My Grandmother Rides a Motorcycle

Post by Gail’s daughter, Virginia Allain.

I Love This Vintage Photo

Back in 2009, my mom turned up this photo of her mother during my visit to Kansas. I’d never seen it before. Wow, it’s hard to imagine my grandmother in the early 1900s on a motorcycle.

Ruth Vining on Albert's motorcycle_edited

Take a look at that bike! I love what my grandmother is wearing. Her name was Ruth Vining and she lived in Tyro, Kansas. To read more about her life, check out my mother’s book, My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s Kansas. It’s hard to tell is that’s smoke around the back of the motorcycle from the exhaust or just fading or damage to the old photo.

It almost looks like she is sitting on it side saddle style, as her long skirt isn’t hitched up in the front. Perhaps she is just posing for her brother Albert to take a picture.

Mom said that Albert lost his temper one day with the bike not running properly and destroyed it with a sledgehammer. You can read more about him here, Albert Vining in World War I.

Reading Eagle 1911 flanders motorcycle ad

This is the 1911 Eagle newspaper (Reading, PA) ad for a Flanders 4 motorcycle.

If you’d like to know more about the motorcycle, a reader clued me in that it’s a Flanders 4. With a little internet research, I found an old ad from 1911 that features it.

You can see the Flanders name on the motorcycle, below where her hands are. They made these between 1911 and 1914. The bike may have been a few years old, as Ruth Vining was born in 1897. In 1911, she would have been 14. In 1914, she would have been 17. I’m guessing she is 17 or even 18 in this picture.

Here’s a web page I created with more about this motorcycle and photos of vintage motorcycles.


One thought on “My Grandmother Rides a Motorcycle

  1. What a great picture. Your Grandmother must have been an interesting person.
    I hope no one inherited her brother’s temper!


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