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Read this story in my local news paper and had to share it with you guys...........TBone

60 years and the honeymoon motors on
For Ed and Marilyn, an everlasting union started with an eventful ride to Daytona Beach
Allan Johnson

Feb 13, 2010

It was early in 1950 when Ed Given and Marilyn Clare decided to get married. A relative had moved back to England and there was a house available. When Ed said, "Where do you want to go for our honeymoon?" Marilyn said, "Daytona Beach for the motorcycle races."

So Ed took his 1946 Harley-Davidson side-valve 74 Big Twin in for a service and checkover before the big trip. The mechanic did a valve job on the bike and said that if he reduced the oil pump pressure, the Harley would leak less oil on the long trip. Ed told him to leave it the way it was – the bike hadn't been any trouble.

For riding suits, he bought two war-surplus paratrooper coveralls, although Marilyn vowed she wasn't going to wear "that outfit" on her honeymoon. She would ride in the ladies' motorcycle gear of the day: knee boots, riding breeches, leather double-front jacket, kidney belt, goggles and white flying helmet.

So they married on Saturday, Feb. 11, 1950, at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Welland. And on Sunday, Feb. 12, with Ed driving and Marilyn in the Indian sidecar hitched to the big Harley, they started the 2,400 km trip south from Port Colborne to Daytona Beach, Fla.

In those days, there were no interstate highways to Florida, just two-lane state highways that ran through every town along the way.

No snow was on the roads when they left Ontario but that quickly changed after they reached Pennsylvania and, by the time they got to Harrisburg, they were soaked through and freezing. After a cold night in a motel, they rode through more snow into Washington, D.C.

By the time they arrived in Richmond, Va., the weather had improved so they detached the sidecar, leaving it with the local Harley-Davidson dealer for safekeeping, and rode the solo Harley the rest of the way to Daytona Beach. They arrived well in time for the races on Feb. 18 and 19.

The races in those days were held on a 6.6 km long course, half paved highway and half oceanfront sand. That year, 11,000 spectators lined the beach, the sand dunes and the narrow, but paved, two-lane highway that ran just behind the beach.

On Feb. 18, the 100-mile amateur race was won by an American rider, Rod Coates on a Triumph. For the main event the next day, the 200-mile national championship race, 124 riders had entered. Billy Mathews from Hamilton, riding a Norton 500 cc Manx, won the race at a record 142.6 km/h. It was his second Daytona 200 win; he had won in 1941, also on a Norton.

Ed and Marilyn got to meet Mathews after the race.

A few days later, it was time to head home and they rode north on old Route 1. While travelling through South Carolina, the Harley's engine gave a loud bang – followed by silence. They coasted down a long hill and ended up at an old-fashioned rural general store.

After some discussion with the only local motorcyclist, a man named Billy Bob, they got a 10 km rope tow behind a car until they could reach the town of Bamberg. There, they loaded the bike onto a hog farm truck that was headed to Columbia, S.C., where there was a Harley-Davidson dealer.

The bad news when the Harley got into the shop was that it needed a major overhaul to replace both seized pistons, a new big end bearing and hone the damaged connecting rods.

The bike wouldn't be ready to go again until the next day. The repairs were going to be expensive and that wouldn't leave the couple much money, if any, for a place to stay that night.

A woman who happened to be in the motorcycle shop at the time heard about their situation. About a half-hour after she left, she phoned the shop asking for Marilyn. Marilyn knew nobody in Columbia and couldn't imagine who could be calling.

The woman explained that if Marilyn and Ed would like to stay with her family for the night, she would send her son down that evening with the car to pick them up.

Relieved they would have somewhere to stay, Marilyn and Ed accepted the offer. The son, driving a large straight 8 Buick, picked them up at the shop in the evening, leaving the two mechanics still working on Ed's Harley.

After a short ride, the Buick pulled up at a set of large iron gates, defended by an armed, uniformed guard. Ed was alarmed, "Where are we?" he asked. The son then explained that his father was the warden of the state prison in Columbia and that they would be guests in the Warden's residence – which was inside the prison walls.

Ed doesn't think that many Canadian honeymoon couples have spent a night in a state prison.

The next day their host delivered them back to the Harley dealer. About noon the bike was ready, the mechanics having worked through the night to complete the repairs. The cost was $40 for the parts and $10 for the all-night labour.

Ed asked that they check the oil pump setting and it was found that it had been set at 12 psi instead of the normal 32 psi. Ed has always believed that the Canadian mechanic had lowered the oil pressure before the trip in spite of his request to leave it alone. The pump was quickly set to the higher level and he and Marilyn headed the Harley to Richmond to pick up the sidecar. That done, they looked for the cheapest hotel room they could find – which cost $3.15.

From Columbia, it took them two long days of riding until they reached home. When they crossed the border into Canada on Feb. 25 in a blinding snowstorm, they had just 15 cents (U.S.) remaining.

It has been 60 years since that honeymoon and Ed and Marilyn are still married. Sadly, Marilyn now must live in a nursing home due to Alzheimer's disease. Ed visits twice a day to help her with her meals.

"Whenever I was sick or had broken an arm or leg after a motorcycle racing accident she looked after me," he says. "Now it's my turn to look after her."

What happened to the bike and sidecar they used for the journey? Ed kept and used it for a number of years after the honeymoon trip and in 1957 entered and successfully completed the famous and difficult Corduroy Enduro on that same old Harley/Indian combo.

Premium Member
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That is a great story! Can you imagine having your bike motor rebuilt for $50.00? Or a motel room for $3.15? 60 years is a long time to be married these days. We are a little over half way there with 33 years. We are enjoying growing old together and to me, she still looks like the 16 year old girl she was when we got married.
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