us boy that Lincoln will go. I asked him how fast did you go, he said it hit 120 easy. He made it back 3:00 the next day so I knew he had to have had that Lincoln flying fast.

I started having problems around 55-60,000 miles with that Lincoln. The ignition went out, left us stranded on 1-5 coming home from the T T Races in Castle Rock, Washington. I got the car towed to Seattle, had it fixed, then something else broke, it needed shocks, tires, etc. Donna was getting tired of driving that big bus around so we sold it, I had 3 or 4 cars around for her to drive. A fast Datson Z 300, 5 speed, I loved this car but got too many tickets with it. We drove it to the races in Sacramento, 25 mile National, after the races we drove down old 99 south. Drove up to Redwood Park???, boy those trees are big and tall, some over 2,000 years old, many 50’ around. You have to see those trees to really appreciate their beauty. After we left the park we headed toward the Bay area. I was going north on I-S when this guy in this ford Taurus, super high output, came flying by me, I cranked that Z up to 90, that S.H.O. kept going, I caught him at 115 M.P.H., I could see the red lights behind, I thought of out running him, but no, I slowed down to 70. The cop came along side, waved me to the side of the road and he kept going fast after that S.H.O. After I could see the cop car no longer, I pulled out driving 70. 1 never caught up to the patrol car or the SHO. I pulled off the next off ramp and finally found a 4-lane road going north. I figured the cop did not get my plate number, at least I hoped he didn’t. We got back on 1-5 around Sacramento, I didn’t say anything to Donna, she finally said, Carmen you sell this car when we get home. We made it home, no problem, I loved the Z car, fast and good handling. I sold it. I never heard from the California Highway Patrol. I thanked the Lord and promised him I’d slow down, only I didn’t say how slow.

I forgot but a few years before the Z, I bought this beautiful Black 1964 Ford 4 door. It had a 289V8, those were really good motors and fast. We drove it to California a couple of times. We drove down one December, the boys were out of school for Christmas, so we took the boys to Disneyland. We all had a wonderful time going and coming home was nice until we got north of Redding, 50-75 miles and then caine the snow. It was snowing good, I had filled up in Redding so I could make it to Medford, Oregon, no problem. The snowplows were out with gravel trucks behind them.
We made it through the mountains, it was getting dark. I said to Donna, let’s stop in Grants Pass, get a Motel and we can make it home the next day. Just out of Grants Pass, I had a blow out, the rear tire, I started to slow down then bang, the other rear tire blew. We were only a few miles out of Grants Pass so I drove in very slow. I pulled into a big tire shop, right across the street was a nice Motel. Donna took the boys and got us a room. I stayed until they had new tires on. Out of all the cars I’ve had this was the first time I ever blew 2 tires almost at once. You have to remember in the 50’s to 60’s tires were still poorly made. Today they’re wonderful and 60-70,000 miles is nothing. In the 50’s and 60’s, 20,000 miles was good. We drove home to Seattle the next day, it rained most of the way, but at least it wasn’t snow. I had driven through the Sisque many times, now with snow. But, the last 10 years I have had to put chains on 4-5 times. I kept the ‘64’ Ford a few more months, I was fast, real poor handling like all Detroit cars at that time.

Business was booming at the motorcycle store. Russ our son, was getting interested in cars, we built a few hot rods. I seen this beautiful Cadillac Seville made into a Roadster. They were selling these in California, so Russ and I flew down, rented a car and drove to several dealers to see these beautiful Roadster, they all wanted $60,000 =-  $70,000. Russ said, dad we can build our own. We flew home and went to the auto auction the next Wednesday, bought this 1981 beautiful white 4 door. I drove it a few weeks, all our friends who seen this car loved it. Then I told them we were going to cut it in half, cut the top off and take 26” out of the center, even one of my sister in laws said I was crazy. Why would you want to do that they asked? If you’re not a car lover, you would never understand. Well, we cut that car in two, my son Rick did most of the work. He also did all the bodywork, then he painted it white. It looked beautiful. I took it down to Durham’s Upholstery store, they made a top for it. At first, I loved driving that car then Russ said it’s too high, so we lowered it, it looked nice, but rode like an old Vet. I started having problems, 2 cylinder, gear box went out, the fuel injection caught on fire, and burned all the wiring up in the engine compartment, it cost nearly $6,000 to rewire it. G.M.C. just couldn’t build a good car in the middle 70’s through the 80’s, not until the 90’s were those cars worth driving. I still can’t stand them front wheel drive junkers other than the Vet and their trucks. They still don’t have any cars I would buy and now they have a! “.1, as their boss and brain, by designing, they just may start making good cars again. I traded the Cadillac off for a Harley, I knew this man Doug, he worked at a Honda dealer for years. He just had to have my Cadillac, I thanked the Lord for sending Doug to me.

I bought a little Isuzu, 2 door, 5 speed, really nice car, but no power, wonderful gas mileage, I sold it and made a few dollars. I had been driving Japanese pickups for years. I had a new red, 1970 Datson, 4 speed, 1600cc, I paid $2,000 for, out the door. It was a wonderful truck, only if you didn’t have a load in the back, it rode hard.

My boys used it like a jeep, it seemed to go anywhere and it never broke. I sold the Datson, bought a new 1974 Toyota pick up, a wonderful truck, it had a longer wheel base so it rode ok, not good but ok. I keep buying and selling used cars, God only knows how many, I kept the Toyota for a couple years. A customer wanted it in the worst way to haul his dirt bikes to the races, so I sold it to him. I went out and bought a 1976 Toyota pick up, they have got to be the best trucks made, never a problem, I drove that ‘76’ for a couple years or so. I seen this new red Toyota pick up, I bought it. I drove it all over California and back to the Dakotas, Minnesota and all over, it was just a good thick. In 1990, 1 went back to Lincoln dealer and bought this beautiful white, 4 door. It had the 302, which is really a bored out 289, but that car was good. Rode beautiful, good gas mileage, only the handling was nothing to talk about. We drove it everywhere, never a problem. Then Ford came out with the 4,6 overhead cam motor, so I traded it for a ‘93’, again white. I had a red Carson type top put on it. It also had lots of gold plating done. It was a good car until around 60,000 miles, then the spark plug wires had to be replaced, the rear air bags went out, with out air the car runs on the rear axel, I had it fixed and a few months later they gave out again. I got tired of fixing it so I sold it to a man I knew for years, he wanted the Lincoln as far as I know he still has it. In 1996 I bought a really nice Ford Escort and we used it to drive back and forth from Seattle to our winter home in Arizona. Never a problem, really good gas mileage, it would cruise all day at 75 m.p.h., but I seen this beautiful blue Toyota King. In Mesa, so I traded the Ford in on the Toyota. I still have it, it’s a wonderful truck, I forgot again, before the blue Toyota, I had a ‘92’ red long bed, this was truly a good truck.

I had been riding my motorcycle to Sturgis since 1972, 1 got to know a few people in Sturgis, I was staying at this one home, got to know the couple real good, they both rode motorcycles, only not Harleys. Tom Rubeil wanted a new Harley, this was in 1993, Harleys were really hard to get. I got this 1993 FLHS in so I called Tom, he said can I buy it, I said you sure can, I’ll even deliver it. It was early May, so we loaded the FLHS in the Toyota and Donna and I headed for Sturgis. We got there the 2nd day, Tom couldn’t wait to unload the Harley. He paid me on the spot, he kept that Harley to just a year or so ago. While in Sturgis, Donna and I and 2 other couples toured the Black Hills, it was so nice to ride the hills this time of year, no big crowds. While in Sturgis in May, Donna and I climbed to the top of Bear Butt Montana, this was something we wanted to do for years. I rode my Harley back in August to Sturgis.

In 1984, I bought this new Honda Accord, 2 door, paid $8,500 for it, what a wonderful car, drove it 60,000 some miles and only put one set of fires on. I drove this car to California one fall for Thanksgiving. I had a brother in law living there, my mother in law had been down there for a couple months. We picked her up and brought her home to Seattle, she had been living with Donna and I for the past 20 years. J.t was very sad, she died in December a week after we got home.

Our Honda made it through the Sisxue Mountains, no problem, the snow was real deep for over 100 miles and ice on the road for 200 miles in Oregon, I loved that Honda, but I sold it. I bought a car I always wanted to have, a BMW-325-IS, red, 2 door, I paid $25,000 for that car, lots of money in those days. I don’t believe I ever had a car I enjoyed so much as the 325-IS. I drove it to S.D. a couple times. It would cruise any speed, 100 if you wanted to go that fast, Montana had no speed limits at the time. I remember one time I and a good friend drove to Sacramento to the 25-mile Nationals. We had fun racing cars all the way down, lucky no tickets. On the way back Bob wanted to drive, he was a very good driver, so I let him drive. He would race every car that wanted to race, we had more fun down by Eugene Oregon. Bob was racing this hot Mustang, going 90 to 115 M.P.H. most of the time, all of a sudden we seen big red lights in the back, Bob said no tickets, he had the Beemer up to 125 m.p.h. I said what the hell are you doing, you’ll get us both in jail. We came to an off ramp, he took it, he could see a big trucks top and a truck parking lot, must have been 150 trucks, he drove the BMW behind some trucks, turned the engine off and said we’ll stay here half an hour or so. He figured the coup would try to catch the Mustang. We never found out. We left driving 5 over the speed limit, he did this until we got past Portland, once across into Washington I drove. We were lucky, Bob’s a good guy but kind of nutty in a good way.

I remember another time I was racing cars in eastern Washington. We were driving out of Cle Elem, towards Ellensburg, I was cruising 70-75, this beautiful white Mustang cobra went by me, fast. I took after him, I got along side and waved to him, let’s go. I knew that Mustang could fly, I had the BMW wide open for 2-3 miles. I was a block ahead, I figured he’d chicken out, as I knew he had a faster car. It was lucky we both slowed down to just over the speed limit. There was a cop behind us on the other side of the freeway. Donna said you’re going to jail for that fun you just had, I said maybe, maybe not, the cop followed me all the way to Ellensburg, 10 – 12 miles away. I turned off the cop followed me, I thought, what’s he up to? The Mustang kept on going, I really don’t know if he got stopped or not. I pulled into a gas station, filled up and drove over to a Café to eat. When we came out the cop was gone. I drove back to Seattle only 5 over the limit, hard to do, but much better than going to jail. Anything over 85 they can take you to jail. I was really lucky. I always loved to drive in eastern Washington in wide-open spaces. One other time, I wasn’t so lucky. We were coming back 4th of July weekend, I pulled out of Vantage, just west of the big Columbia River, and it is wide. The hill going west on 90 is 10 long miles to the top, always a lot of slow drivers. At the top I started to pour on, I came up on this Jaguar, I knew this was a car that could go. So I stayed behind him, see what he was going to do. He started going faster and faster, soon we were going over 90. I should have known better as I drove this road hundreds of times, always lots of State troopers. But I could spot none, so I followed the Jag, almost to Ellensburg. I went under an over pass and her comes those big red lights. I stopped, the cop came over to me, just said, let’s see your drivers license, I gave it to him. I said I wasn’t speeding, he said not for the last 5 miles, but back there you were. I said how do you know that? He said, the airplane was above you guys all the time, he clocked you at 90-95 for miles. I had Donna and some of the boys in the car. He seemed like a good guy, all of a sudden he said, you promise me in front of your wife you’ll drive the speed limit home and not come back to eastern Washington and pull an act like you two just did and I’ll write you up for 80. that will keep you out ofjail and from losing your license. Then he said, Mrs. Tom, why don’t you sell the BMW, sooner or later it’s going to kill you people. She said, thank you very much, he could see she was white as a ghost. Donna said, if he don’t sell the car, I will! That ticket cost me plenty. I sold the BMW a few months later, I still miss it. But I had got, only God knows how many tickets driving that BMW. But the BMW is one car very few can match.

I had lots of Toyota pick ups, never a problem, I had a 1974, yellow long bed, a 1976 red Toyota long bed, I always tried to buy long beds as I could have motorcycles in the back. One year my son Rick, myself, Sam and 3-4 other riders were on our way to Sturgis. I think it was early 1990’s. Rick had one of my bikes in the back just in case one of our bikes broke, all of us would have a bike to ride. Rick drove a Honda Gold Wing. We were on 1-90 going east just pass Billings when bang, Sam’s rear tire blew out. We all stopped, got that spare bike out fast, in went Sam’s Harley. We rode off fast, we had been cruising along at 85-90, Rick in the Toyota staying right with us all the way, only place he would drop behind was on the long hills. But coming down the hills, look back and here comes Rick, that Toyota stayed with us all the way to Sturgis and back. One thing that’s always sold me on Toyota was they just never let us down and they would and will cruise with the best. Rick drove the Toyota over 189,000 miles before it broke, then it was the cam chain, which you should change at 100,000, he almost doubled that. At this write up, I have my 1996 Toyota pick up and a 2003 King cab. What wonderful trucks and cars.

Way back in 1963 or 64, I sold these two guys two new Triumphs, they worked for a large car dealer. The one guy came into the store one day, he pulled in the driveway in a beautiful, blue 2 door Toyota Corolla, 1600cc, 4 speed. He threw me the keys, said go drive it. I drove it around for half an hour or so I had to take it back. He could tell by the smile on my face I loved that little jewel, I said how much, he said $3,400, I said I’ll take it Boy what a wonderful small car, I drove it everywhere. California many times, S.D. at least once. It would cruise all day at 70-75 and still get over 35 miles to the gallon. The only thing I ever did to that car was brakes and tires, I love small cars. That little 1600 cc was one of the best cars I ever had. But like all the other, I sold it. Ford Explorers were coming on the scene so I bought a new 1993 Sport. It had the 4 liter O.H.V. engine, very good lots of tork. I could pull a trailer load with motorcycles uphill, down hill, that sport would go no problem. Only thing it was slow off the line, it just didn’t have it. I drove it to S.D., California, Arizona, etc., never a problem. When I sold it, it had 67,000 miles on it and still had those firestone tires on. But I’m sure I was lucky, as plenty of people have had their problems with those tires. I bought a new 2000 Kia, Spoilage, 2 liter. A very nice little S.U.V. only short wheelbase gave it a choppy ride on bad roads and the gas mileage was nothing to brag about either, about 19-24 miles per gallon. Well I traded it after 2 years for a new Toyota King cab which I have now. In 1998, the new V.W. Bug was back, my son Russ brought this one to the store. Turbo Diesel, I drove it and just could not stop driving it. Russ found me a new 98 silver bug, 5-speed turbo. I still have it, I don’t believe I could ever sell it. It has 60,000 miles, has never got less than 45 mile per gallon, will cruise all day at 80-85. I drove this car to California, Arizona and many other places. It’s no wonder the roads are full of Volkswagens.

