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Old 04-23-2010, 04:07 PM   #1
Gale B.T. OP
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Ode to old dirt, early 1950's Alabama Dirt farmers/riders

Ode to old dirt, early 1950's Alabama Dirt farmers/riders, what ever!!

In the fall of 1950 I was a junior in high school at Oak Grove High School, Oak Grove , Alabama. Yep the one that got blown totally away with the 1998 F5 tornado , all the way "away ' to Northern Georgia where actual school documents were found.

One of my football team buddies, Fred Cartee, from the Warrior River shore line dropped by the house on his 1948 Harley Davidson "74" springer. A springer was before the time of present day forks and the HD Hydra-glide.. This bike was almost brand new, buddy seat, leather panniers(bags), left hand side shift and the regular rocker clutch, NO SUICIDE CLUTCH!! Sorry , cannot find a colored picture of the original red '74. This black and white may be a rare one of my bike, followed by a picture of a blue '48 with almost exactly the same layout.




Fred and I played all sports together at Oak Grove , we were close friends. Fred informs me and my family he had joined the Marines and would like to sell me the bike with the understanding that he could buy it back on his return for the Corps.. He asked $300.00 and Dad finally agreed to loan me the money knowing full well he would be paid off one way or the other. Did I mentioned there were 4 of us boys(my poor Mother knew how to use a switch). I was the older with Larry about 2 years behind, Gary another 2 years and finally Rod, the youngest. Taking lots of pictures of things in those days was not like we enjoy now, so there are very few pictures of us boys and that bike.

Before this HD I was always into two wheels, Cushmans, then rode a Mustang which should have been outlawed. The Mustang could easily run close to 85-90 MPH but GOD forbid if you had to stop. Skidding your feet were about as effective as the brakes, THEY DID NOT EXIST, which were not up to the motor's standards, to say the least.

I am not sure about the next picture as to why we dressed the way we did but there is a story here so here goes.

Question: How many of you older type remember before goggles/eye glasses we all rode looking out the side of our eyes that were squinted almost shut to keep dirt/gravel out????????



The kid on the back is Bill Mullins of drag racing fame, I will include a link for you to enjoy a little history of one awesome top fuel driver, I am the middle kid and the front rider is a friend of ours , Ed.

Bill and I were very close, he also played football in Birmingham, Alabama and he also was into bikes before he got super involve in top fuel drag racing. This relationship goes on today and we still keep in touch, we still laugh at how lucky were were. I will not bore you with the single engine Triumph which became the twin engine bike which we put together, I rode the thing, but Bill actually raced and won with the almost "killer"!!! Read the link below for a smile or two.

http://www.dragracingonline.com/goindeep/viii_5-1.html

I graduated from Oak Grove , got a football/baseball offer to East Central Jr. College, at Decatur, Miss. The deal was a scholarship if I could make the team in August of 1952.

I loaded up the HD '74' with all my clothes , at least enough to last me to Thanksgiving weekend. Myself and another friend from Hueytown High School were riding into Decatur on two HD 74's. He was another freshman lineman that was also trying out , we rode into Decatur ready to kick ass and play ball.

Long story to short, we made the team , we were told by Coach Grace that now that we were on scholarship we could not keep the bikes on campus , so he expected us to ride them back home at Christmas time and leave them. SAD news but we agreed.

Christmas came all too fast, and so did the cool or rather kinda cold weather. Coach Grace gave us all the hoodies/sweat pants that we needed to stay warm, just bring them back after the Christmas break. I know I looked and felt like the Michelin Man, I had on 3 pair of sweat pants and 2 layers of hoodies , then my leather jacket , then another hoodie. I then slid into a light canvas one piece over suit. For the life of me I do not know where that suit went, but when I hear some of my younger brothers stories , I have a good guess. I also had an aviator type leather helmet, YEP the goggles also. Did I look the "LOOK", I guess, did I stay warm. NOT ON YOUR SWEET A$%$ OR MINE< I shit you NOT.

It was a little over 150 miles from the jr. college to our home. On reaching home I was frozen into the sitting shape, my hands would not straighten out, I could not stand straight, I managed to get the kick stand down, I hobbled into the house, Dad had the fireplace going and that is where I stayed for 3 hours. I was so damn cold I could feel each bone in my body. My flesh warmed up with the fire, but my bones were from a different body, I could actually feel my skeleton , them bones sure took a long time to come around.

