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Old 01-24-2011, 03:57 AM   #1
pilo OP
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Does anyone remember Larson (Larsen?) Leathers in Southwestern VA

In the early 90's I was in school at VA Tech and my buddies and I made more than one trip to Larson's mostly for entertainment but we bought a few things as well (at least I did). The leather shop was in his house and his house was also located on his Christmas tree farm.

As you drove to the house on the long driveway I remember multiple signs with odd ball sayings on them.

Does anyone remember some of the things written on the signs? I'm writing a book and Larson's is one of the chapters, but for the life of me I can't remember any of the specific sayings. Any help in recollection would be appreciated.

A few years ago I heard that he had died and I wondered what ever happened to that place. It certainly was an experience going there.
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Old 01-24-2011, 10:32 AM   #2
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I can't remember any of the sayings on the wall but I'm still wearing the leather jacket I bought there in 91.

Unique guy. Unique place. Leather shop/tree farm.
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Old 01-24-2011, 11:56 AM   #3
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Pilo,

I was just checking news on the Southwest forum and saw your post. Larsen Leathers - that's a name I haven't heard in awhile. I don't remember the sayings, but I can check with Pat. I think he took me there one of the times. I will look for some ads around here too. Seems like he had an ad in the trading post. Maybe someone is still selling trees and/or leather there. If I can find directions, maybe the signs are still there.

NX
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Old 01-24-2011, 12:43 PM   #4
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Sure... stopped by there a couple of times. Bought an old flat-tracker's Bates leather suit. Wish I still had it. Farm was on the way to my ex-in-laws (Hiwasee mailing address). Haven't been back there in ages, but I did inquire a few years back and heard it was long gone. Not confirmed...

He had a LOT of leather goods, including good selection of used stuff. Great fun...
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Old 01-25-2011, 01:03 PM   #5
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I too graduated from VA Tech back in 1992. Bought a leather jacket from this guy in either 1989 or 1990 to ride my first street bike, a Kawasaki EX500. I remember it being a very peculiar place. Is he still in business?
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Old 01-25-2011, 05:11 PM   #6
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Yeah I rode into Larsen Leathers once back in 82 I think. I saw the ad somewhere like in Cycle News East. Pulled into a christmas tree farm up to an unusual house. Door was open. I walked in, looked at the leathers. Called out for the owner. Looked around some more. Finally I left. Never did see anyone. Yeah I remember the signs but...
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Old 01-25-2011, 11:55 PM   #7
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It was definitely a place out of the movies. My wife still has a couple of used jackets I bought from that place. It was a two for one sale or something if I remember.

On a similar note for the early 90's VA Tech'ers. There was a guy outside of town named "Ollie' who had a machine shop in his house and a bunch of weird motorcycle and bicycle creations. He had an MX bike with a single sided swingarm front suspension. He welded up a couple of things for me and always reeked of pot. Everytime we were there he asked us to go riding with him and every time we turned him down. The rumor was that he was blazing fast but would get way ahead of everyone and turn around and come back down the trail full speed and cause a head-on. Urban legend and all that...

Curious if anyone else remembers Ollie. I know NXDirtbag will.
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Old 01-26-2011, 06:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pilo View Post
It was definitely a place out of the movies. My wife still has a couple of used jackets I bought from that place. It was a two for one sale or something if I remember.

On a similar note for the early 90's VA Tech'ers. There was a guy outside of town named "Ollie' who had a machine shop in his house and a bunch of weird motorcycle and bicycle creations. He had an MX bike with a single sided swingarm front suspension. He welded up a couple of things for me and always reeked of pot. Everytime we were there he asked us to go riding with him and every time we turned him down. The rumor was that he was blazing fast but would get way ahead of everyone and turn around and come back down the trail full speed and cause a head-on. Urban legend and all that...

Curious if anyone else remembers Ollie. I know NXDirtbag will.
ahhh yes...the fine Good Reverend Ollie. I met him when Holiday Ford had a Suzuki M/C dealership and I was wrenching there many years ago. I could tell some stories, but children might read this forum

He built the first super motard before the term existed. If my alcohol and drug addled memory serves me right, it was a Suzuki enduro with a RM370 topend, lights, RD350 yamaha disc brake front end, road racing tires. This would have been "77 or so.

He was SE enduro champ for many years, great wrench, even better machinist.

I remember Larson's leathers, I wrenched on some of his bikes for leather trades, main one I remember was a Suzuki GS850.