Before I forget, back in 1978, I bought my first Vet, brand new Indianapolis Pace Car, I paid $25,000 cash. This one good customer was selling cars in Renton, so he found this Vet for me. I drove it home, 8 miles, put it in the warehouse and there it sat for many years, I never drove it again. I figured if I keep it here for a few years, could make some good money some day. The prices went up, I believe as high as $70,000, I kept it and the prices took a turn down. Classic cars were dropping fast, I finally sold it for $18,000, what a big dummy I was. If you remember in the 1980’s the Carter years, inflation was crazy high, interest rates were 15-20%, unemployment was super high. I took $18,000 across the street to Washington Mutual Bank, they were paying 12-13%, so I put the money in a C.D. I made my money back in a few years, thanks to Jimmy Carter. He’s a wonderful, nice man, but a terrible politician.

In 2002, I bought Donna a car she always wanted, a S-Model Jaguar, 4 liter, V8 – 284 H.P. I drove it to S.D. in 2002 but have driven it very little since. It’s Donna’s car, she will most likely keep it until God calls her home. We both love to drive it, its one car we will most likely keep. I have had many other cars through out the years, back in 1960’s to early 1980’s we bought a lot of cars at South Seattle Auto auction. I drove many for weeks, months, years then sold them.

We have a beautiful home in Maple Valley, Washington with a large 4-car garage with tile floors. Our cars and motorcycles look so beautiful sitting on those tile floors. We have a large barn, it will hold 4 cars and 15 motorcycles. The barn has 2 large stalls for 2 beautiful Arabian horses. These horses are our son Rick’s. Rick has raised these horses since they were colts. Rick used to ride the horses but I have not seen him on one in over 2 years. Just a few years ago, we had 4 horses, we had a beautiful small pony, our grandkids rode this pony. It got some kind of disease and died fast, we were unable to save it. We had another horse, I sold this one 2 years ago. The price of hay is high, one has to feed them hay 5-6 months a year, at $9.25 a bail, l2Olbs. In the last 50 years we had so many horses and dogs only god knows how many. Angel and Tally are beautiful horses, so now days I feed them twice a day, talk to them and just love them. You horse lovers will know what I mean.

I get 4 car magazines each month, 5-6 motorcycle magazines and half a dozen other magazines like Forbes so I have plenty to read and dream of cars I’d like to have. I have been looking at a 1968 Ford Thunderbird, 4 door, big 427 engine, cars in nice condition, I’m just looking, but who knows. Big and powerful but poor handling. Detroit built some big powerful cars, I had many, but never had one that handled that good, they rode nice but that’s about it.

In 1982, the Oldsmobile Cutlass was popular, I liked the looks, so I bought a so- called hard top, white and blue from Loberg Olds in Renton, Washington. Remember when G.M. got caught putting different engines in their other brands, well mine had a 3.8-V6 made by Buick, I thought, well Buick used to build some good cars. I thought to myself, well maybe I got a good car, boy was I surprised. First off the car just did not have any power, it was a gutless wonder. First thing I always do, check the oil, new car or used. After 200 miles I checked the oil, it was down a quart, I just couldn’t believe it. I called the dealer, he said to watch it, said I may have read it wrong. I drove the car another 250 miles, Donna actually drove it the most. I checked the oil, down a quart. I took the car back to the dealer, picked it up 2 days later. Donna drove it 200 miles, I checked the oil, down a quart. I talked to the dealer, he said bring it in, I did this totaled 27 times. We drove the car to California, what a big mistake, a quart of oil every time I put gas in. Going through the Sisxue Mt. in California, really got me pissed off. The Olds just did not have any power, it would barely make it over the steep hills, I thought boy, what have I got here? At speeds over 50, the wind came in around those windows and in the doors. I talked to 2 different Service departments in California, they both said you got a problem, take it back to the dealer you bought it from, make them fix it. They never would. We drove the Olds to S.D. once, Donna like the car so I tried to put up with it. The dealer just would not fix the car, they always had an excuse, like it’s not broke, what can we do, so it uses a little oil, drive it. I finally said no, I’ll sell this piece of junk. I sold it for $7,500, boy was I happy to be rid of it. I’ll never buy another G.M. again! I have had many G.M. cars, always something wrong with them. God knows I gave G.M. every chance to sell me some good cars. But I wonder, can they build one? Like so many cars in the 1980’s and later, the paint was poor, it would come off in big patches, you all have probably seen this. Well that’s all for the Olds. I feel sorry for the person who ended up with that old Olds.

Cars, motorcycles and girls, that’s what keeps us going.

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – He’s Rich, He’s Got It Made

He’s Rich, He’s Got It Made

As kids growing up in old South Dakota we often-heard older people say, boy old man Thorpe sure is rich, he’s got it made. They would say this is about the number of the people in the northeast part of South Dakota.

After we lost our beautiful farm in the mid 1930’s we moved to a small town about twenty-five to thirty miles away, Briton it was a county seat. It had a good railroad through town and west of town about three to four miles another train came through each day. This was in the height of the bid depression. To make it worse there was about a seven-year period of very little rain and lots of tornadoes. You will all remember the dust storms when all the people were leaving Oklahoma, Texas, and all of the states in the mid west unemployment reached thirty percent or more. I remember dad getting a job on the State Highway Dept. for twenty-five cents per hour. Can you imagine that, but very few people had good jobs. Donna says her dad got $25 a week working as a druggist in Aberdeen. He was considered to have a really good job. Our little town of Britton had a big sign on the out skirts of town saying population 1600. Britton was a busy town we had 4 or 5 blacksmith shops, five or 6 big grain elevators, a big stock yard, 3 of 4 taverns, and a big pool hall with a big card room. I remember old man Parker setting up card tables any place he could fit them. A good share of the farmers smoked, that pool hall got so smoky we used to open the back door, and also go up the steps and open the front door. The Milwaukee train came to Britton each day it would unload its freight and go up into North Dakota as far as Cogswell, then return in the late afternoon. The train was always busy as kids, we would get on the boxcars or inside them if they were open and ride up North and come back in the afternoons. The trains were always full of hobos. They were just people looking for work, we used to talk to them all the time. Lots of people would say, stay away from hobos, they are bad people, Hogwash.

Britton had a little auction every Wednesday that really brought a lot of people into town. All the cafes and taverns were real full. Don’t ask me were they got all their money, as most people had VERY little.

We also had two big Creameries in town. The Kilker Bros. ran one. Ed Kilker was a real good man, I would work for him as much as I could. Ed always had a nice car. If theweather were nice on Saturday, he would have me wash and polish. I would always get .50 cents, and man I thought that was a lot of money. In the mid-west the winters were always cold and there was lots of snow. Summers were always hot and dry no air conditioners in those days; they did have large fans in most stores. There were tornadoes and dust storms, somedays the dust would get so bad you could hardly see the sun. All the lakes East of Britton would dry up except part of Clear Lake. There must have been five or six big lakes up in the hills East of Britton.

The first house we lived in after leaving the farm was a big two-story house so poorly built, in some places you could see right through the walls. Like most people, we heated will coal, one big stove in the living room, and the cookstove in the kitchen. In the summer the kitchen was really hot, I don’t know how Mother stood it. We did have running water in the house, but no bathroom, just a big outhouse in the back, good thing we had a good supply of Sears catalogs for toilet paper. We lived in that house a few years, then Dad bought this real small house for $300. It was a one-bedroom. He started building lean-tos on the house almost right away. We used old Lumber grain doors for floors, tarpaper for the outside walls and roof Dad and Mother always had one or two cows and hundreds of chickens. They had a big garden, we raised potatoes and all kinds of vegetables. Every night during the summer months Dad and Mother would work in their garden, they were always working at something. Mother would wash all our clothes by hand. Later in the 1 930s she did get an old washing machine. It was in the 30s I got a good job after school was out, for a big farmer, Joe Grupe. There were quite a few Grupes around, all had nice big farms. I started work early May. Id work six days a week for $2.00 a day plus room and board. I slept in a bunkhouse. I loved that farm, the food was always good and there was plenty to eat. After working three summers I had saved $300, boy was I rich. I always loved motorcycles. I had my eye on this one old Harley, it was always parked down by the Phillips 66 station. But my Dad and Mother needed that money to build onto the house, so no Harley for me. But I always enjoyed helping my parents.

It seemed like Mother was always pregnant, so each year Dad would have to build another room onto the house. By the time Mother quit having kids, there were ten of us. Our house had a lean-to on each side. I always had a part time job after school. One ofthe best jobs was working at Nelson’s shoe shop. I learned the trade of shoe repair and harness repairing. I used this in later in life. After World War two, jobs were really hard to get, so shoe repair came in handy. I also learned sign painting, this really came in handy. In 195 1, Donna and I moved to Seattle, I got a very good job, painting signs.

As a kid in school, I usually had a few cents in my pockets. One thing I always remember was those big-malted ice cream cones you could buy at the drug store. In the mid 1930s you could get a big cone for 5 cents, later on they raised it to 10 cent, but you got a double dipped cone. To this day I still love malted mike cones, the only place I can buy them is at Wendy’s. They are a dollar now, still a good buy.
Let’s go back to the rich people. One of the first men I heard had it made, he was rich. His name was Howard Dakin, he owned a large 3-story brick building, in the basement was the pool hall and card room, also a large barbershop. I worked there also. I polished shoes after school and on Saturdays. Shoeshines were 10 cents. When some big farmer would come in he would almost always give you a good tip. Seemed like every time I had some money saved up Dad and Mother would need it. So I never did buy a motorcycle till 1946. Howard Dakin always drove a beautiful car, in 1937 he bought this truly beautiful Roadster, cream color. I believe that car was the best in Britton. Howard always dressed well, always in suits. Whether Howard was really rich, I don’t know, but people said he was. When I saw his car, I always said that someday I would buy a car like that. Well now Donna and I have four cars one is a beautiful Jaguar we will keep this car forever. The others we might trade in someday. My VW Bug I also will never sell.

As kids we always said that the rich people always lived on the West Side of town, the rail roads split the town in two. The poor live in the south and the east. One of the richest if not the richest was Walter Thorp he owned the Thorp auto company they sold Chevy’s, Buick’s, and John Deer tractors, he was big. He had a large house in the northwest side of town. He also had a big farm east of Britton. Walter used to walk to work a lot, when he walked by the shoe shop I worked in, he would always wave, when he needed new heals or half soles on his shoes he would bring them into our store always a nice man to talk, very smart. I heard that he went to the university in Minnesota. When he died, I heard he left a lot of his money to the University. The Thorp farms were so large that they had there own auctions, people from all over the mid west would come tohis auctions. It would bring a lot of people to this part of the state. Yes, I would say Mr. Thorp was rich he had it made.

Most of the framers had large families and worked real hard, but very few were rich. Another man who had it made was Art Bonhan. He’s long gone. My dad said Art came to town on the train, he had no money but lots of brains and worked day and night, no forty-hour workweeks for him. Art seamed to be working every time you saw him. Art had a big grocery store with a large meat department. He had big farms north east of Britton he may have had farms elsewhere but I never heard of any. He raised beef, cattle, and hogs, which he would butcher and sell in his store. The profit had to be really good. I remember years ago when I was selling triumph motorcycles, I would buy parts direct from Big Parts Houses. Value Quick’s that sold for $5.85 each. I paid eighty-five cents each for them only one catch I had to buy in large quantities. But you can see the nice profit. Art also had a big café in Britton, in later years our mother worked there as a cook for one dollar per hour. Old Art would always tell his help at the café, when I die I will leave you girls plenty. When he died he left nothing to his mother and as far as I know nothing to anybody else. The rich devil may his soul burn in hell. He did have it made.

Rich just what does rich mean, theirs more in this world then just money. I know a wonderful man he had very little, worked hard all his life. When he died he left very little. But he was rich in many ways other then having a lot of money old Carl Wicker, most of the time he was lucky to have a few dollars in his pocket. Carl was a handy man, he could fix just about anything. During the time most other kids and I knew him he had a junkyard in the 1930’s and early 1940’s. He had a creamery; he bought farm products also old iron, copper, etc. He had all kinds of metals. As kids we would pick these metals up behind garages and on the city dump grounds. As kids we sold him this junk, he usually did not have all the money to pay us, he had a small book with all the kids names in it, he would say I owe you forty-five cents and on down the line to each of us kids. I will pay you when I sell the junk, he always paid us kids. Carl also had a tire business during the war years. Carl built his own tire molds. He could recap a tire, patch an old tire up so you could use it over and over again. I remember one time I saw an intertube say eighteen inches on one side and nineteen inches on the other. He would take pieces from other tubes to make one working tube. During the war years antifreeze was reallyhard to get. Old Carl made his own called Alaska this was a big flop, some farmers claimed Carl’s antifreeze wrecked their engines. He had many people mad at him, but most people got over it. Carl had too many good things going for him. Carl could play the piano and the organ really good. Mother always had an old pump organ. Whenever Carl would come to our house to fix something, he would drink mother’s coffee and play that old organ. Old Carl always smoked cigars, he was always seen lighting a cigar some said he lit more matches than cigars. During the start of the war I came to Seattle to work a few months before I went into the Navy. Cigars were real hard to buy. I had a chance to buy a whole box so I did and sent them to Carl. He never forgot that. Every time I would go back to Britton he would always thank me for those cigars. Old Carl was poor, but rich in many other ways. I would say in his own way he was rich and had it made.

All of us our rich if we believe in God and know Jesus as our savior. I know a lot of people who have very few material things. But there people are really rich, they believe in God and they try hard to live by his rules. They believe the bible and they keep watching for Jesus’ Second Coming, and he will come again so be ready.

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – “The Old Timers go mountain climbing”

“The Old Timers go mountain climbing”

Carmen and his old buddies had been planning to climb to the top of Mt. Rainier for years. It was a beautiful day June 2003, OLD SLIMBO was 80 soon to be 8 1. He told us if we don’t climb that Mountain now, then when? Ron, Al and Carmen said lets get to some planning now. We will need lots of equipment. We have been riding our Motorcycles and bicycles for years. I believe it was in 1959 I first met Ron when he came into my Motorcycle store looking for a dirt bike. As it is today dirt bikes were really a big part of the sport of motorcycling. Ron said he loved to race, I sold him a JAWA, which was a very good dirt bike but low priced. The motorcycle club I belonged to was the World Famous Jolly Rodgers Motorcycle Club. Our club owned 10 acres of land in the Kent Valley, about 10-12 miles from our store in Seattle. On the west side of the grounds we had a beautiful high-hill 520’ to the top. It was so steep you could not walk up it. Riders from all parts of the U.S. would come twice a year to try their luck at climbing the hill.

Slimbo, Ron, myself one cool winter day on our daily ride.  We have been riding buddies for many years. Slimbo passwed away in Novemeber of 2004 at the age of 83.

