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August 2012

Moon Quotes

The Art of Riding Two-Up -

Surely, anyone that has been around the Sunshine State of Mind, for any length of time, can tell you that riding solo is held in great esteem. Gazing up at the stars, while riding on the open prairie, or high atop a mountain, will move one's soul like no other experience. The pre-dawn light growing about you as you make your way to a remote destination, then being enveloped in the light from the first slice of sun as it appears over the horizon, will surely dazzle and fill one with the desire to see and feel it again and again. Any of these sights are very special. When it is all said and done, we are alone. You can only know what you see and what you feel. If you are lucky, you will meet someone that sees and feels things that are complimentary to the way you do. This is a special miracle that may be merely chance, or divine, which will be left up to the individual to decide. Most would agree how special it is to find someone who you can share in "the good things, the bad things, and the terrible things" as the companion claiming witness to your life.

Fred and Lorraine
The Sunshine State of Mind is going to cover just such a couple. Many of you know these people. They have long been members and friends of T.M.R.A. They have attended your functions and donated to your causes. They have supported you and each other in good times and in bad. With all due respect -

Fred and Lorraine Stafford

When I first met them has escaped me. Fred and Lorraine have become such fixtures at T.M.R.A. events it hard to remember exactly where I first saw them.


Ah, the Motor City. At the turn of the 20th century, Detroit became the home of 125 automobile manufacturers. During the Depression, the UAW used Detroit as a major target of the industrial union movement. The push back by the companies was titled "Battle of the Overpass" where many union supporters were savagely beaten. Of those 125, only Chrysler, GM, Packard and Ford survived. At the time of the decline, Blacks flocked to Detroit, lured by the promise of high paying jobs. In 1967, Detroit erupted with one of the worst race riots in American history. By then, even the entry-level jobs had disappeared, and the city experienced a cataclysmic "white-flight." By the 1970's, Detroit's image had been completely transformed from the mighty engine of American capitalism to the epitome of America's urban woes.

A view from the opposite bank; Detroit was the home of many famous music entertainers. The following is the short list, if I were to include them all there would be no space left to talk about the Staffords, which I promise to get back to in short order.

The list: Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, Grand Funk Railroad, Iggy Pop, and of course Ted Nugent.

The Detroiters, doing their best to survive while busy with getting to know their territory, were lucky enough to be graced by a rich musical culture.

Re-Enter - The Staffords

As bona fide 50's Detroit children, they were born 8 months apart. Lorraine's mother was Canadian. They moved back to Canada when Lorraine was very young, where she spent most of her formative years.

Fred was a classic product of the Motor City. Dressed in creased black pants, satin shirt, metallic vest and hat, he was quite the dapper man, who knew his "territory."

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Fred was quite proud of the fact that he attended the same school as Diana Ross, (the Cass Technical High School). He went on to tell me that many jazz greats also went to school there as well as Lily Tomlin, Della Reese, Allen Grier and Ellen Burstyn. (Ellen is an actress who's movie and TV career can be traced back to the late 50's, the type of actor you'd see on the screen and exclaim, "Hey, I know that woman, what's her name?")

At the age of 14, Fred fell in a big way for motorcycles. The president of the Highwaymen MC was a neighbor. Fred had learned to take engines from a Cushman and put them in a frame. He got good enough at building the engines that he was soon outrunning the police. You see, Fred didn't have a license nor did his scooter have a license plate. In the truest sense of the word, Fred had become an outlaw at a very early age.

Fred quickly advanced through the mini bike stage, going on to an Allstate and then a Wizard. It was through his association with the MC that Fred learned to wrench. He became proficient at putting the knuckleheads together. The knowledge gained during this time served him well.

At the age of 17, his family succumbed to the "White-Flight" and moved to the suburbs of Sterling Heights. This proved to be a wise move as it was during this time that he met Lorraine and changed his way of dressing.


Lorraine had a couple of boyfriends who owned motorcycles. At the age of 15, her boyfriend had a Honda. Her mother made Lorraine scrub the driveway after each date (there goes the myth that only Harley's leaked oil). Lorraine laughed when she told me her mother approved of the motorcycle, "because you couldn't have sex on a motorcycle." I am not about to argue this point and will only say, way to go mom! In the summer of '67, when she was 17, her second boyfriend had a Triumph. She met Ken while visiting her cousin in Niagara Falls, Canada.

A perfect pairing

In the fall of '67, Fred and Lorraine both went to the same high school in Warren, Michigan. Ken, (remember Ken), came to visit Lorraine for the Christmas break. This created a certain dynamic and forced Lorraine to choose. Since Fred had captured Lorraine's heart. The choice was easy; they never looked back.

I asked the obvious question as to whether it was motorcycles that attracted her to Fred. Her answer tickled the b'jiggers out of me when she replied, "No, he was persistent and raw." "Raw?" I questioned. "Yes", she added, "Raw. He needed to be molded."

His attention shifting, Fred had begun working on cars. Both of them still loved motorcycles. Lorraine would sigh at the passing of each motorcycle. It was not long before they rented a Honda. They were married in 1970.

