BF Fort Bragg
Last week I had the privilege of hanging out with a bunch of great Boozefighters in Fort Bragg, CA and Wino Willie Forkner’s daughter, Terrie Dawn in Willits. Wino Willie, the originator of the Boozefighter Motorcycle Club moved to Fort Bragg from the LA area in 1963. He was an avid fisherman who loved the sport almost as much as he loved motorcycles. Terrie shared some great photos of the parties that her parents held on their property for their biker friends. It was clear what a close-knit family they all were.

Forkner family came to Johnny's in 2009 for the building of Wino willies monument.

The Forkner family came to Johnny’s in 2009 for the building of Wino Willies monument.

Wino loved to laugh and he loved to drink beer. I met him when he came to Johnny’s in 1996 for the warm-up rally in preparation for the 50th anniversary celebration. I was crazy busy so I didn’t spend much time with him. To tell the truth, I’d only owned the bar for six months and didn’t have a clue how huge it’s place in history was. I remember him smiling and laughing, surrounded by Boozefighters the entire weekend. He couldn’t wait to come back for the 1997 50th anniversary rally. Sadly he died of an aortic aneurysm only eight days before he would have headed to Hollister. I truly regret not taking more time to chat with him.

The only picture I have of Wino at Johnny's with his son Billy Clyde our pal Huck and a mystery  Boozefighter

The only picture I have of Wino at Johnny’s with his son Billy Clyde our pal Huck and a mystery Boozefighter

The Boozefighters of Chapter 11 host an annual gathering that includes camping and a memorial run to a beach about eight miles north of Fort Bragg. Wino and his lovely wife, Terrie’s, ashes were scattered there at the family’s request after Terrie’s death in 2002. I was thrilled to take part in the annual pilgrimage. People lined the streets in Fort Bragg waving at the procession. It was obviously an event the town’s folk look forward to. It was emotionally charged and beautiful.

Everyone met at the Rite Aid parking lot and the bagpipes were enjoyed before we left.

Everyone met at the Rite Aid parking lot and the bagpipes were enjoyed before we left.

BF beach ride-1

Traffic stopped for us for blocks with no problem.

Traffic stopped for us for blocks with no problem.

What a beautiful ride!

What a beautiful ride!

When all of the 150 or so riders were gathered on the beach a toast was made to of all of the fallen Boozefighters and Boozettes. Then their names were read and a large bell was tolled after every one of them. There were at least four full pages of names and it took quite a while to read them all. I know of at least two people who brought the ashes of their loved ones to add to the memorial scattering. There were lots of tears and hugs and I felt honored to be a part of the experience.

Boozefighters up!

Boozefighters up!

BF beach bell best

The honor and respect was palpable.

The honor and respect was palpable.

After the beach we headed to a local Fort Bragg bar called the Tip Top Lounge. There were three ladies working the bar. I’m sure the owner and crew look forward to the Labor Day weekend run almost as much as I look forward to the rally. It must be a great shot in the arm for them financially. And I hate to admit it, but their Bloody Mary’s were as good as mine. They kept up nicely with the large crowd and were very friendly.

Hanging with old friends and new ones at the Tip Top Lounge.

Hanging with old friends and new ones at the Tip Top Lounge.

After the pit stop it was back to the campsite. Chapter 11 not only let me stay on at the campsite after I checked out of Hotel Hell, but they very graciously let me set up shop at their sign-in table to sell Johnny’s collectibles. Everyone was great and they refused to take my money for the weekends festivities.

Gary and Van were more than gracious and I enjoyed hanging out with them.

Gary and Van were more than gracious and I enjoyed hanging out with them.

Many Boozefighters that checked in could not believe that it was still only $50.00 for the entire weekend. Participants received a camping spot, three square meals a day, including full breakfasts with biscuits and gravy, bacon, eggs and potatoes. Hunter made his famous spaghetti on Friday for dinner, but the process started early in the afternoon. He slow cooked his sauce for five hours and it was great. On Saturday, they barbecued tri tip, chicken and pork, to cover everyone’s tastes. If anyone went hungry it was their own darn fault.

Spaghetti sauce preparation was taken very seriously.