Slimbo, Ron, myself one cool winter day on our daily ride. We have been riding buddies for many years. Slimbo passwed away in Novemeber of 2004 at the age of 83.

For most riders it was our track. In the early years we called the races Scramblers, and TT’-Races. Later we had Motor-Cross races almost every weekend. When we weren’t using the grounds we would lease it to the Seattle Motorcycle club. Ron was a member of the Seattle Motorcycle club. Their club put on some really good races. My four boys got their start at racing at the Jolly Track. We had better get back to Mountain Climbing.
On the West Coast, Mountain Climbing is a real big sport. We had been watching other people climb Mountains for years. We all ride our Motorcycles up into Mt. Rainier every year, many times. All of us had all the equipment we needed. Old Slimbo had bought 4-Big pieces of hard plastic about 2’X4’. We all asked Slimbo, what are we going to do with those boards? He pops up, “don’t you guys know anything?”. He said when we reach the top of the Mt,. we’ll sit on the boards and then slide to the bottom. We all said yes Slimbo but its not going to be that easy.

The day came we were all ready to climb the Mountain. It was a beautiful day and it was supposed to be nice all week. We drove in two different pickups to the Mountain. The 1 thing we did was check in with the Ranger Station to tell them our intentions. One young Ranger said you got to be kidding, doesn’t look like not one of you could make it 500’ up the Mountain. Old Slimbo pops up saying, young man I’ll have you know we have been climbing Mountains for years and in all parts of the world. Old Al said to himself, we have, when and where? The Rangers said OK we’ll give you the permits but you had better stay on the trails and stay in contact with us every few hours. We all had two way radios and cell phones. We figured we’d be just fine. We had planned ahead each one carrying his own equipment, food and water. We each had maps of the trails. All the Rangers were betting not one of us would make it 500’. We heard this from a young man that passed us on the trail, he said he heard the Rangers talking and one Ranger had a $20.00 bet we wouldn’t make it 500’. We had all our equipment on, it was real warm out. The mountain looked beautiful. Slimbo popped up this should be a piece of cake. So, off we walked. After 2 hours we stopped, rested and drank some water. After 10 minutes Slimbo pops up, Countdown, we have a long way to go. So off we walked. We climbed for about another 6-hours. We all were tired. We had planned on climbing till around 7-o’clock then set up camp. By 7-o’clock we were all tired out. It had not been as easy as we thought it might be. Al said let’s set up camp this is a good spot with a nice stream of water running along side the trail. Al said there’s always tomorrow if it takes an extra day that’s ok. 01 Slimbo says, “No it’s not, we got food and water for 3 days and that’s it”. We set up camp. We all fixed our own meals. We all ate like horses. We all agreed we had gone a long way the 1 day. Ron talked to the Rangers and told him where we were. He could hear one Ranger say what did they have a helicopter fly them up there. Those old fails could not of walked that far. The Ranger told Ron the trail will get much steeper and harder to climb. We all hit the hay. We set our alarms for 6-o’clock. That’s really early for most of us. But we all knew tomorrow would be hard going. We all fell asleep fast.

Seemed like just an hour or two and old Slimbo’s alarm went off. It was loud enough to wake up everyone. We were all still tired but we all knew we had to get going. We all ate, packed our gear and off we went with Slimbo in the lead. We could hear Al say what’s the hurry we’re all retired we got all the time in the world. We all realized the weather can change fast. We kept walking. I was tired and my knees were really hurting. Wasn’t long the trail turned to ice and snow. The mountain top looked close yet far away. Old Slimbo pops up, “I should lasso the top and pull us all up”. We all said the heat was getting to old Slimbo. We climbed for another 4 hours. We had to stop we were all tired. My legs felt like they were on fire. I could hardly walk. Al’s back was hurting bad. Ron said what now? It was only 12:30 the sun was out, a beautiful day. We rested for half an hour and off we went, all hurting. We’d walked another two hours. Slimbo pops up where the hell is the top. It looks so close. Soon the trail got steep and real slippery. The top looked so close. Old Slimbo blew up said whose’ idea was this anyway. He said I’ve had it. He sat on his plastic board and down the trail he went. Ron said we can’t let him go back by himself We all agreed we had walked up all we could. So we got on our boards and all started down that trail. We were all sailing along at a good clip. After about 1 hour we caught up with Slimbo he was sitting on the side of the trail waiting for us. He said I could see you guys coming.

Old Slimbo started singing, he does this when we ride our bikes on the trails in the Seattle area. We all try to ride the bikes for at least 7-8 miles a day 5-6 days a week. This keeps us in shape so we can climb those Mountains. We ride our bikes on trails that follow the Duwamish River. You can ride to Seattle north or go south to Auburn a total distance of 3040 miles. We usually start at Downtown Harley in Tukwila. The trails go right in back of the store. Once Old Slimbo started singing we knew he was

We used our boards until we ran out of snow. Ron said it’s getting late best walk one more hour and set up camp the next day we should make it back to the Ranger station. We walked about 1 hour Al said that’s it let’s set up camp no one argued with him, we were all tired. We set up camp, ate, then old Slimbo starting singing. One song he sang was There’s a Gold Mine in the Sky. I told Slimbo that’s true but none of us is going to get that Gold. We all went to bed, Al set his alarm for 7 he said that’s early enough. No one disagreed with him. We all slept good. I dreamed during the nite that we all had made it to the top. One could see the whole world from up there. 14,410’ that’s high. Soon Al’s alarm went off, we all got up the sun was out it was going to be a beautiful day. We ate and packed our gear. We all headed down that trail eager to get to the Ranger Station, check in and then head home. We left the boards on the trail back up the trail where the snow ended, just maybe some one else could use the boards. We walked a long way. All were tired but no one said anything. We had walked for 4 hours I felt like I could go no further. We stopped Ron called the Ranger told him we should be back 2-3 hours. He told Ron be sure to check in before you leave for your homes. Al asked if I could try and walk, so I tried. We walked for what seemed hours then all of a sudden Slim says I can see the Ranger station. It looked close. It was probably a mile or two away. We all started walking as fast as we could eager to get to the bottom. Then Ron sat down and said let’s rest and no more Mt. Climbing. After about 1 more hour we checked in with the Rangers four Rangers came out to meet us. They told us what we had just done was just about impossible to do for men our ages. The one Ranger who had bet we wouldn’t make it 500 feet said you old farts cost me a $20 bet, but I’m glad you all made it.

Soon we were in our pick-up trucks and headed back to Seattle. Slim said see you tomorrow at the Harley shop. We have to ride our bicycles and be there 10:30 sharp we got 10 miles riding to do tomorrow. Al said, doesn’t that old fart ever get tired? We all met at Downtown Harley. We all had our bicycles, but we were all too tired, so we didn’t ride. But we did drink Russ’s coffee and eat his doughnuts. If it wasn’t for the Harley Shops, I really don’t know were most riders would got to meet other riders and have a place to shoot the bull. The Harley store has always been the place to meet old riders and new riders. All Harley stores have a motorcycle club called the “Hog Club”, there’s over 600,000 members world wide. Other Motorcycle stores don’t have the attraction, they have big beautiful stores, but there just isn’t that ???????????? there is at the Harley stores. I thank God each day for getting me involved in the sport of motorcycling. I have and continue to meet so many wonderful people from all walks of life.

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – 50 Years and the Jolly Roger Motorcycle Club

50 Years and the Jolly Roger Motorcycle Club

Vern Pugh from Tacoma riding our 520 ft. hill in the early 1060's

It was in May 1946 when I first went out to the Jolly club grounds, at the bottom of the hill they had a scrambler’s track. Often held T. T. races on the same track. While the most popular event was their hill climbs, twice a year, usually May and September. Their hill was over 510 feet high, in those years few riders ever made it to the top. I watched that Sunday, and made my first hill climb, I was so excited. I went to a few meetings the next few months, I was determined to become a member.

In July I rode my 37 Harley 45cc back to South Dakota. I didn’t return to Seattle again until 1951. In 1951 I was riding a Harley 74cc I had bought this from Polk’s Cycle in Seattle. I traded my 49 Indian scoot in on a Harley. Poke’s Cycle was a well- known shop. Larry Poipras’ shop, but everyone called him Poke, we became good friends. Poke at the time was a member of the Jolly Rogers Club. He invited me to ride out to the club grounds for a big race one Sunday, it was in early spring. In those years, riders would gather at the motorcycle shops and ride out together. We would have 50 to 200 riders. We all parked our cycles in big parking spaces set up for motorcycles only. We would walk through the rows of bikes, looking at all makes and models. The English bikes were beginning to be very popular. I believe it was in 1952, that I joined the Jollies. At this time the club had a large membership, around 100, the club was so large that we had riders from many phases of the sport. We had the dirt bike riders, hill climbers, the Enduro riders, and best of all we had our drill team. We all rode Harley’s, all white, our uniforms were beautiful, black with a lot of white striping! We rode in almost all the parades in the Northwest, like the Sea Fair parade. We also had a big float. It was really beautiful, we would change it each year. We had this one member Shorty Deters, that really loved working on the float.

Our most well known members in the early years were Kenny and Lila Bulen, they kept the club going for years. Kenny died in October 1997. At this writing, Lila is 89, she dropped out of the club in 1998. Lila was our best publicity director we ever have. She worked with the newspapers, which got a lot of good publicity. She was a good friend of the Governor of our state. Each year we would have a large banquet too. I forgot what year but Gov. Rossalini was our guest speaker. We always held our banquets in some large hotel in Seattle. We all really enjoyed that banquets, we got a lot of good publicity for our banquets.

Jolly Rogers Drill Team. We had a wonderful drill team in the early 1950's. WE all rode beautiful while Harleys.

I rode in the drill team until the early 1960’s, I also rode all the Endudos our club put on, and in many other endures other clubs put on. I remember I had just bought this new Triumph Tiger Cub. I used it to help lay out our Enduros, one was the Treasure Chest Enduro, it was very popular. One rider I just have to tell you about who rode our Treasure Chest Enduro is Don Dorsey. I have known Don and Lyle for 50 years. Don was a club member in the early 1960’s. I had sold Don this new Jawa 175cc, now that’s a small bike. Don is over 6 feet tall, and weighs at least 225. He and his wife Nancy rode this little 175cc double to California and back. He got home just in time to enter the Enduro. He rode this Jawa, riding double the entire run. At the end of the run, the clutch was burned up. Very few would believe he rode double the entire run on this small bike. But I saw him do it. Nancy would help push over the steep hills. Both Don and his brother still ride street bikes all over the west.

The first day I rode the cub, laying out the Enduros I tried going up a very steep hill, I got about three-quarters up the hill and the cub came over backwards and broke my headlight. I felt bad at the time, I rode that cub for a few years, I rode it in many scrambles. The Tiger Cub was one of the best at that time, the clutch would get very hot you just could not shift it and it was famous for throwing rods. Down in Dallas Texas they made roller bearing lower ends and big board kits 250cc the cub was only 200cc from the factories, some of the better riders and the ones with the money would ride the 250cc cubs. We always had 100 or more riders in those years, this was really good! The Enduro usually ran 100 to 125 miles. We started at the club grounds, go down river across the railroad tracks, work our way through the Kent Valley up over the east hill of Kent. In the early years these areas were very thinly populated, one could ride on trails almost everywhere. Today you cannot go 1 mile, the Puget Sound area has just grown too large. In those years you could ride on pipe lines and under the big power lines and we would use lots of pipelines and power lines for our Enduros. It would go east down across old highway 169, work our way all the way to Issaquah and then work our way on trails to North Bend. Then, work our way back to the club grounds on trails. We’d start early Sunday morning and be back at the grounds by 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. At the end of the run, we always had a big feed, some of the men and auxiliary women would work this feed. The run had many hills so rough and steep, riders would have to help each other over the hills. We had this one spot called devils, it was really something! If it was raining, no one could make it to the top without help from other riders. We had this one rider always rode a big 500cc, Matchless or AJS machine, his wife Lois rode on the back with him. When he came to the steep hills he made her get off and push the bike to the top. We always kidded him that the reason he took her along was to push him over the steep hills.

Our scramble races were really popular, we would have a race 2 to 3 times a month. The races would draw riders from all over the west. The Tacoma riders were really tough riders to beat, they also had their own grounds with tracks and hill climbs. We had some of the best riders to have ever come out of the northwest ride our races. Such as Bob Budshot, Gordy Oaks, Jack Anderson, John Deacon, and so many more I just can’t name them all. I sponsored Gordy in his early years in fact, I took him out to our club grounds to ride his first dirt bike, a small BSA, he moved up fast to Bultacos, CZ Triumphs and others. He still rides dirt bikes and big Harley bikes.

Donna and I have four wonderful boys and they all got started riding on the Jolly grounds. John was really good for a number of years, then he got more interested in girls than racing. He was a very good rider and I remember one race he was probably 13 or 14 years old when his bike blew up! A good customer and rider who rode out of our store, Dale Smith, he was a city firemen, a wonderful man. Dale said John, ride my Beltaco today, John had not raced a 250cc bike before, he rode the main event the A enduro. I never forgot that, the starter flag went down and John took off like a raged ape. He was small and light weight, he shot to the front at once. He led the entire race, even lapping the other riders. He won that race! I was really proud of him. Our sons Rick and Russ raced for many years too. Both are very good, Rick won the 250cc championship in 1985. He is too old for motor cross so he quit racing a year or so later, still has his 250cc Honda. Russ was and still is a very good rider. He won many races on the Jolly Rogers track. Russ has his own Harley-Davidson store now, but still races occasionally. He rides and collects his first love, Honda 50cc. Only these days they have big kits as large as 124cc, special forks, and rear bore suspension, they are beautiful small racers. Russ has over 30 minis in his collection. Rick rode in many big races, California, Florida, Kansas and in so many other states. He was hard to beat. Rick and Russ still race on our own track, still go like hell, each one trying to out do the other. Back to the Jolly’s, our hill climbs were one of the best promotional events for our club. Our hill at 520 ft. was world-famous, expert riders from all over the West would try their skills on our hill. In the early years, Harleys and Indians would dominate but a few years went by and Triumphs and BSA could really fly up that hill. Triumphs were hard to beat, super fast the engine would rev up fast. Much higher R.P.M.s than the Harleys and Indians. Now days the fast Japanese bikes, with their modern engines that go up to 9,000 to 10,0000 R.P.M.s are hard to beat.

