The following was written by Paul Jensen.
Conrad F. ‘Connie’ Schlemmer
Connie graduated from high school in 1930 and went to work for Lincoln Battery and Electric in Council Bluffs where he gained his knowledge of automobile (and motorcycle) electrical systems. After a few years, he went to work for Otto Ramer, the Harley-Davidson dealer in Omaha, Nebraska. While employed at Ramer’s, Connie attended the Harley Service School a few times and was proud of the fact that he uncrated and prepared the first OHV Harley (Knucklehead) to come to Nebraska in 1936. In 1938, Ramer lost his Harley franchise so Connie left Ramer and went to work for the Harley dealer in Council Bluffs where he worked until The United States entered WWII. He then went to work for The War Department and was an instructor of motorcycle mechanics for the Army Ordinance School at Fort Crook (Offutt AFB today), Nebraska. Following the war, he started ‘Connie’s Cycle Company’ in Council Bluffs where he sold Triumph and Ariel motorcycles and Mustang scooters. In 1948, Connie became the Harley-Davidson dealer in Red Oak, Iowa and moved there. He was also the Harley dealer in Shenandoah, Iowa until 1952 when he moved back to Council Bluffs and went to work for the U.S. Postal Department for, in Connie’s words, ‘a regular paycheck’. He transferred to Spencer, Iowa in 1966 and remained there until his retirement from the Postal Service in 1979 when he moved back to Council Bluffs.
Connie was a true motorcycle rider. For many years, he only owned motorcycles since he couldn’t afford both a car and motorcycle. He used motorcycles as his only means of transportation in summer and the bitter Iowa winters. Everywhere Connie and his wife, June, went was on a motorcycle. Even taking June to the hospital on a motorcycle in 1941 for the delivery of their son, Harley. Connie has owned many motorcycles including at least one of every year from 1926 through 1938 including 4-1930’s and 3-1936’s.
Connie entered his first AMA sanctioned hillclimb on Sunday, September 16, 1937. He rode his 1933 Harley VLD and won $17 in prize money. That was within a dollar of what he was making at that time for a week’s work so he decided that hillclimbing would be an easy and fun way to make money. Connie did most of his climbing in the Midwest and accumulated enough points to qualify for the National Championship Climb in 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1949. He placed third in 1946, but did not participate in the ’47 or ’48 climbs because they were held in California and he couldn’t afford the travel expenses. Connie participated in the 1948 Championship, but didn’t place. Connie continued his climbing until 1955 when a tree trimming accident broke his leg forcing his retirement from hillclimbing. Some of the records that Connie set still stand today.
Connie joined the Antique Motorcycle Club of America in 1972 and became an Honorary Lifetime Member in 1984. Connie was an active member until recent health problems and attended numerous National events. He was instrumental in the forming of the Omaha Chapter in 1979 and served as the editor of ‘The Retarded Spark’ and chapter secretary for many years. Connie was known for his expertise of the details of Flathead and early OHV Harleys. Connie had an exceptional memory and when referring to Harley parts, he often referred to them by their part number. He has contributed to many books on Harley restoration and history and also contributed many articles to ‘The Antique Motorcycle’. Connie owned motorcycles continuously for 72 years, 1931 through 2003 when he sold his last motorcycle, a restored 1926 B single Harley.
His wife, June, preceded Connie in death. Also their son Harley and daughter Constance. Daughters Martha of Council Bluffs and Margie of Seattle, daughter-in-law, Rosie of Council Bluffs, twelve Grandchildren and twelve Great Grandchildren survive him.
THANKS for sharing your knowledge and rest in peace Good Friend. You will be missed by many!
© 2005 Vintage Motorcycle Works