Archive for December, 2011

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – We Climbed That Mountain

We Climbed That Mountain

I had wanted to climb Bear Butt Mountain for many years. It was about five miles out of Sturgis South Dakota. Donna and I first saw it in 1949 when we spent our honeymoon in the Black Hills.

I have been riding to Sturgis since 1972 and every year I said I was going to climb that mountain. During the rally and races in Sturgis it is almost always hot outside, if it’s not hot out it is poring cats and dogs sometimes there’s even hail. With all the odd weather it is not the best time of year to climb a mountain.

There are always so many other things to do at the rally, even after twenty- nine years. Each year there is something new, new riders, old riders many I’ve been riding with for years. In fact I sold most of the riders their Harleys and have become really good friends with them.

It was May 1992, my good friend Tom Rufud needed a new Harley, he was unable to buy one in South Dakota. I had been staying at Tom and Connie’s home for many years. I got their beautiful new, black, FLHS it was just the bike Tom wanted. So Donna and I loaded it into our pick up and headed for Sturgis. Russ had been managing the store for years so there was no problem leaving. We had a good trip threw Montana and into SD our Toyota pick up was running beautifully. It is only 1075 miles, most people think it’s much farther then it really is. They must get lost on their way, but 1-90 goes right through Sturgis. We unloaded the new Harley and I started it up, it ran beautifully. We stayed at Tom and Connie’s for a few days. One beautiful day we all went for a ride, Tom and Connie, Wayne and Patty Renolds, and some of the other riders. We had a super good time it’s nice riding through the hills this time of year as there are not as many people. During rally time there are just too many riders, last year over one million in a ten-day period. They claim the average rider stays three days then moves on their way to
see all the other beautiful things in SD and the West.

The day after the ride I told Donna it’s nice outlets climb that Mt. I had already filled two big jugs and one small one with water. Sturgis had good water, comes right from the Mt. We headed up that trail; kids were running by us like wild horses. It was some kind of holiday, about every 200- 300 feet we’d stop and rest. The higher up we got the steeper the trail. We thought about quitting several times, but we both knew if we didn’t go all the way this time we’d most likely never try again. The kids would just run by us like they were playing some game, but when your that age climbing a mountain is easy. When you get sixty-five and older things start to change. After a few hours and most Of the water gone we could see the big platform on top. The last 100 feet or more the trail really got steep. We had to practically crawl up the last fifty or one hundred feet to the big wooded platform. We finally made it; we were on the deck. I asked one ranger how in the world did you get all that lumber up here to build this deck? The ranger said no problem, helicopters. You are supposed to see three states from up there. It all looked the same to us. We took some pictures, looked around again from up there, but one state looked like the other. After about a half-hour I asked Donna if she was ready to go down again. Donna she’s always ready to go. We were at the bottom before we new it; this reminds me of a time in Arizona. One winter our grandson Tony came down to visit us. He wanted to climb some big hills so Donna and I said OK. We climbed one big one; I got so high I couldn’t go any further. Donna keep going with Tony, soon she gave up. She started down and all of a sudden she feel on her bottom. She came sliding down so fast I couldn’t believe it. When she finally stopped sliding she was OK but those shorts were completely bottomless. Tony kept going; he went so high we could hardly see him. We took some pictures of him and pleaded with him to come down, he did. But if we hadn’t pleaded he’d have kept going tell he reached top. The joy of being a kid. Donna and I had fulfilled another mile in our life. We had concurred the mountain.

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – The Apple Way

The Apple Way

Some of you may not of heard of the apple way. You old timers should know what I am talking about. It was around the late 1800’s early 1900’s. Immigrants from all over Europe were coming to the USA. My dad was one of them. Most of these people could only speak their native language. Many would have small book that would translate their tongue into English. They could at least get along on their own.

Most of the men would take most any job offered to them. At least till they got a few dollars in their pockets. Many of the men went to work for the railroads (my dad did this). They didn’t have to speak good English they just had to do the work. Railroads were the main form of transportation in those days, this lasted into the late forties early fifties. They were building railroads all the way to the west and into all of the small towns throughout the U.S. So getting a job on the railroad was quite easy.

But some men did not want to work that hard or leave the big cities. In order to eat most men would do anything. On the streets of New York City people would be seen selling all kinds of things. This leads to the Apple Story. I’ll call this man Carmen; he was walking the streets looking for work. He noticed an old man selling apples for five cents each. Carmen watched for quite a while, then he thought to himself, I could do that. He had fifty cents to his name, so he went over to the old man selling apples. He bought three for fifteen cents, then walked down the road a block or so. There was no one selling apples on this corner, so Carmen stood there as people came by and asked if they would like to buy some apples for ten cents a piece. Most of the people would say no, old man Johnson only charges five cents for his apples. Carmen would say but my apples are the best, they’re really fresh. His line of bull would usually work; they would buy his apples.

