AMCA Pioneer - Charlie Carter, Member #57
Keith Kizer | Published on 4/19/2021
Below is the unedited version of Keith Kizer's story on Charlie Carter as previously published in The Antique Motorcycle. This version includes all the original text and photos which most ended up on the editor's floor for the magazine version. This also includes many side notes from the author and Charlie himself. Enjoy
The invariable trait of the club are the very pages between your fingers now. Since 1960 this cherished paper history has only been entrusted to seven individual editors. The first twelve years saw the Editor task passed between four of those as it was the volunteer job of AMCA board members to publish and distribute the club’s correspondence.
In 1972 Earl Chalfant, who was the fourth Editor and also the Chief Judge, announced he was stepping down as the Editor. This sent club co-founder Ted Hodgdon and President, Art Sigal scrambling to find someone to take over the magazine or risk losing it.
Two years prior to this search, a young man, joined the club who had recently inherited his late father’s 1942 Indian 4. This young man was Charles (Charlie) F. Carter, a 26-year-old fresh out of the Navy.
Charlie on his 1942 Indian 4 sitting in AMCA member Ellis Evans front yard in Port Richie, FL.
Charlie in his 1969 Navy photo.
Soon after joining the club, Charlie met members John Bowman and Gary Breylinger. Both of which had in the prior year formed the Sunshine Chapter in Florida.
In mid-October of 1972, John and Gary introduced Charlie to Ted Hodgdon at the Jacksonville meet. During the events closing banquet Ted happened to mention to Charlie that the club was in search of an editor. Days later, