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« on: August 19, 2008, 03:55:10 pm »

From what I can gather, this is a site dedicated to a club based on drinking and riding Headscratch

Am I taking this wrong, or does this actually exist?

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« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2008, 04:04:58 pm »

Don't know about this group in particular, but the Boozefighters were one of the 1st original 'biker' clubs.  Saw a show about them on A&E a few years ago.  Believe they were around before the infamous Hell Angels.

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« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2008, 04:08:15 pm »

My neighbor around the corner is in the booze fighters MC (Good Parties Wink )

Life may begin at 30, but it doesn't get real interesting until about 110

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« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2008, 04:09:38 pm »

Very famous and I believe predate the Hells Angels, but are rather less criminal. They were at the Hollister nonsense. No Booze Fighters in the UK yjo.

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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2008, 04:52:11 pm »

yep, they DO pre-date the Angles, by quite a bit -- formed, I believe, soon after WW2 by returning vets who missed the fraternaty-like environment that the military can provide, and, likely, looking to recapture some of the adrenaline-highs that militray life can most definately provide

Like the book title, "Trout Fishing in America," the name "Booze Fighters" should be taken with a bit of tongue in cheek

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« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2008, 04:52:30 pm »

(Good Parties Wink )

yes...they...are... Beerchug


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« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2008, 04:52:51 pm »

Booze Fighters more or less predate the Hell's Angels. If I recall, they actually got started to race bikes and help each other build their engines.

"See, it's kinda like some STN threads. When the pot stops steaming, hissing, spitting, and spewing, it's usually done." -ConPilot1
Baron Samedi

« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2008, 04:54:20 pm »

yep, they DO pre-date the Angles, by quite a bit -- formed, I believe, soon after WW2 by returning vets who missed the fraternaty-like environment that the military can provide, and, likely, looking to recapture some of the adrenaline-highs that militray life can most definately provide

Like the book title, "Trout Fishing in America," the name "Booze Fighters" should be taken with a bit of tongue in cheek

I LOVE TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA!!! Have you read the Hawkline monster too?

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« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2008, 05:08:03 pm »

Sadly, yes, I have ;-}

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« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2008, 05:23:33 pm »

looks like a bunch of wanna be's to me

This website is dedicated to "Wino Willie" Forkner, "JD John" Cameron and to the rest of the BoozeFighters MC`s "Original Wild Ones" for giving us the history, tradition and guidance through the years.Without you none of this would have been possible. We will remember you. RIDE FREE BROTHERS! BoozeFighters Forever, Forever BoozeFighters!

and ooh, the sexy women!


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« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2008, 06:05:10 pm »

The Boozefighters was founded by Wino Willie Forkner in 1946. The BFMC has never been a 1% club.

They were at the infamous Hollister, California event of July 4, 1947, which was immortalized by the movie "The Wild One", starring Marlon Brando. "Wino" was played by Lee Marvin.

Boozefighters never fight booze, they abuse it.

The BFMC is one of the oldest active motorcycle clubs in existence. It is this history that is being preserved in the spirit of fellowship and good fun.


Wino Willie

"I'm not trying to push any of my shit. I don't give a damn what kind of bike you ride or if you drink or not you're still a Bro to me". Bigok

These pages are dedicated to the spirit of Willie Forkner, "Wino Willie", who broke through the fence at El Cajon and broke into our hearts and minds as the original Wild One

Life may begin at 30, but it doesn't get real interesting until about 110
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« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2008, 06:25:13 pm »

The term "Boozefighter" does not mean we are against responsible use of alcohol. However, we do forbid the use of non-prescription drugs, or any form of illegal activity.

The Boozefighters have never been "one-percenters" or an Outlaw Club. We believe in respecting the rights of all motorcycle clubs in a peaceful, co-existent manner, and of all members of the community. We believe in freedom of choice and freedom of the road.

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« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2008, 01:29:52 pm »

Disclaimer: This might be fictional as one of the Boozefighters
contacted me, and flatly denied that Papa Jim was a member.

Source: Moto Monterey - September 1991
 [At a Club meeting at McCarthey's Pub in Aptos in 1987,
 Club co-founder and member "Papa Jim" Brewer arose and
 eloquently described an upcoming anniversary of inter-
 est to him, the Club, and to motorcycling in general -
 the 40th anniversary of the "invasion" of Hollister on
 the Fourth of July, 1947.  The event lead to the making
 of the movie "The Wild One" with Marlon Brando, and
 though the movie was more fiction than fact, as was the
 Life article on which it was based, that weekend in
 Hollister has remained a piece of motorcycling bistory.
 A group of the Club returned on the 40th anniversary to
 Johnny's Bar in Hollister, where bikers rode through on
 that famous weekend.  As we parked our machines in
 front of Johnny's, we wondered if anyone else would
 remember.  The deserted street was soon filled with 200
 Harleys.  They remembered.
    During the late 1940's, motorcycle clubs appeared in
 answer to the restlessness of post-war America. Jim
 Brewer had good reason to call us back to that reunion
 with history in visiting Hollister, for Papa Jim was a
 member of one of those illustrious groups, one which
 will be remembered, at least by those who continue to
 hear the stories. - ed.]



    It was Summer, 1945.  My family had just moved from
 Montebello to Los Angeles.  We rented a small house at
 101st Street and Central Avenue in the section of South
 Central Los Angeles known as Watts.  My father, recov-
 ering from the amputation of his right leg, could no
 longer drive a motor car, so we had to live closer to
 the meter repair shop he operated for the Southern Cal-
 ifornia Water Company.
    Seeing that it was summer holiday, I had taken a job
 with Friction Materials Corp. on South Main Street,
 near Slauson Avenue.  Each day on my way to work, I
 would ride up Central, continuing on Hooper Avenue to
 Slauson.  As I crossed Firestone Blvd. I would notice
 this old run-down "Flying A" service station on the
 southwest corner.  There was one two-pump island, a
 wood-frame (8- by 10-foot) office, and out back a two-
 car lube bay/repair stall.  It was a pre-fab steel
 structure, all adorned in very weathered yellow-and-
 white paint.  Night or day there always seemed to be a
 group of motorcycles parked there.  English and Ameri-
 can bikes, choppers, cafe, and desert racers mostly.
 So, on one Saturday morning "The Kid" wheeled his
 bronze head AJS 500 "Lunger" into that assemblage of
 esoteric iron, parked, and entered "The Big A", domain
 of the Boozefighters.
    Now you must realize, that was 45 years ago, and
 although my first love was/is motorcycles, my father
 being an ex-Indian factory rider, and later, curator/
 mananger of a Class A speedway racing group, there were
 always motorcycles around my digs.  So, my association
 with the Boozefighters, although a milestone in the
 maturing process of a 17-year-old "Jitter Bug", as a
 memory seems to be a bit jaded and faded now.  At that
 time in my life my blind lust, rage, and total obses-
 sion was motor car racing.  This brings me to an expla-
 nation of this somewhat languid preface.  Motorcycling
 was an ongoing lifestyle, and my association with these
 cats wasn't any big deal at that time.  I'll try to
 assemble, in retrospect, a chronology of those times.
 However, to do so I must rely on very old, much-used,
 often-abused grey matter.  I only hope there is still
 enough electrolyte to sustain the surge of electron
 activity necessary to separate fact from fiction, myth
 from reality, and alas, truth from fantasy.  Please
 bear with me.

 In retrospect: The Boozefighters M/C, L.A. (MF)

     To the bost of my knowledge the original Booze-
 fighter was a B-25 airplane, part of a World War II
 squadron first operating in England, then later based
 in North Africa.  I don't know much more than that;
 however, I do recall seeing the Boozefighter logo
 painted on a B-25 in a weathered photograph that was
 taped to the wall in the Big A. I do believe the
 embryo of the club grew from that aircraft's flight
 crew.  The Boozefighters were, by 1940's social stan-
 dards, a wild and uncontrollable gang.  However, I saw
 them as a rebellious free spirit, marching to the beat
 of a different drummer, a drummer on speed maybe, but
 certainly a different drummer.
      How soon the public forgets!  A few months prior
 to the club's founding these cats were defending lib-
 erty.  Fighting in an air war, killing and being killed
 was daily routine.  Then quite suddenly it was over.
 The excitement waned.  However, the momentum of adren-
 aline-induced violence continued on into civilian life.
 Compounding the frustration in the search for the lost

