AN ANTIQUE MOTORCYCLE ROMANCE

 

 

Thurston James Apple -  Spring 1925

 

 

Made in Spring 1925 - Thurston, Mickey and Motordrome Help

 

A love of antique motorcycles resulted in a life-long romance between a country boy from Tennessee and a Estonian-French girl from Wisconsin.

 

 

 

Jean Apple Sister-in-law

Mickey Apple - 1938

Betty Apple Daughter

 

 

In 1911 at age 17, Thurston James Apple left his rural Tennessee home and went to work for a roofer in Nashville.  A short time later he bought his first motorcycle for transportation and recreation.  It was an M&M manufactured by Morris & Metz of Brockton, Massachusetts. It had one cylinder, battery ignition, flat-belt drive, and more power and which was better engineered and more serviceable than the M&M.

 

During the next five years he rode in motorcycle races and hill climbs throughout the Central South.  He owned and rode a number of interesting machines which included a five horsepower Harley Davidson single cylinder with a flat-belt drive and an idler pulley for a clutch; a 1915 Harley Davidson two cylinder with a square tank, a three speed transmission and a clutch in the rear wheel; a 19(?) Indian with a clutch and a two speed transmission; a Pope with a two speed transmission and a Reading Standard with a three speed transmission.

 

He considered the latter two his best machines of the era.

In1916 he went to work for Frank and Irving Randall, Indian and Excelsior dealer in Nashville, as a mechanic.

 

 

In 1917 he worked briefly for Hudson Motor Company in Detroit and then enlisted in the Army.  He was made a dispatch rider and was issued a 1917 Harley Davidson military model, twin cylinder, 61 cu. in motorcycle.

 

After World War 1 he worked briefly for Roy Nowlin, by then Indian dealer in Nashville and for a time was a sub dealer under Nowlin for East Nashville.

 

In 1919 he built a Motordrome which he operated throughout the eastern half of the United States and several Canadian provinces, usually in conjunction with state fairs, county fairs and carnivals.  His first machines were 1912 Indian Hecstroms which had twin cylinders, compensating sprocket clutches out no transmissions.  He later replaced the Hedstroms with 1918 and 1919 Indian Power-Plus engines which had more power and were more dependable.

 

In June, 1921, while operating his Motordrome in Wausau; Wisconsin, he met and fell in love with Emma Louise (Mickey) Pakonian whom he married after a whirlwind courtship.  She had never been on a motorcycle before but she learned quickly.  She rode regularly in their Motordrome until its sale in 1947.

 

 

Indian Scout used in Motordrome

 

Thurston continued riding in motorcycle races and hill climbs wherever he was operating his Motordrome until an unhappy Labor Day on September 8, 1925.  In a ten mile race at the Tennessee State Fairground another rider cut into Thurston's machine and he received injuries which ended his riding days.  An account of this accident which appeared in Bill-board and which gives details of Thurston Apple's career follows this article.

 

In 1927 the Apples began using 37 cu. in. and a few 45 cu. in Indian Scouts in their Motordrome.

 

After the sale of their Motordrome both continued in the amusement field as key employees of the permanent amusement park in the Tennessee State Fairground in Nashville.

 

Thurston James Apple passed away in 1965 but Mickey still lives in the Madison section of Nashville enjoying her two lovely daughters, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren Mickey's looks belie her 79 years

 

Fortunately they preserved many fine pictures of old time racing greats, of fascinating early motorcycles and of Motordrome days, some of which may be shown.

 

Submitted by Kay Nerland

Article by Dan McGugin Jr.-1983

 

 

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