When James was 8 years old in 1967, he was already riding little dirt bikes on his parents' farm in Nebraska. One day, his oldest brother Greg (who was 18 at the time) came home with a 1929 Harley Davidson JD that he had pulled out of a rural country dump. It was quite beat up, rusted, bits missing, front end smashed, etc., and at one point in its life had been re-painted from head to toe with a hideous grey color by hand with a brush. Greg started a restoration on this bike in the corner of his dad's farm shop and worked on it for a few years on and off while he attended college.
James' dad grew tired of the bike sitting in his shop without signs of progress and sold it out from under Greg in 1970. At the time, James heard that his parents had sold it to someone who was involved in their AACA club. His parents wouldn't tell Greg who they sold it to, and it was a bone of contention between them for many years.
Decades passed and James continued his involvement with motorcycles in a variety of ways, from riding to racing, restoring to swapping and trading. James had some hard losses starting in 2007 when his dad passed away. His mom passed in 2010 and his brother Greg in 2011.
James has lived in Ft. Collins, CO since the early '80s. In 2012 he had just completed restoring his Norton 850 Commando and rode it to the annual AACA swap meet in Loveland, CO. He bumped into Bill, a good friend of his parents, whom he had known for many years. Bill was checking out James' Commando while chatting and said "you'll have to swing by my house sometime and check out my old Harley," to which James replied, "Wow, I didn't know you had an old Harley!"
About 6 months later, James rode by Bill's house on his Commando. He was standing in Bill's garage next to a 1929 Harley Davidson JD and thought, "This bike sure looks familiar." He asked Bill, "is this the same Harley that Greg pulled out of the country dump in '67?" Bill replied, "Yep, my wife bought it from your mom in 1970 for $100 and gave it to me as a birthday present." James was amazed to be standing next to the bike from his childhood.
Sadly, Bill passed away in 2013, and James purchased the Harley back from the family. He is now in the process of correcting a few bits on the bike and will be adding a tag to it that reads "In memory of Greg (RIP), the fellow who saved this machine from obscurity."
Having grown up in Northern Michigan and immersed in the classic car and boat hobby, working for Hagerty was a natural choice. I graduated from Central Michigan University with a B.S. in Psychology in May of 2013 and was fortunate enough to start my career with Hagerty the following fall. Over the years, my father and I have built several smaller wooden boats and restored multiple 1950s Mercury outboards. I am also a lover of all things Corvette and hope to someday have a 1969 'vette to call my own.