~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Blast From The Past

One of the great things about blogging is making new friends but maybe the best thing is when someone I knew in the past finds me and they are still a good soul.   In this instance an e-mail in my in-box that just said “Cecils” in the subject line brought a message from Lee Holth.  Lee had come across my previous blog entry mentioning Cecil’s Cycle Center and it’s place in my life as a den of iniquity.  Lee and I worked together at Don’s Yamaha in Escondido about 1971 or so and went to the same high school. To hear from him again was very cool.
Lee's Del Mar Concours award winning CZ
Back about 1999-2000 Lee and I had bumped into each other a time or two at the Del Mar Concours where Lee was busy winning a trophy for a CZ motocross bike he’d restored, but since then we had not seen or heard from one another in about ten years, so I was happily surprised to get his e-mail and some photos. 

For a few days now we’ve been sharing stories of our early motorcycle days, high school, and other old guy crap.  Great fun and Lee has jogged some memories loose that might have otherwise been gone for good.  Here’s some excerpts and photos (with his permission) from our e-mails the past week or so:

“Hi Doug. Lee Holth here from Escondido, now in Nevada. I liked the story about ditching Sunday School to drool at the Brit bikes at Cecil’s. Too bad we lost him, but he'd resurfaced pretty regularly at Cycle Salvage the last few years..”  “He and Don had the coolest shops in town. Of course, Cecil had CZs [in addition to BSA and later Kawasaki - DK]. He told me a funny story of how he became a CZ dealer. Seems the New Jersey longshoreman ‘accidentally’ dropped an entire container full of ‘commie bikes’ into the bay while unloading and he was offered them at pennies on the dollar.”  

Friends, if you had known Cecil Oswald you’d have no trouble believing that story or any of the many others about him. 

Lee continued about a not untypical day at Cecil’s shop circa 1971: “One day he walked out with that maniacal grin and shouted ‘Who wants to be my MONKEY?’  As my buddy Lynn started to say ‘That sounds like fun.’  I suggested he wait a moment as another kid approached the big BSA sidehack desert rig and barely had a hand on the bar or a foot in the small standing area when it roared to life and away they went; off the curb into traffic, big U turn right and down the alley.  There was a parking lot halfway down the block; freshly oiled and sanded and you could hear the big British twin howling away.  A couple minutes later and they flew back out of the alley, U-turn left back OVER the curb, launching the entire machine into the air and sticking the landing, tossing the seemingly unsuspecting ‘monkey’ over the bar and flat on his back. Cecil looked around and blurted out ‘Who's NEXT?’  No one answered. Lynn thanked me. Cecil smiled and went back to work.”

Like me Lee’s kept busy at a variety of interesting things over the years and these days in Nevada owns a CZ repair and restoration shop and keeps an eclectic, CZ oriented website here.  He's been an editor for Mitchell Manuals for a while, owned a repair shop once before, a silk screen business, and generally kept himself amused with motorcycles and music over the last four decades.  While my own life has been anything but boring I have to say that I envy Lee at least some of his adventures.

click to see full size
Movie set fun
In our reminiscing I mentioned that one of my enduring memories of him was he behind the parts counter at Don’s Yamaha wearing a t-shirt with the cartoon character “Mr. Natural” astride a motorcycle.  I have no idea why that would stick in my mind all these years except that Lee was a big, smiling kid, easy to like and remember.  I mentioned that memory to Lee and he wrote back  “I did the art work on those original Don's shirts and STILL have one!”   How can you not like and respect a guy that keeps an old bike shop t-shirt for 40 years?

Sorry about your bike, kid,
we were young.
And one of my own memories from Don’s Yamaha Shop days:  “Martin and I and maybe you taking the new, little Yamaha Mini-Enduros off of the shop floor and flat tracking them in the empty lot back off the alley.  After the fun was over we sprayed them off at the 25 cent car wash and put them back on the show floor.  That happened more than once until Martin crashed and bent or broke something and a quick part swap had to be effected before we were discovered.  It didn’t seem to occur to us that we might get fired for thrashing bikes before they were sold as new.”   Lee denies taking part in debauching innocent Yamaha Mini-Enduros but does remember a Honda Mini-Trail and a backward riding contest  that led him into the side of a car in the shop parking lot.

Ah to be young one more time!  No, not really.  You can’t go back and it could never be that much fun again.


Geoff James said...

Memories like that are what sustain us Doug and thanks so much for sharing them. It's not just nostalgia of course, we're still creating them!

Unknown said...

The whole time warp thing would be pretty sweet, but I think we would all die the second time around. God favors the young, isn't that right? The actual young, I'm sure, not the young that bend space time to go back and relive it.

I'd probably revisit a few moments anyway. As it stands, I'll just keep my memories.

Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

Popular Posts

Search This Site

"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence

An Important reminder from the past:
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison