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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • BRIDGE AT ARGENTEUIL, 1874

Motor Maid: 1962

Motor Maid: 1962

New Jersey, 1962. "People riding motorcycles, including members from various state chapters of the Motor Maids." Mom, could you drop me off a block from school? Photo by Bob Sandberg for Look magazine. View full size.

Looks a lot like my mom

Eight years after this was taken, my dad bought a 90cc Yamaha Enduro. It wasn't long before my mom was riding it. At the time, you didn't have to wear a helmet where I live, but we got one "half egg" helmet with the bike. When my dad took me for a ride or to the backroads to teach me how to ride, I wore a plastic toy racing helmet. A lot of good that would have done! After my cousin fractured his skull on his bike, I didn't go anywhere without one. I rode Enduros and a few street bikes for many years. But back to my mom. She would get together with anywhere from one to three of her friends and take off on an afternoon jaunt through the countryside, purses slung over the handlebars and scarves flying. It was quite a sight. Sometimes she would come home looking like she had ridden in the Eight Day Trials or a motocross. She can barely walk now, but still wishes she could do it again. The lady in the picture looks surprisingly like my mom at that time, including the "cateye" glasses. By the way, I would have been embarrassed to be hauled around on a motorcycle by my mom. It was bad enough in a car. But that's the way it was back then. Looking back though, I think it' pretty neat remembering my now 77 year old mom riding a motorcycle with her little "gang".

Skid Lid

The helmet may seem inadequate but, in 1962, that was a typical style. There were no Darth Vader, full coverage, DOT approved helmets. The bike is a Harley Davidson, probably a Big Twin, 74 cubic inch model. There were no electric starters at that time, so Mom had to kick her hog to get it going. Not really that hard, if you know the trick. I thought my mom was cool because she could back up a trailer, but this lady trumps her - and she's way cute.

Good for her

The lady definitely has a handle on things. She's wearing pretty good riding gear, and the bike appears to be a dressed Harley-Davidson Big Twin, near as I can tell; not a beginner's ride in 1962. Her son is wearing a heavy jacket, and from the way that he's sitting, seems to be used to riding. I'm sure he looked forward to his envious classmates seeing him dropped off at school.

Cool mom

I think it'd have been "Mom, could you take me to school on the motorcycle?" - pride, not embarrassment.

For 1962, she's surprisingly safely dressed - helmet (albeit not a good one), heavy jacket, gloves, presumably long pants and boots - though that may all have been weather related. Actually, she's more appropriately dressed than the vast majority of the riders I see in Texas now.

Maybe Dropped Off At School?

I think it depends on the neighborhood whether he wants mom to drop him off at school or not. I could definitely have wanted mom -- bless her, she never was a motorcycle momma -- to drop me right in front at a couple of schools I went to.

"Did you see that, Sparky?"

"What?"

"The new kid's mom is in a motorcycle gang! Guess we shouldn't repeat that wedgie at recess today!"

Mom, please --

Can I have a helmet too?

I'd have expected

The Motor Maids to have had a rule about wearing a helmet properly, not just as a fashion accessory. I trust she never had to test it for real.

 
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