The Retreads started in late 1969 when George Spidel of El Cajon, CA (then a Master Chief with over 25 years in the Navy) happened to read a letter to the editor in a national motorcycle publication. The contents of the letter are long forgotten, but the writer’s signature stirred George’s curiosity; it was signed “Sheep Dip.” George wrote to the magazine with the request that it forward his letter to Sheep Dip, but instead, it published his letter in its entirety with the explanation that it was not a clearing house for letter writers. But they did publish George’s address. Sheep Dip never answered, but five other motorcyclists did: Bob House of Topeka, KS; “Kanney” Brown of PA; Ludwig Speidel of Quebec, Canada; Maurgaurity Laughland of London, England; and Jack LeCain of British Columbia, Canada.
Pictures of the original six are shown above left and below:
George made copies of those letters and sent them to the other five. Then he copied the answers to those and sent them out again. Before long it was a regular thing for these six geographically separated riders to write each other. George Xeroxed the letters and circulated them to the entire group.
In time the group agreed that they should form a correspondence motorcycle club called the “RETREADS”. An inquiry to the AMA for a charter brought the information that they would have to have ten members in order to qualify. Once again George appealed to the Letters column of the motorcycle press and soon after, ten kindred spirits applied for their AMA charter. They became a formal club in July of 1970.
Below are additional pictures of some of the original members: Retread patriach, Al Bullard of OR; Fred Folley of London, England; Jan Bouwma of Netherlands; Vern Eanes of Salisbury, NC; C. W. Snyder of Three Springs, PA; and Ted & Lil Collett of South Africa.
Although the members of similar, special interest groups correspond with one another through the mails, the main means of communication for the Retreads was through a monthly newsletter called the “RECAP” (another name given retreaded tires). George was the publisher and used letters from the many members as the principle source of material. Today, the RECAP no longer exists and Retread news is now distributed through the Local Newsletters and/or Web Pages published by the Reps of the individual States or Provinces. The Retreads today have members in countries all around the world.
George was the first President of the Retread organization. He held office from 1969 to 1974, and again from 1978 to 1981. Bob House then took over the reins and held them until Larry and Marlene Patton, present President and Secretary respectively, took over. The Retreads Motorcycle Club International, Inc. is a Chapter Member (No. 3233) of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), with its headquarters located in Albany, Indiana, U.S.A. The club is non-political in nature and affiliates with no organization other than the AMA.
Retreads have no formal dues or fees. Even though the publishing and postage costs are considerable, the voluntary contributions of the membership help keep the club’s treasury in the black.
The letter-writing relationship and e-mailing between members has resulted in many friendships, which are cemented by personal visits around the country and the world. Each year there are a number of intra-club events such as rallies, tours, camp outs and fund raisers, which bring Retreads from all over the country, and even all over the world, together. These activities take place yearly on State, Regional and International Levels.
The club does not cater to any particular type or brand of motorcycle, or any particular kind of activity. One of the requirements for membership is an interest in motorcycles and motorcycling. The other and prime requirement is that the applicant must have passed his 40th birthday. Hence, the usual letter is signed XL+, the Roman numeral for 40 and a plus sign.
The Retreads have no great aims other than to promote more pleasure for motorcycle riders in their age group. However, they do write to the legislators of their particular state with opinions and suggestions regarding proposed laws involving motorcycles and motorcyclists. Distributors and manufacturers also receive their praise or their wrath through the mails. Although some of the best known names in motorcycling are included on the membership roster of the Retreads, the bulk of the membership is made up of ordinary motorcyclists who, because of their age, feel that the majority of the motorcycle magazines and clubs have ignored them and their enthusiasm for the sport.
The Retreads welcome new members. If you have passed your 40th birthday and have a keen interest and enthusiasm for motorcycling of any kind, refer to the Retreads Motorcycle Club International, Inc. website at http://www.retreads.org for the name(s) of your local Representative(s). In Rhode Island you can contact:
Rhode Island State Representatives
Paul & Elaine Levin