Sunday, November 8, 2015

Harry Scott goes off to War; Closes in 1918, Reopens around the Corner in 1919

Veterans Day is coming up, and there's always something new to learn.

One local chapter of the story concerns Harry Scott, founder of Scott's Cycle, and the way World War I affected him.

Back in the 19-teens and 20s, it seems, National Bicycle Week was a thing, and the principal Salem bike shops together advertised for it.

National Bicycle Week, May 4th, 1918
The benefits seem nearly timeless:
  • For Health and Pleasure 
  • Miles of Joy
  • Save Time
  • Save Gasoline
  • Limber up
  • Beat the bus or streetcar
Sound familiar?

But of course a major part of this was war and the prospect of rationing, especially of gasoline and its affect on automobility.

Our first auto show of February 1919
We have to remember, though, that talk about autos at this time maps more closely to talk about Teslas than talk of Fords or Toyotas today. Automobiles in 1918 remained aspirational and expensive, and they were not yet common. It is a mistake to read the historical rhetoric with contemporary autoist assumptions as if autos were widespread already. Think about all the press coverage for Tesla in proportion to how many are actually manufactured and owned. The same disproportion characterizes press through the 1920s at least.

Still, thrift could be patriotic. The United States had entered the war formally in April of 1917 and a draft followed shortly thereafter.

And it was not difficult to frame bikes as a patriotic and prudent thing to use.

Army of Bicycle Riders, May 25th, 1918
Harry Scott, co-owner of Scott & Piper, himself was drafted, and in 1918 he was ordered to report June 30th for Vancouver Barracks.

He and Charles Piper closed out the inventory and closed the store.

Drafted and Closing out Sale, June 15th, 1918
The Armistice was signed on November 11th, and he didn't stay in the Service for long. He may not have served overseas, even.

Returned from the Service, February 6th, 1919
According to a 1965 profile, he reopened the shop on February 11th. This time he was the sole proprietor, and Charles Piper went on to something else.

Significantly for us, the storefront on State Street was no longer available, and he reopened just around the corner in today's location of Scott's Cycle, at 147 Commercial St. SE.

And the rest is history, as they say.


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