After he sold the three apples he now had thirty cents; he had two moneybags that most men carried their money in. He put the thirty cents in one bag and kept the other thirty-five cents in the other bag that he had. Then he hurried down to old man Johnson to buy six more apples. He almost ran back to his corner. It took him another two or three hours to sell the next six apples, which gave him a total of sixty cents. He ran back to old man Johnson to buy twelve more apples, but by this time Carmen was really hungry. He told himself I’ll eat just one. He now had eleven apples and one dollar and ten cents. Carmen thought to himself this is the way to make money.

Each day Carmen would buy and sell apples. He was living in a fiophouse for fifty cents a day. It wasn’t long before Carmen had a few dollars in his bag. Old man Johnson never noticed Carmen selling apples (Johnson’s apples).

In the winter it gets really cold in New York. The wind and snow in the winter are just awful. It then rains in the fall and spring. So one day Carmen built a folding stand and chair to sit on. He built these out of old lumber he found in the alleys.  He was real good with building things so it was no problem to finish the stand and chair. This was one if not the first folding stand and chair. After working all day and half the night he would fold the stand and chair up and take the big sack of apples to his flop house. Selling apples was real easy; this went on for almost a year. By this time Carmen had quite a nest egg. He started a bank account at a local bank so that he didn’t have to worry about being robbed. He kept oniy enough to buy two or three dozen apples at a time.

About this time old man Johnson had rented a corner and he had built a nice fruit stand. He now was selling all kinds of fruit. He stayed real busy and made himself lots of money. Old man Johnson was getting old and his health was failing. A few months went by and Carmen talked to Johnson about selling his stand. He told Carmen he would think about it, said to stop by in a few days. Carmen went back to his stand selling apples. Always doubling his money. He had no over head so all the profit was his to keep. He knew that someday the city would charge him for using the corner and that got him thinking even more about buying Johnson’s stand. He would have it made. Carmen stopped by to see Mr. Johnson one day but the stand was closed. The sign said that Mr. Johnson had died. Carmen thought now what can I do. He talked to a lot of people, finally he found the owner of the corner. His name was Mr. Nelson. He told Carmen he’d rent the corner to him and he could start selling apples at once. This really made Carmen happy, he soon had the stand full of fruit. By this time he’d found out where to buy fruit and other things whole sale. Soon he was selling all he could buy. He worked day and night. With a hot plate he could keep coffee hot and make his own meals.

One day a customer said Carmen give me a cup of coffee. He did this then bells began ringing in his head. He went out bought some cups, soon he was selling coffee all day long. In the fall and winter he would really sell lots of coffee because it was so cold out. His fruit stand was really doing well. He was busy and had hired a girl to help. Wasn’t long before people would say how come you don’t have donuts to go with the coffee? Again bells started going off in his head. The very next day he started selling donuts. When all of them sold out he had the helper buy a dozen more for the next day. I’ll call the girl Donna.

Business was really going good. His bank account looked really good. Two or three years passed and Carmen noticed that the store behind him was empty. Several days later an old man by the name of Mr. Jackson stopped by to see him. He told Carmen he was old and sick and asked if he would like to rent the store with an option to buy. Carmen said maybe and went home that night really excited. He could hardly sleep; he spent most of the night thinking about buying that building. He rented the store and closed down his stand. He moved all of his fruit to the new stand. Carmen had built doors so that he could close up at night, the building was quite large and he was living in the back room. This was all he needed. He was now saving another fifty cents a day, no flophouse. Business was really good selling fruit, coffee and donuts. He was working long hours and Donna was now running the coffee bar. Carmen had bought some old bar stools and a counter from a bar that had gone out of business.

He now had a good fruit stand and coffee bar, business was doing great. One-day old man Jackson told Carmen he was really sick and only had a few months to live. He wanted to go back to the old country to die, so he needed to sell the building. They took care of all the paper work and Carmen was on his way. He spent all day and night cleaning up the store. He painted it inside and out, doing all the work on his own. One day he was teasing Donna saying we may as well get married we both could live in the back of the store. So they got married, a few years went by and they had four boys. When he had a chance to buy the store next door he did. Business was doing very well and soon the store was full of many different things. The coffee bar was busy; Donna was such a good cook and baker she made all of her own food to sell. The coffee bar was so busy soon she hired three or four girls to help. The boys were now getting old enough to work in the store. Carmen and Donna working day and night while raising a family. They were still living in the back of the store and saving money. They had a chance to buy a couple more stores, they rented these out. Money was coming in from all over. Donna used to walk to church on Sundays; while walking one day she saw a big, beautiful house for sale. So she told Carmen about it and talked him into buying it for her. They moved into the house and the boys all had their own rooms. This was a really nice home and a nice change for all of them. Carmen rebuilt the back of the store and rented it out. Their bank account began to look really good.