I had a great two years at East Central and got a baseball scholarship to Florida State . Yep , Coach Litwhiler did not like bikes either so that HD was home with 3 younger brothers that were not very good at keeping things adjusted and serviced. I did manage to make friends with the local HD dealer, he liked baseball players, and he would loan me a bike to ride at the odd times. This pic is of me at FSU on one of his Hydra-glide. The dealer was nice enough he would allow me to ride the bike to Alligator Point to the beach on some weekends. The girls like that ride.



Now all this time the "springer"was at home in Alabama. Larry and Gary were riding the wheels off the bike and each time I get home the threads of the tires would be showing. I was poor , Vermin of Cack fame, can describe how poor us folks could be at that time in life. But to make my point, I could not afford motorcycle tires, too expensive, but I could keep fairly new car recaps on both ends!!! Yep, if one is careful and drifts the back end just a little,, them flat recaps will last a long time and they increase the pucker factor on curvy roads.

My brothers both have stories to tell, I have some pictures and Gary's experience in his own words as he rides the HD to his new football scholarship at Chardon State in Chadron, Nebraska. I must add here I was not at home when the springer was upgraded to the Hydra-glide that Gary rode to Chadron. Second brother Larry was riding the springer back from a date on the Warrior River road between Port Birmingham and our house at night. He was re-ended by an Oldsmobile and knocked asshole over teacups into the borrow ditch. He was kinda scratched up , the cage driver loaded him in the Olds and drove him home. The Olds driver offered to pay what ever was needed , he and Dad went to Houghton's bike shop in Hueytown/ Bessemer , Alabama and the '48 springer became an 1949 Hydra-glide 74 which was Gary's ride to Chadron. I have included Gary's own words and his trip out to Chadron, Nebraska.

Gary's own words: QUOTE: Mulga, Alabama to Chardon , NE on 1949 HD
It was mid August , 1955, hot as hell in Alabama. I loaded the saddle bags with jeans, t shirts, shorts and socks.

Everything went well till I got to Tupelo ,MS and I thought I was on a wide 4 lane street.

Going through town I was on the right side of a car driven by a young woman. She turned right to angle park and cut me off. The crash bar on the cycle caught her rear bumper and down we go. Everyone was just glad I wasn't injured or dead and no tickets were issued and I was allowed to continue.

The rest of the day went well and I was making good time until the sun went down. I was North of Memphis and traveling on Hyw 63 headed for Waterloo, IA. The headlight started to dim and visibility was limited to almost nothing. The roadway was cement(white) and a black tar strip down the middle. With no traffic I would turn the light off and travel in the dark, eyeball on that tar strip. When a car approached I would turn the light on and then turn it off again after it passed. I am ashamed to say that I passed cars with the lights off, I am sure I scared some people as I passed them but I didn't think too much about it at the time.

I don't remember where I finally stopped that first night , but it must have been in northern Missouri somewhere. I guess I stayed in a motel but the memory escapes me. The next morning someone told me of an old man that ran a mechanic shop out of his garage. I can't recall how I got to his place, maybe the harley still ran without lights or I pushed it. The ole fellow found the trouble right away, the left crash bar was pushed backward and pinched a hot wire between the crash bar and the frame. He took a large piece of firewood and hammered that crash bar away from the frame, repaired the wire, charged the battery until it bubbled and filled it with water. The battery was still working in that bike a year or so later when I returned to Alabama.

The second day I was headed for Stout, IA to visit a friend from my freshman year at the U of Wyoming. Stout is /was a very small town just west of Cedar Falls. When I got to the Roskamp house they were glad to see me and insisted that I eat breakfast. Mrs Roskamp scrambled eggs, cooked hashbrowns and made pancakes.. I realized how my Mom had spoiled me( I didn't like eggs)!!! That was the first eggs I had ever eaten and they were very good.

After breakfast I went south, got on Hyw 20 and headed for Chadron . The rest of the day was great until the sun went down. Remember this was 1955 , no windshield, no heated hand grips, and as stated earlier , no jacket or coat!!. By the time I go to Sioux City I was totally frozen. I went into a bar, and ordered hot coffee, the first time I ever had coffee also, GOD was I ever spoiled. I had all of my clothes on when I left Sioux Falls, socks on my hands, etc. Going across Nebraska I would slide my hand off the handle bar still cupped (frozen in place) wave at people and slide it back on the bar to continue.:)

I don't remember too much about crossing Nebraska but the morning sun was sure welcome. In Chadron I went to the college office and found out where the athletes were housed for early practice. I was in the dorm foyer getting to know fellow players and a very loud voice said " Tuggle" I replied , "yes sir" Coach Bill Baker said" You called your Mother yet???" DO IT RIGHT NOW" WELCOME TO COACH BILL BAKER.



