One of the purest expressions of Walt Disney’s genuine patriotism during the war years was his decision to establish a unit devoted to producing customised military unit insignia free of charge for U.S. armed forces and their allies. Headed by the talented draftsman Hank Porter, whom Walt referred to as a “one-man art department,” the unit worked steadily throughout the war, turning out nearly 1,300 insignia upon request.

By far, the single most requested and used Disney insignia character during the war was Donald Duck, who was featured in at least 146 designs. The numerous requests for insignia bearing Donald’s likeness resulted in a wealth of drawings that successfully channeled his irascibility as patriotism and military zeal, often with a comedic flourish.

Next to Donald, the character that appeared in more insignia (about 35) than any other was Pluto. Like Donald, Pluto was popular,  and his trademark facial expressions that made it easy for the artists to incorporate him into a variety of military insignia. Goofy was next in popularity at 25 insignia, and Jiminy Cricket appeared in 24.


Sometimes a unit had a specific design already in mind, and was seeking a Disney artist’s skill to bring it to life, attaching a rough sketch to their request letter for reference. The bulk of insignia were designed for Army units and Navy vessels, but occasionally individuals requested their own personal insignia design. These requests were accommodated and executed with the same level of care as insignia for an entire ship, bombardment group, or battalion.


The request letters were often addressed simply to “Walt Disney, Hollywood, California.” Once a letter was received, it would be placed in the queue of pending requests, and the turnaround time was usually three to four weeks, though a wait of several months was possible when the insignia unit was particularly swamped. The procedure for the creation of an insignia design varied, but it typically involved a preliminary pencil drawing in which the image was established, then a full-colour pencil version, and finally a full-colour gouache on art board that would then be forwarded to the requesting unit or party. This would often hang in the unit headquarters and serve as a template for reproducing the emblem on airplanes, tanks, and other military equipment, as well as on uniforms and unit letterhead.

It is difficult today to fully appreciate how it felt for a serviceman to have his unit represented by a Disney-designed insignia. For the generation that fought World War II, Disney character images possessed an iconic heft that has no contemporary in todays animation.As incongruous as Disney characters are to the horrors of war, these cartoon military patches embodied pop culture, innocence, American values, and everything the troops loved about home—a much more fitting emblem than a heraldic pompous symbol with no sentimental significance. A Donald Duck insignia boosted morale, not just because it reminded soldiers of home, but also because it signified that the job they were doing was important enough to be acknowledged by Walt Disney.

After Mickey Mouse rode a goose in a patch for a Naval Reserve squadron stationed at Floyd Bennett Field in New York, the illustrations became illustrious among units and inspired Naval artists to recreate the magic, designing their own logos in the Disney style. Almost every Disney character was used in the project— except Bambi.

Floyd Bennet field logo CP

This logo for Floyd Bennett Field depicts Mickey Mouse flying atop a goose (bomber) with a Navy trident in front of a silhouetted Statue of Liberty. The logo predates World War II and was not sanctioned by Disney. However the insignia likely led the charge for similar insignia after the start of the war.

King Kong scene with logo

The insignia was taken from the memorable silver-screen scene in King Kong. It can be seen briefly in this still frame.

blog donald torpedo bomber

Donald Duck zooms from an air-launched torpedo, guiding it into its target.

Aviation Repair Unit 1cb

This insignia was for Aviation Repair Unit No. 1, providing aircraft repair and maintenance personnel for overseas deployment as advanced bases were readied.

USS Wasp cb

USS Wasp (CV-7), churning across the sea carrying aircraft, is clearly ready for the fight. She was sunk on Sept. 15, 1942 by a Japanese submarine.

USS Sapelo cb

After decommissioning in 1933, the USS Sapelo (AO-11) was reactivated in 1941 to bring vital shipments of fuel to numerous places in the Atlantic.

USS Reliable cb

The caption says it all. Throughout the war, USS Reliable (AMc-100) safeguarded Los Angeles Harbor.

USS Positive cb

Another minesweeping ship, the USS Positive (AMc-95) swept up mines for the Naval Operating Base at Guantanamo, Cuba, from March 1943 to January 1945.


USS Escambia (AO-80) had the dangerous job of fueling various vessels during the invasion of the Marshall Islands, aircraft carriers as they launched strikes against the Philippines, task-force vessels supporting the invasion of Okinawa, and aircraft flying raids against the Japanese. The ship received five battle stars during the war.

Airship patrol 32 cb

Airships were favored over airplanes to escort ships and scout for submarines because of their slower speeds. This logo for Airship Patrol 32 shows a mouse perched on balloons ready to drop bombs the enemy.

Airship Sqd 14 cb

This Airship Squadron 14 insignia depicts an airship atop of a cloud over the ocean with a telescope in one hand with a bomb in the other, combing the seas for enemy vessels.

GRO PAC 11cb

Donald Duck hauls along a net dragging for mines, suggesting the duty as a minesweeping squadron.

78th Naval Construction Bn

60th Construction

Artists created about ten logos for Naval Construction Battalions (Seabees). Two of them are shown here — 78th and 60th Naval Construction Battalion — which added Disney flair to the classic Seabee logo.

USS Baya

USS Baya (SS-318) completed five war patrols from August 23, 1944 to July 25, 1945 in the South China Sea, Gulf of Siam, Java Sea, and the Philippine Sea. She sank four Japanese vessels. The logo displays a bear ferociously ripping and chewing apart the naval ensign of Japan, depicting her relentless pursuit of Japanese sea craft.

USS Cythera cb

USS Cythera (PY-26) functioned as a civilian yacht before seeing service in both world wars.

USS Jason cb

USS Jason (AR-8) was a repair ship serving in Purvis Bay in the Solomon Islands, and Ulithi, where she spent the greatest part of the war.


USS YMS 329 was a minesweeper serving in the pacific. Her insignia contains an enthusiastic turtle at the ready with a broom, a telescope, fuel, and a mousetrap on its back. A Japanese mine sunk her off of Borneo on June 16, 1946.

USS Piedmont

During World War II, the USS Piedmont (AD-17) serviced destroyers near battle areas in the Pacific to keep them fit for duty. She also served in the Cold War, Korean War, and the Vietnam War, winning four battle stars for her efforts in the Korean War and one for service in Vietnam.


Photographer Gary Margerum is no stranger to vintage motorcycles. He's been around them all his life, while he currently rides a '67 BSA Thunderbolt and a '76 Shovelhead, in the past his array of motorcycles has included a BSA Bantam, a Honda XR400, a '58 Triumph pre unit street scrambler, a Ducati 900m and a '47 Triumph Bobber.

Having picked up a camera while travelling and surfing in the late 1980s he began photographing landscapes in different continents when there was little or no swell. Fast forward a couple of years and he started to successfully exhibit some of these landscapes in galleries in the UK, it was at that point that he wanted to concentrate more on photography and develop his passion. Soon after he proudly exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in conjunction with a Channel 4 project.




>Becoming freelance gave him the freedom to work in all different aspects of photography. In 2009 he was invited to document one of the last truly great travelling shows - The Wall of Death. His brief was to give an insight into the Wall of Death and its Indian Motorcycle riders, a back to basics no post editing biographical sketch that represented the Fox family and documented their extraordinary life. Gary's book 'The Ken Fox Hell Riders' was published in 2012 to critical acclaim.


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In recent years he has produced work for numerous leading lifestyle clients and motorcycle and clothing brands including Heritage Research, Barons Speed Shop, Belstaff and Barbour.

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In 2013 he documented the successful attempt to break a land speed record at the famous Bonneville salt flats in Utah, capturing the highs and lows of the British team and their beautiful vintage Triumph motorcycle.


He cites working within media type magazines, marketing and lifestyle as a way of reinforcing his creativity and one of the forces that has kept his photography inventive, "....I'm always still proud to see my imagery representing the clients I work for in some of the leading magazines. This is still extremely important to me."

For the upcoming ELMC Summer 2015 Collection shoot he drew inspiration from the 1960's series 'Then Came Bronson'. The shoot took place over 4 days in the Mojave Desert, with Gary effortlessly capturing the cinematic feel and movement in his photography that tells the story of a soul searching reporter travelling light with his motorcycle across the United States of America.



As the United States military involvement in South Vietnam shifted from an advisory role to combat operations, Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) advisors to the South Vietnamese government noticed an increase in the amount of military supplies and weapons being smuggled into the county by way of North Vietnamese junks and other small craft. The extent of infiltration was underscored in February 1965 by the detection of a North Vietnamese trawler disguised as an "island" by a United States Army helicopter crew. The event would later be known as the Vung Roy Bay Incident, named for the small bay that was the trawler's destination. After the Army helicopter crew called in air strikes on the trawler, it was sunk and captured after a five-day action conducted by elements of the South Vietnamese Navy (SVN). Investigators found 1 million rounds of small arms ammunition, more than 1,000 stick grenades, 500 pounds of prepared TNT charges, 2,000 rounds of 82mm mortar ammunition, 500 anti-tank grenades, 1,500 rounds of recoilless rifle ammunition, 3,600 rifles and sub-machine guns, and 500 pounds of medical supplies. Labels on captured equipment and supplies and other papers found in the wreckage indicated that the shipment was from North Vietnam. Concern by top MACV advisors as to whether the SVN was up to the task of interdicting shipments originating in North Vietnam led to the request by General Westmoreland commanding general of MACV, for Navy assistance.



On 22 April 1965, representatives of the Coast Guard and the Navy signed an agreement where the Coast Guard would supply 17 Point-class cutters and their crews and the Navy would provide transport to South Vietnam and logistical support with two LSTs that had been converted to repair ships. Ten of the cutters were sourced from stations on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and seven were sourced from Pacific coast stations. After removal of the Oerlikon 20mm cannon on the bow, each cutter was fitted with a combination over-under M2 Browning Machine gun / MK2 trigger and drop fired 81mm mortar and loaded on merchant ships for shipment to US Naval Base Subic Bay in the Philippines.


On 29 April President LBJ authorised Coast Guard units to operate under Navy command in Vietnam and to provide surveillance and interdiction assistance to Navy vessels and aircraft in an effort to stop the infiltration of troops, weapons and ammunition into South Vietnam by North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Viet Cong (VC) forces. The combined Navy, Coast Guard and South Vietnamese Navy effort was designated Operation Market Time.

The Coast Guard presence in Vietnam was designated Squadron One which consisted CG Divisions 11 and 12. Squadron One was active throughout the conflict, with its Cutters earning the Navy Presidential Unit Citation for their assistance provided to the Navy during Operation Sealords. CG Squadron Three was activated in support of Market Time beginning March 1967 and consisted initially of five High Endurance Cutters (WHEC) tasked to the Navy for used in coastal interdiction and naval gunfire support for shore operations in South Vietnam.



Several Coast Guard aviators served with the US Air Force 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron in Southeast Asia from 1968 to 1972. They were involved in combat search and rescue operations in both Vietnam and Laos.

The Coast Guard also provided Explosive Loading Detachments (ELD) to the US Army 1st Logistics Command in several locations in Vietnam. The ELD's were responsible for the supervision of Army stevedores in the unloading of explosives and ammunition from U.S. Merchant Marine ships. The ELD's were also responsible for assisting the Army in port security operations at each port and eventually were made a part of a Port Security and Waterways Detail (PS&WD) reporting to the Commanding General, United States Army, Vietnam USARV. They earned the Army Meritorious Unit Commendation or their efforts.



In August 1970 the Coast Guard finished turning over the patrol boats of Squadron One to the South Vietnamese Navy. The training of South Vietnamese crews had started in February 1969 and continued through to the end of operations for Squadron One. Eventually three other WHEC's were turned over to the South Vietnamese Navy. The Coast Guard's involvement in the Vietnam War ended at 12.46 local time 29 April 1975 when LORAN Station Con Son went off the air for good. Its signal was necessary for the safe evacuation of Saigon by US Embassy personnel in the final days before the fall of the South Vietnamese government and it was kept on the air as long as possible. On 3 October 1975 the Coast Guard disestablished the remaining LORAN-C stations in Thailand.Seven Coast Guardsmen were killed during the war in combat and search and rescue operations.


As is the premise for ELMC, all US motorcycle clubs, whether of the law-abiding or outlaw biker gang variety, were descended from WWII vets who caught the "riding" bug in the combat zone. But what role, exactly, did motorcycles play in the military?

Next to a jeep or tank, a two-wheeled vehicle that leaves its operator exposed seems a poor choice for an army vehicle; but there are worthwhile tradeoffs. A motorcycle's speed makes it ideal for scouting, reconnaissance and messenger capacities. It can travel where larger vehicles cannot. It uses less fuel, and you can fit several of them into a transport vehicle. Adverse weather and terrains could reduce their effectiveness, but clever engineers would counter that with design.


The Harley-Davidson WLA, which first saw production in 1940 was the US Army motorcycle of choice. Harley engineers took an existing civilian bike, the WL, and adapted it for military use with several changes. The fenders were shaped in such a way that mud flung by the wheel could exit from the sides rather than clog. It was fitted with a heavy duty carrying rack in the rear that could support an ammunition box or two radios, and saddlebags could be hung from its sides. A scabbard placed up front was sized large enough for the driver to tuck a Thompson submachine gun in. On the other side of the front wheel, another ammo box could be attached. A secondary set of "blackout lights" were added, which diffused the light to reduce the bike's nighttime visibility to observers.


There were mechanical changes as well. In a nod to the Army's logistical needs, the air filter was replaced with an oil-bath air cleaner - something then used in farm tractors in high-dust environments - for ease of maintenance; rather than having to stock replacement air filters, the rider could "freshen up" his filter by adding regular motor oil. And the crankcase was redesigned to reduce water intake, so that the vehicle could reportedly ford 16 inches of water without stalling out.


Harley had been building motorcycles since 1906. BMW got a much later start, around 1921; but by the time World War II rolled around, BMW's design & engineering was already world-class. In the 1930s BMW had mastered the emerging production method of electric arc welding, and were able to create incredibly strong joints. This practice was borne of necessity; sidecars were popular in Germany, perhaps more popular than in the US, where Americans aspired to ride around in automobiles. Sidecars placed a lot of stress on a motorcycle frame. But in thrifty Germany, with one passenger in the sidecar and another behind the driver, a sidecar-equipped motorcycle was an economical way to transport three people. BMW made their frames strong enough to handle that load.


Sometime around 1941, BMW began producing an improved motorcycle at the German army's request. Their resultant R75 had a permanently-attached sidecar whose wheel was connected, via axle, to the motorcycle's rear wheel. The R75 thus effectively had two-wheel drive, which greatly improved the motorcycle's handling in adverse conditions. To simplify inventory and maintenance, all three wheels were designed to be interchangeable, and a spare was attached to the rear of each sidecar. Loaded up with two Jerrycans on the sidecar, one on the bike's rear, an extra seat behind the driver and a machine gun, the R75 made for a formidable and utilitarian vehicle capable of carrying three.

Both the R12 and the R75 - and indeed, any motorcycle made by BMW until 1994 - also incorporated another clever mechanical trick that Harley-Davidson had not been able to pull off: shaft drive. The rear wheel of the motorcycle was driven by a rotating shaft connected to a universal joint. In contrast, Harley's SLA, like most other motorcycles of the era, was chain-driven. As both the U.S. and Germany military would discover in the North African campaign, BMW's enclosed shaft was superior, in sandy conditions, to an exposed chain that grit could get inside of.


In the 1930s and '40s, to an American engineer, shaft-drive and telescoping forks were something like the concept of laser pistols today; we can envision how they should work in theory, but we can't yet figure out how to make them. BMW had worked it out, and their advanced design and engineering was therefore providing the German military with a material advantage.

However, as with the Jerry Can, at some point Allied troops captured a German R12 or R75 and sent it back home to be studied. Once the U.S. engineers had ripped the bike apart, converted the metric to Standard and reverse-engineered the manufacturing technology, Harley-Davidson was then tasked with producing a similar shaft-driven design. As it worked out, just over 1,000 XA models were produced - and they never got to see the North African sands for which they were designed. Military bureaucracy, combined with an increasing Army reliance on jeeps, meant that the relatively few XAs produced were wastefully relegated to base duty on U.S. soil. Today the XA is a collector's item and the motorcycles produced both in the US and Germany during WWII helped to push forward the boundaries of mechanical engineering in many respects affording us the machines we have today.


On July 4, 1942, General Claire Lee Chennault's American Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers, went out of business, turning its planes and bases over to the newly formed AAF China Air Task Force, later to become Fourteenth Air Force. A few of the AVG pilots stayed on, among them Tex Hill and Ajax Baumler, who had been an ace in Spain. Even before the turnover, AAF pilots began arriving to man the CATF's 23d Fighter Group. One of them was Maj. John Alison, fresh from a year in Russia, introducing our erstwhile allies to the P-40, A-20, and B-25.

The 23d, like its AVG predecessor, was strictly a frontier air force, operating at the end of the war's longest and most difficult supply line. Everything--fuel, ammunition, spare parts for its obsolescent P-40s--had to be flown in over the Hump. There was no ground radar and little in the way of radio aids. At one point, the 75th Fighter Squadron 'Tiger Sharks', to which Alison was assigned as Tex Hill's deputy, had nothing but five-gallon cans to refuel its fighters.


Alison's first few missions were relatively uneventful, with no Japanese aircraft showing up. Then about 3 a.m. on July 18, the warning net of Chinese ground observers reported bombers heading for the 75th's field at Hengyang. Alison and Hill stood outside their barracks about a mile from the runway and watched the bombs explode.

Alison asked Hill if the AVG had ever attacked Japanese bombers at night. It seems they had tried early on, but with no success, and had given it up. Whenever there was a moon, the Japanese enjoyed a free ride against Chinese towns and American airfields. "If they come over tomorrow night," said Alison, "I'm going to be up there waiting."


New-guy Alison convinced veteran Baumler that he was onto a good idea, and sure enough, the warning net reported approaching bombers the next night. Alison took up a position in his P-40 at 12,000 feet with Baumler below him, while warning-net position reports were relayed to them by radio.

The bombers, expecting another free ride, made two leisurely passes over the Hengyang runway before Alison was able to pick up the faint flame from their engine exhausts above him as the bombers turned on their bombing run. He pulled up the nose of his P-40, firewalled the throttle, and at the last moment saw he was closing too fast in this unpracticed nighttime maneuver. Chopping the throttle, Alison sideslipped to kill his speed and slid smack into the middle of a three-bomber V formation.

The top turret of the bomber on his right opened up at point-blank range, stitching Alison's P-40 from nose to tail. His radio was knocked out, one slug went through the seat, and another grazed his left arm. Almost immediately the P-40's engine began to run rough. In that situation, any fighter pilot could have been forgiven for thinking the AVG was right, and now was a good time to head for home. Not Alison. He kicked his fighter around and blasted the bomber on his left with the P-40's six .50-caliber guns. Oil covered his windshield as the bomber pulled straight up and disappeared. Swinging back to the right, he exploded the bomber that had hit him. By that time, flames were popping out from the engine cowling as he turned on the lead bomber and blew it up.

Alison at last pointed the nose of his wounded fighter down, heading for the blacked-out 3,500-foot runway as the engine threatened to jump out of its mountings and flames spewed from the cowling. There wasn't time for a planned approach. He came in too fast with only one viable alternative--to overshoot and crash-land in the river about two miles ahead. Clearing a railroad trestle by inches, he hit the water with a resounding crash, climbed out of the sinking P-40, and swam to a log raft near the shore. A young Chinese man pulled the bleeding Alison out of the water.

While all this was going on, Baumler had shot down two more bombers. As a result of Alison's experiment in night interception, for which he was awarded the DSC, Japanese bombers didn't come back in darkness for almost a year.


Alison ended his tour with the colorful 23d Fighter Group as an ace with six air-to-air victories and several probables. He then became Phil Cochran's deputy commander of the equally colorful 1st Air Commando Group in Burma.

After the war, Alison served as an Assistant Secretary of Commerce, President of AFA, a major general in the Reserve, and a vice president of Northrop Corp. On a visit to one of Northrop's research organizations near Boston, he was introduced to its chief engineer, a Dr. Tsien. It came out that Tsien had lived near Hengyang while Alison was stationed there.

"Were you a bomber pilot?" asked Tsien. Alison replied that he had been deputy commander, then commander of the 75th Fighter Squadron. "Then we have met before," said Dr. Tsien. "I'm the man who pulled you out of the river."

The Eastman Leather 75th Fighter Group CBI Tiger Sharks A-2 flight jacket is available now to order in the Elite Units section of the website.


Like many of the original West Coast motorcycle clubs, the Boozefighters MC was formed by ex-servicemen just returned from World War II. They were young men whose lives had been interrupted by the horrors of war. They were looking for excitement and craving fun but more importantly, they were longing for the Brotherhood they previously had while serving on the Worlds battlefields. They gravitated together through these desires and also the commonality of motorcycles. The growth and bond between the Members of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club was almost immediate.


“Wino” Willie Forkner is recognised to be the founder of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club. Having been kicked out of The 13 Rebels Motorcycle Club for rowdy behavior, he decided to create a new Motorcycle Club. Along with four other originals, he established the BFMC in 1946 at the All American Café, Los Angeles, California. Boozefighters gained notoriety due to their participation at the infamous Gypsy Tour in Hollister, California during the July 4, 1947 weekend or 'Hollister Riot' as it later became known thanks to LIFE Magazine. This event was immediately immortalised by a photograph in the magazine and later in the movie The Wild One with Lee Marvin portraying the part of “Wino Willie”. Because of the events of that weekend, and the public sensationalism, Hollister is renowned as the birth place of the American Biker and the Boozefighters MC is recognised as one of those Motorcycle Clubs responsible for this.


curley sally les mint cyn 1946

At this time there were three Chapters of Boozefighters in California; Los Angeles, San Pedro, and San Francisco. The club was one of the very first MCs to have multiple Chapters. Boozefighters from the very beginning had but a few desires: Ride, Party, and Brotherhood. For many of the earliest Originals, the BFMC created life long bonds. This is symbolised by the acronym OWOF (Original Wild Ones Forever). Currently, the Boozefighters MC is one of the oldest active Motorcycle Clubs in existence. There are chapters across the United States and abroad in numerous countries.



From 1951 to 1958, legendary Motorcycle racers including Bud Ekins, Ed Kretz Jr. and Jack Thurman competed in the Catalina Grand Prix, an on/offroad event that saw riders racing through the streets of the port city of Avalon and out onto fire roads and horse trails in the surrounding hills. In its day, it was among the most anticipated races of the year.

Inspired by the U.K.’s historic Isle of Man TT, the two-day Catalina Grand Prix included a 60-mile race for bikes up to 250cc and a 100-mile race for larger machines. Races were 10 laps, with the 60-miler running a six-mile course and the 100-miler a 10-mile course.


In 1957, 150 riders lined up for the 60-mile race, while another 199 watched the flag drop to start the 100-mile race. Fans loved the event, and in its last year, 1958, it’s estimated some 7,000 people took the Catalina Ferry from Los Angeles to Catalina Island to take in the racing action.

British bikes were very popular in the Catalina races, thanks no doubt to their light weight and high performance, with Triumph and BSA particularly well represented; 66 of the 199 starters in 1957’s 100-mile race were on Triumphs and 48 on BSAs.


The race’s prominence prompted BSA, whose first big win at the island came in 1952, to introduce the Gold Star-based Catalina Scrambler in 1956. Fittingly, BSA won the 1956 event — after the Catalina Scrambler had been added to its lineup. BSAs nabbed four of the top 10 Open Class slots in the final 1958 race — including first.

Many of the AMA’s best motorcycle racers, local SoCal riders and Motorcycle Clubs including The Checkers, Shamrocks, Rough Riders and Dirt Diggers mixed with Hollywood actors, stunt riders, and thrill-seekers– all converging on the tiny vacation island from 1951 – 1958 for an event like no other.


Actors Keenan Wynn and Steve McQueen famously attended, and Lee Marvin infamously raised hell. In fact, Dave Ekins credited Lee Marvin for being partially responsible for the Catalina GP’s demise in 1958–

“So, what happened? There are several reasons as to why they terminated this race. One of the reasons is that money commitment to cover the costs of the programs didn’t show up. After all, can’t have a race without a program. Another was actor Lee Marvin trying to incite a mutiny from the fantail of the homebound steamer. Marvin never needed a microphone even when shouting against the wind and it was all in jest anyway. But the Captain took Lee seriously enough to strap on a sidearm and stand on the bridge. The ship was escorted to the dock by the Harbor Police. Marvin had some explaining to do. Probably the most damaging was when Waikiki Bar owner Mel Porter closed up Saturday night and was mugged on his way home by several scum bags. Mel didn’t take kindly to this treatment and the Chamber of Commerce decided no more races. They chose the wrong person, Mel was the Mayor of Avalon.”  –Dave Ekins


Here was a figure to strike fear into the heart of war-weary America — a bleary-eyed, beer-bellied hoodlum, surrounded by residue of a binge, empties at his feet, a bottle in each beefy fist. But what many found the most terrifying was his throne — a Harley Davidson motorcycle.


The picture ran on July 21, 1947, in Life Magazine, the place where, before television and tweets, people went to get a glimpse of what the rest of the world was up to. On that day, readers learned about a “Cyclist’s Holiday” as Life called it. A short caption told of a three-day nightmare, when an estimated 4,000 two-wheeled terrors rolled into the sleepy California town of Hollister, best known for its production of garlic, to attend a motorcycle rally over the Independence Day weekend. What happened there would go down in history as the Hollister Motorcycle Riot.

This is how Life described it: “Racing their vehicles down the main street and through traffic lights, they rammed into restaurants and bars, breaking furniture and mirrors. Some rested awhile by the curb. Others hardly paused. Police arrested many for drunkenness and indecent exposure but could not restore order. Finally, after two days, the cyclists left with a brazen explanation. ‘We like to show off. It’s just a lot of fun.’ ”

The incident captured the imagination of fiction author Frank Rooney. In January 1951, Harper’s Magazine published “The Cyclists’ Raid,” Rooney’s short story of a motorcycle gang occupying and wrecking a small California town. That story, in turn, caught the eye of filmmaker Stanley Kramer. Two years later, it came to the screen, starring bad-boy heartthrob Marlon Brando. “The Wild One” was about a “gang of hot-riding hot-heads who ride into, terrorise, and take over a town,” as the film’s trailer put it. Brando gave a face, and a wardrobe, to a new American anti-hero, the motorcycle outlaw. Suddenly, every schoolboy had to have the black leather motorcycle jacket that Brando wore as he perched upon his Harley. The jacket became so closely linked to the burgeoning rebel-without-a-cause culture that it was banned in many schools around the country. In one of the more memorable scenes from the movie, Brando gives the new underclass icon his motivation.

“Hey, Johnny, What’re you rebelling against?” a girl playfully asks him.

“Whaddya got?” he says with a world-weary smirk.


It launched a movie genre, and more motorcyclists-mostly WWII veterans having a hard time coming home — put on leathers and took to the road. In his book, “Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga,” journalist Hunter S. Thompson summed it up: ‘The concept of the ‘motorcycle outlaw’ was as uniquely American as jazz. Nothing like them had ever existed.” And all of this came about because of a riot in a tiny California garlic-farming town on that July weekend.


Or did it? To this day, no one can say with any certainty exactly what happened in Hollister. The town had been the site of motorcycle rallies, wholesome stuff like races and hill climbs, during the 1930s. After the war, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) revived the tradition with an event called the gypsy tour, set for the first weekend in July. They were expecting 1,500 riders. An estimated 4,000, equal to the population of the town, roared in, although some say the number was closer to 2,000. Whatever the figure, there was no disputing that the town was overrun, far more than the seven-man police force could handle. Many came from rough-and-tumble clubs like the Boozefighters and the Pissed off Bastards of Bloomington, the group that evolved into the Hell’s Angels. What happened next was, noted the San Francisco Chronicle as “the worst 40 hours in Hollister’s history.” Leather-clad toughs zoomed through town, performing wheelies on manicured lawns, flinging beer bottles, fighting, and urinating in the streets, driving their bikes right into the bars.

On Sunday night, the California Highway Patrol came to help. By Tuesday morning, the drunken bikers were gone and things went back to normal. Just a few months later, the town was happy to host another rally. The riot may well have been forgotten, had it not been for the photograph taken by a San Francisco Chronicle lensman. One story goes that the photo was faked, that the photographer grabbed the first drunk he could find and set him up on the bike, but some questions remain about that, as well. The photo eventually made its way into Life, and then into folklore. American outlaws had taken the leap from horses to Harleys.


Motorcycling’s rough element started calling themselves “one percenters” and wearing patches announcing this status. It’s a reference to a comment made after Hollister that 99 percent of motorcycle riders are law-abiding citizens and that the troublemakers represent the minority. The phrase is widely attributed to the AMA, but the association denies it. Hollister continued to host motorcycle races and at one, the 50th anniversary of the riot in 1997, the promoters invited back one of the original 'Wild Ones' - 76-year-old Wino Willie Forkner, leader of the Boozefighters and said to be a model for Brando’s character.

Portrait of aviatrix Amelia Earhart.

Forty years before Annie Hall flirted with menswear, Amelia Earhart put women in pants (and, of course, planes).

In 1923, Earhart, fondly known as "Lady Lindy," became the 16th woman to be issued a pilot's license. Taking her first flying lesson on January 3, 1921, in six months she had managed to save enough money to buy her first plane. The second-hand Kinner Airster was a two-seater biplane painted bright yellow—Earhart named her newest obsession "The Canary" and used it to set her first women's record by rising to an altitude of 14,000 feet. Her strong will and conviction enabled her to overcome the challenging technical problems, gender bias and financial obstacles of the day.

Her many accomplishments in aviation went on to inspire a generation of female aviators, including more than 1,000 women pilots of the USAAF Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) who ferried military aircraft, towed gliders, flew target practice aircraft, and served as transport pilots during World War II.


Earhart was a widely known international celebrity during her lifetime. Her shyly charismatic appeal, sartorial style, independence, persistence, coolness under pressure, courage and goal-oriented career along with the circumstances of her disappearance at a young age have afforded her lasting fame in popular culture.


Amelia’s sense of style reflected her independent personality, she was at odds with the feminine fashion trends of the day and instead was seen and pictured in newspapers wearing mens aviation clothing including military issue chinos trousers and leather flight jackets, revolutionary for the time. In 1932, Amelia developed flying clothes for the Ninety-Nines. Her first creation was a flying suit with loose trousers, a zipper top and big pockets. Vogue advertised it with a two-page photo spread. Then, she began designing her own line of clothes "for the woman who lives actively." It didn’t take long for masculine tailoring to become de rigueur for the Fashion Houses and style conscious females of the 1930’s.


In 1937, as Earhart neared her 40th birthday, she was ready for a monumental, and final, challenge: she wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world. Despite a botched attempt in March that severely damaged her plane, a determined Earhart had the twin engine Lockheed Electra rebuilt. "I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system, and I hope this trip is it," she said. On June 1st, Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan departed from Miami and began the 29,000-mile journey. By June 29th, when they landed in Lae, New Guinea, all but 7,000 miles had been completed. Frequently inaccurate maps had made navigation difficult for Noonan, and their next hop—to Howland Island—was by far the most challenging. Located 2,556 miles from Lae in the mid-Pacific, Howland Island is a mile and a half long and a half-mile wide. Every unessential item was removed from the plane to make room for additional fuel, which gave Earhart approximately 274 extra miles. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter ITASCA, their radio contact, was stationed just offshore of Howland Island. Two other U.S. ships, ordered to burn every light on board, were positioned along the flight route as markers. "Howland is such a small spot in the Pacific that every aid to locating it must be available," Earhart emphasised.

On July 2nd, At 10 am local time, zero Greenwich time, the pair took off. Despite ideal weather reports, they flew into overcast skies and intermittent rain showers. This made Noonan's favored method of tracking, celestial navigation, difficult. As dawn neared, Earhart called the ITASCA, reporting "cloudy weather, cloudy." In later transmissions, Earhart asked the ITASCA to take bearings on her. The ITASCA sent her a steady stream of transmissions but she could not hear them. Her radio transmissions, irregular through most of the flight, were faint or interrupted with static. At 7:42 am, the ITASCA picked up the message, "We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet." The ship tried to reply, but the plane seemed not to hear. At 8:45, Earhart reported, "We are running north and south." Nothing further was heard from her.


A rescue attempt immediately commenced and became the most extensive air and sea search in naval history. On July 19th, after spending $4 million and scouring 250,000 square miles of ocean, the United States government reluctantly called off the operation. In 1938, a lighthouse was constructed on Howland Island in her memory, and across the United States, streets, schools, and airports are named after Earhart. Her birthplace, Atchison, Kansas, became a virtual shrine to her memory. Amelia Earhart awards and scholarships are given out every year.

Amelia Earhart

Despite many theories, no proof of Earhart’s fate exists. There is no doubt, however, that the world will always remember Amelia Earhart for her courage, vision, and groundbreaking achievements, both in aviation and for women.


The U. S. Navy developed and used many different styles of cold weather gear and clothing during the 1940’s. A sailors duties are very often performed in the most challenging and harsh weather conditions while at sea, thus clothing needed to be durable, warm and functional. Winter jackets, commonly referred to as “Deck Jackets,” became the most cherished clothing articles of sailors during WWII and among collectors today. Most of the deck jackets used in WWII evolved from a dark blue zip-front design that was very similar in appearance to the U. S. Army’s Winter Combat Jacket (Tanker Jacket). By late 1943, the second version of this Deck Jacket design was being phased out of production and an entirely new design was being brought into use.



This all-new jacket took into account the lessons learned from two hard years of warfare at sea. Though still manufactured with the same dark blue heavy corded cotton outer shell (known as Jungle Cloth) as on earlier examples, alpaca fur was now used as the lining material and the torso length grew longer for greater protection from the elements. The knit collar was replaced with an alpaca fur collar, and also gone were the knit waist bands, exposed knit cuffs and patch pockets of the old jackets, all of which tended to snag on various objects or parts of a ship and cause tearing. A new cuff design incorporated the knit cuff hidden up inside the sleeve, thus keeping the knit from snagging while still keeping out the cold wind, and the frontal jacket closure was now facilitated by a zipper as well as buttons. A drawstring at the jacket’s bottom edges kept the wind out more effectively than the old knit band, all the while eliminating the snagging problem associated with knit bands, and gusseted armpit areas with eyelet vents provided greater freedom of movement and rapid drying of built-up perspiration.



Produced in very small numbers for a brief period, this new design was quickly superseded by a second version manufactured in a khaki/light olive green colour of the same heavy corded fabric. The fabric colour was changed from blue to this khaki shade of olive drab to better enable camouflaging of USN personnel both at sea and on landing operations. This newer khaki version of the winter deck jacket was available in limited numbers by the spring of 1944 and photo documentation clearly reveals some sailors, including Rear Admiral A. D. Struble onboard the command ship USS AUGUSTA, outfitted with this jacket style during the D-Day landings in Normandy, France on 6 June 1944. The deck jacket was modified again after WWII, with the most notable difference being the change in color from khaki/light olive green to a dark olive green. It was this deck jacket that was officially designated and marked on the neck label as the N-1, but since it retained most of the design appearance of it’s older siblings from WWII, both the blue and khaki versions have commonly been called N-1’s too, albeit erroneously. Further modifications were made to the design before being completely phased out in the 1960’s, thus making the N-1-style deck jacket the longest serving in the U. S. Navy, and possible the best remembered. The N-1-style Deck Jacket is an all-American classic that looks as great today as it did in 1944, functioning within any contemporary wardrobe.

deck jacket



The archetypal outlaw ‘biker’ image has been synonymous with American popular culture since the release of the iconic film, The Wild One (1953). Marlon Brando’s portrayal of fictional motorcycle gang leader Johnny Strabler, a leather-clad, Harley-Davidson-riding persona, resonated with a whole post-World War II generation wanting to rebel against 1950s traditionalist society by living on its edge and adopting the biker’s leather uniform. Some became ‘outlaw biker gangs’, a paradox of freedom-worshipping non-conformists, loyally bound by self-imposed by-laws as a tight-banded brotherhood, becoming the modern incarnation of the romanticised outlaws previously upheld by the likes of pirates and cowboys.

These gangs became a myth in themselves, steeped in negative association within the public’s subconscious; especially in mainstream media during the 1960s, after the infamous Hell’s Angels gang from California became recognised for widespread gang violence, theft, drug-dealing and murder, highlighted in the book Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1966), by counterculture icon Hunter S. Thompson.

By 1968 the Vietnam War was in full scale escalation and back home the United States was undergoing radical sociological and cultural changes with racial tension at an all time high, ongoing student revolution against the establishment and a general sense of unease permeating the nation. Drafted soldiers returning from their tour of duty in South East Asia were not met with open arms, they were shunned and treated as pariahs. While many tried to integrate themselves back into society, others were unable to fit into the normality of daily life so turned to an alternatively lifestyle where the motorcycle provided the freedom to live a life devoid of any rules or regulations.


Often long haired and bearded, these were men living outside of social conventions and would later be described as 'Counter Culture'. Movies including Easy Rider and The Losers sought to catalogue these bikers and along with media sensationalism brought them to the attention of the mainstream who viewed them as dangerous outsiders and radicals. Many vets joined motorcycle clubs such as the Hell's Angels while others aimlessly drifted across the country in search of some kind of meaning to what they had witnessed in combat or simply tried to forget. The expanse and spiritualism of the South Western States attracted many as did Mexico. South of the border became a popular destination at this time for bikers due to the relative lawlessness and easy access to narcotics. Psychedelic drugs in particular were a major factor in the lifestyle of the this new breed of rider as was the music he listened to.



Blending motorcycle garments with their military issue gear and South Western textiles and trinkets they'd pick up along the way, their appearance became a hybrid of functional clothing incorporating hippie and Native American. The look was completely at odds with the slick style of their 1950's brethren and would last well into the 1970s. These men had adopted a carefree, nomadic lifestyle, audacious machismo and visual icon status, and hit the open road with a rebellious vision. 


ELMC celebrates this Counter Culture lifestyle with period accurate reproductions from this era, including a very special collaboration with Southern Californian artisan J Augur on a series of one off bags crafted from antique US Military and South Western Native American textiles.