Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hollister Photo Exposed

The following was inspired by some recent discussions on the Wing Nuts site.

By now I would think that anybody who's into motorcycles knows this famous photo was staged.

July 7, 1947, staged photo of Eddie Davenport in Hollister, CA. Somewhere I once saw the other unused photos from the photo shoot.

What's always interested me about the photo was the bike. The chromed headlight with Flanders bars and risers was the first thing I noticed. Then I noticed the missing tank shifter. No biggie, lots of dudes updated their bikes. Then I realized that the year was 1947 and Harley's didn't have foot shifts until 1952! A closer look revealed that the owner of the bike had installed a B&H foot shift set up.

Clues that something interesting was a foot (pun intended).

B&H had only started making these kits in 1946, making this bike one of the few around that had the hot set up. What were the chances that of all the bikes at Hollister, they would grab one that had this somewhat rare and cool modification?

The B&H kit. I was originally shocked and disappointed to see that B&H had invented the clutch booster (mouse trap), that H-D later used. The list of innovations that Harley has adopted/ripped from the after market is a long one.

In case you never heard the story of the staged photo here's what happened according to August 'Gus' Deserpa, the guy standing behind the bike with hands in pockets.

"I was projectionist by trade. I worked at the Granada Theater, which was on the corner of Seventh and San Benito. I would have got off work around 11 p.m.. My wife came to pick me up, and we decided to walk up Main Street to see what was going on.

I saw two guys scraping all these bottles together, that had been lying in the street. Then they positioned a motorcycle in the middle of the pile. After a while this drunk guy comes staggering out of the bar, and they got him to sit on the motorcycle, and started to take his picture.

I thought 'That isn't right', and I got around against the wall, where I'd be in the picture, thinking that they wouldn't take it if someone else was in there. But they did anyway. A few days later the papers came out and I was right there in the background.

They weren't doing anything bad, just riding up and down whooping and hollering; not really doing any harm at all."