They had a choice of buying bikes or furniture. If they bought furniture they would just sit around, so they bought two Yamahas, a 200cc and a 174cc, for riding around on Friday and Saturday nights. One thing led to another and they put saddlebags on them so they could go further and further away from home. On long excursions, they would go together on one bike. This created another problem. With the added weight of the saddlebags and Lorraine on the back, Fred found it difficult to keep the front wheel on the ground. Enter the blue and gold, 1973, 650SX Yamaha, which was later stolen. They replaced that bike with a '76 650, with a Windjammer fairing, which they rode all over Michigan. In '79 they purchased an 1100SX with a sidecar. Lorraine didn't sit well with the sidecar and they sold it.

The Staffords in Texas

Texas was graced with their presence in 1981. The Texas landscape suited them well and they could ride year around, with many great places to visit.

In 1983, they both became T.M.R.A. members. Next year they will become life members.

In '84 you could find them riding on a 1200 Gold Wing (Aspencade). They ran with the likes of T.M.R.A. lifer, Jim Robinson. They rode with the Misfits for a bit but never joined a club. After putting 98,000 miles on the GW, they tried a '97 Fatboy (too small), and then a 2001 Electra Glide that reached 96,000 on the odo while participating in T.M.R.A. runs. In 2008, Fred went in for tires and came out with a bike with ABS, 6-gallon tank, and a 6-speed tranny. I'm sure y'all know how that works.

It saddens me to report that Fred was diagnosed with cancer. You don't hear Fred complaining. Lorraine has continued to support their love of riding. He had trouble maneuvering the two-wheeler in gravel and soft dirt so they have gone to the Harley 103 Tri-Glide.

As many of us complain about it being too hot or too cold or too wet, Fred and Lorraine travel around the countryside. It seems that buying motorcycles instead of furniture has turned out to be one of the best decisions they ever made. In my mind, these life-long companions fit the definition of heroes. They are my heroes.

Buckaroos, there are pix and an additional story about the Staffords vs the Park City police. I encourage you to stop by the SSOM page to see the bonus section.
Ride em if ya go em!

As the Michigan miles and experiences added up, Fred and Lorraine were drawn to more distance locations. They had been thinking about a special trip, a dream-trip, to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Anything can happen on a road trip. The Stafford's were about to have this notion drilled into them on this trip.

The route to the Blue Ridge Parkway takes you through Ohio and Kentucky. As you approach southern Ohio, the scenery just gets better and better. The intrepid duo had made it onto the Ohio Turnpike when their chain broke. Luckily there was a tractor dealership near by that had a heavy, high-speed chain, which they adapted to get them back on the road. It was in Park City, Kentucky where they pulled over at a stop sign to check their AAA map.

As some of you may know, Park City is on US-65, the last town before you take the Cumberland Parkway, east, towards Virginia and the Blue Ridge. There they were, pouring over the map to make sure they were 'on-route' when a local policeman stopped behind them and got out of the car, cautiously approaching the unsuspecting travelers. When Fred said hello to the officer, the policeman accused them of going 90mph in a 35mph zone, adding that the "blank bikers" have no respect. Fred and Lorraine thought this rather absurd as they doubted they could even do 90mph, as they were loaded down with gear and two-up on the bike. The policeman did not find the humor in the assessment and had them follow him the two blocks to the city jail. They were locked up and the judge was called to come down to the courthouse.

On the testimony of the police officer, the judge quickly found them guilty of speeding through their quiet little town. To get out of jail, the Stafford's had to pay $450. They gave up the money, but needless to say, that put an end to their dream vacation.

That's how it was before the new millennium explosion of motorcycle popularity. Traveling across the U.S. had many pitfalls along the way, not always perpetrated by criminals or common road hazards.

Another story the Stafford's related to me, that some of those who have been riding for many decades can relate to, is how they had to finagle to get a motel room on their travels. Fred told me how they would park their bikes around the corner and shed their riding apparel. They would walk up to the motel office to check into their rooms. After getting the key, they would go back to get the bike and ride it around to park it in front of their room.

The thing all road riders enjoy about riding is the adventure, the discovery of the unknown. We don't always plan on or expect the kind of negative adventures that the Stafford's went through. While they are not the best of times or the fondest memories, they do make great stories to tell the young-un. My advice is to ask the folks that rode before you to share stories of their adventures. They will entertain and enlighten you as they relate and illuminate the joyful, and the not so joyful, stories of the road.

Bonus PIX

2012 Christmas in July
Lorraine and Fred
Christmas in July
Fern Norville Children's Home

In the Bluebonnets
T.M.R.A. State Rally 2012
Comanche City Park
In the Bluebonnets

Posing on Trike
Posing at the
T.M.R.A. State Rally

Bike Show
Cleanup before bike show

Fred & Lorraine
Norville Children's Center
Fred and Lorraine
Always there for the kids

Entering Big Bend
Entering Big Bend

Fort Davis
In the Davis Mountains

Paris, Texas