Many important things happened in the 1960s. Those historical events paled in significance compared to getting a driver’s license (on my 16th birthday—on the very day). By the time the decade was over, I was on my third car, had started Art Center, and had been awarded a get-out-of-jail-free card by the Selective Service System. They replaced my 1A draft status with a number 341 in the lottery. They only got up to 125 that following year. No Viet Nam for me.
What does any of this have to do with a 1933 Indian? A driver’s license meant I was old enough to drive a car or, heaven forbid, a motorcycle. My dad sat me down one day and explained the rules. “I don’t EVER want you to get a motorcycle,” he explained in no uncertain terms. But there was a trailing tone in his voice—there was more to come. “But if you do, get a big one.” No small import bikes for him. He meant that the big bikes were safer.
My dad on his Indian Four in Oklahoma City in the mid ’30s.
I have photos from the ’30s of my dad on several of his motorcycles. He told me a bit about this one. Funny, I don’t remember him ever talking about his Harley’s. He bought the Indian from a policeman, it was great for parades because it could be driven slowly in any gear (loads of low-end torque), and you could nearly lay the bike down on its side by wacking the throttle if the bike was standing still.
Enter Jay Leno. He has one of these bikes, and has a video on Leno’s Garage where he goes over the bike in great detail. He ends with a ride on the bike where the viewer comes along with him. It’s a great video, and helped me connect with my dad and his experiences with his Indian.
Jay Leno’s Indian Four