The Jolly Rogers kept going but like so many clubs, changed. We had to quit having the Treasure Chest Enduro, no longer any place to have it. The so-called progress, had taken over. We did have a good event for years held over Labor Day weekend. The event was held in Eastern Washington, northeast of Cle Elum. We all camped out near the river, a few had trailers, can’t remember anyone having a motor home. This was a wonderful event, everyone looked forward to it. We had a series of events, hill climb, all classes, all kinds of races, at the end the day, came night we’d have a big bon fire by the river, drink beer, pop, sing and tell big stories till the wee hours. Our club would put on 2 good meals a day. Our boys and so many other kids would ride their trail bikes for hours on end, one could ride trails for endless miles. John, Rick and Mike all had small Suzukis, I rode a super fast Bultaco 200cc. At the end of the day the club would add up all the points each rider had. On the third day we added up all the points and that night, by the big bon fire would announce the winners. I was lucky, I won first place one year. John came in second place, we both got big trophies, I never forgot that win! At the end of the three days we would really put on a good feed, big party night, and everyone loved it! Next day, early in the morning we would all pack up and head for home. All of us looking forward to next year.I remember when we were coming home, we had our small 1600cc Simca pickup loaded with 4 bikes and all our camping gear. We were going through Cle Elum and the police pulled me over, said I was speeding, I said how? Our little truck would not go over 45 to 50 M.P.H. with that big load, the cop could see how loaded down we were. But he said the city needed the money, I got to do my job and give you a ticket. He made it as small as he dared. We made it home in good shape. This event lasted for 10-15 years, with motorcycles becoming more popular each year and growing in large numbers. The state closed the area for camping and riding, another big event came to an end. As the years went by the drill team came to an end too, the floats were beginning to get super big and costly so our nonprofit club could not afford to build what the city wanted. So that event ended, one event after another would die off and the club went downhill. We leased our track out to the Seattle Motorcycle Club, they had lost their grounds to so called progress. The Seattle Motorcycle Club put on some really good races. We continued to put on hill climbs, but one year that ended also.

Our TT and scarambes track.

Houses were beginning to pop-up close to our club grounds. Soon events were limited to just a few events each year. We were down to a handful of members like all the great clubs of the Northwest, our years were numbered. Our oldest member Kenny died, the next year Arvid died, and we were down to a few old-timers. Developers started hounding us, our grounds were now in a city where the laws changed fast. One day a big developer told us, sell or get pushed out. We spent some money on an attorney to no avail. The day came when we had to stop racing, we sold the property and gave all the money away, some to good causes. The club came to a standstill. But one day, one member, Bob said, let’s get the club going again! We met at his house and got on the Internet, soon we had 10 to 12 members, too big for Bob’s house. We asked Russ at Downtown Harley if we could use his big conference room, so we started meeting once a month. Not long after we had 20 members I believe, we have 25 to 30 now. We have no club grounds to put on events, the land is too costly and you have to get so far away from cities, and insurance is too high. I don’t think we will ever see the club began putting on races etc., as it was years ago. Like most of the clubs in the Northwest, our days of putting on races, hill climbs, etc. have come to an end. We will continue as a road club, and with God’s help we will remain a club for years to come. So called progress has killed so many good things in life, there are those that would like to see motorcycles disappear.

I also belong to 2 other clubs, the V. M. E., a wonderful club made up of riders loving old motorcycles. We put on a number of events each year. One is on Vashon Island, about 30 minutes from Seattle also each April we put on an enduro called the Bonehead. It runs 90 to 100 miles. We start at a motorcycle shop in a small city outside of Seattle called Snoqualmie. One is supposed to ride vintage bikes, any bike below 1975. The run goes on a few logging roads, gravel roads, one river to cross, in order to get one bone. There are checkpoints along the run, you must pick up a bone at each checkpoint. The run goes high into the mountains. One has to ride in snow, sometimes quite deep, through deep mud too. At the end of the run, in order to win you must have all the bones and finish the run. I won it in 2001, I rode an old 175 cc Harley. In 2002 my son Russ was riding a 1937 Harley with a sidecar, he has two daughters he took along, Emma 7 and Alex 10, they had a wonderful time riding in the sidecar. The night before the run we had a real rainstorm, the rivers overflowed their banks and to top it off it was really cold and raining out, we almost froze. I rode and Tony, my grandson rode his Honda 200, he got so cold and my bike would hardly run, so we had to give up. At the end of the run the club has a good meal served at the VFW hall. I intend to ride this coming April, pray the weather will be good. Russ won first place in 2002, I’m sure he will ride again this year. One year he rode my 1942 Harley 45cc Army bike. I’d just paid $10,000 to have restored, I was afraid he would damage the bike but he did not, it just needed a good wash.

Ed Marshall, 87 at Downtown Harley on Saturday morning. He is Jolly's oldest member with me comin in next at 79.

The other club I belong to is called the H.O.G. Club, it is world wide, there’s over 600,000 members and each Harley store must have a branch. Russ’s Downtown Harley store has a wonderful club. Big meetings each month at that store, a lots of runs throughout the year and big parties.

I admit, I’m not very active but I try to go on some runs and to some of their parties. At 77 years old, parties no longer do much for me, but the young riders really have fun. It’s one good club!

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – Wilber, Alfred and Albert Ride to Alaska

Wilber, Alfred and Albert Ride to Alaska

It was in 1962 all three decided it was time to ride their motorcycles to Alaska. They have dreamed of riding to Alaska since they came home from the Korean War. They read of many other riders riding up the Alaska Highway. They knew it would not be a piece of cake. They worked on their motorcycles all winter in whatever spare time they had. All three have so many projects they’re working on. Besides running their farms then there is Jumper. He will only let just a few people take care of him. Wilber said lets get Ruthie and Evelyn to watch our farms and take care of Jumper. Other than us three there really is only one Jumper we’ll take care of him. Old jumper loved these ladies.

So they first got that out of the way. Their farms would be in good hands, Jumper would be in good hands. They had the motorcycles in top condition. Wilber decided he would ride his 1934 Indian 74” now an 80” with the sidecar. Using the sidecar they could take all their camping gear, spare tires, and parts. Alfred and Albert decided they would ride their 1936 Harley side valve. These were 74” now 80” they had converted the oil system, 5-6 years ago: They built special heads; big cylinders came out of Kansas. The lower ends were built by S & S out of Wisconsin about the best you can buy. They had put big 510 X 16” wheels on years ago. They made sure all wheels on all three bikes took 16” wheels and tires. This way they could get by taking 3-4 spare tires. All three bikes had large solo seats with the seat post for springing. All three cycles were converted from 6V to 12V years before. They took along spare chains, spark plugs, coils, ignition, points, generator brushes, light bulbs. They had been working on the list of parts to take all winter, also the tools they would need. Now they would have to set the date to leave, they spent all winter on their route. It looked like they were ready to ride. They figured they would be gone 4 to 6 weeks. They allowed 6 weeks if it took less, good.

It was June 20th 1962, 6 o’clock, the sun was out. It looked like it would be a beautiful day, like so many days in the Black Hills and Western S.D. Wilber had agreed to be road Captain, Alfred would follow then Albert would follow. All three bid goodbye to Ruthie and Evelyn. They all gave Jumper a big bear hug when they left. Wilber turned his head looked back, he could see big tears in old Jumpers eyes. Don’t tell me animals don’t have feelings, old Jumper was part of their family. They rode out of the prairies got on Highway 85 and headed north. They planned on stopping for gas and eat only. They all knew they had a long ways to go. They had figured the trip could be between 7000-8000 miles, many real hard going; it was a good thing all three were in very good condition. Wilber set the pace, 60 mph on all 2-lane roads, 4-lane, they would cruise at 65-70 at these speeds they should average 40mpg maybe even 45 pulling a sidecar always take more gas. They had 2 large cans of gas on the two solo bikes. They stopped in Belle Fourche, gased up, and checked all 3 bikes over. All bikes looked good. Wilber said lets eat in a café for lunch. Albert said lets, we all got plenty money! There will be plenty of times we will have to cook our meals. We road to Buffalo, gassed up, again checked the bikes over. Albert seen this nice little café, so they rode over to the café, parked in front, lots of old farmers around, one old dude said where you three think you’re going on those old bikes. Wilber popped up Alaska and as far north as we can get. The dude looked the bikes over, said I be willing to bet you guys won’t make it to North Dakota. All three said you don’t know us three. Our bikes run beautiful; we’ll see you on our way back 4-6 weeks from now.

They had a good meal, got on their bikes and rode off. They stayed on 85, stopped at Watford City, N.D., gassed up, and again checked their bikes over. Albert said let’s stop at Williston N.D. fix a lunch head west on 2, this is a good but narrow road going west. They made it to Williston, all agreed they were a little tired, said lets find a park camp out get a good nites sleep, leave early next day. So they found a small park, set their camp up, ate lunch, big roast beef sandwich and all had a bottle of their home made beer. They fell asleep fast. Soon Albert’s alarm clock went off. It was 5:30 they got up, packed their gear. Wilber said let’s head out look in the sky west of us. It looked like rain clouds. They had gassed up nite before. So off they rode, just out of Poplar, Montana the rains came. They pulled over got their rain gear on, old Alfred said, man I hate riding in rain, but let’s get going, they made it to Glasgow, gassed up, Albert said look the sun’s coming out. It quit raining so they took their rain gear off, and off they rode. They rode to Havre, Montana still on 2. They had planned on going to Shelby go north on what is now freeway 15. At Sweetgross, they had to cross into Canada. The Canadian Mounted Police had to check their bikes over. They all had the proper papers ready the one officer said you fellows been in Canada before? That’s nice you have all your papers in order and where you can get at them in a hurry. They asked Wilber, Where you men headed? When he said Alaska the one officer said 2 young men on New Harley’ s came thru here just 2 days ago. They also said they were going to Alaska, just maybe you’ll see them on the road. So off they rode, all bikes running like new. They had also installed large oil coolers on their bikes, because they knew it could get hot in July and August. They wanted these engines to run cool as possible. They stopped at Lethbridge. They seen this motorcycle shop so they rode over, all stopped, went inside see all the new Harley’s, they also sold Honda’s. One young salesman said you old fanners want to trade those old bikes in on new ones Old Alfred said no thanks our bikes are better than new. They only look old. The salesman said you’re right there, they do look old. He asked just how old are they. When they told him, he said, may god go with you. You will need the Lord with you if you think you can ride to Alaska and back. But then he said I didn’t mean no harm, you fellows have a good ride to Alaska. If you stop on your way back, show me some pictures of Alaska, on your bikes. I’ll put you up in the best motel in town for the night and buy you all the biggest steak in town. They thanked him and rode off. Wilber said before leaving let’s stop set up camp just this side of Calgary. We can fill up the next morning. So off the three rode, old Wilber was getting a little tired riding the side car and asked Alfred if he would ride the side car for few hundred miles. Old Alfred said hey I been waiting for you to ask me. They found a nice campsite few miles south of Calgary. They set up their tents, ate some of that good Buffalo meat, they had with them, drank a beer, and soon were in LA-LA land.

They looked out of their tents the next morning it was raining, coming down pretty hard. Old Albert said, let’s stay here till the rain stops or at least till it comes down a little slower, so, they stayed in their tents couple hours. Soon old Albert said let’s go, it’s not going to stop for hours maybe days. So they packed all their gear all three had put their rain gear on. Off they rode, headed for Red Deer. I once watched a wonderful hill climb, out of Red Deer, it was a run on a ski run, they rode their bikes side by side up the hill and it was long, it was a wonderful climb. Old Evil was jumping cars at half times. He put on a real show, forgot how many cars he jumped. They got to Red-Deer, gased up, had cookies, drank some water, said let’s head for Edmonton, we’ll get on 43 north, let’s plan on stopping at Grande Prairie, Alfred was now riding the sidecar rig. He loved riding the sidecar; old Wilber had built a real good powerful engine, at least for an old Indian. They rode on 43 north, stopped at Grande Prairie, topped off their tanks. Old Albert had been keeping track of the gas they each used. He had a small book, just for this, (I do the same thing). The solo bikes were getting a good 44 miles to the gallon. The sidecar not too good 35 mpg but the car was loaded down good. The rain had stopped quite a few miles back. They were on their way to Dawson Creek. They planned on camping out if they could find a good park. First they topped the bikes off. All bikes had been running really good. They were all three happy with the way the bikes were running and what a good trip it had been so far. After few hours they got to Dawson Creek. Wilber said let’s fill up check our bikes over then find a campsite. While filling up Albert noticed a sign cabins $40.00. He said hey that a good price, we can sleep in a real bed get a hot shower. Let’s spend a few dollars so they got a nice cabin 3 nice single beds that was just wonderful. Old Wilber lay down on his bed said hell man don’t wake me for couple days, but they all go up before dawn. Alfred said let’s eat so they walked over to a small café. They noticed 3 late model Harley’s in front. So in they went seen a nice big booth, sat down boy what a beautiful girl cam over to them said boys I’m your waitress, what can I get for you? They checked the menu over, all ordered fish, Big Salmon Steaks with all the trimmings. While eating, Albert noticed one of the bikers were looking over at them. He came over asked where we were headed for. When they heard Alaska, they said, hey man that’s where we are headed and asked where we staying, Wilber said just across the street, they said hey that’s where we are bedding down. Just then the beautiful waitress came over asked anything else I can get for you boys? Old Albert said yes, why don’t you come see us tonight; we are just across the street. Old Wilber pops up, you crazy old man. What she needs is a young buck. She pops up, I like old men if they got lots of money and are headed for Alaska. Albert said come see tonight. We hit the hay by 9:00 so we’ll see you then. They paid their bill and walked back to the cabin, Wilber said I’ll bet you five dollars she never shows. Alfred said I’ll bet $20.00 she never shows. They got ready for bed; all took a good shower, turned the radio on, no TV, believe it or not. They picked up Art Bell over a station in Edmonton. They all hit the hay, listened to the radio, soon all had fallen asleep.

Morning came fast. They got up, all said boy what a good nights sleep they had. Wilber said hey what ever happened to that waitress, no one said anything. Albert looked outside they all packed up. The sun was out, not yet warm, it really was cool out. Wilbur always carried another motor with him, he had it bolted to the side of the side car. It said 38 above so all put on heavy clothes big heavy gloves. They were now on 97 next stop Fort Nelson they rode out of town happy old men. About two hours passed it started to get warmer so they stopped at a small town Trutch. They topped their tanks off all got rid of those heavy clothes and gloves. Albert said it’s going to get hot in couple hours. We can use a little heat; they rode off for Fort Nelson about 2 miles out, here comes 3 motorcycles. They passed Wilber, Alfred and Albert. When they went by that beautiful waitress was on one of the Harleys as it passed. The girl yelled, hey old timers, I got me a ride to Alaska, and with a young buck. She smiled and sped away really going fast, Wilber rode up to 70mph those young riders was out of sight. So Wilber slowed down to 60 M.P.H.. It was now really warm out. They made it to Fort Nelson, topped their tanks off, and checked the bikes over. Wilber noticed the rear tire of his Indian was low, so he checked it over, filled it back up to 36 lbs., said to Albert, who was watching, I’ll have to watch the tire when you’re behind me, check my tire while riding. Albert said ok, I’ll do that old buddy. He said let’s stop at Watson Lake, fill up, eat something. So off the three rode. After 3 hours they got to Watson Lake. They pulled into a Texaco station, filled up, etc. Old Wilber noticed a bike, with the rear wheel off. They all went over to check. Hey Albert says it’s one of the bikes that passed us, with that girl on one of the bikes. They noticed only one bike, soon a young man came out of the station, asked Wilber you wouldn’t happen to have a spare belt I could buy, his rear belt had broke. Wilbur said nope, we all use chains; we got 2 extra chains, lots of master links, oil, etc. The young man said now what am I going to do? Wilber said you’re not going to find a belt out here. He had a front belt on his Harley. Watch for a truck to haul you to Whitehorse, see if there’s a Harley dealer there. They rode off, all hated to leave the young man stranded, his two buddies had rode off and left him.

