ON HOLLISTER'S BAD TIME
"GYPSYCYCLES" CHUG OUT OF TOWN AND THE NATIVES SIGH "NEVER
By C. I. DOURGHTY
JR. San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer: Transcribed
by Mike Carroll Jr.
HOLLISTER. July, 6 1947
The diminishing roar and crackle of the last of an estimated
2000 motorcycles today ended the "worst 40 hours in Hollister
Police, who called for outside yesterday and imposed
informal martial law to halt the havoc of a "gypsy tour"
of the American Motorcycle Association, took a deep breath.
Some 50 persons were jailed during the ruckus and as
many were injured, several seriously. More than $2000
of fines and an undetermined number of jail sentences
were assessed for drunkenness, disturbing the peace and
"If we jailed everyone who deserved it we'd have herded
them in by the hundreds." police said.
San Benito street, the main thoroughfare through the
town, was littered with the wreckage of thousands of beer
bottles, and other debris.
There was no estimate of the damage. At the height of
the pandemonium, the motorcyclists drove their vehicles
into bars and restaurants, tossed beer bottles over upper-floor
windows and raced through traffic signals and defied the
seven-man police force.
"Luckily, there appears to be no serious damage," said
City-Council member Bert Kirk. "These trick riders did
more harm to themselves than the town."
Forty State highway patrolmen under Captain L. T. Torres,
responding for an appeal for aid from Highway Chief E.
Raymond Cato, clamped down on the celebrants with the
threat of tear gas.
A band scheduled to play a dance in American Legion
Hall was moved out into the main street, where it played
in an attempt to divert the crowd.
The bars refused to sell beer and voluntarily closed
two hours ahead of time.
A final outburst of noisemaking when the bars closed
at midnight and a day of racing in nearby Memorial Park
race track, served as an energy outlet who were not in
The "gypsy tour", an annual racing and hill-climbing
was sanctioned by the AMA and sponsored by the Salinas
Ramblers Motorcycle Club and the Hollister Veterans' Memorial
Police Commissioner Charles Krieger declared emphatically:
"It's not going to happen here again. You can quote
me on that."
Chief of police Fred A. Earl, a veteran of 43 years,
characterized the gathering of the worst 40 hours in Hollister
Mrs. Choice Lane, superintendent of the Hazel Hawkins
Memorial Hospital and said the drunk and injured came
in for treatment so fast, accurate records could not be
"Just A Convention"
The attitude of the motorcyclists was expressed by one
youth today in the words:
"Well, the American Legion goes into town and raises
hell. It's a convention. We're just having a convention."
Other explanations from the bike riders were:
James Clearwater, 23-- "We like to show off. We make
alot of noise and everybody looks. It's just alot of fun.
I'm conservative, though. I haven't got a straight pipe."
(A "straight pipe" is an unmuffled engine.)
Jim Long, 19-- " I like a bike with alot of drag. Drag?
That's pickup. See how quick you can get to 90 miles an
hour. I get a jolt out of that jerk takeoff. I like lots
of growler too. Growler? Why that's funnel. Straight pipe.
Jerry Witcher, 21-- "Autos are dead. Bikes aren't dangerous.
They don't take much space and they go through traffic.
I like to tear them apart and see if they go faster when
I put them back together.
The 4000 visitors, about half of them operating motorcycles,
almost doubled Hollister's population and created a severe
housing problem. Many of them slept on haystacks on the
edge of town while others simply stretched out on the
court house lawn.
Most of the tourists were from California cities, but
a noticeable number were from other states in the union,
including Connecticut and Florida.
Perhaps one out of ten was a girl, wearing slacks and
a tight sweeter and riding in tandems.
Frank McGovern, 45, whose left foot was almost severed
in an incident in the racing along San Benito street,
was taken to the hospital near his home in Chico yesterday.
Ted Boyde Jr., 20, 342 Williams street, Oakland, suffered
a possible skull fracture.
The third person seriously injured was Merton Krantzman,
Among Those Arrested
Among the bay region men jailed were:
James B. Osborn, 3300 Harrison street, Oakland; reckless
driving; fined $5.
Benjuman D. "Kukomo" McKell, 34, 1728 O'Ferrel' street,
San Francisco, disturbing the peace; Fined $25 and given
2 days in jail.
Gerald E. Butler, 25, 563 Van Ness avenue, San Francisco,
drunk; to apear tomorrow.
Walter William Wagner, 30, 369 First street, San Francisco,
drunk; to apear tomorrow.
Lionel R. Raucci, 21, Pittsburg, drunk; fined $10.
Wallace E. Goodbar, 17, Pittsburg, disturbing the peace;