Since the invention of the Cushman Motor Scooter in 1936, millions of Americans have become acquainted with this machine either through first-hand experience or association.
A product of the Cushman Motor Works of Lincoln, Nebraska, the scooter was not only the dream machine of teenagers, but also found a place serving society as a post office and military vehicle. Eventually, Cushman was driven out of the scooter business by foreign imports, especially Honda.
Largely through the efforts of Bill Somerville, of 1200 Kygar Road, Ponca City, Oklahoma 47604, a Cushman Club of America was formed in 1982, and now boasts over 900 members.
'Cushman Club of America was founded in 1982 because I could not find any information or parts for a Cushman scooter that I had purchased,' wrote Bill in a recent letter to GEM. 'I started looking for a Cushman Club and could not find anyone who knew of one.' Deciding the time had come for the formation of such an organization, Bill ran an ad in Hemmings Motor News to find some people to talk with about scooters.
In the three years since that first ad, the Club has held three national meets and published a wide range of books, such as owner's manuals, parts books, repair manuals, and paraphernalia. The most recent meet was held in Cleburn, Texas, on June 28 and 29.
Somerville's main interest is the Cushman Eagle scooter, since he had owned one in junior high school. 'In trying to research the Eagle,' he writes, 'I found that there were no books at all on Cushman even though at least a million kids had owned or wanted one during the forties, fifties, or sixties. Most of the older people who had worked at Cushman were now gone or had destroyed their literature. I decided I had better do something or pretty soon everything would be gone.'
The 'something' which Bill did, was to collect information, pictures and write a book called, A History of the Cushman Eagle, a handsome 32 page 8' x 11' softbound volume which includes history of the model and copies of brochures and ads some in full color.
The Eagle was apparently conceived in 1949, and the first list price for the Model 765 was $209.05. The standard color of the Eagle was a bright, cheerful red, though by 1950 models were available as well in blue, green or cream. The book details various model changes throughout the production years, which ended in 1965. Finally, crushed by increasing competition from Honda, the Eagle was discontinued when even drastic price reductions failed to save it.
Bill Somerville's book, and his enthusiasm for Cushman motorcycles, are to be admired. His is a fine example of a collector who has managed to get others with the same interest to work together in saving another part of American technological history. Individuals interested in learning more about the Cushman Club of America and their activities should write to the club at 1200 Kygar Road, Ponca City, OK 74604.