      The Big A! A beer bar in back of a run-down gas
 station in South Central Los Angeles.  Meeting place
 and hangout for the post-war, "outlaw"-prototype motor-
 cycle club.  The club was the people.  Cats with names
 like Wino Willie, Jumpin' Joe, Yo Yo, J.D. Jones, Fat
 Boy and his ol' lady Dago, Igor, Curly Cantlon, Louie
 Thomas, Stinabalm the Sweed, and bartender/owner Fat
 John.  There were more.  Some riders that tasted fame,
 like Arch Johnson, Don Hawley, Chuck "Feets" Minert,
 and Long Beach Triumph racebike builder A.J. Lewis.
 Altogether there must have been 50 or 60 active mem-
 bers.  The old man who operated the gas station figured
 he was gettin' too old to run the lube rack and do
 mechanical repairs, so he sub-let the outbuilding to
 Fat John and the club.  They removed the lube rack
 platform, covered the ram post with a homemade wooden
 bar, assembled a bunch-of stools, bought a beer/wine
 license, and the club was in the bar business.  The
 wings were sawed off of the sign on the roof, leaving
 just the big letter "A", hence the name "Big A", the
 focal point of Boozefighters' activities.
      There were other clubs of contemporary stature,
 but none remains in the annals of serendipitous mayhem
 with the verve or mystique of the Boozefighters. (Most
 likely due to their participation in the infamous Holl-
 ister Fourth of July weekend of 1947, and the subse-
 quent "Wild One" movie, loosely based on that happen-
 ing.) I guess the oldest of the motorcycle clubs still
 in operation at that time was the Thirteen Rebels, a
 group founded by movie stunt men back in the 1920's.
 The Yellow Jackets and The Orange County M/C also pre-
 date the Boozefighters.  Sister organizations were The
 Rams, Checkers, The North Hollywood Crotch Cannibals,
 and The Gallopin' Goose M/C.  The Hell's Angels back
 then were a group of young cats in San Bernadino.  How
 time changes things.
      Day-to-day routine activities were cruisin' the
 bars, partying, and checking out the weekly races
 around the L.A. area.  Speedway at the Lincoln Park
 (located on the south turn of the long-time abandoned
 Legion Ascot Speedway, i.e., the original Ascot), the
 1/4-mile at Rosecrans and Western Avenues, the Box
 Springs Grade TT in Riverside, Nail Flats (nicknamed
 "Rusty Nails") near San Pedro, and Coriganville, a
 Western movie set and racetrack up near the town of
      I remember one Sunday evening.  We were returning
 from a TT race at Coriganville.  Each of us bought a
 gallon jug of wine to suck on all afternoon, while sit-
 ting in the hot summer sunshine.  We were gaggling
 home, with pit stops at several bars along the way when
 someone suggested we fall into DeMay's drive-in, a
 local hot-rodder hangout, for supper.  We were pretty
 well wasted, tired and dirty -- dirty?  No, filthy!
 Vile!  Repugnant!  Yo Yo sat at the counter and ordered
 first a bowl o' chili, then hogged down an order of
 spaghetti with meatballs, finishing up with a milk
 shake.  Now Yo Yo looking his best resembled a cross
 between Dr. Frankenstein's monster and Charlie Chaplin,
 let alone sweating all day at a dusty race course.  He
 was one of those tall skinny red-necked cats.  When he
 starts to walk, first his head starts nodding like he
 means yes, then his shoulders pick up the movement fol-
 lowed by his hips and pelvis ungulating in the exact
 opposite cadence of what his upper body is doing.  Next
 he swings each leg forward, dragging his toes, and then
 drops his foot down in what you might call a "clop
 step".  He was wall-eyed, right side if my memory
 serves me, with a "cue-ball" haircut.  Well, it was
 warm and steamy in the restaurant, and with the mixture
 of red wine, pasta, chili, tomatoes, beans, hamburger,
 onions, milk, ice cream, chocolate, digestive enzymes,
 stomach acids, and assorted herbs and spices it wasn't
 long before the laws of physical science and chemistry
 sprung into action.  Yo Yo had a problem.  He dropped
 like a dead buffalo.  There he was, sprawled on the
 floor, eyes rolled back, lids half closed in a slack-
 jawed coma.  His face bore the jaundice pallor of a
 night nursers panty hose.  We could have just left the
 cat crapped out on the floor, but Wino Willie thought
 it would be best to remove him.  Wino grabbed his feet
 and drug him out into the parking lot.  There weren't
 many patrons in the place and I could see only two car-
 hops working.  Only five or six cars; I guess Sunday
 nights are slow. Now most of us were all for leaving
 this "Mother" there in the lot. But Wino was loyal to
 a fault and declared we should take him home. But how?
 He never would have made it on a pillion post; if we
 tried to drag him some sober judge would have called it
 premeditated murder.  So the only thing to do was to
 commandeer a motor car and drive him home.  Now I'm not
 clairvoyant or psychic or anything like that, but I
 figgered it was time to start my bike and wait by the
       There was a young man and his date sitting in this
 real clean, dark blue 1934 Ford coupe' eating their
 dinner.  It was probably fate, or maybe just not this
 kid's day.  Wino walked up to them and asked, real
 nicely, if he could use their Ford to take Yo Yo home.
 I guess Wino didn't care for the response to his
 inquiry, cuz the next thing I saw was Wino pulling this
 young fellow out of his car and putting him flat on his
 back!  The girlfriend seemed to be loosing her compo-
 sure.  Wide-eyed, screaming, she sat frozen, petrified
 with fear.  She wasn't about to leave a car that was
 surrounded by wild and drunken bikers, and there just
 wasn't room for Yo Yo to sit inside.  Wino slipped into
 the driver's seat and started the engine.  Meanwhile
 three or four of the other cats picked Yo Yo up and
 sprawled him over the hood.  There he was, on his back,
 head on the cowling vent, arms stretched out to either
 side, and his legs dangling down over the headlamps.  I
 was beginning to think in a short while this scene
 might, somehow, get a bit out of control!  So I pulled
 the clutch and slipped the AJ into first screw.  I did
 hear the little voice deep down in my conscience tell
 me I should do something about this.  I thought the
 only heroic thing I could do, at this point in time,
 was to got my little white innocent 17-year-old ass out
 o' there!  The last I saw of Yo Yo for the next 30 days
 or so, was himself riding around DeMay's parking lot on
 the hood of this '34 5-window, regurgitating a four-
 inch fountain of red vomit about a foot-and-a-half
 straight in the air, and this hardened, blond profes-
 sional car-hop, wide-eyed, face blanched, fist
 clenched, and screaming, "Call the cops, God damn it,
 somebody call the cops!"

