In the l 960’s, early 60’s … maybe late 50’s … Dennis Perniconi and I lived In Westchester, Illinois about 15 miles outside Chicago. Just across the bridge was Bellwood … both nice towns. During a ride into Broadview, we chanced on a couple guys out riding, and soon a conversation was struck up. One guy named Bill invited us over to his home right in town, and off we went. We had a lot to talk about concerning bikes. Before you know it, we started going over a couple times a week to just B.S. and maybe have a beer or two. “Big Don” was a buddy of Bill’s and he rode a Harley.
“Big Don” used to like beating people up… Nice guy… but that is what he liked to do. Bill was friendly. So here we are “chewing the fat” and along comes the idea … “let’s start a Club and get jackets!” Why not?
Most important things first … WHAT COLOR JACKETS? That was pretty easy … BLACK!
The.name proved much more difficult … something that would instill FEAR to anyone behind our MIGHTY BIKES!!! Now picture this: .. Big Don’s smoking Harley, my 650 Triumph that had no swing arm bushings worth talking about, and would speed-wobble at 45-mph under power, Denny had a “FEARSOME” Zundapp 250 chopper (smoke city) and Bill on his 5OOcc Matchless…
WE WERE THE “ROAD ANGELS!!”
Soon George joined our club with a really nice BSA 650 Road Rocket. It was a very nice· bike, but as we did not ride a lot, it wound up parked in Bill’s driveway most of the time anyway.
Bill’s wife was a sweetheart to all of us and allowed us to sit around, make a mess and drink a LOT of BEER! It was only after “Big Don” started taking mouthfuls of lighter fluid, lighting his lighter and spitting out the fluid into the flame ,;, and blowing up HUGE PLUMES OF FLAME … That after a half dozen tries left a great black area on the ceiling … Ethel got mad and threw the bunch of us out of the garage!
Meetings .continued a couple days a week … what did we do? NOTHING…
What rides did we do NONE.
Community projects NONE.
Anything interesting? We loved to watch “Big Don” bend beer ‘caps in half between his finger and thumb …. bored with that … “Big Don” would put out his cigarettes IN THE· PALM OF HIS HAND!
We never really got into horsepower, speeds or how many cc’s a bike had.
I am sure that many of you who grew up in the mid 60’s Were aware of the Matchless campaign to find a name for the new G50CSR “Street Bike” that would make them legal to race in the AMA. This race bred OHC 500 single, was finally named the “Golden Eagle”… You guessed It … not far down the street from a Matchless/AJS/BSA Dealer by the name of Gorge Helms, in Maywood, Illinois who was taking name entries as were all other participating dealers… Bill was up to no good.
Bill surprised us one evening when we stopped by for a “meeting”. Bill had taken his 500 Matchless and made it into a kind of Gold Eagle! A $2 gold spray cari, :and 15-mlnutes of intense work provided a work of art! Gold rims, gold tires, gold seat, gold fender, gold tank… NO MASKING … Just one-two-three … and it was DONE!
BOY WAS HE PROUD!! We kind.of rode far from him …
So much of the ·”ROAD ANGELS” for today … I’ll have to call Denny to see if he can help me recall a few more meetings … I remember a few but want to be accurate and not leave anything out …