Coming Full Circle with a Legacy

Motorcycle Flat Tracks 2017Sometimes a person’s past crosses path with future generations to create something very special. Such was the case during Christmas when I was witness to a rite of passage that dealt with a part of my Dad’s legacy as a former New England Motorcycle Rider and Champion of hundreds of competitive races.

At times, we all re-gift an item when we think that others can utilize or appreciate it more as the recipient. However, this was more than a simple re-gifting.  Before I reveal this 60 year old item which has withstood the test of time, let me acquaint you with the affiliated organizations and some history.

According to one of my Dad’s best friends and fellow rider who now lives in Alabama, my Dad primarily participated and excelled at the following:

Scrambles (Cross country or hare scramble races are off-road competition events. All riders in a single class start on the same row and the event is an all-out race to the finish. They are conducted on several-mile-long marked courses through woods or desert and over rugged natural terrain). Half track and Short track (i.e-quarter mile) competitions as well as Enduro. (Enduro is an endurance test between the rider and the terrain. Enduro racing is physically and mentally demanding as the rider endures low-hanging tree branches, fallen logs, rocky upgrades, splashing through streams and riding up and down hill on gravel, dirt, sand and even mud for long distances). Motorcylcle jumps (See YouTube Video below)

History of the New England Riders Association   

As of this writing, I could find no formal documented history of the New England Riders Association. Today they list 1,172 members. However, I know it has been around for 60+ years for the love of motorcycle riding and the respect for the sport.

New England Riders is a self-organized, inclusive motorcycle group whose members are known for their love of “time in the saddle.”

“Despite having no dues, membership, rules or officers, the NERDs plan regular group rides to some of New England’s finest destinations. The discussions on

New England riders is a non-profit organization  and does accept donations to help fund the events. The New England Riders community welcomes all makes and levels of riders. Due to the mileage we put on our machines in all kinds of weather, the majority of the NER membership favor touring, sport touring, cruising, and ADV motorcycles. Courtesy, respect and safe group riding technique are valued attributes amongst the NER community.”

http://www.newenglandriders.org

https://www.facebook.com/groups/NewEnglandRiders/about/  

 

Forging Paths Where the Faint of Heart Don’t Go

Among the many events, there was trail riding, hill climbs, paved track racing, many rallies and regular road riding. My Dad rode dirt bikes on trails where there was none.  It took skill, agility, and fearlessness. Races were captured on 16mm film in those days. My brother is the keeper of many glossy black and white  photos, a treasure trove of the era. Here’s a more current YouTube example of what Connecticut dirt bike hillclimb riding requires:

And there were ramp jumps; yes! I remember my Dad up in the air “…flying through the air with the greatest  of ease, that daring young man on the flying trapeze, his movements were graceful, all people he could please…. “

Watch this- (No doubt, 55 seconds of terror for some!)

More History

In dirt track racing the course is usually an oval, where only left turns are made. The racer uses his left foot as an outrigger to balance the bike as it’s leaned far into the turn, much like a road-racing motorcyclist uses his knee sliders to aid cornering.  The steel shoe, or hot-shoe is an integral part of flat track racing.

Motorcycle Steel Shoe

I recall my Dad’s steel shoe being somewhat rudimentary, although a vital piece of equipment on the flat tracks, compared to the lighter weight, more high tech versions of custom boot wear today. My Dad’s friend related that he was the only racer to use steel shoes on certain tracks as compared to his colleagues. In fact, he constructed his own steel shoes from an old Plymouth car bumper.  Refer to this blog in which a rider turned artisan meets the need- https://irontradernews.com/a-proper-steel-shoe-is-the-racers-edge/

On the Cover of Motorcycle Magazines  

Unfortunately, I can’t display the actual cover in which my Dad was featured in Cycle Sport and other magazines of the 1950’ and 60’s. However, a couple of vintage editions that are similar mentioned articles about my Dad within the magazines were these available for purchase online by a collector with descriptions. 