     There was this bar on South Main Street (about
 185th Street) in an old Airstream trailer, called
 "Johnny's Crash Inn".  No connection to Fat John at the
 Big A. The Crash Inn was common meeting ground for the
 Boozefighters and the Gallopin' Goose M/Cs.  John
 opened about six each morning; some of these cats
 couldn't make it if they had to go more than four hours
 without a drink.  One morning this old cat shows up in
 a 3/4-ton pickup truck with two or three juke boxes in
 the bed.  He asks John how business was and if he could
 put one of his jukes in the bar.  John told him right
 up front that he didn't think that was such a good
 idea, but this cat was real insistent and told John he
 could keep 50% of the profit.  Five cents a tune
 wouldn't pay the rent, but this was most likely the
 only gig the geezer had going for him, so John said,
 "What the hell, if you want to take the chance, knock
 yourself out." The old man brought the thing in,
 loaded it up with records, and plugged it in.  It was
 truly a thing of beauty!  Round top, convex front, a
 lot of glass tubes with lava-lamp stuff bubbling up the
 front and soft lights that would change color.  Well,
 this electric wonder sat there a week or two with
 hardly a play.  If it wasn't that it was all enclosed
 I'm sure the big stack of 78-rpm records would have
 been covered with dust.  These cats just weren't inter-
 ested.  It wasn't that they didn't like music, they
 just didn't appreciate Connie Francis, Von Monroe,
 Doggy in the Window, or hits from My Fair Lady.  Maybe
 you could have got them to go to the Bach Festival if
 you could convince them they were giving away free Bach
 Beer!  Then one night the inevitable happened.  During
 the course of a somewhat untempered discussion, center-
 ing on the subject of one fellow's inability to sub-
 stantiate the exact origin or even the identification
 of his father, he implied the other gentleman's mother
 was performing sexual exhibitions in a socially unac-
 ceptable manner.  Civil decorum waned, and an alterca-
 tion ensued.  The glass front of the music machine was
 smashed, broken bits and lava crap all over the floor,
 the soft lights no longer changed color.  A shame
 really, but as with most catastrophies, there was one
 redeeming asset.  One now had access to the inner work-
 ings of the musical marvel.  So it wasn't long before
 Bing Crosby's White Christmas was replaced by Big J.
 McNeally's Good Rockin' at Midnight.  Stardust gave way
 to Drinkin' Wine Spolie-Ohlie, and Little Doggis in the
 Window became Sneaky Pete Beat Your Meat.  Next to go
 was the coin box, then a rewire job that made it pos-
 sible to play the thing by just plugging it into the
 wall.  When the old man came back to make his collec-
 tion he just stood there staring at the machine.  After
 a while he turned, eyes watering, to look at John.
 Then he just went away.  From then on the main attrac-
 tion at the Crash Inn was the free juke box. "I told
 the cat I didn't think leaving that thing here was a
 good idea," was all John could say.
      Every Friday night all the cats would go to Lin-
 coln Park for the Speedway races.  The Boozefighters
 came to own this old Pierce-Arrow limousine.  They
 painted it bright green, wrote "Boozefighters" on the
 sides, and adorned it with the club logo, an old
 drunk's head, eyes half shut, and flies buzzing around.
 Friday nights we would meet at the Big A, pile into the
 "Greenhouse", and motor to Lincoln Park.  We would
 share a couple gallons of wine at the racetrack, then
 return to the Big A and drink till 2 am.  It was one of
 those Friday nights that found Fat Boy and Yo Yo drink-
 ing beer together after the race.  Fat Boy was a kinda
 short stocky cat, not really fat at all.  He worked
 construction jobs all his life and had a hard well-
 tanned body.  He looked much like, and had mannerisms
 similar to, Burt Reynolds, the movie star.  Dago was
 Fat Boy's old lady.  A blond-haired olive-skinned Ital-
 ian girl who rode a 74-inch Harley-Davidson with Drake
 wheels and rods, Texas Machine Shop cylinders and spac-
 ers.  That sucker must have been out to 90+ cubic
 inches.  A Wico magneto, locked on full advance, she
 could stand on the pedal and kick that sucker through
 like a lumberjack.  She made a living shagging for
 Rapid Blueprint Co. When you shag for a living you
 just show up every morning, get in line and they call
 you as needed.  Every day is payday, and you can col-
 lact in cash if you wish.  Such was the reputation of
 the Boozefighters, when she wore her club sweater to
 work she just rode to the head of the line and no one
 would dare say a thing!
      Now I was sitting in the bar with Curly Cantlon,
 Yo Yo was sitting with Fat Boy and Dago had crashed in
 the back seat of the greenhouse.  Yo Yo was carrying on
 about how horny he was after 30 days in Lincoln Heights
 (L.A. County Jail).  He kept talking about how he was
 going to take his last $10 and see if he could score a
 street walker up on the Avenue.  Fat Boy says, "Why do
 that and take a chance on getting the clap or somethin'
 worse?  You could give me the $10 and crawl in the back
 seat with Dago!  She's so wasted that she'll probably
 think it's me anyway." "You really don't mind?" "Hell
 no, what are friends for?" So Yo Yo hands Fat Boy the
 $10, and slips out to the parking lot.  Curly and I are
 right behind him; this was something not to be missed.
 Fat Boy put the money away and ordered another beer.
 Outside it was darker than King Kong's arm pit.  You
 could just make out Yo Yo quietly opening the car door
 and pulling himself in, pants and skivvies around his
 ankles.  All was dead quiet for a few moments.  Then
 "What the hell do you think you're doing, you son of a
 bitch, get the fuck out of here!" Yo Yo didn't even
 get the door closed before he hit the ground like he
 was blown out of a cannon.  Dago, her blouse open end
 belt unfastened, on top of him kicking, scratching,
 biting, slugging, and yelling at the top of her lungs.
 She sat on his chest with her knees dug into his shoul-
 ders, punching him in the face with both fists.  Yo Yo
 was able to crawl away, after Dago wore herself out
 hitting him.  He drug himself back into the Big A,
 pulling up his draws, bleeding from the mouth, lips and
 cheeks swollen, and plopped down by Fat Boy.  "That
 didn't take long, how was it?" "How was it!  How was
 it!  I want my money back!" retorted Yo Yo.  "What do
 you mean, you want your money back?" Fat Boy smiled,
 "A deal's a deal!  Didn't I set the whole thing up for
 you?  If you're not romantic enough to win her over, or
 man enough to subdue her, that's not my fault!  Just to
 prove I'm your friend I'll buy you a beer -- hey John,
 set one up for my friend, will ya?" Yo Yo wiped his
 mouth with his sleeve, and drank the beer.  Curly
 turned to me and said, "Fat Boy was right, you know."
 I said, "Yeah, but what about Yo Yo, he let her get on
 top - now there's a gentleman!"
      I could tell you more, but I think you've got an
 idea of what life was like with the Boozefighters, how
 it was and all.

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« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2008, 01:31:34 pm »

Disclaimer: This might be fictional as one of the Boozefighters
contacted me, and flatly denied that Papa Jim was a member.

Source: Moto Monterey - September 1993

 (Some of you may remember Jim Brewer's article on the
 Boozefighters in the September 1991 newsletter.  The
 Boozefighters M/C was one of the motorcycle clubs that
 appeared in the late 1940's in answer to the
 restlessness of post-war America.  As a young buck with
 an AJS motorcycle, Jim was a member of this notorious
 "gang", and has agreed to continue his account of their
 exploits. -ed.]

               RIDING THE BEAR:
Further Adventures of the Boozefighters, 1948

40% Fiction, 50% Facts Out of Context,
         and 10% Shuck n' Jive!!

by Papa Jim Brewer


     Yoyo knelt beside the silver-grey and chrome Royal
 Enfield scrambler, fitting a spare clutch cable.  He
 was just finishing up, having already fit extra
 throttle and brake cables, attaching them with bits of
 safety wire.  The front mudguard was resting along with
 license plate, head and tail lamps, and a rat's nest of
 wire by the garage wall.  It seems that all week he had
 been fitting and tuning the big lunger.  He had taken
 the week off from the "Gunk-rack" job he had with Louie
 Thomas' Modern Cycle Works in East Los Angeles.  Early
 Monday morning he had the cylinder head down to the
 Foster and Lewis machine shop to be de-carbonized and
 to have the valve seats cut to a three-angle configura-
 tion.  Tuesday found him carefully aligning the inch-
 and-a-quarter GP Arnal carburetor to the inlet manifold
 and port.  This tall, skinny, wall-eyed "Okie" was dead

     It was Friday afternoon.  Wino Willy and I had rid-
 den to Yoyo's digs just to check and see if he was ok.
 The last time we had seen him was Sunday night down in
 front of the "Big A". He was so drunk that Fat Boy had
 to start his old Scout and Big John had to hold him by
 the shoulders while he mounted up just to keep him from
 falling over. Jumpin' Joe depressed the clutch, Fat
 Boy jammed it in gear, and we all pushed him out the
 driveway, watching him weave his way into traffic, dis-
 appearing east on Firestone Boulevard.  Everyone else
 walked away laughing, but I stood by the curb for a
 long while, listening for a siren that never came.  I
 guessed if he didn't fall off or forgot where he lived,
 he must'a got home!

     "That's it," Yoyo said as he pulled himself up and
 stood grinning at us.  "You cats want a drink?" If it
 had been anyone else I would have considered that a
 foolish Question, but coming from Yoyo -- we just fol-
 lowed him into the kitchen where he passed around the
 last three fingers of Mission Bell Port that was left
 in the gallon jug.

     "Well, I'm all ready," mused Yoyo.  "Hawley said I
 could use his truck if I would haul his bike, all his
 shit, and get someone to help pit for him."

     "Where did you get that scoot?" quizzed Wino.
 "Well, let's just say I've got a 'Silent Partner',
 a 'Sponsor' who has complete faith in my riding
 skills." I wish he hadn't said that till I swallowed
 the mouth full of wine that ended up being blown
 through my nose into the sink.  After regaining my com-
 posure I just nodded my head and tried to keep a
 straight face.  No sense hurting Yoyo by turning his
 covers; we just let it be.

Chapter 1: The Setting

  If you grew up in L.A., "Riding the Bear" was a
  right of passage.  It was like running with the bulls,
  or cliff diving in Acapulco. The Big Bear race has
  been run since the 1920's. In the early days it would
  start from the town of Mojave. The riders would line
  up along the railroad tracks. When the train whistle
  blew, it was over the tracks, across the desert, and up
  the mountain to Big Bear Lake. It wasn't a "Hare and
  Hound" back then, just a flat-out motorcycle race!
  First cat to get to the lake won. Each team would set
  up their own fuel stops. Most likely the first some-
  where between the Silver Lakes and Stoddard Mountain,
  next maybe around Peter's Hill or Rabbit Springs and
  the third always at Holcomb Creek Crossing.  Then it
  was up the mountain. Through rock washes and fire
  breaks, deer trails and foot paths to the town of Fawn-
  skin, which is just across the lake from Big Bear City.
  Circa 300 miles of desert and mountains, as the crow
  flies, that is if you could find a crow dumb enough to
  fly that route!

