The year 1921 was the best year of my life. I had just been employed by the Harley-Davidson company. Harley-Davidson was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world at the time, and everybody I knew wanted motorcycles. I had just come back from fighting in world war one. Let me tell you, I was definitely looking forward to simply working in a factory and bringing home a check for my wife and two daughters.

On my first day of work, I learned that we would be making motorcycles for police departments across the country. The policemen wanted motorcycles because they were faster than cars, therefore making it easier to enforce laws. One law they really wanted to make sure was followed was Prohibition. Most people didn’t like the fact that they couldn’t enjoy a drink, so there was a lot of bootlegging.

The motorcycles we made for them were so good that the states didn’t need as many policemen to patrol them; one Harley-Davidson motorcycle was twice as good as any automobile. In fact, only 16 policemen needed to watch over the entire state of Louisiana. By the end of the 1920s, more than 3 thousand police departments were using our motorcycles to stop speeders. After all, the Harley was the best motorcycle around. (“Police Motorcycles and Harley-Davidson: A Short History.”)

Policemen weren’t the only people who wanted motorcycles. I assembled motorcycles for every purpose and every person. After World War I, there was a huge demand for them. In fact, loads of factories switched over to making motorcycles, even without any experience or equipment for producing them. I remember a time when absolutely every machine was bought. However, as factories kept putting out motorcycles, peoples started to be able to tell which worked well and which machines were junk. The Harley-Davidson motorcycles were always good ones.

Everybody knew that if you wanted a motorcycle, you couldn’t go wrong with a Harley.
The Harley-Davidson company was one of the few to survive through the years. There was a very unstable market. New motorcycle companies formed one day and were gone the next, only after selling poor-quality motorcycles and leaving costumers unhappy. (Tragatsch)

So many people on the highways in the 1920s drove motorcycles. They loved the incredible speeds motorcycles could travel compared to cars. Countless people ignored the speed limits because they wanted to drive as fast as possible. This led to more deaths on the roads. In fact, my cousin was killed in a motorcycle crash. He wasn’t driving a Harley-Davidson.

After 1929, my life started to turn towards disaster. The Stock Market crashed, and all of my friends, including me, lost almost everything. People didn’t want to spend their money on luxuries like motorcycles anymore. They just wanted to get by and obtain food for their families.

Despite this, the Harley-Davidson company kept fighting through the Great Depression. I didn’t give up, and I kept working as hard as I could. Day after day, I watched as my friends were let go. That wasn’t going to happen to me. In 1931, the company introduced a new motorcycle in hopes of keeping the business going strong. The three-wheel Servi-Car came out. I assembled the parts of those motorcycles. They were very popular with police departments for enforcing traffic and parking. ("Police Motorcycles and Harley-Davidson: A Short History.")

On the other hand, average people weren’t spending their money on Harleys. I was afraid the company would go out of business. If that happened, I wouldn’t have been able to feed my children. It felt like every day I read about another motorcycle company going out of business. Scott racing bikes was one of the worst. Even the owner, Alfred Scott, left company after World War I after only 5 years. Another type of motorcycle, the Brough Superior SS100 didn’t live to see the late 1950s. In 1925, this motorcycle was the most popular sports roadster in history. The Great Depression was rough though, and the entire company died by 1940 after it wasted its money trying to develop power-units. The company bought specifically-manufactured engines in small quantities up until it went out of business. (Tragatsch)

Harley-Davidson never went out of business, but the time between the two world wars hit the business hard. The company shrank significantly in size. Because of this, I was fired in 1936. I couldn’t find another job, so I lost eventually my house. My family relied on direct relief from the government, which was scarce. My wife waited in bread lines while I desperately searched for scrap metal to build a house out of. It wasn’t until World War II that the economy picked up again. I went off to war for the second time. Once I returned, I found a job working for BMW. ("Police Motorcycles and Harley-Davidson: A Short History.")

"Police Motorcycles and Harley-Davidson: A Short History." Harley-Davidson USA. Web. 22 Oct. 2010. <>.
Tragatsch, Erwin, ed. The Illustrated History of Motorcycles. London: New Burlington, 1979. Print.external image 8.jpg