Motorcycles and Merchant Marines – Putnam Sentinel

Motorcycles and Merchant Marines Putnam Sentinel
Motorcycles and Merchant Marines Putnam Sentinel

By Joe Schriner

Sentinel Correspondent

[email protected]

— There’s a possibility, although this hasn’t been fact checked yet,
that Glandorf’s Tom Giesken has the only 1922 Harley Davidson 1,200 cc
Model JD motorcycle (with a side car) in Putnam County.

Actually, it may be the only one in the whole state of Ohio. These things are that rare!

say Mr. Giesken is a classic motorcycle enthusiast would be, well, an
understatement. He currently has 10 older model motorcycles, all in
various stages of repair.

He’s a mechanic.

His father, Bob, was a mechanic.

fact, Bob grew up in Glandorf “…back in the day,” working on go carts,
three-wheelers, dirt bikes, and such. That is, until he got into, oh, a
bit of undisclosed trouble.

How serious was it?

Tom said it
was serious enough for his grandfather to take his son, age 16 at the
time, to the Port of Toledo where he enlisted him in the Merchant

“Bring him back a man,” said the father, as he walked away.

that’s probably not, oh, happening with the same frequency these days,
it apparently worked. Tom said his father came back a man, settled down,
started a family in Glandorf, and drove truck for many years, until
there was an accident that left him somewhat lame in one leg.

As a
result, he stopped driving and stepped up working in his back yard
garage. Tom said his father was such a good mechanic, guys with
professional garages in town would bring his father mechanical problems
that had them stumped.

The father, among other things, had a
penchant, not only for working on older motorcycles, but buying them as
well. One year he actually won the American Motorcycle Association’s top
award for miles logged to motorcycle swap meets in a year across the

The mechanics, and the love for motorcycles, both rubbed off on his son.

fact, Tom has been on a quest to acquire the same model old motorcycles
that his father had. This started when his now deceased father left Tom
his 1931 Harley motorcycle.

Besides combing the country, Tom has
gone every year to the Wauseon, Ohio National Motorcycle Show and Swap
Meet. That’s where, a couple years ago, he came across the 1922 Harley
with, again, a sidecar. It was like finding the proverbial needle in a
hay stack. Or as Tom put it, and staying with farm metaphors, this was a
“barn find.”

“You know,” he smiled, “that thing was just so cool!”

ended up paying $30,000 for that particular ‘coolness,’ and has been
working on the now 100-year-old motorcycle, on and off, ever since.

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