Traveling Short-Coupled on a Single

How two college boys rode away from dull care on a 30.50 single and little money

By Henry Plaisance, Photography by Henry Plaisance

That evening Aristide and I were the guests of Mr. Carl Knuth who took us visiting to a local park zoo, The Schlitz Brewery, and many other interesting places about the city. We visited the motorcycle shop of Carl’s brother, Mr. Bill Knuth, and here met with a live bunch and indulged in a big heap of some more motorcycle gossip. That same night we witnessed a beautiful display of fireworks at the lake-front. This time our bed was the soft beach sand with newspaper linings under our canvas and the side of a bathhouse for a windbreak. It proved to be a more comfortable night than the previous one.

Another night and we were spectators at the night speedway races at West Allis Speedway, where we saw many brilliant performances. These short-tracks of the Northern and Eastern circuits are different from our Southern and Pacific Coast tracks, the former being all cinder while the latter are dirt. The cinder tracks are somewhat slower than the others, but are in harmony with safer riding, and altogether afford a more spectacular show, action and showmanship being there in full. We two youngsters next steered toward one of our principal objectives-The World’s Fair at Chicago. There in the heart of the metropolis, we could find no babbling brooks, haystacks, or deserted barns, so the two skinflints had to dig out six whole dollars for the three night’s hotel fare-My! What a bite out of our pocketbooks!

Our three day Fair visit was “just crammed” full of enjoyable visits to all of the more important exhibits and several of the side attractions including a motor drome. We were deeply impressed by the Adler Planetarium.

The following Saturday we were back at West Allis Speedway near Milwaukee to witness dirt track races which included the three-mile national championship. We saw some of America’s most prominent racing stars in action. Also, we learned of the results of the Badger Derby Endurance Run and found that both first and second places had been taken by singles. Ours was not the only pea-shooter doing remarkable deeds. We spent some time viewing the exhibits of the Wisconsin State Fair, of which the dirt track races were a part.

The next morning we stopped in at a Fun du Lac motorcycle shop and became acquainted with Ray Tursky, a local dealer, who only one week later was to win the “Jack Pines” national championship endurance run. The champion spent quite a while helping us choose a scenic route through the land of lakes and forests in Northern Wisconsin.

Our route took us right through the Menominee Indian Reservation, where only a short time before the gangster, Dillinger and his gang sought refuge. Keshena Falls proved to be a worthwhile sight. There we met a motorcyclist who was employed in the Forestry Service. He offered to show us around to Smoky Falls. A toll of ten cents per person was collected by an old Indian guard.

“Friends of mine, y’u know-Inspectors from Washington,” said our motorcyclist pal to the guard as introduction for us, and we were admitted before we realized what it meant or caught the humor of the situation. Just a few miles further we visited the Dells of the Wolf River which afforded one of the most pleasant scenes of this section.

Our route took us through Eagle River, Iron Mountain and into Sault Sainte Marie. Meanwhile the weather was getting colder and colder with frost at nights. We had planned to have a few enjoyable swims in the North Wisconsin Lakes, but now the sight of one alone was enough to make us shudder. We were compelled to wear every bit of our clothing and were still shivering. We hit on the idea of tying up our feet in paper bags at night, but somehow this didn’t do nearly as good as a steam radiator would have. I could think of my heavy leather clothing packed away down in Louisiana, and then shiver the harder for it. What creature from the Sunny South would think of having a frost on a night in August even in this latitude? We had to live and learn.

At Sault Sainte Marie are the largest locks in the world. We spent quite a long while watching the large vessels being taken through. We ferried across to Canada and passed through the customs house and were met on the other side by Motorcyclist Ed Young who made us feel at home from the start.

By Henry Plaisance
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