Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield

Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Newcomerstown, Ohio, USA
December 28
Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Retired Protestant Pastor and Theologian, credentialed in the United Church of Christ; licensed by the Moravian Church . Education: BA, MA, M.Div, Thd. Public Service: NY State Office of Executive Development, Management Intern; Federal Exec. Branch: Executive Office of the President, Budget Examiner, Bureau of the Budget; Interior, Director of Energy and Minerals, Bureau of Land Management; Non Profit: Ford Foundation, Deputy Director, Energy Policy Project; Congressional: Director, Office of Special Projects; Director, Division of Energy and Materials, General Accounting Office. Private industry: Vice President, Grow Group, Inc.; Chief Executive Officer, US Paint; Owner, the Energy Center, St. Louis. Christian service: Pastor, First Congregational UCC, Ottawa, Illinois; Pastor, St. Paul's UCC, Port Washington, Ohio; Pastor, Moravian Church, Gnadenhutten, Ohio. Interim Pastor, the Baltic Parish UCC, Baltic, Ohio; starting 08 2014: Interim Pastor, St. John UCC, Strasburg, OH


Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield's Links

JULY 20, 2009 2:01PM

The Case of Shoney's Big Boy & Evil Motorcyclists!

Rate: 25 Flag


The famous Shoney's Big Boy Mascot
A typical Shoney's Big Boy Resturant in the '50s to '70sPhotobucket
Riders bunched up --
right before setting the bike for a slide turn


Based on a true story. Summer, 1968

Every summer my best friend, Earl, and I chased the Grand National motorcycle circuit.  

Flat Track racing was the most important part of the Grand National Circuit. At speeds that can hit 140 mph on one mile dirt tracks, riders slide into a corner, lean in for a left turn, put weight onto a steel soled shoe used as an outrigger, turn the front wheel to the right to scrub off speed, and slide the rear end of the bike around to face the other way.  

This is a ballet of exquisite and infinitely dangerous beauty, often with more than a dozen riders hitting the corner at the same time, three and four wide, rubbing handlebars as they execute the turn.  There is nothing remotely like it.

Every year Earl and I rode our bikes from DC to five to ten flat track races. We were young and we worked in the Executive Office of the President (EOP) so we were full of ourselves. We also drank too much. But we were happy drunks.  Mostly.

This trip was in August.  We were going to the Charity Newsies race at Columbus, Ohio.

Before I-68 was built the quickest route from DC was north on 1-70 which became the Pennsylvania Turnpike heading west and then, south of Pittsburgh, getting off the Turnpike where it was then a straight shot to Columbus through Wheeling, WV, and into Ohio. Not quite 500 miles.

I was on my new 1968 Triumph Bonneville and Earl was on a 1966 Honda CB 450.  We left DC around 9 am on Saturday morning and made good time. We hit Wheeling about 4 in the afternoon. We decided to eat in Wheeling. Actually, I decided it. I wanted to do it early and at a place that didn't serve liquor. Earl would drink if it did.

There was a Shoney's Big Boy in Wheeling right off the interstate. As we rode into the parking lot a sign saying "No motorcycles" greeted us. We parked near the door and went in anyway.

When we got into the restaurant we were met by an overweight matronly woman who said, "No motorcyclists are allowed in here."

Earl said, "What do you mean, "No motorcyclists?'
"It's the policy. No motorcyclists.'

"Are you the manager?"

"I'm the head waitress.  No motorcyclists."

"Let me speak to the manager."

She sighed and turned and walked to the back of the dining room and disappeared into a hallway.  By this time others were entering behind us.

 A small, thin middle aged man with no chin and wearing glasses came out to talk to us.

"I'm sorry, gentlemen, but you will have to leave. Corporate policy is clear.  No motorcyclists are allowed."

"Corporate policy? "

"We are a chain of restaurants and no motorcyclists are allowed in any of our establishments."

Earl, usually calm and by nature bemused by life in general turned to me and said, "Let's go. There is a bar and grill across the street."

I'd like to tell you that I was furious about the policy, but the truth was that while I didn't like it at all we ran into it a lot of places.  The other truth was that we were still 150 miles from Columbus and I had no intention of riding with Earl after he had three or four Martinis.

"Show him your parking permit, Earl."