One day a nice young man stopped by to talk to Carmen. He said Carmen how in the world did you get all these stores and such a good business? Carmen sat the boy down and told him the apple story. (This is a true story).

Copyright © 2007 by Carmen Tom
All right reserved.

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

This is going to be a series of chapters from the book “Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” written by legendary and long time Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club member and past club president, Carmen Tom. 

NOTE:  These chapters are copyright protected.   The original Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club website and blog ( / has been granted exclusive rights by Carmen Tom to publish these pages for your enjoyment.

This post will include the Introduction and Chapters 1 – Sturgis.

Yesterday's Memories Tomorrow's Dreams

Yesterday’s Memories
Tomorrow’s Dreams
Carmen Tom 


Cover photo: My beautiful 1996 FLST-C with Liberty Side Car.
Copyright © 2007 by Carmen Tom
All right reserved.


Who is Carmen Tom?

I will give you a brief history of him. I was born on a farm in old Eastern South Dakota on April 26, 1926. At age 17 I left the farm and joined the United States Navy. I spent all my Navy time in the South Pacific and in China. 1 loved Shanghai. I’m told it is now a modern industrial city.

In the Spring of 1946, I was discharged from the Navy. I moved to Seattle, Washington. This is where I purchased my first motorcycle, a 1937 Harley Davidson “45”. I paid $325 for it.

In July of 1946, I rode my Harley back to South Dakota. I met and fell in love with the most wonderful girl in the world. On June 19, 1949, we were married. We moved to Wahpeton, North Dakota where I went to school at the Wahpeton State School of Science for the rest of 1949 and 1950.

In November of 1951, we moved to Seattle. I worked as a boot maker and sign painter for a number of years. I spent the next 40 years owning and operating a motorcycle business.

Donna and I raised four wonderful boys. We now have nine grand children, two boys and seven girls. All live real close to us and we love them all very much.

In 1997, we sold our motorcycle business to our youngest son, Russ. Three years ago he built a large ultramodern store. He now has two stores.

I retired in 1997 and Donna in 1996. I intend to keep riding my motorcycles and bicycle until God calls me home.

I hope you enjoy reading these stories. Some are true and some a little fiction added. I’ll let you decide which are which.

Carmen D. Tom
July, 2007


Its almost as well known as MacDonalds. My wife Donna and I first visited the Black Hills and Sturgis in June of 1949. We drove my father-in-laws 1941 Studebaker; a wonderful car. We left our ‘48 Harley “45” at home. However, in August we did take a trip on the Harley to the Harley Davidson factory in Milwaukee, WI. and many places in the East. Over 7,000 miles on that trip. We still talk about it.

In 1951 we moved to Seattle, Wa. Raised four sons; no girls. But now we have six beautiful granddaughters and two grandsons. We started a motorcycle store in 1 958 and have prospered very well; but that’s a story in itself. I had always dreamed of going back to the, Hills and Sturgis. I read of the Rally and races in the AMPS magazines and could tell it was growing every year.

Well, the year came for me to go. Our boys were getting older; the staff at the store headed by Donna were able to run the business without me. At that time we sold used Harleys, & parts; New Triumphs, Suzukis, JAWA, CZ, Maico, Vespa, Mustang and 2 dozen other brands and parts for all. Almost all of ‘these have hit the dust. In 1982 we dropped what brands were left and took on Harley Davidson; the best move we ever made.

In 1971 I bought a 750cc Moto Guzzi, just like new, very low mileage, for $425.00 Hard to believe from what motorcycles sell for today. So, in August of ‘72 I rode off to Sturgis. I had tried to get other riders to go along, but no one had even heard of Sturgis. I stayed in some old cabin; I loved the rally and races and I knew I had to return. I loved that Guzzi; rode it to Eastern S.D. and ND. before returning to Seattle. I started telling riders of the good time I had & what a wonderful event it was. Soon I was taking 2 or 3 riders each yr. My son Rick & good old friend Sam Furer started going with me & have continued to go every yr. I could write a story on Sam alone. All who know him will agree; he’s a real character. It wasn’t long until I had larger groups going & it was getting hard to find a place to stay. By luck, I met Tan & Connie Reubel. They both owned & road’ motorcycles & we became good friends almost from the start. I and Rick & Sam & a few others stayed at Connie’s. It’s great to know you have a place to stay and she found lodging for others. She’s a great lady.

