What will you be doing at 88 years young?
Dave Scott is still riding motocross regularly. To recognize this incredible achievement, the BCOT presented Dave with a special trophy at our 40th annual race on Aug 2nd, 2014. Here is a synopsis from Dave’s Autobiography.
Almost a Canadian. Grandfather moved from Alberta to North Dakota where his father was born. Later, in Oregon, he started a second hand store that got him into bicycles and motorcycles and became a Harley Davidson dealer in 1914. Except for three years out to serve in WW1 he continued in the motorcycle business till 1959. He had no option with my involvement in motorcycles. He always helped in the shop. After all it was during the “big” depression so all the family helped.
The first motorcycle he rode was a 1934 Harley Davidson 80 cubic inch. Graduated from high school and immediately joined the Merchant marine to serve in the Second World War. During his service he wrecked his knee trying to fix a loose 30 ton lift in a really bad storm. After 3 trips his knee got so bad he spent 6 months in a hospital, in New York, while they were trying to fix it. He was subsequently discharged due to that injury.
While in high school, he had developed an interest in photography and found a small photo studio for sale, which he bought. He didn’t warm to the social atmosphere of New York and moved back to Oregon and went back to work in the bike shop. During that time he sponsored a rider named Frank Williams and got involved in racing. Frank ended up with a good National number through this effort. Another time a customer wanted to trade in his Taylorcraft airplane on a motorcycle and Dave put the deal together, which led Dave to getting his pilot’s licence. He subsequently sold that plane and eventually bought a Bellanca, which he flew a lot and went to various races and eventually went to the Bonneville salt flats. He was there when Bill Monroe, of The World’s Fastest Indian fame, made his first appearance.
One day a customer came into his shop looking for a motorcycle. He ended up buying one, but through the process they hit it off and they became very good friends and had many interesting experiences together.
He stayed with the motorcycles till 1959 when they sold the shop. A friend of his enticed him into selling pianos with him and they sold pianos all over the west coast. He met some very interesting people during his sales adventures and his friendship with Dave Foster including a Benny Buffano. It turned out he was a famous artist and San Francisco was full of his statues.
He subsequently went to work for a company in Philadelphia for 14 years until the company ran out of money. He then purchased a cabinet shop in Monmouth, Oregon and he also bought a house. Right next to his house was a farm owned by Cliff Stump, who was a member of the Oregon Oldtimers Motocross Club. Cliff took him to a race in McMinnville and he was hooked. This led to his career in motocross, a broken neck and a divorce.
Fortunately, he found his new love, Maggy, in Venezuela. It’s no coincidence that his son is married to a lady from Venezuela, although he met her in Oregon and Dave met his in Venezuela when he was down there for his son’s wedding. Dave didn’t speak Spanish and Maggy didn’t speak English, but that didn’t seem to stop things. Although it took 5 years for him to trick her into marrying him. Dave used to travel in an old Dodge van and a tent trailer, but he likes to point out that when he came to our race, back when we only had a couple of old wooden outhouses, Maggy made him upgrade to a motorhome.
Another thing that Dave likes to point out is that our race is his most favourite and he is very fond of how friendly Canadians are. That is fair enough because Dave holds a very special place in the hearts of the BCOT.
It should also be noted that on Saturday night of our 2013 race he invited the President over to his campsite to feed him stories and Merlot until 11:30 at night. He was much more bright eyed than the President and had no trouble racing the next day. If only we could all live a life like this..
Here is the full story. Why I am what I am. By Dave Scott.
I don’t see how I can start without a little background on my family. First off, I was almost a Canadian. My Father’s family were all from Alberta, Canada. My grandfather was always seeking a better life (without too much success) and decided to look for it in North Dakota, one of his many mistakes. That is where my father was born. Shortly after he was born, the family decided that wasn’t the place so they moved to Louisiana. It didn’t take too long to decide that wasn’t it either so they moved to Oregon, where my father quit school in the eighth grade and went to work. Later he started a second hand store and that got him into bicycles and motorcycles, becoming a Harley Davidson dealer in 1914. He decided that motorcycles were the transportation of the future. Of course Henry Ford put an end to that notion but my father pushed on with the dream. At that time, he told me, reliability was a big question so he decided to show that motorcycles could be depended upon, so he organized a team of refuelers and rode around several blocks in Salem for 24 hours without stopping. When he needed fuel, his team would run alongside and pour gas into the tank. Another time he entered a nation wide economy contest, coming in second place at 148 miles per gallon. Except for three years out to serve in WW1 he continued in the motorcycle business till 1959.
