Californians Frolic At Mariposa

The Valley Bunch Have a Swell Gypsy Tour as Guests of “Peggy” and as Usual They Took the Town and Had a Wonderful Time

By Joseph Pancoast

From the July 1926 issue of Motorcyclist magazine

Merced, Cal., June 20. -Mariposa, the historical town, whose history supplies the hair-raising material for many pioneer stories, was chosen for our Fourth Annual Gypsy Tour.

“Somethin’ kind o’ queer ‘bout tuday,” said old Nugget Pete. “Don’t like th’ feel o’ th’ air somehow. Um-pu-too!” (spitting about a pint of tobacco juice several yards).

“Don’t caly-ate she’s any dif-front then most days. Jus as quiet as ever ‘twas,” retorted Pick-Handle Jake. “Um-pu-too!” (And thus the dust, was fairly well settled for a few square yards.)

“Now in ‘74 I recall th’ time when-What’s ‘at? Thunder? Nope.” Both were now cupping their ears to the distant but ever increasing roar, that came from somewhere to the southwest. Br-r-r-r, Roar, Br-r-r-r, one second it was loud, then faint, only to come back louder than ever.

Pop, Bang, R-rrrr, it came again and both Nugget Pete and Pick-Handle Jake sprang to their feet, ready to warn the town to shut the bandit doors (*) when who should loom up over the hill but Bud Johnson, State Traffic Officer of Mariposa, closely followed by about 150 motorcycles. This explains the roar that so startled our pair of “Rips.”

After the complete surrender of the town, we had lunch in some of the local restaurants and the fun began. One of these places, run by a very old Chinaman, served “loose pork.” Much fun was derived from this joke and I do believe that the laugh saved many a diner indigestion, due to that fact.

E. Pagnini, better known as Peggy, local Harley-Davidson dealer, promoted the run and was given the use of the streets and Masonic Hall for the doings.

Buster Taylor, of Los Angeles, was the official announcer and I might say that he knows his stuff.

There were foot races for local children, motor riders and girls and for a novelty Peggy had a very low-geared bike to hold a speed contest.

The course was a straight distance of one block against time. All that was needed was revolution, for the minute you passed a certain speed, your feet flew off the pedals. As Buster Taylor would say, “Just as she’s arcin’.”

Next in line was the ‘Dog biting contest’ and the way that some of the riders snapped at the poor wienie made one think our boys were starved.

Riding a zig-zag course through one dozen beer bottles (near beer but not too near) for time was next. If some of the riders had a good shot of pre-war stuff, the zig-zag would have been natural, providing they didn’t zag when they should zig.

Sprouts Elder took nearly all of the events, and as the whole affair was sponsored by Peggy, the prizes were limited to one for each event except in the race around the block, there were three.

My suggestion for future contests where Sprouts enters, would be to offer a tin whistle or rubber monkey wrench as first prize and make the second place the major one. (Hope Sprouts misses this issue. No chance for me if he reads it.)

Last on the program were moving pictures at the Masonic Hall and the winners announced. Again Buster did his stuff by supplying the noise and comedy. I was standing just inside the doorway when someone said “Home.” After picking myself up I found that the stampede had carried me outside, so there was nothing else for me to do but limp over to my machine and go home.

Everybody reported a topping time and pledged themselves to come back whenever Pagnini puts on a show again.

*During the early pioneer days, the bandits and hostile Indians would swoop in to a town and kill, capture or steal all they could. All buildings therefore, had iron doors that could be shut at a moment’s notice to protect against bullets or fire.

By Joseph Pancoast
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