SSOM Header

April 2012

Mule Quotes

We are T.M.R.A. -

The SSOM has leaned into a few curves in recent issues. It has covered several topics, steering towards editorials, sweeping through history and throwing a kickstand down at club events.

The author of the SSOM, me, has been mulling over just exactly what is this T.M.R.A. thing anyway. With over a decade of experience as a member of the organization, I am still discovering new aspects.

I think I have boiled it down to a single thing - the essence - the key ingredient - the driving force - it is people; the members; You - Me.

But who are these people? Who are the people that have spent a large part of their lives sporting a T.M.R.A. patch? That's what I've taken upon myself to find out. So as I travel the roads of Texas, finding little juicy places to visit and dine, I will also investigate the people behind the blue and red patch - think of the SSOM's subtitle as:

We are T.M.R.A.

Sam Phillips -

T.M.R.A. Membership #1228

Sam was born October 14, 1926 in Mercury, Texas. For you transplants, that's Merc' kree, Texas.

Sam's parents decided to try farming. They found themselves a tenant-farming gig near Lohn, Texas. At the age of 9, Sam fell in love with motorcycles.

One day the landlord's son rode into the fields where the children were working. He gave each of them a ride on the back. Sam said that all they had to sit on was an iron rack but that didn't matter. He went on to say, "Fire breathing, gravel slinging machine, I knew I love them at that moment."

Change of Plans

Anyone familiar with American history during the mid-thirties knows making a living was darn tough. The Phillips family had that harsh reality driven home. The farming thing didn't work out. In 1938 they loaded up all their possessions and moved to Brownwood, Texas where Sam's dad worked for the Works Projects Administration (WPA) and also as a janitor. It is easy to see where Sam got his work ethic.

December 7, 1941

The attack on Pearl Harbor changed everyone's life. Sam's two older brothers were drafted immediately following the "date that will live in infamy."

Sam was anxious to follow his brothers but had to wait until he was 17. He picked the USN. They saved plenty of war for Sam. As a Seaman 1st Class, he got in all the licks he could and then after 3 1/2 years he was discharged.


On a 60-day leave, between Sam's reenlistment, he met his lovely future wife Helen. Sam is a man who knows what he wants. He wanted two things more than anything else. He wanted Helen to be his wife and he wanted a motorcycle.

Muleshoe Roadriders Patch
As history will record it, Sam got his motorcycle first, a 45 CU Harley - WLA (the "A" stood for Army Surplus). Very soon after, he married Helen, who loved Sam, and his motorcycle but would have also loved a back seat.

I am sure many of my readers will relate to this - Sam soon wanted something bigger. The cubic inches jumped to a dizzying 74CU when Sam purchased a 1947 Indian Chief for the astronomical sum of $750.

Page 2

Old Classic

Sam cut quite a figure on his Indian. Sam was a devoted family man so when the kids came, as kids are wont to do, he put his two-wheel dreams aside and invested all his resources into his wife and daughters, which he had three of; daughters, not wives.

Sam became a fire fighter in 1950. A first rate fireman at that as 30 years later he retired as Captain. I am getting ahead of myself; let me back up to when Sam and Helen got back into motorcycling.

Little Honda
The purchase of a 500cc Honda got the Phillips back into motorcycles. It took one trip to Ruidoso to know it was too small. When they returned from that trip, Sam saw a 1974 Moto Guzzi, 850cc, and knew he had to have one.

Two years before the Guzzi, Sam joined T.M.R.A. Sam told me that all his friends throughout his life have been either fire fighters or motorcycle people or both.

The Guzz

Sam rode his Moto Guzzi for ten years before getting another motorcycle. The year was 1984. As any Harley aficionado can tell you, that was the first year for the EVO engine. Sam traded in for a brand new Harley with the engine that changed the company forever.

Club President - Steve Smith

In 2005 Sam purchased his Ultra Classic Fire Fighter Model and then within the first six months converted it into a trike. You'll have to go to the SSOM website to see that beautiful bike, in color, as you'll see all these pictures. **

Sam has a couple of other interesting hobbies. Sam has studied and worked hard to become a master gardener. I have been lucky enough to taste his produce - yum! Sam shares the love of photography with me. He has a good eye and it shows in his work.

Sam has been a real benefit to T.M.R.A. having stepped up three times to serve on the board when needed. He is a real inspiration and we need dozens more like him.

Twenty-five years ago, in early October, Sam took off on a route he had been planning for some time. He got the idea for a mini-Iron Butt and wanted to make it as traffic free as possible. It turned out to be close enough to 750 so he called it done. The Permian Basin folks voted to make it an official run and in June of 87 the first Annual 750/50 was kicked-off. After running in June for a couple of years, it was decided to move it to May to get a break from the heat. It has started in May every year since.

It is Sam's hope that he can make 10 more runs, making it a grand total of 35. If Sam accomplishes his goal he will be the golden age of 95.

Well Buckaroos, I have more about Sam and his 750/50 on the SSOM site so y'all come on out and see this whole thing in color. Right now Amana is filthy and in dire need of soap and water, having ridden through the big rain after the rally. Y'all ride safe - but mostly -

Ride em if ya go em!

** (web note - obviously you are at the website, so yes, there is color)

Bonus PIX

Helen and Sam
Helen and Sam Phillips

Old Indian
This Indian was made in Canada

Guzzi White
Guzzi in White

Guzzi Red
Guzzi - Fire Engine Red

Red - it has to be RED!

Sam & Fred
Sam and Fred (BAD) Simpson

In Sam's own words

The PBMA M/C was going strong in the mid 80s, someone always wanting to go on a ride most  
weekends. I got this idea of having a mini iron butt run on some Saturday of the year. I 
got the maps out and started looking for a suitable route that would cover about 750
miles. After studying the map for the longest, and adding up miles between towns, I
came up with a route that was basically wide open spaces, and could be ridden
without being in much traffic. In early October of 1986, I saddled up and took off by
myself, I wanted to check the roads and mileage. I left Odessa on 385 South to
McCamey, then 305 still going South. 305 to 190, right on 190 a few miles to I-10, and
East to Sonora. Took 277 South to Del Rio, then 90 West all the way to Van Horn.
Take I-10 East from Van Horn until I-20 starts. I-20 all the way back to Odessa. My
odometer said I had traveled 737 miles, good enough to claim 750.
So our club voted to have the first run in June of 87, I don't remember how many
club members rode, but it was quite a few. We rode in June for the first couple of
years, and decided it would be cooler if we rode it in May. It has been in May ever
since. The number of riders fluctuated from year to year. I believe it was in 92 that I
got to the starting place, and no one else showed up. I left at the appointed time,
5:00 AM sharp, and no one met me anywhere. I went ahead and completed the run alone.
My good friend, Paul Anderson has missed only two of the 25 runs, one was when his
company was remodeling their place of business, and the other time he was involved
in building his home. The ride survived without any more incidents like that one,
and the years kept passing by. They let me claim that I have made all 25 of the
runs, but two of the times should have an asterisk by them. I had just had surgery
before one of the runs, but made the run in my pick-up. And the other time was for a
funeral of one of the Fire Chiefs. The funeral was at 2:00 PM on the run day, so I rode
out with them at 5:00 AM and turned around at Sonora to return home and the funeral.
As soon as the funeral was over, I rode West to Pecos and rode back to Odessa with
them. Actually, the official beginning and ending point is Warfield, a truck stop
between Odessa and Midland.
In the 25 years since it's inception, the most serious incident happened about two years
ago. One rider that was way back in the group got involved with a deer before we
were 100 miles into the trip. He wasn't injured, but his bike had to be hauled home.
There were other minor problems, a few mechanical glitches that caused a few riders to
turn back on the run. On the very first run, yours truly had a run in with a
buzzard, the buzzard lost. Being the first run, I was riding as point man. We were
somewhere South of Sonora, buzzard country. I saw these buzzards in the ditch, slowed,
honked my horn trying to get them airborne. They didn't budge. When I was closing in
on their location, one of them came toward the highway trying to get airborne. He
got about axle high, hit my front wheel center on. Then blood, guts and feathers
made their way back across my boots, saddlebags, and landed on the pavement in a shower
of feathers. I am enclosing a drawing made by one of our club members that was an
eye witness to the ordeal. I cherish the picture, and a big thanks to Maurice Brown
for sketching the event for posterity. Maurice rode with us for many years. He made
the run a couple of times riding a 250 Honda scooter. Maurice is 91 years old now,
and still lives in Odessa. The last time I heard, he is still riding a scooter.
It is my hope that I can make 10 more runs, making it 35. I will only be 95 when this
happens. This years run is fast approaching as I write this, it happens on May 5, and I
am writing this April 22.So after this one, only 9 to go to reach my goal.