They were now on Highway 1. Whitehorse was only 100 some miles away at least that’s what one driver had told -them back in Watson Lake. They made it to Whitehorse no problem. The tire on Wilber’s sidecar was old, it had lost no air. They found a nice campsite, all three agreed to stop early today. They set up camp. Albert agreed to cook the meal. He fixed nice big steaks they had bought back in Watson Lake. They had a real nice campsite. Albert said I could stay here for couple days. But Wilber said let’s ride over to Haines Junction tomorrow. I’ve heard a lot about that town. So they all had a good nites sleep. They got up a little late it was 8:30 before they got going. They had been taking a lot of pictures on their trip. They planned on having a big barn dance and big feed when they got home sometime in next month or two. They all agreed they had a wonderful trip, no problems, other than rain and motorcyclists are used to rain, sooner or later. You run into rain. God only knows how many times in last 55 years I’ve got wet, waited just to long to put rain suit on or the rain came so fast, I didn’t have time to put it on.

They got up early next day at 7:00, off they rode for Haines and they got to Haines in no time. They found a nice campsite. Set their tents up said lets spend a day or so here, it’s really nice out. So after sight seeing picture taking, they packed up and rode off for Beaver Creek, next stop. They got there no problem they topped the tanks off. Old Albert said man we been paying high prices for gas all through Canada now Alaska. Alfred said well that’s what we figured before we started. That old man in North Dakota told us to expect high gas prices and food. He was right. But all three had plenty of money had been saving for this trip all winter. Besides we’ll sell a couple cows when we get home, help pay for this wonderful trip. All three were really happy they had taken this trip. It was nothing like the trip they had rode to Texas and Mexico back in 1955. That’s a real story, maybe I’ll write about it some day.

They rode out of Beaver Creek headed to Tok Junction then on to Fairbanks. They made it to TOK Junction no problem. They noticed a lot of out of state cars, even a few motorcycles. They took more pictures, ate, sight seeing then Albert pops up lets go. So they packed up and left. Headed for Delta Junction. they made it to Delta Junction, no problem. Wilber noticed the rear tire on the sidecar was getting worn down fast. He said I think I’ll have to change tires in couple hundred miles. They made it to Delta Junction. Gas up, all three agreed they would eat in a café today. So they found a really nice small café. Fish and chips special $2.50 remember this is 1962, prices were much lower then. One could buy a new Harley for $2,200 or so. Look what one cost today. Boy did all 3 enjoy the fish and chips. They use real potatoes up north not that frozen crap most fast foods use today. They left Delta Junction; Wilber said he was going to change the rear tire when he got to Fairbanks. Well, they made it. They asked a man in a gas station where the Harley shop was. He told them it was easy to find. The owner looked like an old miner. He had a beard, long hair, not like the Harley dealers dress today. But, this was Alaska; all things are different up here. The Harley dealer let Wilber use his shop to change the tire. He looked all 3 bikes over good, said I’d like to hire you 3, if you can build those old bikes to hold up and run as good as they do. He said some of you old timers are ok. Wilber got the tire changed asked the owner of the Harley store, if he’d like a bottle of real beer. He said matter of fact I would after I close shop tonite I’ll buy you all a big steak and drink your special beer. So that’s what they did. Bill, the owner of the Harley shop said man what wonderful beer you should bottle this and sell it. They just said no, I don’t think so. Old Bill had a wonderful time with the three riders from the Black Hills. They drank till wee hours, shot the bull, ate, danced and had a wonderful time. Old Bill hated to see the three go. They were his kind of people, just plain ol hay seeds. All 3 had a good nites sleep, didn’t get up till noon. Wilber said don’t say anything of this nite to !4 Ruthie when we do get home. She would be jealous. They finally got going by 1 o’clock. This was the latest they had got started since they left the hills. Old Bill told them stay on He gave them a good map of old roads and trails all the way to Barrow. That’s on the Artic Ocean. They figured it would take 4-5 days from Fairbanks. They bought an extra 5 gallon tank for gas. Bill had rode the old roads up north 3 years before; at least he said he did. He said some places no gas for 150 or more miles and no repair shops, no nothing but hard going, but all 3 agreed that’s what they wanted to do, so, off the rode.

They got on a trail which is now the Dotson Highway. Boy what trails, it had rained the road was really muddy; Alfred and Albert were having hard time stayin up. Course Wilber with the sidecar was having no problem. They made it to a small place a few people lived there. All Eskimos They knew nothing of the trails ahead. They were nice, but had no information about the road or trails ahead. They did say trucks come by once a week or two. They set up camp checked their bikes over real good. They figured to buy as much gas on the way as they could save theirs if they really need it. They paid $2.00 a gallon back in the Dakotas it was $.26 gallon. But who could say much. They all three had a good mtes rest and ate before they left. Wilber said we’re going to have to stock up on food next place we can buy it. They rode off the trails got better, it was not raining so that helped a lot. They rode only 300 miles next day, stopped at a small village, about 8— 10 people. It did have a place to buy gas and oil. High prices, but they knew that would be. They asked the man selling the gas if many cars or motorcycles came this far north. He said not many. I see a few trucks. Two big buses cam by four days ago, headed for Barrow. They had 6-8 people in each bus but lost of equipment and supplies. They bid the old man goodbye and rode off. They made 200 miles before Wilber ran out of gas. He had to use gas out of one can.; Alfred said let’s all top off. We’ll get gas next stop. So off they rode the trail was just dirt one lane, they had not seen a car or truck for now two days. After 2 more days they made it to Prudhoe Bay. There was a small café, hardware store, food store, yes gas, sold out of 30 gallon barrels. They gased up, ate, talked to a lot of workers. All the workers thought they were crazy to ride up there. Said they had only been two other motorcycles in last two years, one guy in a BMW riding around the world, they thought he was from Norway. The other rider had an Army 45” brand new, said he bought it in Seattle Army Surplus sale paid $450 for it. He was a really nut case. Really didn’t know up from down. He rode back toward Fairbanks. No one really knew if he made it or what had happened to him. They told Wilber look for an n old Army Bike on your way back. That nut case could have just walked off and let it. He had run out of gas 9 times since he had left Fairbanks. At least that is what he told them. One car driver told of seeing an Army bike in the back of a truck going south a few years ago. Big stories are told of most travelers that come north. But, then there are not many, or much else to talk about. Short wave radio was the only link with the rest of the world. Not much of that, some men asked how far you expect to go north; you’re on top of the world now. Albert asked how the road to Wainwright. One worker said man don’t try that the trail is muddy, narrow and seldom traveled. I would not even think of going there by 2 or 4 wheels. They usually fly supplies into those places. Please don’t try it. We’d like to think you made it home some day, but you try going to Wariwright and it could be your end of life. They all thought about it, took more pictures, voted on should we go farther or start back. Wilber said lets try it, Elfred said no, old Albert said I’ll go. So, we three left on that narrow cold trail out of Barrow. It was to be 150-200 miles. They had gone about 20 miles, no one else on the trial. They had hard going after 5 hours of hard riding both Albert and Alfred had fallen over 4 times, that’s more than since the started riding in the 1930’s. Wilber said that Enduro we rode on in Michigan in 1950, the old cow-Bell Endure, it was 500 miles long, but at least there was lots of riders riding the Endure. At least if you broke down, there was other riders to help you. Here just 3, no one else. They pulled up to a old store, parked their bikes, went inside, the owner a old man came out and said how in the world did you three ride here? That trails been shut down year ago. Elbert said no wonder we seen no one. We were the only ones on that trail. They talked asked a lot of questions there was maybe 8-10 people in the village. All said, No good further, don’t even try going back to Barrow. Big snow storm coming in next day or so. They looked up at the sky. It was dark, did not look. Wilber asked is there a place we could stay over few days till we decide what to do. Old Albert, the one who seemed to make the best sense, said, let’s vote again, but I’ll say with Gods help, just maybe we can make it back to Barrow in a few days then head south as fast as we can. I don’t want to get stranded up here. They all agreed to go back but to stay over for few days if they could find a place to sleep. One old man was so happy to hear they would not be going further. He said I got old shed you can stay in. So they took him up on the offer. It was not really bad, big place to put the bikes in out of the weather, sleep in their sleeping bags on the floor, not bad. They stayed for four days, really got to know the people. Enjoyed their stay, the food was just plain food. Fish, few potatoes, canned vegetables, no milk, coffee was ok, and Wilber broke out a case of his special beer. Boy did those villagers like that most got loaded. Shot the bull and sang songs till wee hours of the nite. Two more days passed the sun came out. The old short wave radio said it should be nice next 5 .-6 days. Weather in Barrow would get up to 55-60. So all three said we gave our best let’s head back. So they bid good-bye to those wonderful people and rode off. Old Wilber had promised to send 2 cases of his beer to them. It may take 6 months or more to get there air freight is high but about the only way. The sun was out the riding not bad they could ride along 25-30 M.P.H. in 2nd and 3rd gears most of the time. They had gone about 40 miles when the rear tire on Alfred’s bike blew. He got the bike stopped. All three help got it on the rear stand after they found some old boards to put under the stand. It kept sinking in the mud. They finally got the wheel off, got their tire tools out. Alfred was laying on the ground trying to get the tire off the rim. All of a sudden the tire tool fly off into the air, two more tools went flying thru the air, Wilber said, hang onto the tools. Put all other tools in the saddle bags. Albert said we are just too close to the pole, that gravity is so powerful up here its hard to believe old timers had told them of the. They finally got the tire fixed installed, new tube, saved the old one, they would patch it later. They rode off, the sun was out it was 56 above not bad. After 5 more hours no more problems they made it back to Barrow. All the old timers could not believe they had rode all that way. They rested up, filled all gas tanks, stocked up on food, bid all goodbye and off they rode. The going was not bad, it had not rained for a few days and the sun was out drying everything up. After 2 ‘/2 days they made it to Prudhoe, Bay. They stayed over for a day, rested up, checked the bikes over really good, they were really surprised that the only problem they had had was the tire. They were out some tools but that was not bad. They had traveled over 4,700 miles since they left their homes. Now they had a good 4,000 miles back, all depended on the route they would take. They wanted to get back to Anchorage then ride back to Haines get on a ferry to Prince Rupert, and head south. They found the going pretty bad, but no problems, how those old bikes could run so good no problems, was just amazing. Good thing they had chosen the side valve engines maybe not as powerful as the over head valve engines but much more reliable. The old side valve will just run and run. I know of some going for years with no problems. They met only one car and 3 trucks until they made it back to Livengood. Eight hundred miles took 3 1/2 days good thing they had gas but good thing they stopped that truck going north, he had gas $3.00 gallon but they were happy to get it. After seeing old Bill the Harley dealer in Fairbanks showing him pictures of where they had been, no one wanted to believe they had rode that far north, and on those ol bikes, even new bikes could not of done this. But the pictures proved they had been that far north. Old Bill had copies of some of the pictures and put them up on his billboard in his store. They had to leave after spending 2 days with Bill they headed south on Highway 3, 300 some miles to Anchorage. First day was just wonderful all three felt that they had done something few had done. They rode for 3 hours stopped at a small town. Gassed up, checked their bikes over good. Everything looked good. They had been changing their oil every 2000 to 3000 miles. They all had good oil filter and coolers the engines were better than new. They stopped off at Mt. Kinsley Park. Rode up the mountain as far as the roads would go; took pictures. Old Alfred said man up here on this mountain we can see the whole world at least it looked that way. After two days they made it into Anchorage stopping at all kinds of place, they all three were really enjoying themselves. Old Wilber was glad to pay .40 cents for gas again, not like .26 per gallon in South Dakota but not $3.00 they had paid in Anchorage. They stopped at the old Harley store. Not much of a store not like the one they have now. But the dealer was nice they bought Harley oil, no filters, they had been using auto filters much cheaper. All three did not like big cities so off the rode going north on I . They stopped at Palmer, then Glennallen, after 2 days they were in Tok Junction; over 2 weeks had passed since they had been there. Their bikes were beginning to look really bad, mud and oil all over. They decided to at least get some mud and oil oil; so they bought 3 cans of gunk asked a guy at a service station if the could use his hose. He said sure go ahead. They washed those old bikes up so good Old Wilber said, man look they look new. Albert said I think you’ve been drinking again. They figured to ride to Haines get on a ferry to Prince Rupert then ride eat again. It would be nice to rest and see all the Islands and stop off in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, etc. They camped out of Tok Junction, rested good the weather was nice in the 70’s. They stayed on 1 stopped at Beaver Creek, gassed up, took off, stopped at Haines Junction, followed 3 and 4 then 7 into Haines, stayed over for 2 days, really enjoying the country, so much to see. They took many pictures. After 2 days they were on the ferry, headed south really loving that big ship, Wilber said 1St big ship we’ve been on since Korea, Alfred said yes but let’s not talk about the war. All three have seen all the war we every want to see. This is a big beautiful ship we got good rooms the food is really good, the girls aren’t the best, that little Blondie in that café was what you call beautiful. Most of the women on this ship are older; Alfred said what’s wrong with that you’re no spring chicken. No, but I still like the young good looking girls the best. Wilber said let’s go to the bar drink some beer, so off the 3 of them went. The bar was full, but one table was just being cleared so Albert went over to the waitress said we’ll take this table the girl said ok. I’ll have it cleaned in a sec. They all sat down, the waitress said now what can I get you? Wilber said three Coors, the best you have, she was a pretty girl maybe 20-21, all three got their eyes full, and she noticed them looking her over. Wilber said what’s your name beautiful? She said you men can call me Kitty, Albert said that a nice name, we have a Kittie back in South Dakota, but she’s not as cute as you. She brought them their beer, asked can I get you anything else, Wilber said, find us 3 good looking girls about 35-40 years old, she said boys this ship is full of women that age, course most have their old man with them.. She said you horny old men should go to Seattle they got plenty call girls you can have $35- 50.00. Wither said hey maybe we’ll pick 3 good looking ones, take them back to South Dakota. Albert said, yes Ruthie and Evelyn would really like that. We had better forget that, we’ll think about going to Seattle, big Cities are for the birds. We’re just old farm boys, big cities are for city dudes.

