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Freddy and Harley: 1922

"Fretwell, 1922." Fred "Freddy" Fretwell of Washington on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. National Photo Collection glass negative. View full size.

"Fretwell, 1922." Fred "Freddy" Fretwell of Washington on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. National Photo Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Re: Ernest Homer Fretwell Jr.

A rich, full life. Especially the monkey part.

[Really. How many pony-stomped-monkey-gifting truck-driver friends do I have? Zero. - Dave]

Ernest Homer Fretwell Jr., 1899-1966

The monkey story mentioning Edmonston -- a small community in Prince George's County, Maryland, just outside Washington -- and the fact that Freddy worked in a garage (which might be the building with the Ebonite oil sign behind him in the photo) sent me delving back into the archive.

Fred seems to have been a nickname for Ernest Homer Fretwell Jr., born in 1899. He raced motorcycles in his twenties, married a girl named Hilda, had a daughter, worked as a mechanic and kept a monkey. In the 1950s he owned a Sinclair service station on Annapolis Road in Bladensburg. He died August 24, 1966, at the age of 67, still a resident of Edmonston. Among his survivors were two grandsons, Ronald and Donald Fleshman.

Residents Are Alarmed

Washington Post, August 23, 1929.


Pet "Goes Native;" Antics
Give Birth to Tale
of "Gorilla."


A 30-pound monkey with a fierce mien has started a "gorilla" scare in East Riverdale and its environs. Children seeing the monkey have been frightened by its appearance and antics, and have helped spread tales of a ferocious gorilla.

Since its escape from the household of Freddie Fretwell, of Edmonston, several weeks ago, the monkey has made its appearance on several occasions. Once it pulled the feathers from all of the chickens in the yard of an Edmonston resident. The chicken owner attempted to capture the monkey, but refrained when he was bitten.

Size of Dog.

The simian is about the size of a dog, and has an especially ferocious appearance, aided by the long teeth it shows when attempts are made to capture it. It will accept bananas and other food, but begins to snarl when efforts are made to capture it.

The monkey has apparently "gone native," and seems to have decided on a woods near the Fretwell home as a hiding place. Two men succeeded in throwing a net over the animal but he escaped and jumped into a creek, swimming under water to the opposite side.

Monkey Is Trained.

Fretwell was given the monkey to keep by a truck driver who had bought it from a carnival. The monkey rode on a pony in the show but was injured when it fell off and was stepped on by the pony.

The monkey used to ride on his motorcycle and go to work with him, Fretwell said, and seemed to enjoy the ride. One day he became peeved and began throwing storage batteries around the garage where Fretwell works.

It was reported to Fretwell that the monkey was captured several days ago but he has been unable to find the captor. The story of the "gorilla" has spread from Hyattsville to Beltsville and through the intervening territory. The further from the source the tale is traced, the more fierce and enormous is the "gorilla."

In Love

Oh he is dreamy! If I could only go back in time.

Re: He is a hottie!

I agree ... it seems that Dave is rather parsimonious with (or oblivious to) the proper use of the Handsome Rakes tag.

[Alright. Freddy has now ascended to the ranks of Rakedom. - Dave]

Vintage machines

A Harley Davidson, and the ubiquitous Ford T in the background. I love it!

The bike has a very interesting arrangement for the chain drive. The center sprocket looks like it has a pedal attached. Do you pedal it like a bicycle to start the motor? Or that was the clutch/shifter?

He is a hottie!

Just changed my name to Harley.

Harley Smokes Indians

Fretwell Double Winner in Motor Cycle Events

The bicycle, motorcycle and automobile racing program staged by the Costello post yesterday afternoon attracted about three thousand people to the Arlington race track. Those who journeyed to Virginia side of the Potomac witnessed some fine racing as well as an excellent exhibition cavalary drill put on by Troop B of the Third U.S. calvary from Fort Myer. The Fort Myer band was also on hand to enliven things during the progress of the program. The day's card opened with a half-mile bicycle race for the D.C. championship. V. Messineo covered the dirt course in 1 minute and 19 seconds. Daly and Nigoria crossed the line second and third, respectively, while the rest of the field was closely bunched.

The first motorcycle race, a three-mile novice event, went to R. Bean riding an Indian. He covered the course at an average of 44.77 miles per hour, his time for the event being 4 minutes and 43 seconds. Charles Crawford and B. Frazier finished second and third, respectively. Both riders rode Indians.

The 10-mile motorcycle race featured the day's program. F. Fretwell, riding a Harley-Davidson, had no trouble outclassing the rest of the field. He finished a full lap ahead of R. Dean, mounted on an Indian, who in turn was two laps ahead of the other entrants. Charles Crawford, also riding an Indian, finished a poor third. Fretwell covered the 10 miles in 12 minutes 37 seconds.

The 3-mile race for the D.C. Championship was won by F. Fretwell and his Harley Davidson. Fretwell toyed with the other two entrants in this race, making the distance in 4 ½ minutes. Cy Fendall and Charles Crawford, both mounted on Indian machines, finished second and third.

In the sidecar event there were but two entrants. Both machines were of the Harley-Davidson make. Speed Connors with Kellar as a passenger did the distance in 6 minutes, 15 seconds, outclassing George Green with Karart as hi passenger all the way.

Washington Post, July 30, 1922

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