For the benifit of those who weren't there:
Wow, talk about getting sidetracked. I really meant to continue this report much sooner but my life is one non-stop pile of things to do. The freekin' phone won't stop which only makes matters worse. Since my computer doesn't ring nor demand to be fed like my dog; it is easy to ignore when real busy.
When I left off I was about to relate my impressions of Richard Sachs' presentiation entitled "My life as a Framebuilder". Richard prefaced his delivery with a statement to the effect that the was not accustomed to public speaking. But Richard has this "natural comic" ability that is the cornerstone of his delightful personality. Deadpan delivery of sharp witted comments and comebacks are often so subtle that one must pay close attention or miss a lot of what Richard is all about. An audio/visual problem forced Richard to dive in without his planned introduction in the form of some TV news clips about his work, but he took it in stride and told us how it all began.
I don't know how Richards story effected others in the audience; but for me I heard a story very similar in some ways to how my life began as a framebuilder. I was completely facinated by the details of his time in England and how Witcomb USA came to be. Richard stressed that he is a bike racer who happens to build frames. His dedication to that principal is reflected in his work. More interesting to me than some of the details of Richards life was the way he spoke and delivered the material. Revealed by his speech was a man that clearly has a practical and focused purpose in his life who truely enjoys what he does. I can't say it's uncommon to find such a humble and respectful person with such huge talent amongst framebuilders. Anyone who has ever met Peter Weigle, Richard Moon, Doug Fattic, Chris Kvale, Tom Kellogg, Bill Holland, Bruce Gordon(??!!) or any one of dozens more talented framebuilders knows many are charming, whitty, and humble. Richard is a prince among them.
By the time Richie was finished I knew more about Richard and his early years than I had ever known before. Perhaps Chris felt this, but I can't imagine many others feeling such a connection to him. We're also about one month apart in age. I was stunned in a way how many things we have in common and yet how completely different and individual each one of us is. Having Chris there amplified my sensitivity to what I feel is a "special sameness" we all seem to have as constructors. A sense of humor in common perhaps.
Moving right along. Ray Etherton stepped right in where Richie left off. His entrance was right out of the " Brian Baylis Book of Comic Openers" as he appeared wearing a Scottich hat/red wig. With the accent I at first thought it was Fat Bastard from Austin Powers making an appearance; but then I realized he wasn't fat. Turns out it was Ray under there after all! Wife Linda worked the slide machine as Ray treated us to "Unorthodox British Frame Designs". Examples from catalogues and photos supported his dialog as pretty much every possible " what the hell is that" concept was presented for our viewing pleasure. Those silly Brits! Aren't they ALSO the ones who ride trikes?? As a framebuilder I sometimes cringe at some of the designs; but as a collector I have a certain taste for the bizzarre and unusual from time to time. Thanks Ray for bringing to light some of the lesser known frame designs and also for putting out those tasty lugsets for us to see. We're now looking forward to your presence at the West Coast Velo Rendezvous comming up in Oct.
Dale Brown batted clean-up with a history of framebuilder Mclean Fionville (hope that's right) who was local to the area and who Dale knew for a long time. He passed away at an early age so needless to say no more are being made. Again, another facinating framebuilder story/personality that I knew very little about. Silk Hope frames are known for the simple clean design and work. Slides were shown that gave a good picture of what kind of person Mclean was and the simple environment in which he worked. From the photos he reminds me of Mike Nesbitt(?) from the Monkees.
We broke down and everyone made the preparations to reassemble at the appointed resturant. As usual, there were many creative routes taken to get from the hotel to the eatery. Roommate Steve Kinne had the luxury of a car but even when following someone who "knows how to get there" we did not take a direct and uneventful route. These rides are often part of the best fun of being out of town with a bunch of other people who are also lost. I never claim to have a good sense of direction because I don't; but someone always does and that's usually where things start to go south, or was that East?
Once the group made it to the resturant we took over an entire section and then some. I wish there was a place where the whole group could sit at one giant round table so that we could all interact together; but it will never happen. Actually I'm quite comfortable with the way it always ends up, multiple splinter groups each time composed of new members. Karen Rawles and Lou Deeter saved me a spot which was started from last year so we could finish a previous conversation. Also nearby was Dan Artley and Tom (I think) and we had an enjoyable meal. The resturant staff was caught off guard with the size of our group and the service suffered a little bit. But the company and conversation was first class and I must thank Karen and/or Lou for dinner and the brew.
We finished up dinner and headed back to the hotel. Apparently the hotel had been dug up and moved while we were dining because it wasn't where it was supposed to be. You'd think these bastards would have something better to do than move the hotel around town just to mess with the out of town guests. Put the damn thing in one place and leave it there! Finally we stumbled onto a place that looked like our hotel (the one with the two lions(?) on the roof barking at the moom; what's up with that). Another thing that happens at these gatherings is that after dinner the "harcore group" heads out for coffee and/or dessert. We ended up at the Outback Steakhouse near the hotel. There were quite a few in attendance and I probably won't remember everyone but near me were Larry Osborne and Karen Schukman. Ironically we carried on our own subconversation about deep philosophical concepts was we looked thru Mike Kones' copy of the Rene Herse book. This gathering allowed me to become aquainted with two persons whom I had known little of before. Larry has a very interesting wit and is a great conversationalist. I found Karen to be most engaging and seems enthusiastic to learn more of what makes us vintage types tick. Karen bacame a central figure with the hardcore group and offered to host an intimate coffee group the following evening at her home where we wouldn't have to compete with the volume of the rest of the resturant. I thouroughly enjoyed the roundtable coffee meeting but was more than ready to turn in by the time we closed down the place.
I'm sure Steve, Chuck, and I talked for a while in the room before I was finally able to sleep. I'll try to finish this off soon. Just so many things to attend to every single day. My purpose for writing these accounts is to encourage those who have not joined us on either coast to jump in and show up next time. These gatherings are historic within our small little world of vintage lightweights. The fun, the contacts, the friends one makes at these meetings are far more valuable than the time and money it takes to attend. Make plans to be at the next one. After all, you'll never get a better chance to meet an old troll-like framebuilder with two heads and three arms in person. How many times have you been on a ride and were able to still shake hands with a guy who has two hands on the bars? Probably never. Next chance is October in So. Pasadena.
Brian Baylis La Mesa, CA Need your extra sleeves from long sleeve jerseys that are worn out. Having a hell of a time finding jerseys with an extra arm comming out of the back. Luckily both heads fit in a standard opening; there are benifits to being a pencilneck at times!