Monday, April 30, 2012

Why I Don't Like Motorcycles

Gus Roman, third from right
Believed to have been taken before the races on that fateful day.
It was an actual experience only once in my life. The momentous year I turned thirty and had to try some new things, my brother happened to own a motorcycle. He didn't have it very long as I think his wife had something to say about it. After a few moments of instruction, he sent me off on the bike. I cruised around the neighborhood a little only having trouble when I turned and realized that also seemed to rev the accelerator which was on the grip of the handle bar. Going faster as I circled was not a pleasant experience. But I safely slowed and got the bike back to my brother without an accident.

It may be a family history incident somehow ingrained in me that keeps me wary of motorbikes.

From the Salt Lake Herald of May 31, 1913:
Motorcycle on Which He Went to His End Was But Recently Bought
Ogden, May 30. – In the presence of more than 2000 people, Augustus Daniel Roman of Riverdale, riding at a rate of seventy-five miles an hour in the motorcycle race at the Fair grounds this afternoon, lost control of his machine and dashed into the fence on one of the turns in the half-mile course, receiving injuries from which he died ten minutes later while being taken to the hospital.
When the accident happened, Dr. R.E. Worrell, who was a spectator, rushed to the injured man’s aid. Upon examination, he found that Roman’s neck had been broken and his left temporal bone severely fractured. Roman was placed in an automobile belonging to Judge George McGee and hurried to the hospital, but died before reaching it. His body was taken to the Lindquist undertaking parlors.
The race was the second on the program and was listed as a five-mile race, those entering being Roman, Lester Terry, Harry Tagris, and Harry Martin. The quartet were bunched as they passed the grand stand in the third lap.
Roman was seen to be unsteady and was riding close to the fence. Suddenly the foot rest of his machine struck one of the boards of the fence, breaking the board, and the next minute the unfortunate young man was dashed into the fence, the impact crushing his head and breaking his neck.
Upon losing control of his machine, Roman apparently threw on the brakes, as they were found tightened after the accident. His right foot, which was crushed, became entangled in the rear wheel, the shoe being torn entirely from his foot and the spokes of the wheel broken. As the machine dashed against the fence, the rider remained fixed in his seat in an unconscious condition, with his head swinging back and forth. The motorcycle fell on him, causing the fracture of the left temporal.
Few of the pleasure seekers witnessing the exciting race realized that the accident was fatal, and not until the motorcycle races for the day were called off were they aware of the seriousness of the affair. The event seemed to put a damper on the remainder of the festivities, many leaving after the accident.
Young Roman was in his twentieth year, having been born in Riverdale, Weber county, in September 1893. He was the son of Daniel B. Roman of Riverdale [my Great-Great-Grandfather, born 1851 in Piedmont Italy, died 1924]. He assisted his father on the farm and, according to members of the family, had but recently purchased a motorcycle.
Besides his father, the young man is survived by three brothers, Charles, Victor and Le Roy Roman of Riverdale; and two sisters, Mrs. J.D. Wheelwright of Ogden [my Great-Grandmother, Mary Mourina Roman Wheelwright (1883-1972), whom I knew well] and Miss Gertrude Roman of Riverdale.
The article in the Ogden Examiner adds the details that Gus was riding a twin-cylinder Indian and that several members of his family were present at the race. It does not mention what my Aunt reports that another person was likely present, Gus's fiancé, Ethel. They were hoping for some winnings to help fund their wedding. I have not yet been able to determine Ethel's last name. But, again, thanks to my Aunt. I do have this picture:

Gus and Ethel engaged to be married
The funeral was that Sunday. I don't know what happened to Ethel. A few month later, Gus's family went to the Salt Lake Temple to do his endowment work.

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