Spaghetti sauce preparation was taken very seriously.

Hunter has the program down.

Hunter has the program down.

They even had hot showers, something I did not get at my hotel the one night I stayed there. A wonderful man name Gene (the Texas holdem champ for the weekend) lets the Boozefighters use his fifteen acres for the event every year. They’ve been adding amenities for years, like the huge eight burner stove and double ovens, and it’s quite the setup. The store is close enough to make ice and beer runs, which they did daily, and everyone had happy tummies and a fantastic time. They even had a great band on Friday and Saturday night.
Fort Bragg band
After three days with my Boozefighter pals it was off to Willits to visit Terrie Dawn, Wino Willies youngest daughter. I met her at Johnny’s of course years ago. In fact I can’t remember what year it was. She came to visit again when we dedicated Wino’s Memorial on the patio in 2009. We hit it off right away. Sometimes you meet someone and feel like you’ve known them for a very long time. We were fast and furious friends. Despite the fact that we don’t talk often and I hadn’t seen her since the memorial dedication, we chatted it up like we hadn’t been apart for a day.

Me, Snowman, Terry Dawn and Huck in 2009

Me, Snowman, Terry Dawn and Huck in 2009

Terrie has a treasure trove of Boozefighter history tucked away in boxes. There were newspaper articles from 1947, 1977, 1987, 1997, and many in-between. I got to read letters that Kokomo, the original San Francisco chapter president, wrote to Willie in 1946. Kokamo was a card and man he liked to ramble. He was so excited to be a part of building the club. He repeated himself a lot but the letters were down right hysterical. I saw a Western union message sent to John Cameron from JD Cameron (the clubs co-founder) dated September 22, 1947. It Read “IN JAIL. BRING BAIL. NELSON AND ME. APPROXIMATELY $20.00 APIECE. JAMES CAMERON” Nelson, also known as Fat Boy, was my good pal and original Boozette Dago’s husband.
choppers-coverchoppers-1
When she got back to the house she gave me a book to check out called Wild Ride – How Outlaw Motorcycle Myth Conquered America, by Tom Reynolds. It is one of the biggest book bonanzas I’ve ever come across. It is loaded with Boozefighter and Hollister historical information and will be the source of many my blogs. I sincerely believe that a lot of Hollister residents as well as Boozefighters and bikers from all over the world will be enlightened and amazed by the information revealed in the book. My plan is not to plagiarize Tom, but to share much of the information he worked so hard to compile. I only got to read three chapters of the book while I was at Terrie’s, but my copy from Amazon showed up yesterday and I can’t wait to devour it. It is out of print, which I think is sad, but my hardback copy showed up from Blue Cloud Books in pristine condition.
Wild Ride cover
I’m so glad that I made the trip. It relit the writer’s fire within me that had faded from lack of use. Setting up for and getting through the rally took so much time and energy. It rolled right into the Street Festival, family visits, and camping trips and the longer I am away from my desk; the harder it is to get my butt back in the chair. I hope to enlighten and entertain my readers on a more regular basis.

A huge thank you goes out to all of my Boozefighter and Boozette friends from Chapter 11 that made my trip so enjoyable. Thank you Zach for letting me be your passenger on the way to the beach. The ride would not have been the same in a car. A special thank you to Terrie Dawn Forkner, for being so gracious and welcoming and protecting her father’s legacy. I hope to spend a lot more time together in the future.

The host and hostess with the mostest. Hunter and Cathy know how to throw a party.

The host and hostess with the mostest. Hunter and Cathy know how to throw a party.

Just Ed & Polly my poker pals.

Just Ed & Polly my poker pals.

Zach, my ride to the beach.

Zach, my ride to the beach.

I look forward to hanging by the fire again next year.

I look forward to hanging by the fire again next year.

5 Responses to My Fort Bragg Trip – Boozefighter and Hollister History Explored

  1. Chop Ch#3 says:

    Chareese,(?)
    The Mystery ” BoozeFighter” in the 3rd pic with Wino, Billy Clyde and Huck is Big Mark one of the original 5 members of Chapter #3 San Diego. Miss those guys

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