They drank their beers ordered three more. After drinking for 3 hours Alfred said let’s go back on deck. It’s too dull in this bar. Albert said, yes I’m tired of looking at old ladies. I thought Ruthie was ugly, but these old hags on this ship aren’t worth looking at. So they went up to the deck. Looked out to see it was getting dark, not much to look at. Albert said hey there having a movie in ‘/2 hour, let’s go see what it is, so all three went to the hail, the move was to be in. There was couple hundred older people already sitting down, so the three of them sat down to watch the movie. After a few days the ship pulled into Prince Rupert. They had all their gear on the bikes ready to ride. As on most ferries the bikes are the 1st ones off. So they rode off, 1/2 mile down the road Wilber pulled over said we’d better check the map, be sure we’re on the right road. At was 11:00 Wilber said we are on highway 16, let’s ride to Bums lake camp out for the nite, after 4 hours of riding they made Bums Lake. They seen a small roadside park, there was quite a few cars already parked there so they pulled in found nice place under a big tree, they set their tents up, parked their bikes close by, double locked them, they always carried a heavy chain and locked all three bikes together. They cooked some steaks, drank a couple beers, and lay down and went to sleep.

Morning seemed to come early. They looked out of their tents it was raining out, but not hard, Wilber said let’s put our raingear on. Albert said let’s see if we can put some miles on today, we been gone 22 days already the packed up and rode down that lonely road. It was not the best road, black top, but in poor shape. They rode as hard as they could 55-60 in most places, passing most cars. There seemed like quite a few trucks on the road, and they were moving slow. It’s hard passing on narrow roads, but they finally made it to Prince George, it was a busy place, cars motorcycles everywhere. It had stopped raining few miles back, so off came the rain gear. The filled their gas tanks up also the spare tanks now all filled up. Gas wasn’t bad here 50 cents gallon and in Canada at the time you got 5 quarts to a gallon. They talked to quite a few travelers. All said best road to go on is 97 goes south all the way to Washington. They rode off they had agreed to stop at the 1 good camp sight they could see the Frazer River from the road it was flowing real good. They most likely had lots of snow this past winter. After 3 hours riding they cam to a place along side the river, looked like a good place to set up camp. They pulled in under some good size trees, in about 1/2 hour they had their tents up, Elbert said I getting tired cooking let’s eat out tomorrow, all agreed. They had taken a good radio with them it had short wave. They turned it on picked up a good western station in Vancouver, BC that good old country music made them feel right at home. Soon they were all asleep. Alfred was the 1st one up, he yelled get up you old sleepy heads. The sun is out really going to be a nice day not a cloud in the sky. They packed up; we’ll try making Williams Lake. Have a good meal; enjoy our ride in Canada after few hours they pulled into Williams Lake, nice place. Real busy, course summertime is always busy. They found a small café, big sign outside said ham and eggs $1.50. They all ordered that with hot coffee, good water, so they filled all their jugs up before they left. They ate, rode over to service station, filled up and checked the bikes over. Elbert said look there’s a Harley with the rear tire and wheel off. They walked over no one around, just the Harley pulled in. You couldn’t believe who was on the buddy seat, that good looking little blondie they had met in a café two weeks ago. 1 thing the blonde said was I got myself a real man we’re riding to Seattle. Elbert said where’s your buddy? The fellow said he’s
trying to find some wheel bearings; they went out few miles out of town. They were making a loud noise, but we didn’t know it till we pulled the wheel off. Wilber said I know the bearings you need, any auto parts house will have them; you just can’t order them under the Harley parts number. Wilber rode off to find the fellow. He found him a Napa Parts Store. They boy was having, a hard time telling the parts man what he wanted. Wilber could see the kid was getting no where so he butted in told the parts man what bearing and seals to get. Wilber said come on I’ll give you a ride back; I’ll help you put the bearing in. I’ve done this many times. Wilber got that wheel on and had that poor kid happy as could be. The two boys and girl said we’ll ride with you guys for the day. So all five bikes rode off together a couple hours. They pulled into Kam Loops BC they all gased up. Wilber said I’d like to ride couple more hours. The two boys and the blondie said they were going to stick around town for the day, so they bid the boys good bye Wilber told the blondie, if you ever want to leave that boy you can come to South Dakota stay at my farm. He gave her his phone number. The two boys were in the store so they did not see what Wilber was doing. Wilber would really like to of had that blondie.

They rode out of town. Happy to be on the road another day they would be in the USA. They rode into Hope BC found a nice cabin. There was a small café near by, so they had a good salmon dinner. They looked the map over good. Figured they would ride on 1 to 95 good south on 95 pick up 1 go into Washington state. They all hit the hay early, got up early packed up, rode out of town. They made it to Highway 95 in couple hours. They turned south got to the border they had a hard time getting back into the stated. Had to dig up their papers on the motorcycles the officer could see they had done lots of work on their motorcycles. They sure were stock, but they all did have the correct motor numbers, etc. After 2 hours they were on highway 9 headed for Sedro Wooley. Good thinking they had extra gas with them as all three bikes ran out. After 2 more hours they rode into Sedro Wooley. They filled up all tanks and cans. They figured they could make it to Winthrop before dark, but at the same time they wanted to really enjoy the ride through the north cascades. They had read and heard a lot about the North Cascade National Park. They rode over to a café, ate a couple hamburgers, drank a lot of coffee, then were on the road. They made it to Concrete in no time, all relieved themselves, they had just drank too much coffee. They again gassed up. Off they rode soon they were in the park. Up-up-up they went it started to get cool. They made it to Diabi Lake, took many pictures, really loved the high mountains. They rode off pulled into Winthrop at 8:30 it was still light out, but just starting to get dark. They could find no motels, etc. So they pulled into a camp site set up camp, All fixed something to eat. Wilber said before we leave tomorrow we had all better check our rear chains, also we had better check the primary chains. They had a good nights rest got up at 6:30. All agreed they were still tired, but this was no place to spend a day laying over. So they checked the chains. It was a good thing they did. All three bikes needed new rear chains. They had rode on too many dirt and gravel roads it will really wert out the chains in a hurry. Besides old diamond chains never were worth 10 cents. You were lucky to get 6-8000- miles and on a side car 5000 is good. Good thing they had new chains with, they had bought a lot of chains in Rapid City. A big Honda dealer had a sale on chains, and these were the heavy duty Japan made chains, you could get twice the miles as Diamond. And you don’t have to stop to adjust near as much. I put one on my 1981 Harley 741 rode to California and back to Seattle did not have to adjust it once. Wilber said they would all have to replace the primary chains when they got home. The side car was really hard on chains and rear tires. They all got ready to leave and a state trooper pulled up really asked a lot of questions, a Canadian Report had come out to look for 3 motorcycles, 1 sidecar, 3 older men. Seems the little blondie had got in a fight with her new found boy friend. She told the police she wanted to find the 3 men from South Dakota. She said Wilber was her dad. She had made up a real story. She wanted to go back to S.D. with Wilber, her dad. After 2 hours they finally were cleared to leave the stated patrol officer, told them before they left. If 1 find out you guys are not telling the truth, I’ll call ahead have you all picked up. Good thing old Wilber had told the officer they were going to Okanogen they go south into Wenactchee, this he hope would throw the police off course. They finally were on their way. They turned north to Omak on 97 at. Tonasket picked up 20 going east. After a few hours they made it to Republic, found a nice cabin It was nice to take a good hot shower and sleep in a good bed. All three were getting tired sleeping on the ground. They spent the nite in that nice cabin, got up late 7:30 all gassed up checked the bikes over. Alfred and Albert cycles needed rear tires, so they rode to Colville. Weather was hot sun out, really nice riding, but all three were getting tired, would be happy to get home. They pulled into a gas station in Colville. They pulled the rear wheels off, installed new tires good thing they had those spares. They were now down to no extra tires had 3 extra tubes, they had been really lucky. No parts needed so far, tires and chains all three bikes still running as new. Wilber said lets try to make it into Idaho, before dark. So off they rode. They turned east at Newport, beautiful ride nice roads, they made it to Sand Point about 7:30 found a nice old cabin. Prices really good. So they spent the night in a nice bed. Morning came early 7 o’clock they rode out of Sand Point. Headed north to Bonners Ferry, which they would pick up highway 2 again they wanted to make it to Troy Montana but it was getting dark so they found a place out of Bonners Ferry to camp. Set up their tents. They knew it could rain over night so they just didn’t sleep in their sleeping bags as they had done in a few places. Setting up and taking down the tents can get tiresome. They at some cold food they had, all wanted a beer but the had drank all their beer up, no more home brew till they get back to their farms. All three had been looking forward to going thru Glacier Nat’l Park. So they got up early 6:00 they were on the road. Two hours they were in Kalispell, nice town, real busy, no Harley shop, few Japanese shops but they didn’t have time to screw around, going thru Glacier Park would take 3..4 hours alone. They ate gassed up, checked their bikes over and headed out on 2. They entered the park at West Glacier, boy what beautiful mountains, weather was nice so they were lucky. Going thru the park was slow, but so much to see, they went up up till they made it to the top. It looked just beautiful, those of you that have been thru the park will understand, It gets real cool at the top. They had to stop put on heavy jackets and gloves after four hours they came out of the park at Browning Here they got on the highway 89, headed for Great Falls, The made it to Vaughn, found a nice place to camp out, set their tents up. They gased up so the could just ride off in the morning. It gets cold out in western Montana at night, mornings are cool or cold. They spent the night in their tents, at 6:00 it was cold out. They packed up headed for Great Falls just a few miles away, it was still cold out, so they rode on made it to the small town of Stanford, gassed up, checked their bikes over, all the bikes used a little oil, but they had not changed the oil in few thousand miles. They stayed on 87, they would pick up 12 at Roundup. At Roundup, it started to warm up. They ate at a small café, which all small towns seem to have, no big name stores. After few hours they made it to Roundup. The gassed up, filled all the tanks they knew it was 100 miles to Forsyth, no nothing in between, its one lonely road. I’ve been on it many times, never have liked it. There are few cars or trucks no ranches close to highway. After 2 hours they were in Forsyth. They did the usual things and left. They were getting anxious to get home, over 8,000 miles already still 400-500 miles till home. Soon they were in Miles City, hot as hell, which seems to be in the summer months. I have never been in Miles City in the summer months when it was not HOT, HOT. At Miles City they got on a road that is really lonely, I’ve been on it, in 1972 I rode my motorcycle to Sturgis on this road. 0158 is one lonely road, only thing you see is ranches, 2 hours they were in Broadus, soon the would be home. In 1982 I was riding my 74” FLH to Sturgis I broke down 14 miles out, good thing, this old customer came along on his Gold Wing. He rode to Broadus got a rope came back and towed me to Broadus, now that’s a good friend. I spent day and half there before I could get on the road again. At Broadus they picked up 282 what a highway, I’ve rode it at least 25 times seems I hate going up through Sheridan, Wyoming, it seems to long fiat way to Sturgis. Wilber said to Albert and Alfred let’s stop spend the night at our good friend, Hershey’s and ride home next day. So, at Belle Fourche they really surprised their old friend Hersey. They really had a good time must of stayed up till 11-12 o’clock. They all spent the night in nice beds, had a good breakfast. At 10:00 they got on the road. They bid their good friend goodbye, told Hersey they would see him again at the big rodeo coming up. They rode out on 34 thru Sturgis headed for Rapid City where they picked up 44 it goes right thru the badlands. They stopped in small town of Creston, ate a buffalo burger, some fries and drank some coke, which they seldom do. All three knew it would be real hot thru the badlands, they rode at a steady 55mph turned south at a real lonely road real narrow and in bad condition Albert said we should of taken another road home. They peeled off all the clothes they could it was 2o’clock and 112 out. Sun bright as could be they made it to Wounded Knee at 4:30. They had only few miles until home which goes back toward the Black Hills. I don’t want to tell you the exact location as I have promised Wilber I would never tell anyone. At 5:50 they pulled up to Wilber’s farm. Ruthie and Evelyn were outside hanging up clothes. When they seen Wilber and Albert, Alfred coming close toward the house, they ran as fast as they could. Ruthie jumped on Wilber’ s side car. Evelyn got on the back of Albert’s. They rode up to the house. The girls were really glad to see the 3 men. Ruthie said lets have a beer. Wilber said I could go for one now. That homemade brew tasted ever so good. After half hour Albert and Alfred rode home. Before they left they checked there book they had gone 8,412 miles, several weeks from home. This was the best trip they had ever taken. And to think only problem with the bikes was tires and chains, on other parts, not even a spark plug. Those old bikes were better than a new one, and much more powerful. I’m sure they will stay off the bikes for few days, it would be nice to sleep in their own beds. Wilber, Alfred & Albert went out to the barn to see ol Jumper. He was so happy to see them, he just jumped up into the air. They all gave him big hugs, old Jumper was happy again. Wilber said they should stay over in Sturgis, but they were all tired. Sturgis can wait until some other time.

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – Oh Where is My Indian Four

Oh Where Is My Indian Four

It was the summer of 1949, Donna and I had got married in June, we were living in a small apartment. Donna had a good job working in a Drug store, 65 cents an hour. My 1948 H.D., 45” was paid for and I had saved a few hundred dollars in the Navy. It seemed like I was always riding that Harley. I rode it 2 1,000 miles from April to October. We have a real short riding season in the Mid-West. April and even May through October can still be cold.

It was a beautiful day, I could afford to take a day or 2 off, wages were so low, if you got $1.00 and hour that was real good. So, I decided to take off a couple of days and go look for this Indian four I had head about for the last 3 years. I had heard about this 1936 Indian Four, it was suppose to be up in the hills east of Britton, South Dakota. I talked to my good friends Bob and Henry, they really loved to ride on my Harley so they agreed to go along. I first heard about the Indian from a good friend of mine. He had a late model Harley and a small airplane, he lived on a farm near Heckla, South Dakota, 20 or so miles from Britton. Wilfred assured me the Indian four was somewhere on a farm up in the hills. He had been to a big farm auction sale in North Dakota. This one farmer was interested in motorcycles and airplanes. He told Wilfred about he Indian and also, of a 1937 Harley 74 side valve. He told me about he Harley this far boy had got drafted into the Army and was sent to Italy and was killed. Wilfred said he heard 2 young farm boys saying the Harley was either in North Dakota or Minnesota. They said one fanner said you should pick the Harley for $200-$300. We all got excited about the price. We all agreed we had to find the Indian before we go looking for the Harley. I had a big buddy seat and a large luggage rack on the rear fender, we always put a big cushion on the rack for all three of us could ride. Bob and Henry didn’t have a motorcycle or even a car, they both wanted a cycle but had no money. They both worked on farms in the Dakotas. We all use to unload freight cars when we could, the train came through Britton once a day, seemed like there was always freight coming in. Britton had 2 large lumber yards, they also sold coal. Most people heated their homes with coal, oil was just starting to come in. We got paid 50 cents a ton to unload coal, what a dirty job. I used to do it just to have some money. Prices were really low on almost everything in the 40’s and 50’s.

