Sometimes the phrase “It’s a small world!” can come to mind when one least expects it.
One hot sticky August day, when we were ready for lunch, we found ourselves in Kirkland, Il. We decided to check out Kirkland Family Restaurant, a tiny place we had never been to before.
In front of the restaurant we saw a Harley and a side car rig that caught our attention. The owners were just leaving and stopped to talk with us as we admired the side car rig. It was unusual to say the least. The side car owner was Kurt from Oregon (IL) and his buddy, the Harley owner, was Paul from Huntley. Kurt explained to us that the side car was an old Harley frame, and the engine was a VW (crate motor) with transaxle sitting behind the tub. It had car wheels and tires with the front tire and wheel a little smaller than the rears. There was power to both rear wheels. It was beautiful.
Kurt made the whole side hack himself. We asked how he came to have all the knowledge to make and put all these parts together. His answer was that back in the day when they were young they always wondered what they would wind up doing for a living. They used to take on what they called “50” day jobs. You know, work a job here, work a job there, couple months here, couple months there, as a carpenter, and then a mechanic, an auto painter, auto body repair, machinist, and then a welder. Kurt then went back to machinist and retired as a machinist.
Kurt and Paul are long time friends and meet for breakfast routinely at the Kirkland Family Restaurant.
We mentioned that we had bikes and we and that we belong to a MC club.
Immediately Kurt asked us the name of the club and we said JPC. He asked “Do you know Gary Cooper?” We said yes but he just recently passed away. Paul and Kurt knew that Gary died recently. In fact, they were childhood friends having grown up in Wood Dale. They even went to high school together!
Kurt said he actually made the first “rubber band trailer” frame for Gary before Gary started selling them. He told us he also built Al and Janet Gutenschwager’s trike.
It turns out that Kurt, Paul, Gary, Al and Janet (Gary’s sister), all grew up in Wood Dale. Kurt and Paul have fond memories of their friendship with Gary. In fact, they took many motorcycle camping trips to Door County and Apple River even before the founding of the Jerseypine Cruisers. They told us the story of how it was that Gary decided to start a motorcycle club for riders of all brands of bikes. Here we are 40 years later and the Jerseypine Cruisers owe it’s existence to that dream of Cooper’s.
It’s a small world!
Respectfully submitted by Lynn and Ken Vicker