Riders, Dealers, Cops, Clubs, and Gangs

The Camden Motorcycle Sporting Club
William Raube, 7th player from left, on motorcycle

About the same time the first automobile came to Camden, so did the motorcycle. Bikes became popular with both the riding public, and with the local police force. Camden, like many other towns across America, soon had its own motorcycle police. 

By 1915 William Heckenhorn was operating a Harley-Davidson dealership at 1246 Haddon Avenue. One of his employees was Frank DeViney, who in 1923 opened a Harley dealership of his own, the successor to William Heckenhorn's operation.  DeViney located his shop at 1124-1126 Kaighn Avenue, where he had a sales, parts, and service operation. He sold motorcycles to the general public and to local police departments. 

Another line of motorcycles, the Indian, was being sold 1203-1205 Broadway in 1919. Clayton C. Albertson, another early motorcycle enthusiast later sold the Indian line of motorcycles from his dealership at 1142 Kaighn Avenue. C.C. Albertson & Son remained in business in Camden through 1957, but was gone by the fall of 1959.

One of DeViney's first acts upon opening his business was to found the Camden  Motorcycle Sporting Club, also known as the Camden Meteor Motorcycle Club, which engaged in touring, racing, and hill-climbing events throughout South Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. The club also fielded a team in the Eastern Motorpolo League, which competed in the sport of motorcycle polo, also known as motoball.

Besides DeViney, the Camden Motorcycle Sporting Club's team included Bill Gommel, Walter Norris, William Raube, Bruce Saunders, Lou Ellis, Charley Ellis, Clayton Albertson, Freddy Galardi, Walt Norris, C. Wentzel, Freddie Gomba, and men only known by their last names: Garriardi, Sherttuck, Oilinger, L. Lewis. As mentioned above Clayton Albertson owned a motorcycle business of his own. Bill Raube would later operate a fleet of trucks for the Camden Grocer's Exchange.

Frank DeViney remained in business through 1943. When the next City Directory was published, in 1947, Louis Mahan had acquired the business at 1124 Kaighn Avenue. He remained the proprietor through at least 1960. The Harley-Davidson dealership at 1124 Kaighn Avenue would survive until 1971, but there were apparently a few changes in ownership through this period. The 1963 and 1964 New Jersey Bell Telephone Directories call the property Harley-Davidson Sales & Service. By the fall of 1965 the business had merged with another dealership, and traded as the Cycle Centers, with two locations, and also sold Honda motorcycles. From 1967 through 1970 1124 Kaighn Avenue was one of two locations selling Harley-Davidson motorcycles under the name of M&L Cycle Centers. The following year, 1971, saw M&L consolidate their business in one location in Cherry Hill. After 67-plus years, Harley-Davidson had left Camden. Motorcycles would be sold at 1124 Kaighn Avenue for another 10 years, as the property was the home through 1981 of Honda of Camden. 

Another part of the story of motorcycles in the city of Camden are the Wheels of Soul. The Wheels of Soul Motorcycle Club, for much of its history a predominantly black outlaw motorcycle club. Racially mixed in these times, The Wheels of Soul explode nearly every stereotype. Philadelphia film-maker Randall Wilson is quoted as saying

"There are no [other] racially mixed outlaw clubs," he says, noting he found that members took good care of their neighborhoods. "These guys are terrorizing the junkies and the drug pushers and the gangbangers. I saw it -- even the cops I interviewed did."

The Wheels of Soul Clubhouse is on Princess Avenue below Pine Street in Parkside, not far from the BUFF Hall and the Campbell Soup corporate offices.

Camden Motorcycle Police -1910s to 1940s
Above: Camden Motorcycle Police at City Hall - 1928
At far right, William Schultz
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Above: Officer John Stanton with his daughter Eleanor
on Mickle Street in East Camden, 1927
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Above: Camden Police on North 5th Street
Camden Fire Department Ladder Company 1 firehouse - 1920s

Above: Camden Police & Dignitaries
I could be wrong, but that looks like Camden Mayor Gen. Winfield S. Price (1927-1931) astride the center motorcycle. I believe this picture was taken on Cooper Street.

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Above: Camden Motorcycle Police - location unknown - around 1920
Above: Early photo of Camden Motorcycle Police - 1910s
Charles "Jeff" Kay - Charles Laib - Frank Frost - Josiah Pedigree
Note that Officer Jeff Kay on far left in this photo is also on far left in the picture above
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Above: Another Early photo of Camden Motorcycle Police - 1910s
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Camden Motorcycle Policeman
John Ferry in front of Camden Wallpaper Co. store, 30 Market Street, late 1940s

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Camden Courier - July 9, 1927

Harry Kreher - James W. Tatem - Motorcycles in Camden

Camden Meteor Motorcycle Club 
Camden Meteor Motorcycle Club - East State Street
Egbert Showalter

Camden Meteor Motorcycle Club 
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Camden Meteor Motorcycle Club  - 1935
Right to Left: Frank & Myrtle DeViney, Frank & Pat Bolton, Larry McLeery, Grove & Meg Davidson, Bill Busby. 13th cycle form right, Al Voltz. 14th cycle from right, Cale Davidson

Camden Motorcycle Club Annual Outing
Frank DeViney at center, Myrtle DeViney at right
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Motorcycle Trophies
awarded to Frank & Myrtle DeViney
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Harley Davidson Enthusiast magazine
February 1937

Camden Courier-Post
July 31, 1948

THREE MEMBERS OF CAMDEN TRAFFIC squad are shown on new motorcycle mounts which went into service this week. Left to right are Patrolmen Martin Nelson, Frank Wilmot, and Thomas Carr in front of City Hall. Seven of the new $800 vehicles were delivered to the department on Wednesday, Capt. Nathan Petit, squad commander, announced..

On September 5, 1951, Patrolman George Jefferis, veteran motorcycle officer on Camden's police force, became the second Camden policeman to die in the line of duty, when he passed away as a result of injuries suffered when his motorcycle was struck by a car on the Admiral Wilson Boulevard.

Meteor Motorcycle Club
Frank DeViney seated,3rd from right; Myrtle DeViney in front of him
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Camden Motorcycle Police on Broadway
North of Jackson Street

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Camden Courier-Post * October 21, 1929
Clayton C. Albertson rode for Camden that day.


May 3, 1934

While the sport of motorcycle polo passed from public popularity, motorcycles and the Harley-Davidson obviously have not. Frank DeViney remained in business on Kaighn Avenue into the mid-1940s. By 1947 he had moved from Camden, eventually settling in Forked River NJ.