Earl turned to me and said, "I don't have any parking permit for here."  He could be thick at times. I moved in front of him, got out my wallet and produced my parking permit, said nothing, and handed it to the manager.

The parking permit was plastic laminate with a picture of the White House in the background and bold letters saying "West Wing Motorcycle Parking. Use North Gate." It had an identification picture of me wearing a suit.

Now the truth was that we did not work "in" the White House.  We worked next door in the old Executive Office Building.  But there was staff parking across from the West Wing Portico on a concrete pad made especially for motorcycles. EOP and White House staff both used it.

The manager looked at the permit and studied it quite a while.  Meanwhile the line behind us had become a bunch of hungry, pissed off people. They were hesitant to say anything. They had watched too many biker movies.  

The manager handed me back the card and said, "I'm sorry, sir, but the policy is still no motorcyclists."

I said, "Fine. We'll leave, but first I need to use your phone.  In private.  I need to call long distance and I will reverse the charges."

Seeing this as a way to get us out of the restaurant he said, "Follow me."

Earl said, "I'll wait here."

I went with the manager into his tiny office. He handed the phone to me across his desk. I took it from him, set it down on the desk, dialed "0" and then a number, picked the phone back up and walked away from the desk as far as it would allow, turned my back to him and pushed the button down on the cradle.

"Yes, operator, my name is Monte Canfield. Please reverse the charges." I paused a while. "Hi, Give me Bill Storm's office please."  I paused. "How you doing, Cathy?  It's Monte.  We've run into a little trouble here in Wheeling, West Virginia. Is Bill in?"  

I again paused a while and said, "Hi, Bill. Yeah. Got a bit of a problem here, a case of corporate discrimination."  Then I explained to the imaginary person on the other end of the line what we had run into. "Wednesday or Thursday?  Yes. Got it. I'll tell the Manager. Yes. We will. Thanks. See you Tuesday.  Bye."

I handed the phone back to the Manager, who looked a little pale in the gills, and thanked him.

"Who were you talking to?"

"The Secret Service."

"The Secret Service?  Why?"

"Well, the President never has liked any kind of discrimination, as you know.  And when we run into it we are supposed to report it and the Secret Service takes it from there.  They give it to the  Justice Department to handle.  The FBI will have a man out here Wednesday or Thursday."

"The FBI!?"

Yes.  Who do you thinks investigates for the Justice Department?

"Look, we don't want any trouble.  Why don't you gentlemen just come on in and eat and we can forget the whole thing."

"Can't do that. You've got a "No Motorcycles" sign out front and you didn't want us in here before I called them. That told me all I needed to know."

I turned and started walking back to the front of the restaurant.  The little guy was following me all the way telling me how sorry he was, that it wasn't his fault, he was only following the rules, that it was corporate policy, and getting more upset by the second.

When we got out to the waiting area Earl was sitting there on a bench reading a newspaper.

"Let's go, Earl."

The manager was literally plucking at the sleeve of my leather jacket.

I turned to him, "What?"


I waited a while just staring at him.  Finally I leaned down close to him and said, softy, "OK. Look.  We'll be back through here on Monday.  We'll stop by and see what your 'corporate policy' is by then. If it is different, I'll stop the investigation. OK?  But that is the only chance you get."

"I understand."

We walked out the door, got on the bikes, and Earl looked at me and said, "What went on back there?

I wanted him to suffer a bit so I said "Nothing. Let's go."

"I need a drink."

"No, you don't.  You don't need a drink until we get to Columbus and get checked in to a room.  Then you need a drink.  By then I will need one too. We're going to McDonald's."

We went to McDonald's.  Then we got on the bikes and rode hard to Columbus, where we got a room at a Holiday Inn.

Earl was pretty cheap otherwise but he always insisted on an upscale motel, with a bar.  We checked in, headed for the bar, had a few drinks and a late dinner in the attached restaurant. I ate mine.  Earl picked at his while drinking Manhattans.  

We had a great time at the race on Sunday; saw the full program which ran from noon well into the evening. The final started about 9 pm.  It was some of the best racing in the world.  

My favorite, Gary Nixon, National Number One, on a Triumph Bonneville much like mine, won. Beat the field of mostly Harleys. With that win he cinched the National Number One title two years in a row, 1967 and 1968.  That was a satisfying feeling for a Triumph junkie like me.

