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Old June 8th, 2005, 03:49 PM   #1
The Forum Wrench
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The 60's

Shifting gears for Thirty years
By Jim Turner

Quote:
It was summertime, 1968. In the spring I had been transferred back to San Francisco as Manager of the Advertising sales office of Petersen Publishing. I brought with me a brand new Suzuki 250, which, in those days, was a big deal.

I didn't know it at the time but my old pal Charlie Stuart, who was then Advertising Manager for the Bank of America, was a motorcycle nut with an impressive collection of old and new two-wheeled machinery. Over a few hundred drinks one night, we both discovered that we liked the scooters. What we didn't like was having to hide out under a cloak of respectability just because we actually rode those nasty things. The 'beards' and 'long hairs' across the bay had really given the whole trip a bad name. The Hell's Angels national headquarters was in Oakland, and between the gang fights and the rapes they rode into, there wasn't much reason to brag about having a real motorcycle. And wearing a helmet? Hey, that was strictly for wimps.

The more we talked about it the madder we got. So we ordered a couple more rounds of courage and decided we should think about starting our own club. The irrepressible Bruno Michetti worked for me then and a couple days later we invited Charlie and Bryce Schuller to come over to the office. Our offices were on the third floor of what used to be a whorehouse in the old International Settlement. Appropriately, we enticed our fellows by promising to show a dirty flick, which Bruno borrowed, from some off-color friend.

We all gathered early one evening and started in on the bottle of whiskey that I'd spotted in the middle of the table. After watching the flick for ten minutes or so we decided it was a little slow for our level of appreciation, so we canned the celluloid and concentrated on the booze. By the time we got down to the bottom edge of the label we decided to form a respectable motorcycle club as an antonym to the Hell's Angels. Even though things got a little bleary before too long, we named the club right then. Bruno took notes. The next day we couldn't read them. I figured he had taken them in Italian shorthand. Turned out he just had trouble writing while his head was facedown on the paper. The next guy in the newly formed, but not yet chartered club, was Jerry Danford. He broke his leg on the very first ride and it healed shorter than the other one. He spent most of his time thereafter going around in circles. Then he disappeared into the east. He was a radio guy. That might explain it.

Well, the word got around the way it does - from one jail cell to the next - and before we knew it, we had a whole bunch of guys who qualified for membership in this new, elite brotherhood. We never dreamed that it would become a sisterhood as well. In those days, nobody knew a lady who would throw her leg over something hot and throbbing, in public, so we rolled along gathering a batch of high achievers who were on the management ladder of their companies. We wore helmets, the reward for which lies in the fact that most of us are still around. We wore suits. We conducted our business in a semi-civilized manner. Yeah, well, we drank a little.

After the original five, the pack grew quickly as guys came out of the closet. I think Alan Schultz and Gene Chaput were first to rev up. And, in short order, Bob Hilton, Tom Hall, Bill Bremer and Chet Patterson piled-on. Pretty soon it was out of control. We had to do it right. Tom designed our logo and painted all the helmets. Our 'mark' was soon seen all over town.

I had written some bylaws based on those of the San Francisco Advertising Golf Association. It seemed appropriate. They also drank a little. In early 1969, Bremer took the fragmented club documents and got us legally organized. We got all kinds of publicity and suddenly there was a certain celebrity to our group. Shortly, we got an application letter from Malcolm Forbes, the highly publicized but only occasional Harley rider, complete with a dues check. I turned him down because we felt he just wanted us to give him credibility. We were pure!

That December we had our first black-tie dinner dance. In the stupor of the evening, when wise decisions are always made, we challenged each other to a black tie ride the following morning. A tradition was born. The rest is both history and history in the making. All, well almost all, of our activities were faithfully recorded on film by the inveterate Tom Hall. The tales are endless and get better with age. The rides are legendary. The memories are vivid and unforgettable. And, some of the pack are gone, but will never be forgotten.

Ride on Charlie Stuart. Ride on Phil de Roulet. Ride on Bob Spackman and Bob Batchelor. Wait for us at the great 'watering hole' in the sky. We'll all be there, soon.
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