harley

WAVphoto

‘start small & begin promptly’

I love it when I look at something and am instantly inspired! A small
photograph in a frame – is obviously something important. Reading
the caption behind the glass case I learned this small shed
was in a backyard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin about 110 years ago.

The shed belonged to a family named Davidson.

If I added the fact that ‘serial number one’ motorcycle
was built in that little building with a friend named Harley
you might start to piece together, Harley-Davidson.

Harley & the Davidsons

Harley & the Davidsons

The Harley-Davidson brand is known in every corner of the world,
easily recognizable on most highways especially in the warmer months.
Over 3.5 million (2002) motorcycles have graced roads, fields,
race tracks, police lines, postal routes and even the front lines in
two World Wars.

I just visited the Harley-Davidson museum where this photograph hangs and what impressed me the most that day was enthusiasm for everything Harley,
a familiar brand that started in this tiny space, a 10 x 15′ shed.

Harley is not just a brand of motorcycle or rider, it seems to be part of life for those who choose to breathe in that air.  It’s a culture.  I saw it in the excitement of a staff member who was thrilled to share his knowledge
of the layout of the building so we wouldn’t miss any exhibit. He loved his job, anyone could see it.

An exhibit, ‘Living Lost’ – photographs from the front seat of a Harley on a cross-country ride. Gritty in open nature, greasy from side of the road repairs, soft in the future generation of HOGs (the term used for Harley Owner Groups), this display showed the camaraderie among riders.

The evolution of fuel tanks ranging in color – looked very much like my memory of a vast display of butterflies. The ‘Wall of Tanks’ was clean & simple yet spoke loud in volume of history, longevity and miles of open road.

Harley-Davidson wall of tanks

Harley-Davidson wall of tanks

One of the most moving pieces I’ve seen in any museum was the ‘Tsunami motorcycle display’. When the devastating wave hit Japan in March 2011 a motorcycle in a container was washed out to sea. The container drifted 4,000 miles and washed ashore on the coast of British Columbia. It was found in May. Inside the container was a Harley, the Japanese license plate still intact. Finally tracking down the owner who survived, it was learned many in his family perished, his home lost.  The owner asked if his Harley could be donated to the museum in Milwaukee as a memorial to those who were lost. The motorcycle is encased in glass in the same condition it was found, the salt water corrosion continues to make progress.

tsunami motorcycle display

tsunami motorcycle display

The structure of the museum is steel, strong & sturdy, held together by rivets.
‘A rivet is the strongest bond that holds things like I-beams and jeans together. A rivet is exposed to the elements & takes on whatever nature throws at it’ (from the Harley-Davidson website).

I’ve been a visitor to a few Harley events – they’ve always intrigued me – viewing the common thread of Harley; the camaraderie between thousands of owners & riders, the feeling of freedom on the road & being connected by a unique energy & culture, being exposed to the elements & taking on whatever nature throws your way.

And to think every time you hear the roar on the back road or highway – it all began in a 10 x 15′ shed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

www . Harley-Davidson . com