1961 October Motorcyclist Motorcycle Magazine Back-Issue

Contents: Ohio State Scrambles, photos of Joe Oden, Dick Stouffer, Jim Borer, Warren Longacre; East meets West – Don Gore heads Eastern Scrambles Team to victory; California Highway Patrol motorcycle training – safety first; Speed Week at Bonneville; 1962 Harley-Davidson 8 new Models; Summer of ’61 by Richard Wyler; Theory and tuning of the 2-stroke; Watkins Glen / Carroll Resweber; Honda Rider Doug Woodward in record run.
Contents:Joe Leonard wins Springfield; Pinup: NSU Prima Scooter with lovely miss and postman; Belgian Grand Prix – Jack Brett; Colonial Tour – Williamsburg and Jamestown; 2-Page Harley-Davidson Ad with Joe Leonard, Bud Mayes; Two Yanks visit the Isle of Man; Altoona – Don Gore; Ariel 500cc Red Hunter Road Test;

 

Television Fame

There are certain achievements recognized worldwide. To name a few; the Pulitzer Prize, appearing on Oprah, lecturing at a TedTalk, etc. But, in my Dad’s era, to truly have  made it to the top with his athleticism was to have raced on the former TV series, “ABC’s  Wide World of Sports”.  He did so, I believe, from Daytona Beach, Florida in the 1960’s. The series ran from April, 1961 to January 1998.  

To be known among the best racers the world, what a milestone! We watched this show every Saturday night. As a family,  we attended many of his races all over New England on Sundays to cheer him onto victory. It was exciting to see all of the racers round the corners at high speeds with steel shoes helping to balance the bikes. His motorcycle, with the big, bold, black #47 emblazoned on the front won nearly all of the races or came in close to #1 with his friend and rival, Charlie Vincent winning many races as well.

The Gift

One of the hallmarks of being a New England rider was to proudly wear their duds; whether it be a classic leather jacket, leather gloves, boots, homemade steel shoes, or a sporty racing jacket. In fact, the coat I will describe looks very similar to classic college varsity jackets.

December 2017- A Legacy Continues

At some point in time after my Dad’s murder, my brother Scott inherited various items.    I did not know that the vintage jacket, characterized by a navy blue color with bright yellow lines at the bottom and length of the sleeves (resembling the yellow lines of the roadways), snap yellow buttons, and the rider’s name embroidered on the left chest was the  signature jacket worn in the 1950’s and 1960’s by these consummate athletes.  

And so, at Christmas 2017, a classy and stylish “millennial niece” was given this vintage jacket as a gift from my brother.  Whether it hung in the closet too long, whether it did not fit him any longer, or whether it was just time to pass it on to another generation, I can’t say.  But, I was impressed. After a little dry cleaning, perhaps the good people of Denver will see this coat proudly worn by the one and only grandchild my Dad never knew. I hope she recognizes the significance. I hope that my Dad’s fans, will smile and look toward heaven! See the photos of Cara, “modeling” his jacket below.  
References-

https://www.facebook.com/groups/NewEnglandRiders/about/

http://forums.delphiforums.com/newenglandrider

http://lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/t/themanontheflyingtrapeze.shtml

https://irontradernews.com/a-proper-steel-shoe-is-the-racers-edge/

http://www.americanflattrack.com/news/view/american-flat-tracks-2017-nbcsn-broadcasts-now-fanschoicetv

http://www.dadscyclemags.com/category/vintage-motorcycle-magazine-back-issues/cyclesport/

https://www.motosport.com/blog/the-difference-between-motocross-supercross-enduro-and-trials 


DonnaGore-2

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The Silence Can be Deafening- No Apologies for Being an Advocate 

Don Gore

Don Gore, my father

After 36 years of surviving the most life-changing event in one’s life, you gain perspective, but you also lose friends along the way.

My father’s murder occurred in Hartford Connecticut on April 17, 1981, and it made the law books for a particular legal maneuver. It was a case whose trial was prolonged for 6 1/2 years, caught in the morass of determinate and indeterminate sentencing laws. It was a case that coincided with the infancy of victim rights. My father’s case began as a missing person and ended as a homicide.

It was a case characterized by unthinkable events such as our family learning the news via a newspaper article and taking it upon ourselves to call the police, as no notification had come our way. There were promises were made such as, “This career criminal will never get out.” In fact, a very skilled attorney/victim advocate was puzzled as to why the perpetrator ever became eligible for parole in 2013.