     Quite often there would be an inch or two of snow
  on the high desert, melting into slush, and then frozen
  again as you start up the shady side of the mountain in
  the afternoon.  Although you could nail 75 or 80 miles
  per hour on the open plain, it was much like a steeple
  chase, leaping over rocks and pucker bushes that would
  launch a rider into the air, like riding over a ramp.
  Then sand pits and rock washes would slow you to a dead
  stop.  You had to pick the bike up and lead or carry it
  over, around or through the maze.  Not a small feat if
  you were Indian, Barley, or Henderson mounted!  On the
  mountain the snow took its toll.  With drifts sometimes
  ten feet deep, more than one rider, completely
  exhausted, would fall and expire before help could
  reach him!  Some lost riders would light their bikes on
  fire to attract rescuers.  A burning tire makes a great
  signal.  Of 300-plus miles, less than 100 feet are on
  some kind of pavement, where you would cross the high-
  way and at the finish, in Fawnskin.  You would come
  down this hill on a city street, and have to come to a
  complete stop, feet on pegs, in a chalk-marked box.
  Give that a try on an inch of ice with stagger-block
  knobby tires!  Even when you're not all worn out!  First
  rider to the finish was the winner.

      In later years the event turned into a true "Hare
  and Hound", sanctioned by Harley-Davidson's own AMA,
  sponsored by the Orange County M/C, and open to all
  riders. (However, in 1948, the event was sponsored by
  the Hollywood Three Point M/C.) There were mandatory
  check points where a rider had to sign-in on a control
  card.  The route was marked with lime by a "Hare" rider
  who was always an expert, most likely a former Big Bear
  winner.  He would take off about a half hour to 45 min-
  utes before the starting "bomb" would go off.  "Catch
  the 'Hare', win the race!"

      There had been a lot of national defense building
  in the high desert during the war years.  Apple Valley
  and the surrounding area became more populated.  Hous-
  ing tracts, homesteads, small farms, and the like were
  flourishing.  So, in the interest of public relations
  and good will, from 1946 on the Bear would start from
  the North Lucerne Valley (near Highway 247), make a
  wide figure-eight pattern across the desert, returning
  twice to the starting line, then split to Big Bear
  Lake. This new route made refueling a lot easier,
  since the crews could just hang out at the starting
  line, drink a little wine, and "Shuck 'n Jive" till
  their rider came through twice, then bug-out to Holcomb
  Creek Crossing, at a dirt road just north of Green Val-
  ley. After topping off there, bag-ass for Fawnskin and
  the finish.

Chapter 2: The Players

     J.D. Jones was a tall, skinny old man.  He rode an
 old Harley-Davidson JD that he said he bought new.  He
 kept his head shaved because his old lady always got
 her toes tangled in his hair when they "did the thing".
 He wore a full red beard and mustache, greying a bit
 around the edges, and when he'd grin you could see
 where he only had a few front teeth, long and a little
 yellow.  Seems he grinned and squinted his eyes most
 all the time.  He used to be a member of the original
 Thirteen Rebels M/C.  About the oldest club around
 L.A., they did a lot of movie stunt work back in the
 twenties and thirties.  He still liked to show off with
 a bit of trick riding, and I guess he was about as good
 as most of the cats that did that kinda stuff.  I
 really liked ol' J.D. He may have had a two-digit IQ
 but you could trust him.  He was unassuming and would
 mind his own business.  As he would put it, he was just
 a "Motorcycle Ridin' Fool!"

     J.D. and I were the first cats to show up at the
 "Big A".  It was the Saturday morning about 9:30.  It
 was cold, been cold all night.  Horizon to horizon the
 sky was black clouds.  It hadn't rained; maybe if it
 had, it wouldn't have been so cold.  We didn't have
 long to wait.  Fat Boy and his old woman Dago came rid-
 ing up with Wino Willy just behind them.

     "Where is everyone else?" I ask Fat Boy.
 "Over to Andy's," he replied, "we're supposed to
 meet over there." Andy's was a beer bar over on Atlan-
 tic Avenue near Slauson called The Vulture's Roost.
 This had to be the baddest one beer bar in L.A. It was
 a haunt of The Yellow Jackets and Gallopin' Goose M/C.
 We lit'em up and cruised over.

     Cold in L.A. is damp, wet cold and riding felt like
 getting hit in the face with needles.  There was ice in
 the gutters and as we traveled east on Firestone, past
 the tire plant, you could see wee bits of soot hanging
 in the air from the smudge pots.

     We pulled up in front of the Roost.  There must
 have been 70 or 80 riders milling around in the lot.
 Andy opened up and had the coffee pot on.  We parked,
 and went in for a cup.  I walked back to the AJS and
 undid the straps, holding my sleeping bag.  I pinned
 Yoyo sitting in Don Hawley's truck. It was a lowered
 1934 fern-green Ford. In the bed, along with Yoyo's
 Enfield, he had Don's "Arie-out" (a hybrid Ariel Red
 Hunter frame with a Shell Motors 101 Scout engine and
 Bermans clutch and gear box. This is the same bike
 Hawley campaigned around Southern California's flat
 tracks for the next few years). The Enfield was all
 covered up with a bed spread. This isn't right, Yoyo
 not flaunting the scrambler in front of all these cats.
 J.D. and I tossed our bags in alongside the bikes, tool
 box, gas cans, spare wheels, and "stuff".

     Man, this looked like a Jive circus!  Cats wearing
 colors from The Gallopin' Goose, The Boozefighters, The
 RAMS (Raggedy Ass Millionaires), The Crotch Cannibals,
 The Yellow Jackets, even the very prim Pasadena M/C,
 and more.  It wasn't long before engines were started,
 trucks began moving, when I started the AJS, J.D. Jones
 was already pulling out, we were under way. East to
 Lakewood Boulevard, then north onto Rosemead, east
 again on Foothill, we were "gaggling" to the high des-
 ert, it was the Big Bear weekend, and it was great!
 Johnny the Jug jumped back on the pillion of his new
 Tiger 100, grabbed a handful, and flew to the front of
 the group.   J.D. stood on the seat of his old porker,
 stretched arms straight out to either side, and per-
 formed a "human cross" at 70 miles per hour.  Truly a
 "Ridin' Fool", to quote J.D. There was this BIG biond-
 haired chick on a Square Four that rode along side and
 kept grinning at me. Everyone called her Amazon. I
 smiled back but left it alone.  Her old man was "White
 Fence". I didn't want that kind of trouble!

     In San Berdoo we stopped at a beer bar for lunch.
 J.D. went across the street to a "Piggley-Wiggley" Mar-
 ket and came back with a gallon of Mission Bell.  He
 gave one of those "Ridin' Fool" grins, and threw away
 the cap.  The weekend was definitely underway!

     One of the cats in The Gallopin' Goose was John
 Galliano, "Johnny the Jug".  His dad was Italian, his
 mother Mexican-American.  A good friend of Don
 Hawley's, they worked out together at Redpath's Gym.
 Johnny the Jug was a real Adonis.  Coal-black hair,
 olive skin, and Roman nose, he was a "Lady Magnet", one
 of those cats that would work out on Muscle Beach Sun-
 day afternoons.  He was riding up with us and was going
 to help us gas Hawley at Holcomb Creek.  Then there was
 this other young cat who used to party with us.  A big
 moon-faced high-school football player named Irving
 KertzenbaLn.  This kid was BIG!  I'd say 260 by 6'6" at
 least.  He played football at Inglewood High School,
 but had eyes to become a professional wrestler, like
 Gorgeous George.  He already had a name picked out:
 "Swede Kertzenbalm, the Smorgasbord of Death!" I've
 watched television for the last 45 years and still hope
 one day to see "Swede" conquer the mat.  Seeing Swede
 riding with Yoyo in the truck I couldn't help but muse;
 if those guys could find a dumb-looking third cat with
 a "Prince Valiant" haircut, they proverbially could
 come up with a movie contract!  Swede was the crew man
 Yoyo had promised Don for the use of the truck.  I can
 see it now!  Wino Willy, Fat Boy, and the Swede topping
 off Don Hawley's gas tank at a high-speed pit stop.
 That could be the start of a beautiful fist fight.

     Victorville was jumpin'.  Bikes everywhere.  Cats
 wearing colors from all the western states.  The bars
 were overflowing; all the restaurants had lines of
 folks waiting to scarf.  We cruised around for a while
 and soon ran into this cat from the Jack Rabbits M/C
 who knew Wina Willy.  He told us about this Mexican
 Cafe just east of town on Highway 18.  I'm not sure I
 remember the name -- Mama Lupe's, or Sister Lupe's --
 anyway, the beer was cold and the food good.  We
 checked it out.  Seemed to be a hangout for the local
 sodbusters, an old day-coach railroad car with a Quon-
 set hut attached to the rear.  As we pulled into the
 parking lot, you could hear the juke box wailing, "Out
 in Petersburg everything's fine, all them cats are
 drinking that wine, smashing out windows and kickin'
 down doors, they'll drink a half gallon and scream for
 more!" Sounds like a class place to me!  Once inside we
 sat down, ordered a round of "Red X" (Lucky Lager) and
 schemed on supper.

     There were four girls waiting tables.  Our waitress
 was a tall, slim twist with dishwater blond hair, and
 just about enough "good stuff" wiggling to stop conver-
 sation.  We were all on separate checks so she moved
 from one to the other taking orders. I sat at the end
 of the table so she took mine first. When she got to
 Johnny the Jug she broke out in a big grin (the "Lady
 Magnet" seemed to be working). When she left us and
 moved between tables, chairs, and people on her way to
 the kitchen, I couldn't help but think she moved like a
 snake with hips. The Jug caught me pinning her, and
 gave me a wink. I just closed my eyes, nodded my head,
 and smiled. She brought us another round of beer, said
 our dinners would be here soon. She wore Levis that
 looked painted on and a kinds peasant blouse, loose,
 low-cut, and made out of an old Japanese WWII flag. It
 had a big, round, red spot on the front, with Japanese
 writing down the sides, under her arms.

     Our dinners arrived and as she set the plate down
 in front of the Jug he asked, "When do you get off

     "Anytime I feel like it.    I don't work here; Eddy,
 the owner, lets me fill in for tips on crowded nights."

     After supper we all had one more "Red X", all
 except Yoyo. He was drinking Delaware Punch, being in
 training and all.

     We paid our bill, left a tip, and started toward
 the door. The Jug turned around and called back, "Hey
 Meatball, you coming with us?" Her smile grew into a
 wide grin as she pulled the pencil from in back of her
 ear, and tossed the order pad on the counter. Yoyo was
 in the truck and out to the road by the time we got our
 bikes started. Jug tickled the carburetor, and before
 he could crank it through, Meatball was on the Tiger's
 pillion and groping for the pegs.  Fat Boy turned to
 Dago, "Looks like the Jug got him a pillion fairy."
 Dago just looked bored and kicked her big stroker Har-
 ley to life. Yoyo and Swede led the way and we were on
 the road again.

     Even though it was biting cold, the high desert air
 was crystal clear and sweet, and dry. When it's 80
 degrees in Los Angeles and 110 in Victorville, the high
 desert always seems more comfortable. But, the air is
 thin, and it was far from 110 degrees.  I have no idea
 just how cold it was, but it hurt to take a deep
 breath, and I couldn't feel my hands or feet, and the
 cold even cut through my thermal knickers.  Shit, I was
 colder than a Klondike sewer rat!

     We had been going east; now we turned north, off
 the pavement.  The dirt road turned into a sand wash.
 It was near the old Sidewinder Mine in a place they
 called "Crash Canyon".  As we rode north on the creek
 bed, you could smell the smoke of fires, and we soon
 saw other riders camped out on the sand.  We pulled up,
 and I rode over to the side of the canyon where the
 earth was a bit more solid.  I pulled the AJS onto the
 stand and J.D. pulled in beside me, along with Wino, a
 cat named Curly Cantlon, and a couple of Yellow Jack-
 ets.  This is where we were to meet "our racers" in the

     J.D. started to scrape away the brush so we could
 bed down.  Fat Boy and Wino started a little fire with
 dry brush and twigs.  I walked across the creek and
 picked our sleeping bags out of the truck bed.  A tiny
 sliver of moon broke through the overcast and as far as
 you could see up the canyon folks were camped.  I
 walked back and threw J.D. his bag and we rolled them
 out. I stripped to my knickers and crawled in.  Johnny
 the Jug and Meatball were already in the sack, their
 clothes tossed all over.  I don't somehow think their
 minds were focused on neatness.  They were about 10 or
 12 feet from J.D. and me.  The sleeping bag was left
 unzipped.  It was cold, but not as cold as when we were
 riding, so leaving the bag open gave more room to move
 around inside.  I didn't think their minds were focused
 so much on "sleeping" either!  There was about four or
 five inches of Mission Bell left in the jug, so J.D.
 and I passed it back and forth while we watched the
 skin show.  J.D. was thinkin' out laud, "Man, if Big
 John could get a floor show like that, he could have a
 cover charge down at the 'Big A'."

     "If he could keep his license, it would be more
 like an 'uncover charge'," I added.

    All at once Meatball sat straight up and in a loud
 whisper said, "Don't they call this place the Side-
 winder Mine?  What would we do if a snake slithered
 into our sleeping bag?" Johnny the Jug grabbed her
 shoulders, pulled her back into the bag, and rolled
 over on top of her, "The only snake you have to worry
 about is already in the sleeping bag." Fat Boy broke
 up and gave out a raucous "Haw, haw, haw!" Dago gave
 out with "Shut up, shit!  If you're going to fantasize,
 beat your meat and go to sleep." Then we all broke up!
 I thought to myself, that Dago is one cruel old woman,
 when she wants to be.

     The sky had cleared some.  I could even see a few
 stars, now and then as the clouds were passing.  The
 wine was gone, J.D. was comatose, and the fire had
 become an ashtray of embers.  At last the day's hype
 was mute, once in the arms of Morpheus.

     Too soon the "visions of sugar plums" were blown
 out of "my wee little head" by a God-awful racket com-
 ing up the canyon.  It was this old flathead, orange
 Dodge pickup, weaving through sleeping bags and around
 motorcycles.  From behind the wheel came this honkey
 nasal whine, "Joanne?  Joanne?  I know you're here
 somewhere, where are you honey? Joanne?"  Meatball
 jumped out of the bag and started pulling on her Levis.
 By now John the Jug was out of the bag too.

     "What's happening?"
 "It's that God-damn Eddy, he owns the restaurant,
 remember?  He's my landlord; he owns this lousy house
 trailer I've been living in." She told the Jug, "We
 get it on sometimes, ya know, just for the rent.  He
 doesn't own me, though!  Nobody owns Me, nobody!"

     Eddy's truck has stopped and the headlights were
 shining on Jug and the Meatball.  She crossed her arms
 in front of her.  They were really cold, her in her
 Levis and the Jug buck-ass naked.  Eddy walked toward
 them, stopped and picked up the blouse, looked at it,
 then threw it down again.  This Eddy was something
 else.  He stood about 5110", a stocky red-neck farm
 boy.  He walked up to Meatball, reached out with his
 fat left hand and grabbed her by the hair.  His face
 was flushed, and in the headlamp's glare you could see
 tiny red and blue veins that turned his puffy cheeks
 into road maps.  He held his right hand up, palm open
 as if he were going to cuff her.  He looked like he was
 in pain.

     "What are you doing here?  Why are you here with
 him and not home with me?" His eyes were welling up.

     "Why am I here with him?" she cluipped.  "Why am I
 here with him and not with you?  Drop your pants and
 everyone will know why I'm with him and not with you!"

     That did it.  The dam burst, tears rolled down his
 fat, puffy cheeks.  He tried to say something; his
 mouth moved a little but nothing came out.  He slapped
 and backhanded her three or four times across her face.
 By now Fat Boy, Jumpin' Joe, the Swede, and myself were
 standing around the principals, closing in and ready to
 throw dukes.  The Jug said, "Just let it be; let them
 work it out.  It's not our business.  Besides, the
 point spread is too wide." The code governing such
 things is clear.  Never fight over a woman or money.
 They come and they go; you just wait a while and
 they'll be back.  Eddy dragged her by the hair, her
 scratching and kicking to the truck, threw her in and
 drove away.  By the time I looked back to the Jug he
 was in his sleeping bag, with Meatball's blouse rolled
 up under his head, like a pillow.  No honor lost here,
 I reasoned.

     Yoyo yelled out from the truck where he was nest-
 ing, "Will you cats knock it off, I've got to get some
 sleep if I'm going to 'practice my art' in the morn-

     The clouds had moved back in; it was overcast.  The
 morning sky was once again covered with grey.  We were
 camped on the west side of the canyon and between the
 east canyon rim and the cloud cover was a shaft of
 bright sunlight that struck my eyes like a dagger.
 J.D. was up, dressed, and grinnin' like an ape.  "Come
 on Jim, get up!  Me 'n the Jug got the fire goin'

     "How the hell can you do it?" I ask.
     "Do what?"
     "Do what!" I replied.  "Drink port wine all day,
  have five or six beers with a double order ol chili
  verde for your supper, drink some more wine, stay up
  half the night watchin' people screw, sleep in a frozen
  food locker on a bed of sand, and be so wide awake and
  so GOD-DAMN ugly at the crack of dawn?" The daggers
  that were in my eyes suddenly leaped to the small of my
  back when that crazy bald-headed asshole grabbed the
  foot of my sleeping bag and poured me out on the canyon

      I rolled up the bag and looked for the truck.  It
  was gone! I guessed Yoyo couldn't wait to go "practice
  his art". Up front of where the truck was parked set a
  new dark-blue Ford station wagon. "What's that?" I
  ask J.D. "That's Don Hawley's girlfriend's new car.
  She and four of her coed pals from Compton College
  drove Hawley up here this morning." I turned my head,
  ever so slowly, to see Dangerous Don sitting on his
  haunches by the fire.  He was holding a paper cup of
  coffee.  I walked over, "Where did you get the coffee?"

      "I brought it with me, and there's some buns and
  stuff in the wagon; knock yourself out!"