You can see that I had no option with my involvement in motorcycles.
The first motorcycle I rode by myself, was a 1934 Harley Davidson 80 cubic inch. I would have killed for one of the mini bikes available now. I started riding on the street with a learners permit on the basis that there was no room beside me for a licensed driver to sit. Of course I went to races and hill climbs starting at age one and grew up wanting to do that till I got old enough to realize that coming into a 180 degree corner at great speed was dangerous and I was chicken. I confined my competition to gypsy tour field events like Australian pursuits, slow races, push and rides, etc.
I always helped in the shop. After all it was during the “big” depression so all the family helped. That was the time when I learned that you never threw things away because they cost money and you might need them some day. My favorite description of this sickness is the following. When I was young, my father decided that it was a lot of wasted effort to go down to the basement to adjust the damper on the Furnace. He bought a pulley and some chain, drilled a couple of holes in the floor and mounted the pulley on the upstairs wall so the damper could be adjusted upstairs. There was a piece of chain left over so it was put on the work bench. When my brothers and I left home, my mother and father moved and we moved that chain to the new house. When my father died, my mother moved and we moved that piece of chain to her new place. When she moved out of that house, she could use it there so I moved that piece of chain to Philadelphia, where I lived then. One day I needed a piece of chain for a window weight and remembered that 25 cent piece of chain, went down to the basement, found it and it was just right. I couldn’t have been happier if I had found a $100.00 on the street.
When I was in high school, I had an interest in photography so, in addition to helping in the shop I got a job after school in a photo shop where I learned all aspects of that trade. The importance of this will be revealed later.
At the time I was ready to graduate from High school. It was in the middle of the Second World War and everybody was expected to serve. I decided that I would have a hard time adjusting to the army life so I graduated on the 5th of June, joined the merchant marine on the 12th and became 18 on the 16th of June. I was assigned to a new Victory ship made in Portland. They decided that we needed to move out of the way for the next ship coming off the line so we left a day early and some of the fastening down wasn’t completed. We left the Columbia River, into a hurricane and headed down to Oakland to pick up our cargo. I was assigned the 4 to 8 shift and reported to the second mate. We were rocking and rolling in the storm, especially without any ballast, and the second mate decided that I should go on deck and see that everything was ok. I went out on the foreword deck. It was pitch dark and no lights were allowed. I was feeling my way when I heard a whirring sound. It turned out that the 30 ton lift on number three hatch had come loose from the deck and was swinging across the ship past the shrouds, knocking off the life rafts that were there. Why I didn’t get knocked off too, I don’t know. I went back to report this to the second mate, thinking he would send somebody who knew what they were doing, but he said “Dave, go out there and fix it”. Being a dumbass kid, I got another ordinary seaman to help and, somehow got that thing corralled. That was when my knee went to pot and I decided that one might not have another day so I had better enjoy the one I had.
We made three trips out to Saipan carrying beer, butter and B29 engines. You can guess which were unloaded first. It was a fairly uneventful time except for being followed by a Japanese sub for three days, an occasional air raid while in port and popping my head up in a marine ammo dump because I was too lazy to hike back through the suicide cliffs.
After three trips my knee got so bad they sent me to the Navel hospital in Saint Albans, New York. Spent six months there while they were attempting to fix it. Much later I went to an orthopedic Dr who took one look at the job done and said “we don’t do it like that anymore.”
When I was discharged from there as unfit for further military duty, I decided that the country boy from out west should spend a little time in the Big Apple to see what was going on. I walked down Jamaica Ave, going into every store looking for work. The first place that would hire me was Bickford’s Cafeteria. I became a dish washer and learned that if some one put gum on the silverware and it got in the machine, you could solve the problem by putting butter in the machine. So much for what you can learn in a dish washing job.