My father’s murder case changed the State of Connecticut policy regarding the anonymity of victims during a parole hearing although the parole board failed to even acknowledge such a milestone.

That’s when I decided not to be silent. Don Gore needed a voice and I became that person in every way imaginable.

It is not a role I consciously chose, it evolved as my intellectual curiosity and need for justice grew.

Times have changed, with an entirely new generation appearing since 1981.  The landscape in victim services has expanded to include a plethora of agencies, governmental to non-profit. In addition, in 2017, violence, public perception, tolerance of what once was unacceptable, and the ever-changing social mores, has also escalated with the immediacy of social media.

In situations such as violent crime, I believe complacency breeds indifference. If you are not part of the solution, you could be part of the problem. It’s not that you have to go the whole hog, just make a meaningful contribution in your own way.

But then, there are the constants that don’t seem to change the work against positive change and hope for the future. These elements are equal to the silence that pervades if you chose not to be a voice for change, or, at the very least, acknowledge what others are doing and give moral support. The silences can be deafening causing me to work with increased fervor.  Some examples:

  • The murderer having no cognizance of who he killed or who was related to him in addition to showing no remorse;
  • The vulnerabilities that still surface, even after 36 years;
  • The tendency of the public to stay in denial mode, shaking their collective heads unless homicide or other crimes have touched them personally;
  • The lack of connection or involvement in many homicides and missing person families;
  • The refusal to see beyond the obvious that homicide and missing persons isn’t uplifting and that there is nothing positive that can come forth by educating and creating awareness. How wrong these people are, they will never get it! When you look beyond the surface, as advocates, we have been the force for so much positive change. As a byproduct, you gain surrogate families who can be very nurturing. Out of tragedy, inspiring events occur.
  • The lack of resources and assistance for so many families, even in this enlightened era forcing us to be ever more creative to get the job done.

The Future

Although I do not look forward to the five-year mark looming in the background for another appearance at a parole hearing in 2018, I embrace the right and duty to continually try to be the voice of my father, Donald W. Gore, whose life was snuffed out so abruptly and unfairly.

I hope he will be observing with pride from his place in heaven.  Dad, you are missed by many!

DRG- 4-16-2017


DonnaGore-2

 

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82 Years Young, If Only, a Tribute to My Father

 

astronomical-clock-226897_640Sign of the Zodiac

Being a Virgo born on August 26th, you often impress others with your discipline, trustworthiness and generosity. While you may not feel every aspect of life is important, you take great care in dealing with those you do find value in. Your discipline allows you to be methodical and organized, which explains why you rarely let a detail go unnoticed. Your friends and family admire your work ethic, but appreciate you more because of your generosity. You may fail to notice it, but there are many times when you are more concerned with the needs of your loved ones than your own physical or emotional needs.

Element

The Virgo’s paired element is Earth and in fact, you are the only zodiac sign with fixed relationship to the element. At times you are the perfect representation of “down to Earth.” You are practical and rational in your expectations and goals. You find great comfort in being grounded, which is why stability is one of your most important needs. Embracing these positive qualities of Earth will allow you to achieve what you have envisioned for yourself. 

Not so true (in my opinion…)

“Take care to avoid the negative qualities of Earth, which included becoming overly cautious and safe in all aspects of life.”

My Dad was a risk taker, a “seize the opportunity” kind of person in business and personally.

We can speculate that perhaps, the forces that came to bear, put him in the wrong place, at the wrong time with the wrong kind of people resulting in his murder.

Planetary Influence

Your sign’s planetary ruler is Mercury and as you were born in the first Decan, or part, of the sign, you are subject to a double dose of Mercury’s power. Mercury is primarily the planet of communication and is responsible for the clever, witty and intellectual workings of your mind. You often use your mental abilities to help others, as you can quickly notice when someone needs help. While you often use your mind for generous purposes, you can easily use the same dedication to solve any problem you face Interestingly enough, you may be such a disciplined worker that you may fail to see the big picture at times, but luckily this is not a prominent flaw. 

Beyond the Planetary Influences….