On Monday we headed home.  At lunch time we pulled into the Shoney's Big Boy in Wheeling.  The sign was gone.  We parked near the door, intentionally took our helmets in with us and were ushered to a seat immediately.  

I had a tuna salad sandwich with chips. Earl had a salad, a chicken fried steak with home fries and fried okra, and peach pie a la mode for desert along with about four cups of coffee. That boy could pack it away as long as it was early in the day.

For the record, I never ate at a Shoney's Big Boy again.  Then again, I never saw a "No Motorcycles" sign outside of one again either.


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Now this is a great story! People sure do love to brand everybody for the bad actions of a few rampaging bad seeds.
The sign was gone. Great action!
Clint Eastwood couldn't have handled this one any better, Monte. You are one cool Doctor of Divinity.
Gives a whole new meaning to the name "Triumph."
things have changed a bit. i've been to entire towns in oregon that live for the dollars motorcyclists bring in. seems almighty dollar trumps all.

i always thought dirt track racing was crazy. you didn't mention that those bikes have no brakes, save for the steel shoes.
If you talk with Kathy again tell her to tell Bill I have a few reports of my own. -Although I'm beginning to think that my president is less concerned about discrimination than he appeared to be before the election and that the only action I'm going to get on my civil rights is a lot like your story- it too contains an imaginary Bill.

Alright enough whining. Great story and humorous too and you didn't even milk your situation for a free meal... you are a saint.
Yes, BBE, I still see it now and then, but in the 60s it was endemic. Glad it is better. Thanks for the reddit.

Zuma: you are right and a lot of the fear came from the press going crazy over the faked pic in Life mag of the Hollister, California event, the unending "Biker Gangs from Hell" B movies, and, of course, the escapades of a few actual gangs like the Hells Angels and Pagans. But the reality was no different than today, just the image is slowly changing.

Thanks, Scupper, Laurel and Pilgrim, and Owl. There is no accounting for prejudice and it comes in all forms and disguises. So glad you all liked the post. Much appreciated.

Cap'n: Yep. Dirt bike flat track racing is still crazy today. And back then brakes were not allowed, although they do now allow them for the singles today. No brakes was actually a safety feature, because if someone got a little squirrely in a corner and hit the brakes he would take out a lot of others with him. Of course that still can happen but brakes just add another unknown in an already very dangerous sport and a lot of the old timers refuse to use them. I tried it for a couple of years when I was in my teens and just did not have the balls for it. I can say that now but I remember saying I was hanging it up because I got married, which was true but not the whole truth.

Tijo, you have a much harder, steeper and higher hill to climb than motorcyclists had and have, but keep at it. That hill will crumble.

Why you been hiding this great tale from us, Monte? Laughed all the way through. I love your posts about you and Earl's escapades. Too funny. I used to see those signs everywhere I went. I can't remember the last time I saw one. Like BBE said, catering to bikers is big money these days. So many of them are lawyers, doctors and professionals that ship their bike to events then fly in and stay in five star resorts. I suppose it's like an escape for a lot of them and if they have the money, more power to them. Me? I just like to ride, but my bony ass can't take it like it used to. I need a new seat. Mines twenty six years old, so I guess I've finally rode the stuffing out of it.
Hey, Mike. Thanks for the comments. I am glad things are changing in at least one area of BS prejudice. Maybe money is what it takes: when they see the money in not being prejudiced they stop the discrimination. Probably still feel it on the way to the bank, tho. But that is better than imposing it on others.

About the old butt. When you get some bread again and are working, sometime when you can stand to have the bike down for few weeks send the seat off to Saddlemen and tell them the kind of ride you want, give them your weight and dimensions, choose the fabric, leather, and style you want, etc., and they will make you a new seat on the old seat pan for less than you can get some crap from a local upholsterer. http://saddlemen.com

GREAT story. Ohh that Earl! You two are like Andy and Barney (ummm, ok, you're Andy) and I was just thinking back to when Shoney's was THE place to eat when traveling. That, Stuckeys and IHop. We have a Shoneys and an IHop here (the Shoneys was rebuilt years ago for the second time and has been there my entire life), but we never eat there. This brought back some memories, even though when it happened I was four. :-D
RATED for great usage of a White House laminate I.D.!
Well done, sir!
Terrific story, Monte. How Ironic. Ray Croc made sure his McDonald's restaurants did not have juke boxes because burger joints had a reputation for being hangouts for hooligans. BB's then takes it a few steps further and literally chases a couple of hungry bikers into the arms of Mickey D's. Important to remember that "corporate policy" is usually just a handful of middle-aged lugs trying to justify their salaries.
Great story, Monte! We saw quite a few bikers on our way to and from New Hampshire since it was a beautiful day. The places we stop are the same ones they do and the coexistence is peaceful. I am envious of the freedom of riding.
Very interesting story, Monte, thank you.

Some time ago I knew a galaxy where people could not rely on the laws, because the laws were not respected by the authorities.

But people needed to believe in something, so they believed that the top guy, who ran the galaxy -- he was informally called: "the man at the steering wheel" -- was good and just, and would certainly set things straight, if only he had known what was wrong.

So the people wrote letters to the man at the steering wheel, but more often than not nothing happened.

Every now and then, however, the man's sidekicks took some haphazard action and sent to jail a dozen or so local administrators, to show that the system was good and just.

And in those cases the conditions in that tiny part of the galaxy got a little better, but not for long. And, of course the overall picture didn't change much either, because the authorities, in general, were more interested in serving the man at the steering wheel than upholding the law.

Now, I am not saying that the circumstances you described in this story are identical to those in that other galaxy. But, I am sure, we sense a hint of similarity.

What is ironic that in that galaxy people firmly believed that your planet was different. That is was a shining city upon the hill, where things always worked well as a consequence of the laws, and without even a shadow of interference by your men at the steering wheels :-)
How I loved his story. I guess the movie Easy Rider influenced many. Big Boy's and the attitude back then... you capture it well; your common sense and dignity rode well that day -- and continues to do so.
rAted! and Thank you.
Wow, Monte, that was a ball-bustin' stunt you pulled on that poor guy at Shoney's! My favorite line is, "This is a ballet of exquisite and infinite beauty...there is nothing remotely like it." Then, you got to Shoney's and scared the shit out of the lowly manager or whomever, figuratively, that is. You pulled some serious rank to get that policy changed and it worked! So, you may hae underscored the notion that "motocyclists" are scary dudes, on both sides of the law! I can't imagine you being that scary, but wouldn't want to be a waitress at Shoney's on the day you were there! My father forbade his daughters from ever riding motor cycles so my view is already somewhat skewed. He made sure we knew how he whitnessed his best friend of 17 years old, die when thrown from his bike, killed on impact with the curb. Later in life, I had a few close calls on our Ducati 350, no helmets then and it cured me for a while. I occasionally hop on back whith someone I trust and can see how one could be passionate about "the ride."

Great story, Monte!
Nice to have more comments coming in!

Greg, yeah, Earl and I had a lot of exploits, the problem is getting my little gray cells to remember them.. They tend to get lost in all that trivia up in my skull. Thanks for commenting.

Thanks, Vac, for reading and commenting.

UK: good to see you back reading and spending some time on OS again. You were missed but I understood your need to back off a bit. I get to feeling that way too some times. Glad you enjoyed this little memory.

Thanks, Jim, glad you liked this one. I am finding your Mook series pretty compelling and addicting.

I have no idea how far, if at all, that episode actually went into Big Boy corporate. All of PA and eastern Ohio were franchised and that franchise has since changed hands a couple of times, so maybe the

There is a rally and a good race, motorcycle road race, at Laconia every year. But NH is a beautiful place to ride so you may just have seen day riders enjoying the roads. Earl and I went to the Laconia races just about every year from the mid 60s to the mid 70s. Then the rally part got too big and obnoxious for either of us.

Hey, Galaxy Man, I think your parable is very applicable to the situation in the post and to the way things work here in general. Good insight. I have never seen things work all that well here, with or without the help of the guys at the steering wheel(s). But I have always been a bit of a cynic when it comes to our government, even when I was in it for about 20 years. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Thanks, Scott, just doing what needed to be done. I cannot abide prejudice of any stripe. I too think things re cycling are changing for the better. I do believe that bikers are often our own worst enemy, especially about loud pipes. Riding on the roads is a privilege, not a right, and loud pipes piss off the non riding public more than any other thing.

