Saturday, September 22, 2012

Vincent Motorcycles: Those Were The Days

Above: Rollie Free's famous American record run at Bonneville on September 13, 1948 aboard an HRD V-Twin non-blown Vincent. First run just under the record, Rollie discarded his leathers and stripped down to speedos, swimming cap and borrowed tennis shoes for his final run. He removed the seat and laid down flat to avoid wind resistance and steered by staring down at the painted stripe. The above might just be the most famous motorcycle picture of all time (at least to motorcycle racing fans.) Instead of being killed, he tuned in an average speed of 150.313 for the then new American speed record for unstreamlined and unsupercharged bikes. WHAP! Take THAT!

This bike sold at auction in 2010 for a cool million dollars, the first motorcycle to ever fetch that price.

In 1949, a prize and trophy was offered for the first successful British attempt at the world record (held since 1937 by BMW at 173,54 mph.)  NSU (Germany) upped the record to 180.29 mph in 1951. Vincent built a special brand new supercharged Black Lightning (below) which was then extensively modified for a British attempt at the record. In 1953, Les Graham was scheduled to make the attempt, but sadly Les was killed in a crash at the 1953 Senior Isle of Man TT. The supercharged virgin Vincent Black Lightning changed hands several times, but never made a record attempt.

The below picture is of the supercharged Black Lightning, itself an empty legend.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Self-Improvement and English Brides for American Servicemen

This is a rerun from a long time ago from one of my other blogs. The reason I'm running it again is because Adullamite's post today about American servicemen in England who took home English brides reminded me of an old friend in the Air Force who was stationed in England and did the same thing - met and brought home Janice (and married her). I met Dennis and Janice after we were out of the service, but Adullamite's post brought back memories. I myself was never stationed in England, the Air Force felt I would enjoy Southeast Asia much better. So I missed out on England. But I was a part of the Communications Command, a couple of times, that Adullamite shows pictures of in his post. Just not in Communications Squadrons in England, only in the U.S. If you were alive back during those years, then you already know what I was doing in Southeast Asia, and probably know what the Air Force was doing over there as well. Anyway, I was there while Dennis was guarding whatever was important to us in England and chasing English skirts. The below post mentions Janice, the English bride, and that's why I am rerunning this post. Go read Adullamite's post afterward.

I was just over at Lidian's "KitchenRetro" blog, reading her current post, and her retro ads reminded me of a telemarketing call I received several years ago about changing career fields.

The name of the company in question was something like "Foley-Belsaw" and they had ads on all the back pages of comic books and inserts in all the Sunday Parade magazines. Anyway.

At the time I was the Branch Manager for a Texas Savings & Loan, the tiny "branch" being located in far-away Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our purpose for existing was to originate mortgage loans, which the home office would then fund. This meant I spent half of my workday sucking up to real estate agents and getting them drunk enough to steer their buyers to my company when it came time for them to apply for their home loan, regardless of my interest rate. The rest of my day was spent fighting with FHA and VA bureaucrats, trying to convince them that my buyers were not really deadbeats, and the U.S. government should by all means insure or guarantee every loan package I placed in their in-baskets.

I was moderately successful. I may have even been responsible for the current economic crisis. Who knows. This was... ummmm... more than 10 years ago. I was a very young go-getter. Much too young and go-getting for such a responsible position which came with a new company car and a credit card, in addition to the keys to the office. But I was the only one who knew the ins and outs of government home loan programs (that's a different story) who lived in Albuquerque who was willing to work for a really paltry salary as long as I had a free shiny car to drive around. Plus the S&L president had no desire to leave Texas more than once, so he hired me immediately and I drove him to the airport and never saw him again.

The actual loan processing (verifications-collecting and government form typing) was done by my wonderfully inept secretary, Janice (not her real name)*, a young immigrant from England I had hired for an even paltrier salary because I owed her husband money. Janice was an incompetent typist who put all those extra "U"s in her words, who claimed to be a high school graduate from some unpronounceable inner-city London high school (not really unpronounceable, I just couldn't understand Janice), but was a friendly receptionist. Unfortunately it took her an hour to take a loan application because neither the husband or wife sitting in front of her desk could comprehend her accent. I don't know if it was cockney or what. It damn sure wasn't Oxford. Janice was my only employee. Affable, yet unwilling.

Honest to God, this post is really about a telemarketing call I received from Foley-Belsaw. Or whatever their name was.

So, one Saturday morning I am at home kicking back and the phone rings. A nice telemarketing lady from Foley-Belsaw. This was before the days when I automatically screamed obscenities and hung up on telemarketers.

Here I should say that as a teenager working at a movie theatre (that's how the owner spelled it) taking tickets for, like, $13 a week and sex from the popcorn girl down in the storeroom (also a different story), I was desperate enough to mail in a coupon for information about how to make something of my life from Foley-Belsaw. Or whatever their name was.

That is the only way I can think of that they got my name. Not sure how they got my phone number. Perhaps it was only a coincidence.

So the nice lady told me she was calling to help me improve my lot in life, employment-wise, and I'm thinking maybe she is going to help me get promoted to VP at the home office. Turns out her idea of career advancement involved learning how to repair small engines.

"Do you think you might be interested in something like that, sir?"

"Ummm... interested in WHAT?"

"Learning to repair small engines. Like boat motors and lawnmowers."

"No. Why would I?"

Here I could hear the pages in her script being shuffled in the background.

"Perhaps welding?"

"Welding? What about welding?" I still hadn't grasped the purpose of her call. "You're not from the home office, are you?"

"Yes, sir, I am. Foley-Belsaw. Or whatever our name is."

"Ummm... I work for a mortgage loan company. I am their local manager."



"I think your future might lie in repairing large commercial refrigeration units."

"Why would you think that?"

"I just do. Now let me just verify your mailing address... "



"Well, sir, actually I don't HAVE your mailing address. I was wanting for you to give it to me."

"I don't think so. But I really appreciate your interest in me."

"Forestry technician."

Finally I got wise and hung up. But I said "Sorry, no thanks" before I did.

That's what Lidian's post today reminded me of.

*Actually Janice was her real name. Who cares?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Paintings Pundits and Parody

Odds and ends.
Blind leading the blind

Willie in Wellies

Saturday night special: Manchester patten shoes

Darwin and son

Welsh dental instruments

The Tridents will cost HOW much?? No way!


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