Donna parents had a Café, you could get a steak dinner for 65 cents. A good hamburger was 10 cents, and home made fries another 10 cents. There was no thing as frozen fries or frozen any food. There was this one Tavern a lot of working people hung out at. Old John was a wonderful man, he would loan $3-$4, you just sign your name and be sure you paid him when you told him you would. John made what most people agreed was the best burger in the country. He had a big cast iron frying pan, it was always half full of fat. He’d fry the burgers in this and for 10 cents you’d get a burger, if you wanted he’d cut off a large piece of onion or a big slice of cheese, all for 10 cents. Beer was 5 cents a glass, later it went to 10 cents, everyone said at 10 cents a glass people would quit drinking it, that didn’t happen.

As I said before Donna worked in a Drugstore, she made the best banana splits and milk shakes in town. They were just out of this world. Donna could cook and take care of a house by the time she was 12 years old.But, let’s get back to finding the Indian Four. It was a beautiful sunny day, so my buddies and I rode up into the hills east of Britton. I stopped at this on farmer’s farm, he was supposed to know where the Indian was. I forgot his name, but he did say he heard about the motorcycle. He had heard of a young man had rode it out of the Twin cities, he was looking for work. After the war, there was always work to be found on farms. We could always start haying in June and July. June we would usually cultivate corn and around first part of August we would start harvest. It was always a hot, hard, job and you would work 10-12 hours a day, day after day until harvest was over. We really like it when it would rain, we’d get the day off. We’d all head for John Huff’s tavern or the pool hall and shoot pool and drink beer, that was about all there was to do. Doing farm work was good in one way, they always paid cash, if you worked 60 hours you got $60, no income tax or any other deductions, just good old cash.

I had better get back to finding the Indian Four, the farmer didn’t know where the guy with the Indian was but he had heard he was working on the old Jones farm, so off we rode. Old Johnny Jones. was out by the barn, I knew John as he used to do a lot of drinking in Huff’s Tavern. I asked him of the Indian, he said yes he knew of him, real nice guy, he worked for us 5 days or so then he was to go work on the Thorpe farms, Thorpe was a really big farmer. Se we rode away toward the Thorpe farms. I got to thinking I hope this doesn’t turn out to be a wild goose chase. We got to the farm, I seen another old farmer I knew of Gunderson. He told us yes he’d seen the man, his name was Harold Miller, or something like that. Gunderson said Harold worked for 6-7 days and left, he was supposed to go work for Andy Peterson on his farm only 3-4 miles further up in the hills. The crops were usually poor up there so I figured we got to find Harold fast before he leaves. So, off we rode to the Peterson farm. It was getting late in the day, I said we got to find that Indian now! I didn’t like riding on gravel roads at night, if a car passed you it would kick up dust and it was really hard to see. We got to the Peterson farm, old Andy was out by the barn working on his John Deer tractor, model J. Old Andy talked like he had just come over on the boat from Norway, he had actually been here since 1903. My own mother was Norwegian, she had that brog till she died in 1985, what a wonderful mother and boy could she cook and make the best home made bread in this world.

Old Andy told us he had seen the Indian and Harold had worked for him for 5 days. Andy wasn’t interested in motorcycles but he had heard from another worker that Harold would like to sell the motorcycle before it got cold in the fall. He wanted to go to the west coast and get a job with the Merchant Marines. He told Peterson he wanted to be a sailor and see the world. He had been in the Army during the war and spent all his time in Texas.

Andy Peterson told us to try the Anderson Farm, it was only 5-6 miles away. So off we rode. When we got to the Anderson Farm everyone was out in the fields working. We talked to Mrs. Anderson and their 4 kids. She told us Harold had worked for them then he moved on, she told us he rode off on his motorcycle. She said he heard from one of the fellow workers that the Kiendersen fann was hiring. It was getting late, 6:30, I knew it was and we had 3040 miles of gravel roads to ride on,, gravel is hard to ride on in the dark. We rode over to the Kiendersen farm it was only 56 miles away, what a beautiful farm. All the buildings were painted barn red and their house was as white as you could paint it. I saw a man out by the well so I rode over and shut my Harley off. lasked the man if he knew of Harold the guy with the Indian Four? He said, I sure did, he worked for me 4 days and then left. I asked you got any idea where he rode off to? Mr. Kiendersen said he said something of a farm over in Brown County. Boy, now I just didn’t know what to do. Just as we were getting ready to ride away, Mrs. Kiendersen came out, she said I heard you speak of Harold, well he told me when I paid him he got word from another worker the Hill brothers were looking for a good worker, I’d try them. I asked where their farm was, she said 15-20 miles North East of here. They told us how to get on Hwy. 25 going north then to go east towards Rosholt. I said that’s a long ways to go today, it’s getting late. I asked, any chance we could sleep in your barn for the night and do you have any work we could do for a meal? She said sure. You boys water my big garden and I’ll fix you a good meal. Boy, she had a big garden, we started hauling water in big paiis to the garden. We had to walk over to the well, it was about 200 feet from the garden, but we got it done, it took us a good 2 hours. Mrs. Kiendersen came and told us we had done a real good job. I asked her why they didn’t use a garden hose, she said Mr. Kiendersen says hard work is good for you, I said, yes it is. She said, well go wash up and come in the house, I have a nice meal for you boys.

Mr. Kiendersen came into the house, he said you boys have jobs? We said we work most of the time on farms. He asked where lately? I said I just finished working for Joe Grope, Northwest of Britton 8-10 miles out. He said I know the Gropes, they have some nice large farms. We talked all through supper. Then Mr. Kiendersen said, let’s go out to the barn, I’ll show you where you can bed down. He said be sure none of you smoke, I said none of us do. He said that’s good, smoking will kill you. He bid us a good night’s sleep, hay makes a good bed.

We got up early, 6:00, we were all hungry, I said let’s ride over to Roshalt and get something to eat, then find the Indian. We rode to Rosholt, a real small town with one café. We went in,, ordered ham and eggs, only 55 cents each. I told my buddies we might as well fill up with gas, so we ate then went over to the service station. Real small place, had only one pump, regular gas 20 cents a gallon. I asked the old man if he had heard of a man Harold with an Indian motorcycle, that works on farms. He said, you’re lucky, he was here 3 days ago, said he had a good on the Warwick farm. It’s only 4 miles east of here on the old road. I said, thank you very much, then off we rode.

We got to the Warwick farm, there was a man out by the barn, so I rode over and shut the Harley off. I asked if he had seen Harold. He sure did, but he only worked 3 days for us he said. He had met this girl in town, I think he wanted to be near her. I asked do you know where she lives? Just 2 miles down the road he said, her name is Jackie, so off we rode. We got to the farm, there was this old lady hanging up clothes on the clothes line. I walked over to her and asked about Harold. That guy she said, I’d like to get my hands on him! I asked why and she told me because he took off with our daughter, they both rode off down the road. Where do you think they went, I asked? She said try the tavern in town, so off we went back to town, rode over to the tavern, you couldn’t miss it. Lots of old cars parked around in front, so we shut our bikes off and went inside. I seen this pretty little blonde over in one booth, I asked her if she,, was Jackie, she said that’s me. I’m looking for Harold, she said that dirty son of a gun, he rode off with an Indian girl. I said why would he do that, she said he thought he loved me but when he seen this Indian girl, he fell in love with her at once. I said, you have any idea where they went, she said I’d try Sisseton. Man I said, that’s a good 50 miles from here, she said, more like 55miles, we bid her goodbye. Kenny said, why would he leave that beautiful blonde for an Indian girl, I don’t care how good looking she could be.

We rode back on Hwy. 25, turned south on 127, a real poor gravel rode and could hardly go over 25 M.P.H. it took us nearly 2 hours to get to Sisseton. Bob said, now what? I said, we got to start talking to some farmers to see if they seen that Indian motorcycle. We rode over to the Fanners Union Station, lots of men around. I asked one young man, he was wearing overall, dirty ones, I though he might know. I asked him if he had seen Harold with an Indian motorcycle, he may have a girl on the bike with him. He said, you’re really lucky, why I said? Well, this guy with the Indian had a fight with this Indian girl, the police had to come break up the fight, she was drunk as a skunk. They took her to jail, they talked to the man with the motorcycle, told him to get a job and they wouldn’t take him to jail. I said, did he get a job? Oh sure, old man Bestson hired him, told the police not to worry about him, I’ll put him to work. I asked where is the Bestson? Oh, he said, everyone knows that, I said we don’t, so he told us how to get out to the farm. Boy what instructions, so many roads, I had to write it down, it ended up being 11 miles southeast of Sisseton. Boy what roads, gravel and dirt, we couldn’t ride over 20 M.P.H., you would think I was riding the Bone Head Enduro. We got to the farm mailbox out on the road, it said Bestson, we rode up the driveway. There was an old man over by the windmill, I asked him if he knew of Harold with the Indian? Sure do, he said, I worked him for 4 days, he told me I was a slave driver so he quit, I paid him, he was a hard worker too, but he had ants in his pants and was always talking about motorcycles and girls all the time. He said, this is a fann, he should talk about farming. I agree, try to get on his side, I asked again do you have any idea where he went? Said old man Wilkers was hiring, he had about 4.5 days work there. We got directions where the farm was, ended up being 12 miles away, it was farther south toward Eden. We got to Eden and asked about the man with the Indian motorcycle, it’s a real small town, 200 – 300 people. A man at he service station said Wilkers farm is back northeast about 5 miles. It must have been 4:00, we were all tired, we got to the Wilkers farm. A young man was working on an old Model A Ford. I asked him of Harold, he told me yes he worked for us only 3 days, then off he rode. I asked, you got any idea where he was going? He said if 1 had to look for him, I’d first try old Marvin’s farm, he’s always hiring someone. We got directions to the farm, it was supposed to be 8 or 9 miles south, off we rode. It took us a good half and hour to get there, the roads were real muddy, it rained the night before, we found Marvin’s farm. We rode up the old dirt drive way, almost went down it was so muddy. Kenny said, why don’t we go home if we don’t find Harold here. I said yes, but let’s see what they say here. There was an old man wearing overalls over by the barn, we rode over there, shut the Harley off for what must have been 10 times today. I walked over to the man, before I could say anything, he said I don’t want anymore motorcycles around here. We’ll leave but first could you tell me if Harold with the Indian worked here? He said, sure did, he only worked for me for 3 days and he was down that road. I asked if he had any idea where he might go? He said I’d try Sisseton, he talked of this beautiful Indian girl he’d met. I talked to Bob and Kenny, they both wanted to go home, it was now 5:30. We had mostly gravel roads to ride on, I asked will you guys come ask and look for the Indian in a few days if we go back to Bntton now? Both said sure will, so off toward Britton we rode, got there it was 8:00, still light out, but not for long. I tookBob and Kenny home, told them see you tomorrow at John Huff’s tavern, that’s always a good place to meet.

I went home, Donna was there, she had worked all day. She asked if I wanted supper, I said no, why don’t we ride out to the drive in and get a hamburger. She said that sounds good can I have onions on my she asked, yes I said, but it’s hard to kiss you after you been eating onions. We ate and talked to some friends out there, it was getting late. We rode home, I was kind of glad to be off the Harley, we’d been gone for a couple of days. That night I told Donna all about our trip to all the farms we had been to, she said Carmen, you aren’t ever going to find that Indian. The next day I went back to work and everyday I had that Indian on my mind.

In September 1 went to North Dakota to school, in the fall of 1951 we moved to Seattle. Each summer we’d go back on vacation, I was always looking for that Indian. I would drive up into the hills looking, asking many farmers about the man with the Indian Most of them had heard of him, I must have talked to a hundred farmers in the next few years. Always getting the same story, yes I heard of the man with the motorcycle, some said I think he went up into North Dakota, some said Minnesota. After a few years no one seem to know anything of Harold or the Indian motorcycle.

It’s now 50 some years since I started looking for the Indian Four. In never found it, but I know I met over a hundred people who did and knew of it. So it goes, I just dream of the Indian Four, always wondering just what ever happened to Harold and his Indian Four.

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – A Late Wedding Trip

A Late Wedding Trip

Donna and I were married June 19, 1949. We used Donna’s dad’s old ‘41 Studebaker to go on our honeymoon to the Black Hills. We had talked of taking a motorcycle trip to Milwaukee and across Lake Michigan to Michigan, so the 1 week of August we took off on our 194845” no windshield. How could I of done such a stupid thing. I wouldn’t ride across Seattle now without a windshield. But before I began the trip we needed a little more money. I had been selling ice cold pop at the baseball games. Baseball was a really big sport then as it is today. In those days all small towns had teams and on Sunday they always had a game on. I needed extra money so I started selling pop at the games. Why no one else did I still can’t figure it out. I had a 39 Ford Coupe, big trunk. I’d haul my pop in this car. I’d buy it wholesale in Britton 3 cents a bottle that’s hard to believe today and sell it for 10 cents. I used a large water tub to put the pop in. I’d buy big chunks of ice in the morning, drive to the ball park and set up behind our local team. I painted a sign “Ice Cold Pop. Which I put on the top of my car so people all over could see it. I would buy all the pop I had money for and my car would hold. I would always sell out. I made good money for a days work. So the Sunday before Donna and I left on our motorcycle trip I sold pop. I can still remember I made $90 that Sunday, which was twice as much I could usually make working for 2 weeks, I was always a saver so we had a few dollars. I can’t remember how much, Donna probably can. Came Monday we left old Britton early in the morning. We had an old suitcase tied to the luggage rack. In one saddle bag I always carried tools, all I could get into the bag, extra can of oil, 2 spark plugs, set of points and condenser, extra chain links and master links. The other saddle bags gloves, jackets, extra. In those days there were very few motorcycle shops, only in the larger cities and North and South Dakota didn’t have many big cities. There were no freeways, almost all roads were two lane until you got to a large city then it was usually 4-lane thru the town. We hadn’t gone very far and we had a flat tire on the front. I’d stop pump it up go a few miles stop and pump it up again. We finally got to Webster and found a service station but the attendant could not change the tire, but he let me use the tools, etc. I got the tire off the rim in those days nothing as a bead breaker you either stomped on the tire or put into a large vice, I finally got the tube fixed, most of wasted 2 hours. We left on the Highway 12 into Minnesota. We stopped in Ortonville, Minnesota just across the border. We ate at a small café, ham and eggs for .59. It’s hard now to believe prices were so cheap.

