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Motorcyclists Take Over Town, Many Injured

By C. I. DOURGHTY JR. San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer: Transcribed by Mike Carroll Jr.

HOLLISTER. July, 5 1947

State Highway patrolmen tonight imposed informal martial law in downtown Hollister to curb the riotous activities of an estimated 4000.

Almost 60 persons were injured, three of them seriously. Several more arrests were made and a special night court session was convened to punish those charged with reckless driving and drunkenness.

The outburst of terrorism - wrecking of bars, bottle barrages into the streets from upper story windows and roofs and high speed racing of motorcycles though the streets - came as participants in the annual "Gypsy Tour" sponsored by the American Motorcycle Association converged on Hollister for a three-day meeting.


Shortly after dusk tonight, the force of 40 highway patrol officers, commanded by Captain L.T. Torres of San Benito County, forced a lull in the terrorism.

Armed with tear gas guns, the officers herded the cyclists into a block on San Benito street, between Fifth and Sixth streets, parked a dance band on a truck and ordered the musicians to play.

Hundreds of individuals who invaded the town yesterday for the motorcycle show, about 10 percent of them women halted their riotous "play" to dance. Their formal ball at the American Legion Hall was canceled by police orders.

The dancers scuffed their way through inches of broken glass, debris of bottle barrages thrown during the day. The officers stood almost shoulder to shoulder along the curb.


Captain Torres and his men were sent to the scene by Charles E. Raymond Cato of the highway patrol who received a formal request of assistance from Lieutenant Roy L. McPhail of the seven-men Hollister police department. The request for aid was made at 3:30 P.M. today.

As the state officers moved in, hundreds of cyclists roared through the streets of Hollister, defying traffic regulations. Many of them were injured in spills and crashes. One man's left foot was virtually severed.

Lieutenant McPhail was emphatic in his announcement to The Chronicle that he was asked for assistance by the State Highway Patrol.

Police Chief Fred A. Earin of Hollister said:

"It's just one hell of a mess."


The motorcyclists gathering for a three-day program of social activities, races and hill climbing events scheduled to end tomorrow began "taking over the town" the evening of July 3.

The momentum of their activities gained strength during the 4th of July. By evening, they were virtually out of control, the police reported.

Riders, both men and women, steered their machines into bars, crashing fixtures and bottles and mirrors. They defied all traffic regulations racing full speed through the streets and intersections. Hundreds loosed bottle barrages.

Bartenders halted the sale of beer, believing the group could not afford whiskey. Riotous activities continued. The bars closed two hours earlier than permitted by law. The same curfew was to go into effect tonight.

The groups defied the officers to curb their activities. As many arrests as possible were made. Police. Judge Frank Butcher convened a special session of his court tonight to dispose of the cases as he did last night.

The sentences ranged from $25 to $250 and up to 75 days in jail. One of the participants identified by the police as Jim Morrison, 19, of Los Angeles, was given 90 days in the county jail for indecent exposure.

The emergency room at Hazel Hawkins Hospital was jammed to overflowing. The first case arrived early yesterday. Late tonight, more than 40 persons had been treated. The San Benito Hospital handled the overflow cases.


The most seriously injured were:

Merton Kranzman, 20, Rural Rout NO. 4, Tular. Compound fracture of the right leg.

Frank McGovern, 45, Rural Rout NO. 2, Chico. Left leg almost severed.

Ted Boyde Jr., 20, 542 Williams street, Oakland. Possible skull fracture.

With the riot under control for the moment, officers said there is no apparent organized leader of the activity.

The "Gypsy Tour" attracted motorcyclists from California, Arizona and Oregon. The first days meeting was attended by as many as 12,000 persons, according to official estimates.

Races were to conclude the tour today. Officers late tonight had not decided whether they would be permitted.

"You just can't run everybody out of town", said Captain Torres.

The "tour" brought the largest amount of transients in recent history to Hollister. Hundreds slept in "haystacks" according to police and in the city park and squares.

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