Tales from the Morgue: Motorcycle club is a 'go'

2014-01-31T13:00:00Z Tales from the Morgue: Motorcycle club is a 'go'Johanna Eubank Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 31, 2014 1:00 pm  • 

When one thinks of hobbies for the year 1914, motorcycles is probably not the first hobby that comes to mind, except of course, for motorcycle enthusiasts.

As soon as the motorcycle was invented, riders were ready to go and mothers were screeching, "Over my dead body, if not yours!" If leather chaps and jackets hadn't been made already, the motorcycle would have inspired their design.

Almost immediately, enthusiasts sought out one another and formed clubs. The first commercial motorcycles likely came about in the 1880s, but Tucson's club formed a wee bit later.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 1914:

MOTORCYCLE CLUB IS A "GO" WITH 13 RIDERS
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Walter Johnson Chosen President, Highfill Secretary and Russell Captain; Members Accept Invitation to Phoenix
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With thirteen members, the Tucson Motorcycle club organized last evening at a meeting held at the Russell bicycle shop. The plans of the organizers contemplate affiliation with the National Federation of American Motorcyclists later.

The meeting was an enthusiastic one and the riders present were all of the opinion that the meeting last evening was but the start of a permanent organization with a large membership which would advance the motorcycle game in Tucson and southern Arizona.

The club elected officers as follows: Walter Johnson, president; Ernest Highfill, secretary and treasurer; Charles Russell, captain. Mr. Johnson is the only resident member of the Federation of American Motorcyclists and has been instrumental in getting organization literature and getting the club started. He is very popular with riders generally and his election was a compliment to his work in getting things started.

Ernest Highfill is a well known motorcycle booster and has perhaps done as much for the game as anybody in Tucson. Charles Russell, captain, is known as a nervy rider and is ready to be in on anything and the members believe that he is the man for captain of the club.

The club decided to accept the invitation of the Phoenix club and make the run to Phoenix Admission day, February 14. They will start Saturday morning and will be met by the Phoenix bunch at Chandler, and after having a good time in Phoenix will return Sunday afternoon.

The membership includes the following: Walter Johnson, Ernest Highfill, Charles Russell, Thomas A. Pugh, Norman A. Wallace, Paul Johnson, James A. Sullivan, Wm. Hoyt Cole, Maurice L. Moran, Harry L. Johnson, Harry Carlson, Ralph A. Wetmore and Dr. Charles Meserve.

An active canvass will be started for more members. The dues and membership will be the same as the Federation of American Motorcyclists, and the plan of the leaders is an early affiliation with the national organization.

The new club was good news to the Phoenix club, which had some lofty plans.

From the Star, Thursday, Feb. 5, 1914:

PHOENIX RIDERS HEAR OF NEW CLUB
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Will Meet Local Motorcycle Men at Chandler on February 14
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Phoenix motorcyclists welcome the organization of the Tucson Motorcycle club and the promise of its early affiliation with the Federation of American Motorcyclists. They will meet the Tucson riders in the sociability run to the capital on February 14 at Chandler.

Phoenix sport writers are pointing out the impetus which will be given the Borderland route by the two motorcycle clubs, and show how much may be done by the two clubs in advertising the proposed relay race from New York to Los Angeles.

The addition of the Tucson club to the ranks of the F. A. M. will mean much for the organization. The Yavapai club of Prescott has lately become affiliated with the national league of riders. The total membership of the country-wide body of pop-pop riders is now more than 25,000. This year's second annual San Diego-Phoenix race will again be conducted under a sanction from the national organization. Last year every member of the Phoenix Motorcycle club who took part in the race joined the national society before starting on the long desert grind.

There are currently several motorcycle organizations in the Tucson area and many are known by their community service projects. The Morgue Lady recently came across local members of Bikers Against Child Abuse, an organization she hadn't known of before.

As a mother, the Morgue Lady appreciates motorcyclists who protect their heads with helmets and their limbs with leather jackets and chaps or at least with heavy jeans to limit the skin damage if the unthinkable happens. When she sees a helmetless rider or one in shorts and T-shirt, she cringes.

The Arizona Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs at azcmc.com seems like a good place to start for anyone who wants to check out local organizations.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About this blog

Tales from the Morgue is a way for the Star to share stories from the treasure trove of information held in its old files.

Johanna Eubank, aka the Morgue Lady, was a research assistant in the Star Library - also known as News and Research Services - for 18 years before becoming an online content producer. She has had her share of sneezing fits after digging into dusty old files, so she's sure to find a few old stories to re-examine.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail jeubank@tucson.com.

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