by Sev Pearman
Let’s get a few things straight right off the bat: contrary to popular belief, there was no riot in Hollister, CA in 1947. Marlon Brando didn’t ride a Harley in “The Wild One”, the 1953 movie based on the actual “incident.” And rather than signifying a temperance zealot, the post-war term “Boozefighter” refers to a man who, as they used to say, likes his drink.
Myths are buried and the truth unearthed in The Original Wild Ones – Tales of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club. These are the true stories of the Boozefighters, the club actually present in Hollister that July 4, 1947. Author Bill Hayes is a passionate motorcyclist and has painstakingly researched the history of the Boozefighters motorcycle club.
Mr. Hayes combines interviews with past and present Boozefighters, newspaper accounts and actual club records to set the record straight. You’ll read what actually happened at Hollister, from people who were actually there. Boozefighters, Hollister residents and law enforcement get their chance to share their stories about the (non)-event and how Life magazine sensationalized a two column-inch newspaper item to sell magazines.
Photos are few, but choice. These guys went out and rode, and the photos show it: you can see the love of our sport in their eyes and the grime on their faces. Vintage H-D hardware is well-documented, including a 2-stroke Hummer. Other Boozefighters rode Indians or British bikes. Boozefighter, Jack Lilly, owned and rode three of the now-mythical Crocker V-twins.
These guys love life and their stories prove it. You’ll read about their clubhouse in an old garage in Los Angeles, with a bar built onto the hoist piston. How they “modified” an old hearse, painted it Boozefighter green-and-white, and re-named it “the Greenhouse.” And heaven help you if you signed up for one of their scavenger hunts. No one could possibly bring back a water heater, could they?
The Original Wild Ones can get a little choppy and feels padded. We could have done without the chapter about a recent ride into Mexico, included “in the spirit” of the original Boozefighters. Mr. Hayes’ frequent sentimental tributes to the riders bog down the text. The Original Wild Ones is at its best when the riders get to speak for themselves.
Mandatory reading for anyone interested in American motorcycling history. Three-out-of-four cylinders; four-out-of-four if you enjoy “motorcycle lifestyle” periodicals. This is one delightful book.
Freedom Rider – Reads like an issue of Easyriders.
Historian – Chock full of gold; gold I tells ya!
Safety Dork – Avert your eyes, Jimmy.
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