Don Gore

Don Gore, my father would be 82 years old today

How do you observe a birthday that will never be? In some ways, like tick marks on the wall to measure your ever-growing child, birthdays are innocuous, but there.  But, in the case of a loved one who abruptly left this earthly soil more than 34 years ago; it’s hard to conjure up what my Dad would be like at age 82. With his engaging nature, “a little rough around the edges” and workaholic nature, I’m sure he wouldn’t be sitting around.  I remember when once asked if he’s take up golf, he said he “didn’t see the sense in chasing after a little ball with a stick.” That makes me smile.

Rather, his claim to fame was his hard-driving, quick thinking involvement on the motorcycle scrambles circuit, in which he won many New England championships.

From the Homicide Anniversary –April 17, 2015

 

The passage of time fades all memories.  We remember good memories, but the most vivid regarding his murder stay with me as well. I ask myself, what would he think of the events of 2015? Hmmm… Our ability to “go with the flow” depends upon our unique personality, our upbringing and past experiences in life. If I were to guess, I would say, he would embrace those conveniences and conventions that were important to him, and cast aside everything else!

To say, “Dad you haven’t missed much” is a gross understatement regarding family and other accomplishments. To say we have fared well with a lot of trial and error and finding new niches would be true. However, I prefer to say, we still miss you, and I’ll see you again in 30+ years if I’m fortunate enough to continue my earthly missions until then!

The planets aligned my Mother and Father’s birthdays just 11 days apart! I wonder what that means?

Happy 82nd Birthday, Dad!

Additional References- http://www.famousbirthdays.com/horoscope/august26.html

Strange Encounters of the Murderous Kind

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This is a true story of a personal encounter that happened recently. It was one of those strong life coincidences that occurs when you least expect it. Whether it was fate, a communication from heaven or something else, I do not know.

On a recent drizzly Sunday afternoon trying to do my due diligence paying bills a kindly looking gentleman approached me after viewing my car advertisement for my radio show.

As I explained about the show and gave a brief explanation of my Dad’s murder, the man, volunteered that he went to high school with a man by the name of PH. To my shock it was he who said the name, not me, – the same name as the murderer of my father!  (How could this be?) I was truly shocked. I gave no details at that point in time, but yet this man seems to know a great deal about the background of the perpetrator.

The man stated that PH was “a bad seed,” always getting into trouble at a youth.  (In fact I believe he was about only 21 years old or so when he was convicted of my father’s murder.)  His high school peer knew PH would end up in serious trouble.   In fact, he related that PH was one of three brothers – Perry, Harry and Larry…. or something like that. Seriously, they all rhymed!  My mind raced and ironically could only think of Moe, Curly, and Larry of the Three Stooges. But this indeed was no laughing matter!

Apparently at a very young age, running the streets of Hartford, PH was always looking for partner in crime, frequently approaching him saying, “Let’s rob a bank.”    This man was in no way a would-be criminal, but a was a member of the national honor society and was on the path to start a career in the insurance business.

He made it clear that he wanted no part of THAT world. Mr. S. was familiar with the murder of a second man “the perp” committed, after he killed my father. (The second man was an accomplice in a bank robbery who could identify PH, whose body he dumped in a cemetery.) However, “my informant”  was unaware of my Dad’s killing.  He said, in all sincerity, ,”Ya’know, the word on the street is that PH killed other people, he just got caught for these.” I definitely believed that statement from the way PH acted at the parole hearing.   Mr. S. asked for a current status report and was about to offer more “tales of yesteryear on the streets of Hartford,” when I stopped him and told him I didn’t want to hear anymore.   He understood my feelings.

My informant did say that he lost a cousin to murder at the West Indian Club in Hartford a couple of years ago as well. I told him he was welcome to check out my website.  Then a strange feeling came over me after hearing all of this information.

This man had no reason to lie to me. He appeared to know details about the perp and it certainly sounded believable to me. But then, I am a trusting person at heart, despite homicide. We exchanged business cards.

I couldn’t help but think as he drove away, if I had not chosen to do this mundane errand on this day, at this exact time, I never would have known this additional information about “the perp” after 34 years!  Life can be very strange indeed.  But there must have been a reason… only time will tell!