      I walked over and looked in the back window.  There
  was this big United Airlines thermos, paper cups, half-
  and-half, sugar and a couple of pink boxes from
  Canter's of Fairfax, with sticky buns and bagels.  My
  mouth felt like a mouse crept in during the night and
  gave birth, so I was cluick to help myself to coffee and
  a big oll sticky bun. I walked back to the fire to
  thank Don for breakfast. "Hey, you cats are helpin' me
  refuel, I got to take care of my pit crew!"

      "Where's your rib?" I ask.
      "She and her friends took a hike up to the bushes
  on the rim, they had to take a leak, it was a long
  drive, we drank a lot of coffee.  It's getting late, we
  better slip," he added.  You could hear bike engines
  starting up and down the canyon.  I took the last hit
  on my coffee, watched as the little campfire jumped to
  life, and finished the bun.

      Don Hawley and I went back a long way.  We went to
  "different schools" together!  We used to hang out at
  the Clock Drive-In on Atlantic Avarua and Whittier
  Boulevard, and see each other at the midnight drag
  races on South Avalon, the old divided highway.  If
  ever there was a natural racer it was "Dangerous Don"

      J.D. walked over to the fire, unbuttoned his Levis,
  and started pissin' it out.  Soon he was joined by Jum-
  pin' Joe, Fay Boy, next by Wino Willy and Curly Cant-
  Ion.  White steam rose in a great billowing cloud.  The
  coeds had come back and one of them snapped a picture.
  The last time I ever was in the "Big A", I remember
  that snapshot taped to the old yellow steel wall.  Five
  of my boyhood heros pissin' out a fire in Crash Canyon
  on January 4th, 1948.

[to be continued - next time: the race]


Source: Moto Monterey - October 1993

               RIDING THE BEAR:
Further Adventures of the Boozefighters, 1948
                    Part 2

Chapter 3: Riding the Bear
           by Papa Jim Brewer

      We gaggled up Highway 247 and turned right on this
  dirt road that was the starting line.  It was one of
  those roads that was scraped out of the desert with a
  bulldozer blade.  There was a rise on the shoulders
  where the earth ended up after the scraping. ...Tust east
  of this rise was the starting line.  Over on the other
  side of the road, to the west, was a big parking area.
  The Los Gatos M/C were there in force with a big banner
  on poles that was stretched across one end of the park-
  ing lot.  These cats came down from Northern California
  every year, from the very early days of the Bear, with
  a gang of expert riders.  Groups from other clubs too
  established their pits at the west side of the road, in
  front of the parking lot.

      There were bikes everywhere.  Most every make and
  vintage.  Mostly AJS, Matchless, BSA, and Ariel 500
  Singles.  The 500 Singles were the most popular.  They
  were light (by 1948 standards), "tor-quie", fast and
  would pull the side of a mountain like a tractor.
  Other makes in abundance were Zundapp, Norton, Velo-
  cette, BMW, NSU and Jawas.  Of the twins the most abun-
  dant were Triumph Speed Twins, Tigers and Trophies;
  AJS; Matchless (Bud Hare was on a Clay Smith 600 Match-
  less from his cam shop in Long Beach); and BSA.  Other
  bikes spotted were Panther,, Royal-Enfield, Douglas,
  Harley-Davidson, Indian, and a 61-inch Crocker ridden
  by Ed Johnson, the famed L.A. flat tracker.  Of course
  there were a bunch of "corn-popper" two-cycles.  BSA
  Bantams, Dots, Villers, James, DKW, Francis-Barnetts,
  Jawas, etc., ridden mostly by young, novice riders.
  Many started, in fact they would fly off the start; few
  finished, always late, too late to be scored.  Most
  blew up and/or crashed in the first 50 miles or so.
  How things have changed in 45 years!

     We spotted Don's truck about in the middle of the
  pits.  Yoyo had the bikes unloaded and was tinkering
  with the Enfield.  Ross Bernstein, the Shell Motors
  tuner, had the Scout on a rear-wheel stand.  He had
  already run it, had the plugs out, and was making a
  carburetor mixture adjustment.  The "cheerleaders"
  drove the station wagon back into the parking lot.
  J.D., Winb Willy, and I followed them.  I could use
  some more coffee, and the "buns" looked good too!  One
  by one the rest joined us and we established Booze-
  fighters' headquarters around the Compton College dele-

     There must have been a hundred or so bikes running
  around us, racing out into the desert, checking out
  their scoots.  Carburetor and spark-plug checks.  Tire
  style and pressure checks.  Chassis adjustments and
  last-minutd sprocket selections.  Some of the Indian
  and Harley riders had stretched frames and chains on
  their rear wheals.  There were a few pits that had
  blankets stretched out on the ground, feverishly trying
  to put engines or gearboxes back together.  The air was
  thick with exotic fuel and castor-oil smells.  "Nine
  o'clock, one hour to go," someone said.  I walked to
  Don's pit.  There were a few flakes of snow in the air,
  a few tiny bits of crystal jewels delicately held in
  the fingers of the dry brush.

     I've never ceased to be overwhelmed by the Big Bear
  Hare and Hound. In 1948 there were 377 official
  entries, times five crewmen; add 1,500 spectators,
  equals 3,385 people. In 1954 there were 986 official

      The snow was falling steadily now, a light snow but
  enough to cover the desert with one or two inches.  Don
  and Yoyo had taken their bikes to the starting line and
  the hare was getting ready to take off.  The starting
  line was about a hundred feet east of the road and ran

      More riders filled the starting line as the hare
  took off. I don't recall who the hare was -- a member
  of the Hollywood Three Pointers M/C.  He carried lime
  sacks in a newspaper-boy's bag draped over his shoul-
  ders.  AJS mounted, and cookin'!  We watched as he sped
  up the desert incline, passed the Big Rock hill, where
  the starting bomb would soon go off, and disappeared
  over the ridge that lay about a quarter-mile due east.

      I ask Don, "How do you follow lime markers in the

      "You don't have to.  He'll leave a big mud trail,
  and unless you're leading, there will be no doubt where
  the course runs."

      I gave Don and Yoyo a pat on the back and walked
  down the starting line to check out the other racers.
  Everyone had been running their engines to keep them
  warm.  I saw Triumph-mounted, our man Arch Johnson; and
  movie stars Keenan Wynn on an AJS and Larry Parks on a
  brand-new Gold Star BSA his wife, screen star Betty
  Garrett, had given him as a Christmas gift the week
  before.  The riders with sponsors or some with club
  affiliation wore vests or silken "bibs" (like Class 'A'
  speedway riders) proclaiming their benefactors.  There
  was half-mile ace Bert Brundage on a Frank Cooper AJS,
  Aub LeBard on a LeBard and Underwood Matchless, and
  auto racer and speedway star Mack Bellings on a Milne
  Brothers Ariel Red Hunter, to name a few.  One by one
  the engines were shutting down, with the start
  approaching.  You have to start with a dead engine,
  then when that starting bomb goes off, kick your bike to
  life, and "bug out".  The riders were getting "antsy";
  every eye was trained on the Big Rock hill.

      It's the waiting, you know. It's the waiting that
  seems so hard.  You know you're good. You've proven
  that to yourself over and over again. You've proven it
  to others, your sponsors, the people that have come
  here to help you, and to the fans who have come to
  watch you.  It's become dead quiet now.  The more
  focused you become, the more quiet it seems.  You wait,
  and wait.  Steve McQueen summed it up in the 1971 movie
  LeMans: "A lot of people go through life doing things
  badly.  Racing is important to men who do it well.
  When you're racing, it -- it's life.  Anything that
  happens before or after is just waiting." When I look
  back at the memory of it, the mind's eye picture of the
  Big Bear, of THAT Big Bear, I remember the waiting.  It
  seems hours ago that the hare left.  "Will 10 o'clock
  ever come?  God, it's quiet, this waiting."

      The bomb burst!  Engines started, clutches engaged,
  and a square mile of California's high desert turned
  into a plowed field.  Clouds of snow and dirt rose in a
  plume from each machine as they sped off toward the
  horizon.  I strained to see who was leading as they
  crested the quarter-mile knoll. I looked for Hawley
  who was wearing a Shell Motors sweater over his leath-
  ers, but with 300 riders moving at 80 miles per hour
  over rough country, I -- I walked back to the truck, is
  what I did.

      Ross Bernstein was sorting out tools and spares,
  setting up for our first pit stop.  We were servicing
  Don Hawley, Arch Johnson, and, oh yeah, Yoyo.  We split
  up into two groups.  Group A was Bernstein, Fat Boy,
  and Johnny the Jug.  Group B, Curley Cantlin, J.D.
  Jones, and myself.  Swede Kertzenbalm and Jumpin' Joe
  would drive the truck, see to all the gear, and be the
  official "go fetch it" gang.  Group A would work the
  first stop, when the riders would come through the
  starting line on the first pass.  Then they were to bug
  out for the Holcomb Creek Crossing and gas stop number
  three.  Our group, Group B, would see to the second gas
  stop, when they passed through again.  Then we would
  toss our gas cans and stuff into the station wagon and
  bag ass for the finish at Fawnskin.  There Group A
  would meet us.