Mr. Mustard, always an honor to have you read my work, glad you thought this was a good story. Easy Rider did affect a lot of people, strangely adverse to bikers, since they were not really the bad guys, they were just different and independent and smoked a toke or two. The real bad guys were the green teethed locals, but a lot of people never saw it that way.

Hi, Cathy. I pulled rank I never had and he fell for it. Would not do that today but that was long before I gained what little maturity I have now. If I scared that guy it was not because of my actions. I never raised my voice, was polite and clear and never accused him of anything personally. Sometimes you can "speak softly and carry a big stick," even when in this case the stick was imaginary! Sorry that your motorcycle involvement was mostly not positive, but I believe that a lot of that is formed very early on and if your parents are against it you almost never really like it. Glad to see you here, of course. Blessings.

Thanks everybody, much appreciate your time and interest.

Oops! Sorry, Leeandra, was writing my replies when you posted your comment. Glad you enjoyed this.

Monte! You're reading my mind again. Saddleman was exactly who I was going to by from (for about the last fave years) I didn't know that they rebuilt old seats. I could actually afford right at this very moment, but I bought a ticket to go visit my mother instead. The seat can wait, but i still want one.
one small policy removed one giant step for millions of Harley Drivers riding after you!
Mike: sent you a PM.

Kathy: thanks for coming by. Appreciate you reading and commenting.

What a great story, Monte! Based on a true story.......I can't help but wonder what percent of it is true! :) Doesn't really make a difference, though, does it?!
This is hilarious!! Why have you been hiding this story from us this long. I enjoyed reading it and laughed the whole time you were in the restaurant. Awesome post and great story..
Great story, Monte. RATED.
Hi, patricia. It is all "true" in that it happened; but after all these years I can't remember the precise dialogue so that is why I said "based on." The dialogue is as close as I remember it. Maybe I was unnecessarily precise in using that term. I know a lot of folks here write "true" stories and include dialogue from decades earlier and don't say "based on" when there is little chance that they remember the exact dialogue either. I actually did that in my WWII Romance series, but have thought about that since and decided I should have put a disclaimer in there. But, yes, the things I wrote did happen. Thanks for reading!!

fireeyes, thanks for the kind comments. I haven't been hiding these stories about Earl and me. But they just pop up from my memory banks now and then. I do remember a lot of them that I enjoy thinking about but they are not likely interesting to someone else so I don't post those. Its funny how some things you remember are silly, or precious, or bring a smile remembering them, but are just not all that big a deal to others who did not live them.

Hey, Mary Ann, you must have posted your comment as I was writing in response to the two above you. Thanks for reading and commenting.

This is a priceless story Monte. You really nailed the dialogue and the times. Well done. I'm still smiling.

Thanks, Buffy. I much appreciate your enjoyment of this post.

Great, GREAT story! I absolutely adore when corporate policy over ridiculous crap is put to the test! You did good, you motorcycle maniac! You have inspired me to perhaps share my days on the back of first hubby's chopped Harley...It was 1970. I sooo can relate to this story. Loved this!
Thanks, Fab. 1970 and chopped Harley certainly go together. Go for it and let me know when you post it!

A intriguing comment you left in another blog made me want to see what else you might have to say. The first thing I saw was the title Rev. Imagine my surprise upon looking up to see the Triumph header! Scrolling down, I found this entry and surprise turned to childlike delight.

My dad was a Triumph dealer who was big into short track and road racing during the glory years of Triumph vs. Harley Davidson. What a wonderful time that was too! He knew Gary Nixon, Gene Romero, and so many more.

I remember one year - must've been 1966 - my Dad (with wife and two kids in tow) pulls into the beachside motel in Daytona where he'd reserved a room for speed week. The manager took one look in the van and the motorcyle in the back, and shook his head, said no Sir, you can't stay here. It must've taken Dad a full 15-20 minutes to get the man to change his mind. Course, this wasn't so much discrimation as it was fear. The year before a biker gang member had nailed a woman to a tree.

Anyway, you certainly brought back a lot of fond memories... I can even smell the oil, dirt and exhaust of Ross Downs on Friday nights.

Great entry Sir!