UTICA — When holiday parades show up on the community calendar, Jack Raines faces a dilemma. He can sign up to drive his rare and fully restored 1929 Huber farm tractor. Or, if he’s not in the mood for the harsh ride delivered by the Huber’s iron wheels, he can break out his well-worn 1929 Model A Ford Roadster. But on those days when four wheels are two too many, the obvious choice is Jack’s 1959 Cushman Super Eagle scooter.
Raines came across the scooter a while back as a basket case, and was drawn to it because he owned a Cushman some 50 years ago. Once he got it running, he rode it regularly. Recently, John Blackford of Pappy’s Scooter Shed in Sunbury rebuilt the engine and applied a custom paint job. But just because it’s a show piece doesn’t mean Raines doesn’t still have it out on the road.
“A lot of guys who have older scooters fixed up just let them sit,” the 71-year-old Raines said, “but I like to ride mine.” Since the restoration project was completed in April, he has put almost 300 miles on the bright-red beauty, most recently as a participant in the Sertoma Utica Ice Cream Festival Parade on May 26.
For Raines, the raspy sound of the Cushman’s single-cylinder “Husky” engine represents a full-circle trip. He owned a ’57 Cushman as a 20-year-old, and except for a stint in the military, he has had a progression of ever-larger motorcycles since then. First it was a 350cc Honda twin, then a 750cc four-cylinder Kawasaki, followed by an AMF Harley-Davidson ElectraGlide.
“I’m not really much of a motorcyclist,” he said. “I’m just a farm boy who likes to play. The only thing I liked about the Harley was the sound it made and the price I got when I sold it.” His next and final motorcycle was a Honda Aspencade touring bike, which he rode for 10 years until it was totaled in a 2003 accident. The crash wasn’t Jack’s fault, and he escaped with minor injuries. But as he was approaching retirement age he decided to downsize and go back to his two-wheeled roots.
Buying the ’59 Super Eagle took him back in time, and it now looks better than the day it rolled off the Cushman assembly line in Lincoln, Neb., during a much simpler era.