We rode on Highway 12 into Minneapolis. Minneapolis is a big city. We crossed over the Mississippi River into Wisconsin. I’ve looked at the maps we have today could not find the road we rode on but we made it almost to Black River Falls, Wisconsin. It was real dark out all of a sudden the engine quit, the bike came to a halt. We parked along the side of the road. I checked the bike over, I had broken the primary chain. When it broke it beat the chain guard up real bad. Finally a nice man came along in a truck that wonderful man hauled us to Black River Falls he unloaded us in front of some cabins so we got a cabin for the night, $2.00. Next morning we walked into town, found a telephone and book and found a dealer in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. I called him he mailed a chain out C.O.D. on the train so we went and ate breakfast. I forgot what we had we ate, we walked down to the railroad depot. We waited for the train to come. We got our chain walked back to our cabin. I finally got the old broken chain off. I had a hammer along so I sat there beating the steel chain guard back into shape good enough to put back on. After a couple hours we were on the road again headed toward Milwaukee, it started to rain near Wisconsin Dells. We pulled over side of the road under some apple trees. After a few minutes a man came out invited us into his house. He was such a nice man he gave us some hot apple cider after hour or two it quit raining so we thanked that wonderful man and off we went. I can’t remember when we got into Milwaukee, but it was late in the afternoon we found a small cabin court got a cabin for $2.00 had a good nights sleep, made love. No only kidding. Next day we ate at a small café, asked directions to the Harley Factory on Vienna Ave. We rode to the Factory took some pictures right in front of the factory, I was really excited just the thought of going thru the factory. We had to sign in wait for a few others that were also there to see the Harleys being made. In those days Harley made most of the parts to build their bike, not like today. Motorcycle and all car manufactures buy most of the parts from parts suppliers. This was August the factory was working on the 1950 models, we seen the large presses, punching out fenders, gas tanks oil tanks frames, wheels, spokes, etc. Sure was interesting to see the workers welding the tanks etc. with what we would call today old fashion. Welding the frames were brazed together. What changes that have come about the last 50 some years. We seen the painting being done with old fashion spray guns. I remember watching the front fork bottom legs being polished, they looked just like chrome. 1949 Models had bottom legs painted black. After few hours of seeing the Harleys made we left. It was in the afternoon. I always wanted a chrome speed-o-meter dash chromed, so we found the local Harley Dealer. Really nice store, they had exchange dash, $5.00 so I paid the $5.00 at once. We road around Milwaukee, asked direction to the ferries, The ferries did not leave till next morning so we rode till we found a nice cabin, café stores near by. We got nice cabin again only $2.00 that night we rode all over the city, ate at a nice café, went back to our cabin had a good nights sleep, next day, ate, then road down to the ferries. Finally we were on the water headed for Muskegon, Michigan. We had never been this far east, so it was really exciting to us. Boy those Great Lakes are large couple hours out it reminded me of the ocean. You could not see land for many hours. That big ferry was like a big ocean liner. Big, nice places to eat, even watch a movie, can’t remember the movie, but I’m sure Donna could. When we got off the ferry, we found the highway to Detroit, rode for few miles got a nice cabin, still only $2.00. I would of liked to stayed in Muskegon a big Hill Climb just a week away. They always put on Big Hill Climbs, but I didn’t want to stay in that area for a week. So we had a good nights sleep, left early in the morning, beautiful day sunny and warm. I had a sister living in Ann, Arbor. She was married and about to have her 2nd child, so we stayed with her. She had a beautiful boy, already had a nice little girl. We rode all over Ann Arbor seen the University took pictures, I always wanted chrome handle bars. No such thing in the Dakotas. So we found the Harley Dealer, what wonderful people. They removed my bars, took Donna and I a three-wheeler to the chrome shop they plated the bars while we waited, took couple hours, the fellow left us at the shop, told me call when the bars are done, I’ll come and get you. This I will never forget I walked around the area while our handle bars were being plated. We walked by this one large store, they had a TV in the window this was the first TV we had ever seen. We must of stood there 1/2 hour just watching. Couple hours went by so we walked back to the chrome shop. Our bars were done, they looked so beautiful. I called the Harley store, the man came and got us. He put the bars back on, checked the bike over all for $10.00 We thanked those wonderful Dealers and rode back to my sister place. It’s a good thing I had Donna, she always acts as my navigator, she can remember directions like no one else I know. We stayed a day or so more, bid my sis good by, we rode into Big Detroit, did some eye shopping, found the road to the bridge across into Windsor Canada. We found the road that goes toward Buffalo New York. Still don’t know why we didn’t ride to Niagara Falls, it was not that far off. We rode a for few hours, found a nice town, St. Thomas. We got a nice cabin, found a place that sold fish and chips, and I’d heard how good Canadian Fish and Chips were, and I can tell you they were good. The Canadian Chips, big pieces cut-up of baked potatoes just like the ones I get on the Seattle Waterfront Alaska Way and University St. If you have not ate there check them out, they are the best. After eating we rode around for awhile went back to our cabin, wishing we had TV but the cabin had a good radio. We really enjoyed the different programs they had, and the good music. We just about have that in the Dakotas. Next day got up early, nice part with Donna she likes to get up early so I never have a problem with leaving early in the mornings. We rode for couple hours, Donna taps me on the shoulder let’s eat, so I watched for a nice small town, Simcoe, Canada road went right thru the town, nice place, I seen a sign Betty’s Cafe, so I pulled the Harley into the parking lot. It’s always nice to get off the bike. It’s especially nice for the passenger, as there was no such thing as back rest.

It’s really nice today we rode bikes, they have big wide seats, back rests for both riders and passengers. Air shocks, bikes today ride as good as a good passenger car. Our 1945 RD was a hard tail, (no shocks), buddy seat, thank God for the polo seat and extra passenger springs on the seat and that old Springer front end, 2 ‘/2 “of travel. After eating we left next stop Danville we got a nice cabin prices still good. Gas prices were higher, until I realized we were getting 5 QT gal. Next morning we got up early I wanted to get to Buffalo mid day- so we could head back west, we were both getting a little tired it would be nice to spend 1/2 day or so and just goof off. The weather had been good since leaving Wisconsin. Around Buffalo it rained a little, sort of like in Seattle some times it rains but not hard enough to put your rain gear on. At least in the east it is almost always hot in August so if you do get a little wet when the sun comes out you dry out in a hurry. We got thru Buffalo no problem. With Donna as my navigator it’s a not problem. We got on the correct road heading west out of Buffalo I can’t remember the road, maps today show only the freeways, not the old 2 lane small highways of yesterday. We rode for 2-3 hours seen a sign cabins $1.5 0 so we checked them out. We just could not believe how nice they were. One even had a fan and radio for $1.75 so we took that one. We cleaned up rested turned the radio on, there was a big ball game coming on, game time 7 o’clock so Donna just loving ball games, said let’s eat early so we can listen to the ball game. There was lots of stores with in walking distance, we seen this one drive in restaurant. It was a big root beer place can’t seem to remember the name. But we decided to try it. Big cheese burgers, homemade fries $.25, big root beer only .05. We ate went back to our cabin turned that radio on. I remember the ball game was really good. New York Yankees, playing Chicago, can’t remember if it was the cubs or White socks. Doesn’t really matter, it was a really good game. The game was on till around 10:30 was dark out, we were happy to get that cabin it started raining out. It seemed like it rained all night and you all know how hard it rains in the east. We played music for an hour or so and fell asleep.

Donna got up early 6:30 she said Carmen look outside the rain had stopped the sun was out real bright the sky’s as clear as a bell. I said it’s going to be a beautiful day to ride. We got up early packed our gear and left, Donna reading the map. When we had to turn from one highway to another, she would tap me on the shoulder, say something like 2 miles turn left on highway 16. Whatever I always did what she said, never got lost. She’s still that way today. We rode out of town feeling good. The sun was out nice and warm, Harley running beautiful those old 45” flat heads were always a good bike. I still have one. 1942 Army 45” all restored Russ rode it on the Bone Head endure couple times, Brock rode his 45”, I rode my 200” Yam. I remember both Russ and Brock getting stuck in the sand crossing the river plenty of riders to push the bikes a few feet to get out of the sand. Only bad part of a 45” it’s too close to the ground, no ground clearance. But that’s life, we got to have a few obstacles in life. We rode to a small town Riley, we found a cabin. I would always look for cabins, prices were always the best and you can park your bike near the door, less worry about someone stealing the bike. I always carried a heavy chain and lock I’d put the chain around a pole or something, make it as hard for someone to steal the bike. I remember on time going east thru Helena Montana I chained the bike to a big pole. When I got up in the morning packed my gear on the bike, big gloves on heavy jacket started the bike, I took off forgot to unchain the bike, I cut a big donut felt like a big foul I had to get those heavy gloves off unlock, put the chain and lock into the saddle bags, and ride away. I can’t remember ever getting up in Montana in the morning and it not be just freezing cold. I rode through Montana for over 50 years. It’s still cold there.

Donna and I had a good nites sleep in Ripley. Left the next morning 6:30 if you leave early you all know you can cover a lot of road by night fall. It was a good thing roads were narrow and went through all the towns, it made it interesting riding and on a 45” riding 5055 one could get good gas mileage and the bike would run for years, no problem. We crossed into Ohio. We rode for couple hours. Stopped at yes, small café, had ham and eggs, .50 each. We ate and was about to leave all of a sudden it started raining we took cover bike was getting all wet, but if the sun comes out the bike dries out in a hurry. We were held up couple hours. Sun came out we left. If 1 remember correct on old 20 going west. We got to a town called Oberlin, filled the bike up gas only. 17 gallon. We had been gone from our home in Britton S.D. and had only spent $35.00 or so. You may wonder how I remember so much of trip being it’s 55 years ago. I always had a small book I would write down all I could remember during the day at night I still do this. Only now I have so many books I could start a book store. We stayed on old 20 rode all day must have covered 400 miles that day. We were both getting tired so we stopped at I believe Fayette, Ohio nice small city, we found a nice cabin, café just next door. We had a good hamburger steak dinner for .50 each. Next morning nice out we packed up and rode out of town. We rode into the big city of Hammond, Indiana. Stopped at a big Harley store, had our oil changed checked the chain adjusted it and oiled it. I still have a decal from that Harley store. We got on a road headed for Chicago, I remember I wanted to stay on the out skins, I didn’t like riding through large cities. We got thru Chicago no problems, stopped filled the tank, 1 gallon. Our 45” was getting around 50 miles to the gallon. Got on highway 30 stayed on it all the way in Illinois. We crossed over into Iowa at Clinton stopped filled up, yes I seen a small café stopped had cheese burger and fries and root beer .30 each. We rode on into Wheatland, Iowa. Got a nice cabin still only $2.00 but no radio no TV so whats a young couple to do. You guessed it. Got up early, packed up, we both wanted to get back to S.D. so I rode hard turned that 45” up to 60 mph on most of the roads that day. We stopped on the edge of Cedar Rapids, had a good meal, filled that Harley up gas still only .17 to .20 gallon. We left Cedar Rapids heading west weather still nice hot and dry. T-shirt riding. Was getting close to Ames, Iowa.

It happened the rear chain broke. When I finally stopped I had to walk back 1/2 mile to pick the chain up. Boy it looked bad rollers all worn lots of rollers gone. I knew I’d had to get a new chain fast, the thing that made it worse it had started raining 50-60 miles back. We had on cheap clear plastic long coats on that’s all we were able to find, we had bought these at a cheap army-Navy surplus store either in Indiana or Illinois. Donna and I were parked along side this 2-lane road very little shoulders. I work hard patching the chain together. I got the chain back on, it was raining hard poor Donna standing alongside the Harley trying to keep the cars away, some would come by so close you could stick your arm out and touch them. By time we got going we were both wet. I told Donna I got to find a farm supply store as no motorcycle stores for miles. I found a John Deer Dealer, went into the store to the parts department. I could see they had big rolls of chain. They use lots of them in combines. I asked the fellow you got #50 chain, sure do, I said cut me off 102 links, he did give me two master links, said that will be $4,80/ so I went out side put the Harley on the rear stand. Removed the master link, hooked the new chain to the old chain pulled it thru, hooked the new master link, I then adjusted the new chain. It really not hard to do. Only outside in the parking lot gravel. Lots, no one ever thinks of black top there lots like we do out west. Donna says if we get going ride little harder we could make Sioux Falls, S.D. before dark. We rode offal! wet, still raining out. At Carol, Iowa I turned north on old 71 road not bad good black top road north far as Spencer then turn west on old 18. Take several roads finally got to Sioux Falls. It was dark out must have been 8:30-9 o’clock, could find no cabins near so I found this old hotel got a room $2.50 no nothing toilet down the hall, no fans you get the picture. If it had not been so late I’d looked for a cabin. I chained the Harley to a pole. We walked few blocks found a café. Forgot what we ate, we went back to the old beat up hotel, tried to sleep, the rain had stopped 50-60 miles out of Sioux Falls and it turned hot, those of you that have been to S.D. in August know how hot it can get. We got few hours sleep got up early rode off toward Mitchell, we ate at a nice café. The weather was nice and hot out. We got to the corn Palace. It something worth seeing, they cover the building with corn. You really have to see it, just too hard to explain, go see it for yourself. We left for Huron nice size town, they have a large Packing plant big college so the towns a busy place. I found the Harley shop nice people, I seen this nice shop sold English bikes, this was really rare. Really nice guy running the store had quite a few bikes on display, we talked for awhile, and Donna says Cannen we got to go so we can get home to Britton before dark. We rode off on old 281 toward Aberdeen. Took 2 hours we knew now it was only 60 miles to Britton. Took 1 hour 1 5 minutes we were finally home. We were to leave in couple days for North Dakota where I would sign up for school for the fall. We rested up, seen a lot of family and friends. Donna worked couple days. On the next Monday we left again on the Harley that was our only transportation. We left old Britton east on 10, 6 miles turn north to farmer small towns every 15-20 miles got to Windermere, 25 miles to Wahpeton, got there early went right to the school. I signed up, you know the rules. We rode around looking at apartments the so we rented. We had lots of time left so we found Donna job dry cleaners .65 hour. Donna really loved that job. We met other couples fast but let’s get back to story. We found a nice café in a bowling alley, big steak dinner .65 each. Donna being a bowler, asked about teams, they said 2” week of September they start. We rode around Wahpeton and crossed over into Breckenridge, Minn. We both said we are going to love Wahpeton, so we rode home that afternoon. Donna went back to work at the Drugstore, I worked at Fanns for a couple weeks, then we moved to North Dakota. They had two motorcycle stores plus the Harley store across the Red River in Breckenridge. Donna and I fell in love with Wahpeton. We had many wonderful times, I meet lots of riders, I could write a story just on those times alone. But that will wait for another time. We had covered over 7,000 miles on this trip Donna claims we only spent $90.00 for all the time we were gone. I just can’t remember.