     Bernstein set out two sets of gas cans: the first
 for Hawley, the second for Johnson and Yoyo.  He
 "hipped" me to the scam.  The Scout had been tuned to
 run on a special Don Francisco "gas mix", the red and
 yellow cans.  The solid red cans held Flying "A" 100
 plus.  Don Francisco was a local fuel mixer who was
 playing with nitro blends and such even back then!

     The snow had stopped.  The clouds were beginning to
 break up, the sun was poking its rays through the over-
 cast, here and there.  Jumpin' Joe was snoozing in the
 truck cab.  I ask Swede if he would like a cup of cof-
 fee and we walked over to the wagon.  The co-eds had
 covered the windows with blankets.  I lifted the tail-
 gate to the sounds of giggles and shrieks!  The girls
 were changing their clothes, getting ready for the pit
 stops.  It was Don Hawley's idea.  If there were a
 bunch of chicks dressed in tight sweaters, white short
 shorts, and Li'l Abner boots, standing in the pit, jum-
 pin' up and down, wiggling all over, and screaming
 their lungs out, there was no way he could not see
 where his pit was!  I closed the tailgate and they
 handed us cups of coffee through the window.

     We walked back to find the truck backed into the
 pit.  Ross Bernstein had all the tools and spares we
 might need laid out in the bed like an operating room

     Everyone was in their pit area, all ready and once
 again waiting.  There was a quiet that comes with the
 snow.  A stillness that slows the adrenaline flow.
 Everyone's eyes were turned toward the road.  If you
 can picture this dirt road, scraped out of tte desert
 floor by a bulldozer's blade, with great mounds of
 earth lining either side, where curbs would be if this
 were a city street.  Then you can see that crossing the
 road meant having to navigate two big old jumps!  The
 riders would return from the east, crossing the road to
 the west, and into the pits.

     At first it was a buzz.  Like a bee, getting
 louder.  Sounding like an angry bee.  Louder still,
 like a hornet.  A lone rider, flat out and cookin'.
 His engine raced as he hit the first jump, shifting
 gears in the air.   He cleared the second jump and came
 into our midst.  It was the hare, sliding the AJS
 scrambler into the Hollywood Three Pointers M/C pit.
 Refueling took about 10 to 15 seconds.  He grabbed a
 drink of water (?), clean goggles, and split like a
 scalded dog.  Due west.  The co-eds came running from
 the station wagon in ski caps and coats.  There was no
 rush. The hare had a 45-minute head start on the
 field. That head start proved to be closer to 30 min-
 utes in reality.  The hounds were closing in.

     The time passed more quickly now than it did wait-
 ing for the start. It didn't seem long before the
 first riders were arriving.  The girls had their coats
 off and were lined up, ready to do their stuff!

     First rider over the jump was Matchless-mounted Aub
 LeBard, followed a few seconds later by Dutch Sterner
 on an AJS.  About a minute later came Nick Nicholson on
 a Branch Motors Velocette.  A couple of moments later a
 gaggle of 10 or 15 riders were coming over the jump
 into the pits.  Looked like ducks popping up in a
 shooting gallery.  Next rider to "pop" over was number
 88, Don Hawley, followed by 40 or 50 more.  Upon pin-
 ning Hawley, the "co-ed chorus line" went into action,
 like football cheerleaders, high-kicking, screaming and
 just plain jumpin' up and down! Man, did it work! Don
 pinned the pit right off.  Not only that, it confused
 the competition something fierce. All these cats were
 checking out the girls! Riders were running into each
 other, falling down, missing their pits, and even their
 pit crews were smitten in slack-jawed wonder. Fat Boy
 had the funnel in Don's tank and Johnny the Jug was
 pouring in fuel. Bernstein asked Don if everything was
 ok, he nodded and said that he could blow off these
 cats at will. He was laying back to let the eager
 beavers beat down the brush. It was easier to get lost
 by missing lime if you were up front, plus cooling it
 now saved the machine for when times got tough.  Arch
 Johnson had pulled up in back of Hawley and the "A"
 Group rushed to service him.  Our riders, most of the
 riders, wore those black foam-rubber war-surplus
 goggles, and our riders got clean ones at each stop.
 Hawley took a big gulp of water and was off, followed a
 few seconds later by Arch, to the cheering and scream-
 ing of "Follies Femme-Fatale".

     More riders were pouring over the pit jump now.  It
   wasn't long before Yoyo came on the scene.  The gals
   went into their act once again, with a repeat of the
   first chaotic "rapture of lost demeanor".  He was ser-
   viced, in and out like a pro! -- the Enfield sounded
   great.  I was amazed!  Swede said he was counting and
   figured YoYo was 78th out of 337 starters!  Could it be
   his benefactor was right?  New!  Yeah?  New!

     The girls were back in coats and hats and headed
   for the station wagon and its wonderful heater.  Ross
   picked up all his spares and loaded the truck.  He set
   out the gas cans and a tote-box of tools.  "If you need
   more than this, it's all over, anyway," he told me.
   With a pat on the back, he jumped in the truck along-
   side the Swede.  Fat Boy, Jumpin' Joe, and Johnny the
   Jug mounted up and "A" Group was off to the creek

      It was almost noon.  Riders were straggling in one
   by one.  Some realized, when they met the leaders com-
   ing through the starting line pits for the second lap,
   that it was all over, and started packing up.  You have
   to finish within one hour after the first hound arrived
   in order to "sign-in" and be counted as a finisher.

      The hare led the field by 22 minutes on this second
   pass.  First rider at pit stop two was Aub LeBard, fol-
   lowed by Velocette-mounted Nick Nicholson (it is a pic-
   ture of Nick Nicholson on a Norton at the Isle of Man
   TT that has become our club logo), Harley rider Tex
   Luce, and speedway star Ernie Roccio on an AJS.  Her-
   ley-Davidson-mounted Royal Carrol.1 Jr. and Ernie McAfee
   (who was killed during the rui,iiing of the last sports-
   car race held at Pebble Beach, driving an RSK Porsche)
   on a Branch Motors Velocette were side by side in a
   dragrace into and out of their respective gas stops.
   The girls were once again "on stage" to welcome Don
   Hawley, who by now had worked his way to gth overall!
   Curley Cantlon and I gassed "Dangerous" Don.  It was a
   routine stop; clean goggles, and he was back in the

      Arch Johnson was in 22nd place when he rode in.  He
   had gone down hard jumping out of a rock wash.  Tweaked
   the handlebar and put a big dent in the Tiger's tank.
   The knees of his leathers were worn through and blood-
   soaked long-johns were peeking through.  He climbed off
   and grimaced as he did a couple of deep knee bends.
   All the while I was pouring gas, J.D. and Curley were
   yanking on the handlebar.  I must admit, they got it
   pretty straight.  The engine had died; I climbed on and
   after five or six tries, it lit off.  Arch was back on
   and set sail with vengeance.  Yoyo was next.  Curley
   said that he had "practiced his art" all the way up to
   64th.  I was flabbergasted!  J.D. gassed him up; one of
   the show girls handed him clean goggles and gave him a
   kiss on the cheek.  That must have worked like a shot
   of nitro!  Yoyo was standing on the pegs and spinning
   the wheel clear out of sight.

       Hawley's main squeeze drove the station wagon up to
   where the truck had been parked, and while the co-eds
   were getting into warmer garb, "B" crew was stowing the
   Sear in the back.

       The sun was out now and it was getting a bit
   warmer.  We drank some more coffee and polished off the
   buns.  It was a little after lpm when the girls pulled
   out and J.D., Curley and I mounted up and took off for
   Pawnskin and the Finish.

Chapter 4: The Finish

       You didn't need a road map to got from Lucerne to
   Big Bear Lake that Sunday. It looked like the Harbor
   Freeway at 5 o'clock!  I'm sure that from the air it
   looked like an ant trail to a sugar cube.  Even though
   the sun had come out to warm things a little, it was
   colder than a barfly's heart on the shady side of the
   mountain.  There was ice in patches on the road and
   rivers of water flowing where there was no ice.  As we
   climbed the mountain, lookin' down from each switch-
   back, you could see a steady column of riders, trucks
   and cars with bike trailers behind us.

     Dago, the Amazon, and some of the others had split
   from the desert early, and were already in Fawnskin
   when we arrived.  They had parked their bikes within a
   block of the finish and made sure the rest of "The
   Crew" had parking space.  It wasn't a hard thing to do
   when you were wearing Boozefighters or Gallopin' Goose
   colors.  The co-eds weren't so lucky though.  They had
   to park the station wagon about a mile away, so J.D.,
   Curley and I ran a shuttle and packed 'am to the finish
   line.  It was almost 3pin and long shadows, and about
   two feet of snow on the flat meant the temperature was
   descending rapidly.  J.D. had bugged out and come back
   with a half-gallon of the "Red Staple of Life" and we
   passed it around.