In 1990 I gave out over 100. T-shirts for our riders from the West to wear on our Seattle run. Thanks to your good Police Dept. we had a good escort out of the city onto the freeway. The one picture is part of our group approaching Devils Tower. This was just one of the great rides we took that yr. We all look forward to these rides through your beautiful hills.

The 50th Sturgis Rally was coming up. This was the most talked about event in the West. Everyone wanted to go. I started a sign-up sheet in our store. Before long, there were over 350 names. Thank God for Connie again. We had a nice home to stay in,; always a place for our bikes and a place to wash the bikes.

It wasn’t long and we had made good friends with so many; Wayne and Patty Reynolds are wonderful people. The Monday opening the Rally they have a big get together and feed us all. Most are our Seattle bunch and other riders they have met thru the yrs. I always look forward to seeing Jerry Casteel; Bob the cattle-buyer from Watertown ( after 20 yrs. you’d think I’d know his last name) ,Forgive me Bob, Always nice to say “Hello” to Mayor Bob Mechling. It was nice to go on the ride with Governor George Michelson on the “Governors Run”. Sad to see a good person and leader leave us as he did. S.D. suffered ‘a great loss.

In 1993 I rode my big white Harley side-car rig. I brought along my two grandsons: Tony 14 and Corey 11. What a wonderful time we had there and on the way back to Seattle. They are in the picture and Mike , our son and their dad, is in the picture. This was his first Sturgis, and now he is HOOKED. All our boys have made Sturgis. Russ, our youngest, was the last to go. One time, that’s all it took. He looks forward to going each yr. and he brings a large following of riders with him. Tony & Corey have their own trail bikes and we all ride the trails & mountains in the summer. They can’t wait until they can ride with me on their own bikes to Sturgis. We all love & enjoy riding.

In 1988 Rick & Sam & myself took a different road back. We went down to Cheyenne, Wy. to Colorado, west thru Utah, Nevada and into California. We rode to San Francisco to a big H.D. meeting. That big city is for “The Birds”. We finally found the hotel & no place to park. The Doorman told us parking was 3 blocks away. No way would we leave our bikes that far from the hotel. We seen Russ and told him “Good-bye” and headed north. 900 miles and we’d be home in Seattle. Our trip was over 4000 miles that yr. to Sturgis in a round about way.

After all these years, we know the good motels, cafes, etc. Customers at the store keep asking if I will be riding to Sturgis this year; I say I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Just mention Sturgis anytime after Jan and everyone is ready. I have riders ask to ride with me and I say yup, if you can keep up. I guess I have a reputation of tiding fast. Good old Montana; it’s so nice to cruise along at 80 to 85 all day. In 1992 Rick & I left Sturgis around 6:00 AM; got to Seattle that night at 12:30 (1200 Miles) taking 1-90 all the way. If I take Highway 210 from the Crow Agency, we can save 80 miles. I don’t think I will ride nonstop again. Sam has done it and Rick could do it again, but then I have 30 yrs on them. We usually take 1 days for trip each way. I can never thank God enough for all the wonderful rides to Sturgis & elsewhere each yr & for all the wonderful people you meet & beautiful places to see. Yes, Sturgis may be just a small ranch town 50 weeks a yr, but for 2 weeks it is truly MOTORCYCLE HEAVEN for me. & thousands of other riders.

See you in August,

Former owner, Downtown Harley, Inc.,
Seattle, Washington

The Hamilin brothers and me.  We sold the Excelsior until they stopped production.

The Hamilin brothers and me. We sold the Excelsior until they stopped production.


Over 300 riders from Seattle on a ride from Sturgis to Devils Tower, Wyoming in 1990.

Over 300 riders from Seattle on a ride from Sturgis to Devils Tower, Wyoming in 1990.


Sturgis 1987. Connie, Sam and me on my white and tan FLHTC, somewhere in the hills.

Sturgis 1987. Connie, Sam and me on my white and tan FLHTC, somewhere in the hills.

Bikes in the Garage

Tom Rubell lookin at some of our bikes in his garage in 1987. Our diers from Downtown Harley Davidson in Seattle have a nice home with a garage for our bikes to stay in.


Carmen, son Michael, grandsons Tony and Corey. Sturgis, South Dakota, 1993.