BTW, another inmate, tootallbob(?) lives in C'burg and was around then. He should have a better memory than me
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norton73 screwed with this post 01-26-2011 at 06:43 PM
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Old 01-28-2011, 11:26 AM   #9
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Ah yes, I remember Ollie. He had the xr200 motor fit to the cr125 frame and had the single sided front suspension. I was at a motocross race in Wythville one time when he raced in the 90's with this bike. By looking at it, you wouldn't think he would make one lap around the track, but he was crazy fast on it and the bike handled "for him" amazing. He also claimed you could ride from Blacksburg to the New River all off-road, on trails. I was scared to go riding with him based on the urban myth already mentioned, but I really wanted him to show me those trails. Most of it is probably gated and private now.

He also built that bicycle that simulated walking. That was a crazy looking thing.

Pilo, I found a link that showed Bill Larsen passed away:
"Mention Bill Larsen’s name and
people recall a Christmas tree farm like no other with its
witty Burma Shave signs and leather motorcycle gear
for sale.
Bill Larsen’s passion was land and wildlife
conservation. When he died of cancer in 2001, his
57-acre farm and other assets went into a trust to be
managed by his friends who had worked for him
trimming his trees and caring for his land."

NX


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Old 01-28-2011, 12:23 PM   #10
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I hate to post stuff like this, but...

I hate to keep posting stuff like this, but I found this on the web...

"Oliver Hoyt McKagen, III, 59, of Blacksburg, died Wednesday, April 28, 2004"
http://obituaries.roanoke.com/obits/...&pg=4&id=15132
Hoyt had been battling cancer for some months. He never mentioned to me that he was having any health problems at all. He regularly
monitored RMD and helped me a lot with getting my vintage Maico's suspension in tip top shape.
Cards [were] sent to Best Motorcycle Repair, 3676 Old Creek Rd., Blacksburg, Virginia 24060
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Old 01-28-2011, 02:56 PM   #11
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I remember Ollie. He was definately a good dirt rider and quite the character. Rode with him a couple of times in the woods around the Hiawasee paint mines. He had a reputation for being a little wreckless and some people didn't like to ride with him but he was a good guy. He rode a Honda XR200 with an Ollie special single shock front end, worked very well for him.

Went to his house a few times and he had all sorts projects in his shop. I remember an XR200 engine with a rotary valve head he had on the bench, don't know if it ever ran.

Larson's Leathers was unique for sure. I still have a jacket I got there. After he died they sold off the remaining stock. My wife and I went and bought a jacket for her and looked all around the house. There were jackets and boots in all the rooms and closets everywhere in the house.

One of my wife's co-workers from the post office lived in the house with his wife and kids after Larson's death.
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Old 04-25-2011, 09:50 AM   #12
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Bill Larsen

I remember Bill Larsen. I went to Radford back in the early 80's and used to ride an old Triumph Bonnie back then. Bill ran that combo x-mas tree leather store out of his funky octagonal house on top of the hill on his farm there in Floyd County. He was a heck of a nice guy. Used to stop in there every now and then if I was riding that way. I don't remember any of the sayings on those signs going in to his place. I got a couple really cool fringed biker jackets for myself and my first wife (then girlfriend). I still have mine (jacket not the wife), and a pair of old engineer boots I got from him via the mail after moving away. He was a really nice and interesting old guy. Heard he passed away in 2001 from cancer.
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Old 04-25-2011, 03:00 PM   #13
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Hoyt is how I knew him, through caving circles, in which he was very active - and often controversial. We did a big cave trip with him once and he was a maniac - very fast moving through difficult, challenging terrain. Interesting character. I questioned his impressive level of physical fitness at one point, and he explained that he also rode mx. That definately explained it


I was sorry to hear he had died a couple of years later. IIRC he had not too long ago married a Russian woman, and was very happy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nxdirtbag View Post
I hate to keep posting stuff like this, but I found this on the web...

"Oliver Hoyt McKagen, III, 59, of Blacksburg, died Wednesday, April 28, 2004"
http://obituaries.roanoke.com/obits/...&pg=4&id=15132
Hoyt had been battling cancer for some months. He never mentioned to me that he was having any health problems at all. He regularly
monitored RMD and helped me a lot with getting my vintage Maico's suspension in tip top shape.
Cards [were] sent to Best Motorcycle Repair, 3676 Old Creek Rd., Blacksburg, Virginia 24060
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Old 04-26-2011, 08:38 PM   #14
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Both of those guys were extreme characters for sure. Perfect for a book, hmmm.

Thanks for the further insight guys.
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Old 05-01-2011, 12:05 PM   #15
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just checking in to say we were talking about Larsen's not to long ago.
World needs more characters.
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