      It wasn't long before the hare came sliding in.
   His buddies from the Hollywood Three Pointers M/C
   lifted him off a very tired AJS scrambler and carried
   him around on their shoulders.  The officials had the
   sign-in sheet ready, and the finish judges were at
   their stations.

      The first rider in was Dutch Sterner at 3:22, five
   hours and 22 minutes on the Cooper Motors AJS.  Frank
   Cooper was hugging and patting him on the back, "This
   won't hurt winter sales at all," he said.  Tex Luce of
   the Four Aces M/C, North Hollywood, was next in, but
   later was disqualified for missing a hidden check.
   Harley-mounted Swede Belin was scored in second place,
   but while he was stopped in the box and standing on the
   pegs, he was bumped from behind and replaced by a
   Matchless-mounted and "Big A" patron, Aub LeBard, South
   Central Los Angeles AJS and Matchless dealer who signed
   in finishing 3rd.  Rider after rider slid into the fin-
   ish and signed in.

      The official finish "window" lasted one hour from
   the time Dutch Sterner arrived.  Ninety riders were
   officially credited with finishing.  That didn't mean
   more riders weren't going to make it to the finish.
   Cats would be straggling in til midnight and after,
   some riding, some riding two up, hell, some would even
   be walking to the finish!  Arch Johnson finished 31st,
   and had to have help getting off of his bike.  He said
   that Hawley had gone down and slid into a snow drift.
   "I couldn't stop; if I had I wouldn't have been able to
   help him anyway." Don dug himself out and finally fin-
   ished 51st.  He killed the engine and rolled out of the
   "Box", with a big grin.  He didn't look beat at all.
   "Wild Man" Ed Bandini from The Yellow Jackets M/C said
   he saw Yoyo crash hard a mile or so before Holcomb
   Creek Crossing.

       After a while, Bernstein and Kertzenbalm drove up
   in the truck.  J.D. asked about Yoyo.   "He came walking
   into the Holcomb Creek gas stop holding his shoulder,
   said he had crashed and wiped out the front wheel and
   forks.  Johnny and Fat Boy are staying with him til we
   get back." We chucked the "Aeri-out" in the truck and
   Bernstein was off.

       I packed Hawley to where the station wagon was
   parked; the co-eds had no trouble at all getting a
   ride. The basic crew decided we were going home via
   Skyline Drive. I ask Dago if she were going back to
   the creek and ride home with Fat Boy. "That son'bitch
   can find his way back without me holding his hand," was
   her reply.  Amazon rode back w'@th us too., We stopped
   for dinner in Running Springs.  Dago and Amazon sat
   together in the cafe, snickerin' and giggling a lot.
   I've often wondered about their "relationship" but not
   enough to ask Dago!  I remember how she kicked the shit
   out of Yoyo, when he had romance on his mind!  If you
   ever find yourself in Running Springs, there's this
   little cafe next to the Union gas station that makes
   the best banana cream pie in the world.

     The ride back down the mountain was much more care-
 free on the southern side.  There was no ice and very
 little snow, and although the temperature was falling,
 at the moment it was warmer than it had been all week-
 end.  We rode through San Bernadino, Pamona, and
 stopped in Covina for gas.  By the time we hit Pasadena
 we had run out of adrenaline and Mission Bell.  It was
 a bit warmer in Los Angeles than when we left.  The
 co-ed that was driving pulled into the closed gas sta-
 tion and parked the wagon by the pumps.  Don was asleep
 in the back with the other young ladies.  We rode past
 them and parked in front of the "Big A".  Big John
 hadn't returned yet, so we sat on the asphalt and
 kicked back against the building.  Dago and Amazon
 dropped out when we rode through South Gate, where she
 and Fat Boy lived.  J.D. Jones was nodding off, Curley
 Cantlon and I were shuckin' when Jumpin' Joe and Big
 John rode in, John unlocked the padlock and swung open
 the door.  On went the lights and radio.  "You cats
 want a beer?" Now, that was a silly question!


    Headlamps shown through the door.  It was Berstein
 driving Don's truck.  Yoyo was sprawled in the passen-
 ger's seat.  We left the bar and gathered around.  Yoyo
 was passed out drunk.  Still in his leathers, unzipped
 and open to the waist, he clutched a plastic bag full
 of ice to his shoulder.  "I think he's got a busted
 shoulder," said Bernstein.  "We've kept him drunk so as
 to keep him quiet." Don Hawley walked up, and tossed
 me our sleeping bags.  "I hope that Okie didn't barf in
 the truck!" The plastic bag was leaking a stream of
 ice water straight over his belly and down to his
 huevos.   If he couldn't feel that, he was anesthetized!
 Hawley and Bernstein got into "Harem Hawler" and drove

      Kertzenbalm arose from the bed of the truck.  He
 had been sleeping next to the "Aeri-out".

      "Where's the Enfield?" I ask.

      Swede shook his head. "Still in the desert, man.
 The whole front end is crashed. Forks, wheel, triple
 clamp, the whole fuckin' thing, wasted!"

      "And you didn't bring it back?" I added.

      Well, as the tale did unfold, it seems Yoyo's
 "silent partner", his "sponsor", the "benefactor with
 complete faith in his riding skills", was truly a
 "silent partner", seeing as he didn't know Yoya had his
 bike!  On the Friday night before he took the week off,
 Yoyo pinched the Enfield. It seems he was helping the
 salesmen push the used bikes off the lot and into the
 service shop at closing time. Yoyo made sure the
 Enfield went into the "gunk rack" instead of being
 locked inside.  When everybody cut out, Yoyo just rode
 that sucker home.

      About this time some of the other cats started rid-
 ing in.  The radio was kickin', the beer was flowing,
 and the party was starting, serious like.  Kertzenbalm
 slipped behind the wheel and started the truck.

      "Where ya going?", asked J.D.

      "I've got to get Yoyo home and cleaned up. I'm
 going to take him into work in the morning."

      "Take him to work!?" I questioned. "Shit! This
 cat needs to be in a hospital, not a motorcycle shop,"
 I added.

      "That's the whole idea, na,-, Yoyo ain't got no
 insurance plan, so he's going to punch in, then tell
 Louie that he slipped and fell down in the gunk rack!
 That way he can get fixed up and his Workman's Comp
 will pay for it!"

      "Don't you think they're going to think it's a
 little funny, a Royal Enfield scrambler is pinched off
 the lot the day before Yoyo takes a week off, he comes
 back to work the day after the Big Bear all beat up and
 hung over, and breaks his shoulder before he even
 starts work?" Swede looked at me with his mouth open,
 and before he could say anything else I added, "When
 you get him home, look in the garage.  You'll find a
 mudguard, lights, and a license plate; you better get
 rid of them, because if Louie Thomas' mind works like
 mine, there's going to be cops out there looking around
 before noon!"

      Swede shook his head, smiled, and said, "Man, do
 you think anyone would ever believe Yoyo would ever
 Ride the Bear?" As the truck drove away, I thought,
 "Some day they're going to put a plaque on a cell at
 Lincoln Heights Jail with Yoyo's name on it." Sbit - I
 wonder what Yoyo's name is?

     Four or five riders from Gallopin' Goose came rid-
 ing in and filled up where the truck pulled out.  One
 of them was Johnny the Jug.  Sitting on the pillion,
 hanging on to one of those cheap suitcases, the kind
 you can buy in the five-and-dime that's made out of
 pasteboard, sat Meatball.  God, she looked bad, like
 someone pushed her face into a garbage disposal.  She
 turned her head away.  Both eyes were blackened, she
 had a cut on her forehead, another on her upper lip.
 Her jaw was swollen on the right side, black and blue,
 from her cheek to her chin.  I'm sure she was crying,
 but how could you tell with her eyes swollen shut?  The
 Jug helped her down and held her up, walking her to the
 can.  She left her suitcase on the Triumph's seat.  It
 slid off, and broke open on the ground.  Some of her
 stuff spilled out.  There was a chalk "Cupie" doll
 holding a feather like a fan in front of her, three or
 four pair of knickers, the pastel kind with the days of
 the week on them, a cigar box with old letters inside,
 and one of those hydrometers with a "So/no-go" gauge on

     Didn't feel much like a party anymore.  I tied my
 sleeping bag to the AJS and pumped her to life. J.D.
 was by the door, sucking on a "Red X". We waved to
 each other, I kicked into first screw and engaged the

     The Los Angeles cold was back, damp and slick, but
 the air was a bit refreshing on my face and in my hair
 Yoyo came around a few days later and everyone
 signed his cast.  He never demanded it, but he gained
 some respect after his ride.  Oh yeah, he bailed out
 this time; he didn't go to jail.  Lucky this time!

     Two years later I saw The Jug and Meatball, still
 playing house, pretty as a picture, still with all that
 "good stuff wigglin'"!
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