The above is the Chadron News Paper and the picture of Gary riding in with his football uniform on. The write up in the same paper is to follow if I can made this scanner work:

Gary Tuggle
EX-OAK GROVE STAR GAINS MIDWEST FAME
Back in 1955 a Mulga , Ala., youth rode his motorcycle all the way to Chadron, Neb., to play football in a section of the country he had come to like very much.

Gary Tuggle , who graduated form Oak Grove High School in 1954, had a football scholarship to the University of Wyoming, but after the freshman year the university did not renew it.

Well, Chadron State College football coach Bill Baker "another native Southerner having graduated from Knoxville, Tenn.. High School, heard about this. He asked Gary if he like this section of the country. Gary said he did and Coach Baker told him how much he would like him to play ball for Chadron.

Coach Baker couldn't give Gary a scholarship such as was given to him by the university, but he did help Gary find a job in Chadron.
And Gary, eager to play football that 1955, rode his motorcycle all the way to Chadron . His first year he was named an ALL -Nebraska College Conference guard.

After the 1956 season he decided he wanted to get his military service out of the way , so with another Chadron player, Jim Schwartz, enlisted in the Marines.

Both of them discharged this last January and are back at school again. Coach Baker moved Gary from guard to first string quarterback running from the single wing.

So far the Chadron team this year is 2-2 in its Nebraska College Conference: 5-2 over all.



Gary rode the '49 back to the house in Alabama and Dad sold it back to the bike shop in Hueytown/ Bessemer.

I in turn in 1953 volunteered for the Marines. Our country was deeply involved in Korea , my brother Larry and I wished to become Marine pilots together. I kinda fouled that up for the two of us. I got caught early, be drafted or volunteer. The recruiting officer at Decatur knew my feelings about flying so he encouraged and enlisted me in the Marine PLC program . After boot camp on the east coast and some special camps, we had mixed emotions when the word came down that the conflict was over. We were then "over load " on the Corps and we were put into an active reserve where most of us stayed until discharged. I signed to play ball in the Western Canadian league, Larry signed to fly.

I enjoyed my time at FSU. Coach Danny Litwhiler said I was not allowed to have a motorcycle but I found a Vespa motorscooter for for $15.00 in a box. I put things together, did a little adjusting and rode that 125 MPG scooter until the the day I graduated and then sold it for $25.00. Yahooooooooo. Gas was 25 cents a gallon!!!

I graduated in 1958 with my masters, ,coached high school baseball/football in Orlando. I signed to play baseball in 1956 in the Western Canadian League with the North Battleford Beaver team. We were the Canadian team in the Global World Series that year. I then finished my playing days in Saskatoon, Sask with the Commodores. This was 1962. On my way back to Orlando, I traveled back through Colorado for a job interview at North Colorado University. I truly fell in love with the mountains of Colorado on this trip. I resigned in Orlando on my return and signed on in early spring as football coach at Bear Creek High School, Lakewood , CO.

My days of football coach did not include a bike, I missed the two wheels terribly, always begged my jocks for a ride on their bikes. These odd rides sure helped keep me sane. Football coach at Bear Creek, then Garden City Junior College in Garden City, Kansas as defensive football coach and the wrestling coach. WE enjoyed one awesome year at Garden City , I loved the people but needed those mountains again. I was then off to Pinedale, Wyoming as football and xc skiing coach.

In 1973,I took one of the most awesome jobs ever in Prince George,Bc. My assignment was to help develop the district PE program for a new challenge. Many of my Canadian friends will surely remember "Participation" where we tried and succeeded in getting Canadian kids to the fitness standards of the 60 year old Swede.

I now had time to think about a ride, 2 wheels that is. I had three friends/ neighbors , Blake and Rocky Chupa and Terry Myram, all four of us rode enduros, xc and moto cross when we could.. They got me back on two wheels, a Yamma IT 175 which I raced in the BC/ Alberta races. The four of us enjoyed many trips, practices runs, races, until 1988 when Blake, on a hunting trip, was killed when the plane crashed into the area just above Telegraph Creek, BC.





Rocky Chupa, 6 feet 4, me 5 feet 8, Blake Chupa , 6 feet 6,, fun race at McBride,BC I do not have any photos of Terry and I hope he can add to this story.

Barrier , BC 80 mile XC bike race, the start, the run for the smoke bomb and Blake and I on far right.

Blake and Rocky were both on the 1980 Canadian ISDE Team that raced in France. I was also ask to go as a support rider but the school district would not allow me to leave teaching for the two week travel. Blake and I laughed a lot about this, I think I got the offer to go only because the powers to be knew the school district would not allow me to go. LOL I still have the team jacket that I was given.

