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 (http://jollyrogersmotorcycleclub.com / http://blog.jollyrogersmotorcycleclub.com 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.
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
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,
CARMEN D. TOM
Former owner, Downtown Harley, Inc.,