Friday, July 19, 2013

Celebrating a Half-Century of Scott's Cycle in 1965

With the drear, drear civic debates these days, a pick-me-up is in order. Here's something more cheerful. You may recall an earlier note about the antecedents of Scott's Cycle in 1913.

May 16th, 1965
Here's a piece from 1965 on the occasion of the sale of his business to the group that included current owner Larry Lewis.  Reflections on the different bike booms, bike transportation, and the civic stature of bike dealers are also interesting.
The surprising thing, as Harry W. Scott look back on nearly a half-century as "the cycle man" of Salem, is that the important things in his life haven't really changed.
April 24, 1915
The store, he recently sold at 147 Commercial St. SE, no longer is the hub of downtown Salem, and America no longer travels exclusively on two wheels.

But his stock in trade, the bicycle, is as popular as ever, and in fact, selling faster than when he was just starting for himself in Salem in 1916.

"We sell more bicycles now than ever. It used to be that adults rode bikes to get to work. Now they and the whole family use them for pleasure."

Variety of Bicycles

Once, bikes were fairly uniform in type. Now, says Scott, there are sizes and styles for all tastes: "stingrays" with long handlebars for in-town riding, 10-gear racers for the cyclist who really wants to cover ground, and everything in between.

The automobile, which might seem to be the foe of the bike, is actually helping sales, Scott observed.

It's so hard to find parking and get through the traffic, many have turned to the bike for salvation, he chuckled.

Scott, 69, a business fixture in Salem and a former school board member and Salem First Citizen, looks back nostalgically on his long time cycle shop, which he sold last month to Donald Edward Collins, Jr., who has a large cycle shop in Eugene.

Scott's chop, which will continue to bear his name and his brand of service, has been remodeled and enlarged and is now the biggest in size in Oregon, Scott said. The Salem manager is Larry Lewis, who was with Collins in Eugene for seven years.

Pleasure from People

The other important thing that hasn't changed in the last 50 years is the pleasure Harry Scott gets from being with people, whether they are his customers - many from the third generation - or fellow civic worker on the Salem School Board, the State Board of Education or in other community activities that have kept Scott busy.

"It's been an interesting business," observed Scott, now taking life easier at his comfortable home on a three acre plot at 1045 Cunningham Lane SE.

The main course of his civic activities was 16 years on the Salem School board, starting in the post-war era when the district began to quadruple in number of schools through consolidations and new construction.

Leaving the board in 1961, he was appointed by Gov. Mark Hatfield to a seven-year term on the State Board of Education.

It's a fact which Scott neither brags about nor apologizes for that he failed to finish high school. He was called to work by his father after his sophomore year in Salem and the chance to complete his formal education never returned, although he never stopped learning.

If anything, the inability to get a high school diploma has made him even more determined than most leaders in seeing that the present generation gets as much education as possible. In his own family, two of his three sons have doctorates.

Interested in Bicycles
January 30, 1913
Scott got into the cycle business almost by accident. His father an uncle bought a second-hand furniture store in Salem. Scott concentrated on bike sales, got interested in bikes, and soon bikes became the speciality of the house. A year or so later, in 1916, Scott became a teenage businessman, setting up his own shop on State Street where Hogg Bros. is now located.

Came World War I and he and cousin Charles Piper, his partner, were drafted the same day. The sign they posted on the shop - "Gone to War," with a drawing of the two cycle-mounted youths chasing the Kaiser back to Berlin - was reprinted in numerous trade publications.

Bested by Perry's
September 9, 1916
After the war, Scott set up his shop again Feb 11, 1919 at its present location. Until its sale it was the second oldest business in Salem under the same ownership. Perry's drug store next door is the oldest.

Scott specialized in used bikes, but also sold motorcycles. Motorcycles were crowded out later to a different location, and in 1957 he sold that end of the business.

The bike business is "cyclic" like most others. It boomed during the war, when cars and gasoline were hard to get. But people were so accustomed to four wheeled transportation that he had to conduct learn-to-drive schools on old Sweetland Field at Willamette University.

The revivial of interest in bike-riding elates Scott for reasons other than business. Bike-riders are a pleasant lot, he believes, happy, cheerful and fun-loving.

He hopes to see them around for a long while.

No comments: