A local Kodiakan recently sold his classic 1948 Indian Chief motorcycle in its original condition.
Byron Pierce, 64, bought the Chief about eight years ago, he said. He brought it to Kodiak after buying it from a guy in Homer who bought it from a guy in California, who was the original owner.
Pierce has only ridden it in and around Kodiak, reserving riding for beautiful days.
“I only rode it when it was 70,” Pierce said. “It had to be a warm, nice day.”
Pierce said he originally didn’t want the ’48 Chief. He was looking for a 1950 Chief because that was the year he was born.
He found the ’48, though, and bought it because he wanted something that was unusual.
“Indians are classy old motorcycles,” Pierce said. “I wanted something that was unique and different. For some reason, Harleys never did anything for me.”
He said Indian Chiefs were also made in a tricycle version and were originally designed as delivery vehicles.
“When I was a little kid, a lot of guys converted them into ice cream machines. This was back in the ’50s and ’60s,” Pierce said.
He had a series of British motorcycles in his younger years, and his brother owned a Honda.
Throughout his 40 years in Kodiak, he’s also almost always had a motorcycle.
“It’s a guy thing. You have a pickup truck and a motorcycle,” Pierce said.
Pierce lives in Kodiak with his wife and moved here to fish.
He served in the Marines during the Vietnam War and started searching around for work after he got out. A friend of his was going to optometry school in Oregon and took a job working for a cannery in Kodiak.
“I took a job driving trucks out of Florida on Interstate 95,” Pierce said. “He came back with $5,000 in his pocket, I came back with $1,500. We were all broke, living off the GI bill and unemployment.”
After his friend returned, Pierce came to Alaska, got a fishing job, got laid off, headed back to Portland, and then returned for another fishing job two weeks later.
He was attending college at the time but decided to go fishing instead.
“I thought, ‘I can blow off fall term,’” Pierce said. “I called my parents and promised them if this thing didn’t work out, I’d come back and go to school.”
He ended up doing well fishing and called his parents again, “I said I’ll give this a try for awhile.”
He fished since then, eventually owning his own boat, but is now retired.
Another motorcycle may be in Pierce’s future, but he’s not sure. “It takes a tough man to ride that motorcycle. It has a kick start,” Pierce said. “It’s nothing fancy, it’s all muscle. Maybe down the line, I’ll get another but I don’t know. It was time for this one to go because I couldn’t ride it anymore. You don’t want to let something like that just sit.”
He doesn’t know what he’s going to do now on the 70 and sunny days. “I was thinking about getting a golf cart and fixing it up, customizing it, maybe.”
Contact Julie Herrmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.