Goodyear: My scooter project turned out to be a no-go


Budd Goodyear

When I was 13 I lived with family on Hancock County road North 25 West, near the second concrete bridge across an unnamed small creek or ditch north of West 500 North.

That year one of the Groves who had a large farm nearby came to the house and offered me a job. I accepted after talking with mom and dad about it. We had a small farm and work to do, too. The Groves had a farm hand, Art Ballard, who lived on the farm with them. But they needed extra summer help.

There were five of us kids. I had two brothers and two sisters; I was the oldest. We had one bicycle. Sometimes I could ride it to the Groves’ farm; most times I walked.

One day in mid-summer, after Enos Groves had decided I would work out as a helper, Art said to me, “Come here, I want to show you something.” He was headed to the back of a shed we rarely got into.

There next to the back wall was a motor-powered scooter, an old Cushman. Art said, “I’ll give that to you if you can get it running. I brought it back from World War II.”

I told him my dad could fix anything. We loaded it into Art’s dark green panel truck and hauled to my home. On the weekend dad tinkered with it a short time put some fuel in it, and checked the oil and spark plug and got it started. I had a ride to work, although later we had to replace the coil. The scooter was a 2-speed with a shift lever sticking out from under the left side of the seat. I washed it up good, sanded it a little and painted two-tone blue.

Flash forward a year or two. Two friends, George Phillips and classmate Max Hall, had gotten Cushman scooters. Theirs were more modern than mine. They were larger and had bigger engines with slip clutch drive; no gear shifting, but slower acceleration from dead stop. I could beat them in a short drag race.

One evening we had ridden to Maxwell for no particular reason. After stopping there and talking a bit, we decided to make a loop on our ride. We would head down Indiana State Road 9 to 400 North, then west to State Road 13, now Fortville Pike, and to George’s home which was on State Road 13 near the intersection of North 25 West. So my friends took off. My old two-speed could not keep up. I ran full throttle till just south of Goff’s Drive-in south of Maxwell; the engine quit dead.

After a while the guys came back to see what happened. My machine was a no-go. I parked near a fence along Highway 9 and climbed on behind George; he took me home. The next day we took a rope, rode over to where my scooter was parked and towed it home.

When I took the oil pan off the bottom of the engine, the connection rod between the crankshaft and piston fell out in four pieces. The rest of that summer I walked to work. I worked for the Groves five summers.

Budd Goodyear of Wasilla, Alaska graduated in 1957 from Hancock Central High School. He is currently retired from management with Anchorage Municipal Light and Power, and he enjoys sharing stories of growing up in Hancock County.