Later I found a small photo studio for sale and that was where my after-school experience came in handy. The place was in the ground floor of an apartment building. Every morning I would go out and sweep off the sidewalk and see the same people coming out of the apartments every day. As was the custom at home, I would say good morning and they would look at me like what does he want to steal. I did have a good time in the big city but after three years of being looked at suspiciously by my neighbors, I decided that I belonged back in Oregon.
I came back and went to work in the cycle shop. While doing that, I still enjoyed the races but I was still a chicken so I sponsored Frank Williams racing career. He always told me that you can do anything if you have momentum. It was during this time that I got good at changing tires and sprockets. We would go to races and Frankie would tell me to go to Joe Leonard’s pit and see what tire he was using. I would do that and report to Frank who would tell me to put that one on. Of course, by the time he got to the line, Joe would have had some other tire put on. Despite Joe Leonard’s deceitful ways, we did well enough to get Frank a good national number.
During this time, I was in the shop one day and a guy came in and asked if I would take his airplane in trade on a motorcycle. I always liked a trade so I told him sure, he could look over what I had and see what he liked. (He had lost an eye and couldn’t get a medical). He found one he liked and he drove off with the motorcycle and I had a Taylorcraft sitting out at the airport. It was clear that I should learn to fly, before I sold it, so I took lessons and got my license. During one of these lessons the instructor took over and put the plane in a tail spin and scared me to death. When we got down on the ground I asked him if he had ever been on a motorcycle. He said “no” so I said I would give him a ride. I went back to the shop and got Frank’s KHR TT bike. The police weren’t so fussy then about licenses and lights, etc. Went out to the airport, got the instructor on the back and whacked that thing on, in the gravel. He climbed up my back and about squeezed me to death so when we got back, I asked him if we had a truce and wouldn’t scare each other again. It was agreed.
I was having a good time with the Taylorcraft but one winter Sunday I was sitting around the house when the airport called me to say that there were two people there who wanted to buy it. By this time I was addicted to it, so I said no. A little later they called again to see if I would reconsider. Again, I said no. They called again to ask so I decided to say that if they would give me my price, in cash, they could have it. They said yes, so I went out to the airport, took their money, signed the papers and went back home. I hoped they enjoyed owning it because, on their way home they hit an air pocket, put their heads through the skin and crashed.
I still had the flying bug so when an opportunity came to buy in on a Bellanca, I did. Loved that plane, but had some experiences with it. One time some friends and I decided to fly to San Francisco to see the San Jose Mile race. All went well till we got to the airport. On my approach I tried to check out the layout of the airport. All seemed OK in my mind but when we got on the ground, all I could see was grass on either side of the runway. About that time my battery died and the radio went out. Couldn’t tell where to go so I pulled over in the grass. Later a car came to where we were and told me to follow him to where I should park and not to get in the plane till I was ready to get out of there and not come back till my radio worked. It was a good race however except that Tanner won.
Another time some friends and I decided to fly down to the salt flats to see a speed run the NSU factory were doing. I asked the “big boys” where I should land at the salt flats. Every one said I shouldn’t land at the flats because you couldn’t tell where the ground was. Go to Wendover. I went to Wendover. The airport looked about as long as my shop. There was a bank with a road on top at the end. There were also 30 mile per hour cross winds. I got it down and didn’t ground loop at the bank but I let my friends out, saying I would meet them at the flats, thinking it couldn’t be any worse there. It wasn’t. There were several hundred miles of flat surface and all I had to do was fly down till the wheels touched the ground and then slow down till it wouldn’t fly. I never thought I would see a 125cc bike go 125 miles per hour. Now that seems to be nothing. Recently I read Bill Monroe’s book, The World’s Fastest Indian and learned that that weekend was his first visit to the Salt Flats, I didn’t meet him there though.One day a man came into the shop and expressed an interest in buying a motorcycle. He had been looking in a number of shops, but was still looking. We talked for some time, not about the motorcycle he was interested in, but about the experience of riding a motorcycle. His name was Dave Foster and my experience with him led me to meeting a number of very interesting people. He bought a bike, a Harley Davidson K model. I taught him to ride and he took off for home in Eugene, Oregon. I did a pretty good job of teaching him to ride except for one little detail. He was taking courses at the University of Oregon and headed there when he left the shop. Everything went well ‘till he got to the school and stopped. I had forgot to emphasize the fact that with only two wheels, you had to put your feet down when you stopped. He didn’t and fell down with his finger pressed on the horn button. Fortunately, he forgave me and we were great friends until he was killed while walking across the street.At the time I met Dave, he was an Art teacher at Springfield High School. As usual, no one thought of art as important so all the misfits and trouble makers were put in his classes. No problem for Dave. He found ways to engage their interests and relate it to learning about things they ought to know. One of the ways was through motorcycles. From time to time I loaned him little Harley Hummers. He would take these to some field and would get his students riding and investigating how cycles worked and the physical principals involved in riding and relating them to what they were being exposed to in school.