With Blake being gone, I did a few more races, especially the one and two day qualifers and gradually got more into touring on a BMW.

After these few races I then bought a used '82 R80RT which along with family as pillon, put on more than 200,000 miles on that R80. Super nice bike.

One of my most memorable trips was in 1991 when I planned to ride across Germany , Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, St Petersbury /then Leningrad, into Finland, Norway, Sweden and back to Germany. The ride was taken only a short period of time after the "wall" came down and just before the Russian coup of 1991. What a memory of events. Some pics:

[to be continued :) ]

Gale B.T. screwed with this post 04-19-2011 at 12:34 PM Reason: spelling
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Old 04-23-2010, 04:31 PM   #2
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You're my hero Gale!

Can't wait for part II.
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Old 04-23-2010, 06:48 PM   #3
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Old 04-23-2010, 07:38 PM   #4
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Old 04-23-2010, 08:01 PM   #5
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Wow, I'm feeling inadequate. I have always had some wanderlust which also led me to Colorado, but the world seems much smaller now. I can't imagine going from Alabama to Canada.
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Old 04-23-2010, 08:19 PM   #6
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For comparison, Gale in 07 with wife, Sandy. Notice, he still won't wear a helmet.

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Old 04-24-2010, 06:44 AM   #7
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Keep it coming, Gale. This is great.

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Old 04-24-2010, 07:01 AM   #8
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Gale, why do I get the feeling that you have forgotten more about life than most of us will ever know?

Can't wait for the next chapter
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Old 04-24-2010, 07:54 AM   #9
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Yeah...

Blah blah blah.

When do we get to the part about Sandy?
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Old 04-24-2010, 09:01 AM   #10
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Yeah...

Blah blah blah.

When do we get to the part about Sandy?
Good one...
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Old 04-24-2010, 09:13 AM   #11
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This has been a great read. Thanks for sharing
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Old 04-24-2010, 09:30 AM   #12
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First must thank Anomad, he is responsible for egging this on and naturally all the other ADV'ers that have made so many smiles when I have shared just part of this .

Here is the skinny, Bro Larry has his part on his desk with a couple of pics to add, Terry,racing bud in Valemount, BC has his part with some pics so that will be just stuck in when possible.

I have started on the trip in '91 to Russia. This part will be filled with things that were so "eye opening" that you will think I may be stretching the actual facts where in reality the true happenings are "way out yonder"!!!

Thanks to Mark, Duke and all for your input, will try to keep up with my appreciation to all.

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Old 04-24-2010, 09:34 AM   #13
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Old 04-24-2010, 02:02 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Coloradical
Wow, I'm feeling inadequate.
Boy, me too....but it's making me feel younger if he was a junior in high school five years before I was born in 1955


awesome stuff, Gale!
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Old 04-24-2010, 02:30 PM   #15
Gale B.T. OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blakebird
Boy, me too....but it's making me feel younger if he was a junior in high school five years before I was born in 1955


awesome stuff, Gale!
thank you , thank you , all you "youngins" are making me smile. Hayduke really has Sandy smiling .

I wanted to included a scene/pic at FSU in early May of 1956 but have not found pic yet. It is neat so will keep looking.

The scene is the main gate to the campus at FSU, there is a fountain type seating area when us jocks would sit and BS as the coeds pranced by.

This was only a few weeks until school was to be out , there were 4 of us,myself, Tom Garcia, Bob "Rosie" Rosell,and Jack Bristol, heading off to Canada to play ball, Lee Corso, now of ESPN color was heading to South Florida to play,, Dick Houser, Kansas City major league short stop/Yankee Manager, was going to play in a league around Omaha, Nebraska.

The main character in this setting was Buddy Reynolds. Buddy was an outstanding running back at FSU, was an All American in football that year(I think I have the year correct). Buddy had been in an automobile accident returning to FSU from Christmas or spring break. He had really beat himself up, busted bones, and busted spleen. This knocked him out of competitive football.

We were watching chicks and talking about what we had planned for the summer. The sharing got around to Buddy who announced" I am going to Hollywood and become an actor"!!! First there was dropped jaw silence then almost as a body of abuse, YEA SURE REYNOLDS!!!

Long story short, school started in the fall,NO BUDDY!! Stories were going around the campus, some one had seen him in a "River Boat "TV show, then as a blacksmith in GUN SMOKE.

Long story short, Burt Reynolds got the last laugh on all of us. Dick Houser signed with Kansas City, Corso went on to coach univeristy football, what was left ended up as coaches also.

Life was sweet and simple in those days, ""YEP , going to Calif to be a movie Star!!""

gale

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