April 6, 2006
Fitzgerald- The popularity of doing it yourself seems relatively new, but more than a half-century ago, a man wanted an inexpensive motor scooter that he could repair himself.
Dan Hudson finds himself remembering the 1950s with fondness. He bought a Cushman motor scooter for $10, a steal back more than a half-century ago. "It really was. I found one I could afford to get and fix it up where I could ride it," says Dan.
It wouldn't run, but that didn't matter to Dan. "You can fix it yourself and have a good time doing it," says Dan, as he stands in a converted storage building where one end houses his workshop.
Dan fixed the scooter, and proudly shows a picture of him riding it. Later, he would trade it for a 10-speed bicycle, but he couldn't get rid of the memories. Its simplicity really appeals to him. "You want to do things yourself and fix it and make it a source of pride," says Dan.
Parts of two engines sit on the edge of his wooden work bench, with scars in the wood where he has slid the cylinders back and forth so much. "They are just old technology," says Dan.
Cushman owners often have a spare engine or two close by. "It's like we aren't going to get them anymore," says Dan, but the truth is parts remain readily available, especially on E-Bay, the huge Internet trading site that seems to have everything for sale.
An E-Bay search found 51 items from a bracket that holds the exhaust pipe to reconditioned scooters ready to ride. In another shed close by, a sign on the outside wall with two small American flags pushed behind it says, "Cushman sales and service," a gift from his wife.
Dan doesn't have a motorcycle repair business, but helps friends with Cushman keep their scooters in good condition. Two motorcycles share the space with his pride a joy, a Cushman Eagle, that looks brand new.
As he pushes the scooter gently to the outside, you can't help but believe that what goes around, comes around. Dan couldn't let go of the memories of his Cushman scooter days, more than a half-century ago, and bought another one about three years ago. "Kick on this kick until it starts," says Dan, as he turns on the fuel to its engine.
Cushman scooters had kick-starters, one of the brand's trademarks. "I've kicked 50 some odd times on this at one time," says Dan who reveals you can't start the scooter while sitting on it. "OK. Let's do it right this time," says Dan after four unsuccessful tries.
The fifth attempt worked. The engine started running, roughly at first until Dan released the carburetor's choke. Instantly, the one-cylinder engine ran smoothly. It had that unmistakable sound of a Cushman, another of its trademarks.
Dan put on his helmet, put the scooter in gear, and rode through the backyard to a gate. "I love the way it accelerates," says Dan.
He would ride down a pink azalea driveway to the street, turn right and head down memory lane one more time. "It's slow by today's traffic. It can't keep up with highway speeds," says Dan, but that doesn't matter to him.
He has plenty of places to ride his Cushman. "I like sitting on it, riding, moving through the air," says Dan who is confident that if anything happens mechanically on one of his outings, he can fix it himself.
Besides his Cushman Eagle scooter, Dan Hudson has a Harley-Davidson that he rides on long trips.