Dave was a person that thought ahead, even for the time he would die. He planned a party for that occasion. Many of his friends and former students came and talked about what he had meant to them and it was amazing what these former trouble makers became. They were artists, designers, inventors and all kinds of successful people.I stayed with the motorcycles till 1959 when we sold the shop to Danny Adams. About this time a friend, I had gone to school with, called me up to see if I would help him sell pianos at Christmas. I thought, why not, so went to work at his piano store. Selling pianos turned out to be pretty easy, so, after Christmas, I stayed on selling pianos door to door. I would load up a truck Monday and take off for the week. I sold from San Francisco to the Canadian border and from the coast to Idaho. That was the easiest money I ever made. One time, I went to a house where a guy was interested in an electric organ. We talked for a while and finally he said “you see those two horses out there?” I said “yes”. He said that if I would take them as trade on the organ, we had a deal. I told him to sit right there and I would be back. I went into town and found a horse buyer and brought him out to the guy’s house. Asked him what he would give me for them. He told me, so I said wait right there; went into the house and made the deal. Went outside and told the horse buyer they were his. Went back to the store, laid the contract down on the desk showing the nonpayment as two buckskin geldings and suggested they should be careful when they opened the truck. My conscience got the better of me as it was too tempting to sell pianos to people who would buy but I knew they wouldn’t use it; or couldn’t afford it.
All this time I was in contact with Dave Foster. He was then teaching Art, film making and communications at the University of Oregon. One time he wanted to get some equipment for processing and making films. He and two other friends of his drove down to Los Angeles. He had a contact there that could get us to used film equipment. While on this trip we went to a party. At this party we met a little man who sounded like the biggest name dropper I had ever met. He was interesting and when he asked us if he could catch a ride with us to San Francisco, we said yes. All the way to San Francisco he kept telling us about interesting experiences he had. His name was Benny Buffano.
Later, I found out more about him. Whenever I was selling pianos near San Francisco I would call him up and we would do the South Beach section of San Francisco together. I think every one there knew him as we couldn’t take two steps but what someone would call “hi Benny”. One time he took me to lunch at a cafeteria where he had done a wall mural in tile. He did it for free lunches for the rest of his life and was so pleased that he could eat free.
As with most artists, he didn’t make much money and needed a bigger space to do the work that he wanted to do. He talked the city into giving him a corner of the city shop. Soon he expanded so much that he occupied the whole shop. You can see a lot of his work down by the Maritime museum and outside the San Francisco airport. He, like Dave, expanded my outlook no end.
Dave Foster was a great influence on my life. We road together and spent hours talking about our ideas. At one time he loaned me a book that he said I should read. It was called People in Quandaries by Wendell Johnson. I tried to read it but couldn’t get through the first few pages. I tried and tried to give it back to him but he always told me to keep it till I read it. Finally, I figured out that I just had to do it before I could get rid of it so I plunged in. After a while I got fascinated by what he was saying and couldn’t put it down. The idea was that we shouldn’t confuse words with the real thing. The real thing hitting you might hurt but the word can’t hurt you. It helped me keep my calm many a day.
Dave was my gateway to many interesting adventures. We did a lot of riding together. When he died, some at the University wanted to do a film about him. They knew that we had many a ride together and asked me to stand in for him on the motorcycle shots which, of course, I was happy to do. One sub reason was that the last cycle Dave had was a BMW and they arranged for the loan of a Dakar model BMW for me to ride. The organizer of this film was hired to do a documentary about the Spruce Goose when it came to the Air Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. He invited me to come up to see the plane while he was working on the film so I had free and separate run of the plane. A wonderful experience.
