Friday, September 11, 2015

Act I Episode 1 The Hell's Angels Come to America's Greatest Family Resort

WAITING ON THE ANGELS – THE LONG COOL SUMMER OF ’65 REVISITED

A novel by Bill Kelly [billkelly3@gmail.com]





ACT I EPISODE 1 – The Hell's Angels Come to America's Greatest Family Resort

At the Bay's shores just off the Somers Point, N.J. Circle at the base of the 9th Street Bridge causeway.

The summer of '65 began inauspiciously enough with the soft sounds of shore birds chirping and the waves of boat wakes lapping at the bay shores and the strong smell of the salt ocean air brought in by soft bay winds. The natural sounds of spring were slowly over ridden by what began as a soft humm that seemed to get steadily louder. The animals sensed it first, darting their heads as the birds went silent and the squirrels and rabbits scattered away as the humm steadily increased in volume until it was a constant vibration almost running ripples counter to the lapless tide, crescendoing into a thunderous roar of motorcycles that flew by in a blur and a cloud of dust and slowly faded away to a quiet hum and after a few moments the lapping of the tide could be heard again. 

Ocean City police patrolman William Warren was sitting in his patrol car in the parking lot of the Circle Liquor Store, which overlooks the bay and the bridge and was where patrolman Warren was eating his lunch when the swarm of motorcycles sped past him. While he was technically in Somers Point, Ocean City police patrols the causeway and strictly enforces speeding laws. Warren put down his sandwich, reached for the patrol car radio and called it in, and then began pursuit.

As those of you who were there will recall, the summer of '65 began normally enough, hell we didn't even know the Hell's Angels came to town. That was a city and state secret and we only found out about it later because Tom Waldmam the mayor of Ocean City New Jersey was in the thick of it all.

And while we didn't know it at the time, and as we later discovered, the summer of '65 really began when those Hell's Angels came to town.

“There were two entirely different and unrelated incidents,” the mayor later explained. “The Hell's Angels did come to town before Memorial Day, but that and the Labor Day events were two different incidents and were not really connected, and that’s a different story.”

As the mayor explained, “There weren't that many of them. Less than a dozen bikers - Hell's Angels. 
What happened was a black police officer ordered them to pull over and they ignored him. He was probably the first black police officer on the Ocean City, New Jersey police force.”

When the bikers ignored him and refused to pull over on the causeway he radioed ahead so as they cruised in town down 9th Street they were met by a police car roadblock at West Avenue where they were corralled into a vacant lot at the end of the railroad line and what is now McDonald’s.


There, they were just as belligerent.

“They would only talk to the mayor,” said Waldman, who was summoned out of his 8th street travel agency office, picked up in a squad car and taken over to talk with their leader, as legend would have it, was Ralph “Sonny” Barger, the badest Hell’s Angel.

According to Hunter S. Thompson, “Barger’s word goes unquestioned." The father of gonzo journalism called him “The Maximum Leader,” and described him as “a 6-foot, 170 pound warehouseman from East Oakland, the coolest head in the lot, and a tough, quick-thinking dealer when any action starts. By turn he is a fanatic, a philosopher, a brawler, a shrewd compromiser and final arbitrator.”  

The leader of the Hells Angels met Mayor Waldman, the suit and tie travel agent and “maximum leader” of Ocean City.

The mayor said, “Whenever you have a large transient population like we do, you will have exposure to all types, including these violent motorcycle gangs. But you can’t condone it, and you can’t ignore it.”

“We talked, and I introduced them to the black officer,” he remembered, “but they were very racist and weren’t going to take any orders from him."

"I told them he was only doing his job and trying to earn a living for his family. They were very polite, and eventually we all shook hands in the end. But we didn’t go out and have cocktails together.”

Mayor Waldman had Patrolman Warren give a single ticket for speeding to their leader - Ralph S. Barger, Golf Lane, Oakland, California, and the mayor told him if he didn’t accept it they were all going to be issued tickets and their background checked and they would be arrested if there were any outstanding warrants anywhere in the country.

Waldman the Mayor of America’s Greatest Family Resort and Sonny Barger the leader of the Hell's Angels went eyeball to eyeball and the leader of the pack blinked, took the speeding ticket and without saying another word they all got on their bikes and left the way they came..


And there it should have ended. But it didn't. It just set the tone and style for the rest of the summer, which was one that anyone who was there will never forget.



No comments:

Post a Comment