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About The Moron Behind The Madness

About HDhistory.com
Ken aka “Hook”

Someone suggested I write an “about”  page to give the site credibility, I on the other hand dispute that theory. Do people really want to know why this site is here? I’ve always had the impression that someone would have put one up sooner or later. And wow…look at that. When I originally put this site up there were less than 5 website sites that tackled the history of the company, now it seems like any motorcycle website dedicated to HD or not has to include a timeline of the company.

Growing up in a small town of 11,000 in the 60’s, you didn’t see a lot of Harley-Davidson bikes if any. It was the time of the Japanese invasion and everyone and their brother had a Honda. Of course in a town that size, there weren’t a lot of Hondas either. Then one day in 1969 my neighbor Charlie Guick who was a mechanic at the local Ford dealership brought something home in the back of a battered shop truck. It was big, it was fat, it had an olive drab paint scheme and black forks and it sounded like nothing I had ever heard. As it turns out it was a military surplus Harley that someone ran into a pole necessitating the fork change. The man needed the transmission in his pickup fixed and was flat broke, but Charlie convinced the service manager that he would cover the cost of the repairs if he could take the bike in trade, and a deal was struck.  The neighbors complained it was noisy, the kids rode bicycles from all over town to get a look at it…because it was just cool. And this kid weaseled and cajoled as many rides on the back of it as he could, and was never the same.

I started out like most kids, mini bikes, dirt bikes, beater Japanese bikes. My first real street bike was a Kawasaki 500 triple. My dad used to make fun of me and ask if I was taking that Polish bike the Kawaski for a spin. Yeah dad was a real card, I miss him. In the back of my mind there was only one bike to have, but finding one, and it being in my minimum wage price range was like finding the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It wasn’t until my early 30’s when I’d just sold a pretty rough Pontiac GTO that my chance came. A friend of a friend knew a guy who knew someone that was selling a bike to upgrade to a station wagon. Upgrade is not the word I’d use when going from a Harley to a station wagon, but when you find out your girlfriend is pregnant with twins I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. I parted with the cash, he parted with the bike, and both were happy, although I suspect I got the better end of the deal when years later I ran into the same guy who was now paying out buckets of cash in alimony and support.  So, the bike….ahhh yes…the bike. A metallic blue iron head sportster with a kick like a mule. I’m just lucky I worked at a bench during the day because many was the time she threw my knee out trying to get her started.

They say there are two types of riders, those that have crashed, and those that will. I found out the hard way that it’s not a reflection of your skills or stupidity, sometimes bad luck just happens. I was hit from behind by a drunk driver and the last thing I remember was flying forward over the bars thinking “this is gonna hurt” but in all honesty I never felt a thing. It wasn’t until a few days later laying in a hospital bed that I began to feel pain, and the worst came long after I left the hospital. I was lucky in a huge way, although I had a broken back, I would recover slowly but the trauma of the accident set off an illness in me that prolonged the recovery by two years. The lucky part was that there was serious doubt about me ever being able to walk normally again, by the time I was able to walk again without a limp, I wanted a bigger bike, and I got it.

But, I’m skipping something here so I need to back track. While I was laid up I had befriended other bikers on this new fangled interwebs thing. And because I had so much time to kill I put up a website on Geocities (see my fantastic banner below) where I generally posted anything about bikes.  It was then that someone in the V.B.M.O. (Virtual Biker Motorcycle Organization) suggested that because I was good at looking things up and loved history that maybe I should put together a website outlining the timeline of the Harley-Davidson Motor Co. The first incarnation went up on Geocities before moving to www.stroked.virtualave.net under the name Stroked and Bored, but later changed to The Little Shack That Could in honor of the humble beginnings of the Motor Co. or MOCO as most people call it. The site was a hit and I got email after email of people wanting to put their banners up on my site and I figured “wow, this is cool” course I had no idea then that I should have been asking to be paid for promoting these businesses.  As I got better and better I moved away from the website and started living again and the site was more or less forgotten until one day I got an email from someone saying they did a search on Harley-Davidson history and that next to the MOCO I was the highest ranked source on Google. The kicker to that was….the email was from The Discovery Channel, and they were preparing to do a piece on Harley-Davidson’s then upcoming 100th anniversary, and they were picking my brain for names of people I thought they should talk to.  I sent off a reply with a list of folks and received a nicely worded “Thank You” and that was the last I heard of it. It wasn’t until West Coast Choppers had their show on Discovery that something clicked, peppered through the episodes were these little sound bites they called “factoids”. I won’t claim to have coined the term, as that belongs I think to Norman Mailer who married Marilyn Monroe, but I did adopt it after continually having to configure connectoids in a piece of software that drove me nuts.  So all through my original website from 1999 were these little factoids filled with trivia. Yep, that’s my claim to fame….spiffy huh?

Anyways, the site languished for a few more years as I was busy having a life until one day I was showing it off to someone and realized how dated it looked. Now here I am trying to get my butt back in the game of putting everything together, learning all the latest doodads and whatnots that make a website fly. So much has changed since 1999 and I don’t mean technology either. The Motor Co. has gone through so many changes, heck…Willie G just retired! Now I feel old 🙂  Fuel injection, computers, water cooling….so much has changed. Bikers on tv, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and soccer moms all riding Harleys. And before anyone thinks I’m throwing my hands up in despair over the trendiness of owning a Harley…I’m not. Sure there will be many who buy one as an investment, a nod to their youth, or just to be cool, but in doing so….some…..some will find themselves, and find the freedom of expression they’ve never had, and that’s peace of mind that you can’t put a price tag on and shouldn’t be reserved for a select few who consider themselves the ones that carried the brand on their backs for decades when it wasn’t considered cool to be a “biker”. We live and die for freedom, and the brand of bike we choose to ride is part of that freedom.

Technology and history go hand in hand, and while I fill the site with as much history as I can dig up, technology keeps changing. So for now as far as history goes, I’ll leave it at the introduction of the V-Rod. There is so much history to be told, that keeping up with both the past, present and future is near impossible.  It’s easy to get headline news and post it, but everything I was seeing was localized, ie: to North America, Europe, South America etc. I wanted to  post news headlines from around the globe, and not just major headlines, but the interesting stories, the lifestyle stories that happen daily around the world, people whose lives are being changed, people being remembered, people being hailed as heroes even if posthumously. I would love to find someone really in tune with the events and culture in other continents to help contribute, so if you’re out there….I’m waiting.  So much to do, so little time to do it…. and spring is here, and the riding is great.

Geocities Hook's Hole Banner 1999