Took some time off then but had a lot of pressure. People were always asking if I had a job yet or was I looking for work. One day about six months later I got a telegram from an outfit in Philadelphia asking if I wanted to explore a job with them. I had never heard of them but found some people who had and they all said they were a good outfit so I wrote back to say yes. One thing led to another and I went to work for them. They hired me for a year but kept me on for 14 years. Took my BMW motorcycle back and rode it to work till some one stole it. Got married there and had four kids, two girls (twins) and two boys. After the BMW was stolen I bought a little 350 Honda twin. Had to go to a meeting in North Carolina and decided to ride it there. I got on the Blue Ridge parkway and what a cycle road it was. When I had to get off and get on one of the state roads, it was even more fun. I was riding right on the edge ‘till I was going around a corner when there was a car coming the other way on my side of the road. Had to lay it down, rubbed a hole in my jacket and decided that if I wanted to live I should leave a little margin.
When the company ran out of money (no fault of mine) I came back to Oregon and bought a cabinet shop here in Monmouth. Also bought a house which, as it turned out, it was right next to a farm owned by Cliff Stump. It turned out that he was a member of the Oregon Oldtimers. He also had a motocross track on his farm. I didn’t know anything about motocross as it wasn’t around when I quit the motorcycle business. I sat up on my roof every weekend for about a year when I got up nerve enough to go over and ask him if I could come and play. He, of course, said yes. I found an old 350XL Honda, took off the lights and joined in the fun. The first thing I knew, he took me to a race in McMinnvile, and I was hooked. You didn’t have to go 80 miles an hour into the corners. Since then I have met the nicest bunch of people I have ever known (and I have met a lot of nice people in my life) though the nicest and most fun have been you people in Canada. The third year I was doing the motocross I broke my neck at McMinnville and my wife from Philadelphia decided that she had enough of me. I survived it all and have kept on having fun.
My four kids taught me a lot about how we learn. We decided to not send them to the school across the street from where we lived. We tried to keep things around the house that took their interest. It seemed to work. One would get interested in a project and the others would join in to see what was going on. As each would get saturated in that they would back off and pursue other interests which would draw others to that and the process would just keep going on. My job at that time put me in contact with many interesting and thoughtful people. We had many of them come to the house and the kids would sit in and listen and, as they were able, contribute to the conversation. When we moved back west, it was apparent that social contacts were made in the school, so we enrolled them. They fit right in the grade level that was right for their age, but were a little bored with the pace. Fortunately, by this time I was into the Old Timers and one of the guys I went racing with was the Principal of the school. We were able to work out a deal so the kids could spend a lot of their time in Independent Study. They turned out to be great kids.
Later my oldest son met a young lady from Venezuela who was visiting a cousin in Portland. One thing led to another and they decided to get married. They invited me to the wedding in Venezuela, so I went down for the wedding. After the wedding, at the party, I was sitting in the corner drinking rum as I didn’t speak Spanish and no one but my son spoke English; when this lady came over to me and asked if I would like to dance. It seemed like it would be more fun than drinking rum, so I said yes. She made me the oldest living gringo meringue dancer. My son’s jaw dropped about a foot but it was fun. A few years later I went back down with my son and his wife. The same lady was there and I thought she was pretty nice. When I came back home I kept in contact by phone. Had to get a Mexican friend to come over and interpret for me. If you would have had telephone stock at that time you would be well off. Went down another time before I could talk her into marriage but, after five years, she said yes.
After 65 years of working for a living and thanks to Franklin Roosevelt I decided that was enough. Now nothing keeps me from having fun at motocross except for the price of gas. We were getting along all right with the old Dodge van and a tent trailer till the first time we went to your BCOT race. At that time you didn’t have porta-potties, just two outhouses. Maggy said, no more of that till we had our own. Jim Newman, an active oldtimer, who was in the used car business, found us the rig we have now. It does us well, but is not easy on gas.
Well, I have gone on and on, but you asked for it. You should be asleep by now. In any case, I consider you as a good friend and I hope you feel I am a friend of yours.