Nicknames in Harley Davidson History: "Flying Freddie," "Willie the Wino" and "The Georgia Peaches."
Nicknames are as much a part of the history of Harley Davidson as "Willy G" himself. And Harley riders today are replete with them. At the HD Museum in Milwaukee, there is an exhibit display that states, "Here are ... patches and pins featuring nicknames and logos, linking each club to its unique hometown characteristics." My recent tour of the museum revealed the following nicknames.
For those of you who enjoy the old hill-climbing races during the 1920's, there was the indefatigable George "Flash" Flauders. Not a lot of guesswork in his nickname, and he likely earned that label for all the right reasons.
Then there were "The Georgia Peaches," a nickname that sounds more like a set of twins serving food at an Atlanta Hooters. In 1927, two women, Vivian Bales & Josephine Johnson, rode Harley motorcycles 300 miles from Albany, Georgia to St. Petersburg, Florida. Vivian was 18. And the newspapers all across the country nicknamed Vivian "The Enthusiast Girl." In 1926 she purchased a Model B single, her first Harley-Davidson motorcycle. As legend has it, Bales taught herself to ride. Later on, Bales decided to trade her Single for a 1929 45 Twin D model, which she frequently described as a "real honey." She was only 5 feet 2 inches and 95 pounds, and she unable to kick-start the bike on her own. The first 98 pound weakling? Hardly. No electric start back in the day.
And what about the truly legendary Leslie "Red" Parkhurst. According to the Parkhurst Family web page:
"At 6 feet four inches, Leslie "Red" Parkhurst was a lanky youth who won his first motorcycle race at the tender age of 13. His nickname derived from his thick mane of hair. He seemed unafraid of the possible consequences to motorcycle racing and was suited to the times, in the same way that Theodore Roosevelt was to the White House of that age."
Makes sense; no biggie. But it gets better.
"On April 20, 1915, at a track in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, "Red" Parkhurst rode a motorcycle 150 miles for two-and-a-half hours. For the last 50 miles of that race, he held the fuel tank of his Harley-Davidson in place with his knees, achieving 83 miles-per-hour. This was at a time when the fastest Indy racecars were lucky to hit 66 miles-per-hour." This dude put the "Red" in Red Bull. And "Red" was an essential member of the Harley team back then that established forever itself the nickname of the "The Wrecking Crew."
Harley rider nicknames are not limited to the U.S. There was the famous English racer, F.W. "Flying Freddie" Dixon, who also rode Harley's in the 1920's.
And last, but certainly not least, there was Willie "Wino" Forknetz – a founding member of The Boozefighters Motor Club, in California back in 1947. No imagination needed for his nickname.
Do you ride a Harley? If so, stop by and visit me at the nickname booth at the Wine & Harvest Fest in Cedarburg next Saturday or Sunday, the 17th and 18th, and tell me your nickname story. Mention this blog post, and pick up a free nickname t-shirt.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by John Leaf
Published Dec. 17, 2011
Here at the end of 2011, it's time to wrap up the nickname blog.
Published Dec. 10, 2011
Boy's high school hockey in Wisconsin is well underway, and the players are already putting the biscuit in the basket, and lighting the lamp. They may are also developing some nicknames, not unlike some of those that have come from the NHL.
Published Dec. 4, 2011
Does the new Big 10 Championship football game need an ongoing nickname? I think so.
Published Nov. 26, 2011
In these economically challenging times, have you ever thought about robbing a bank?
Published Nov. 19, 2011
For most of my adult life, I've had great admiration for the American Indian, and I still do a lot of reading about them. Turns out, Native Americans had a lot of nicknames, too.
Published Nov. 12, 2011
NASCAR is packed with nicknames. Here are some that might rev your engine. Or something like that.
Published Nov. 5, 2011
Ever think about the possibility of nicknames in other countries and cultures? Probably not. But only a myopic dingbat would think that there is something uniquely American about nicknames.
Published Oct. 29, 2011
Hollywood's expression of the local fire house and nicknames came to us 20 years ago, with the movie Backdraft. Nicknames were a point of connection in that movie.
Published Oct. 22, 2011
Nothing stirs John Leaf's cocoa more than a name like the "Banana Slugs" from the University of California - Santa Cruz, or even better, the Macon "Whoopee" from Macon, Ga.
Published Oct. 15, 2011
Do you and your honey have a nickname for one another? These couples certainly do.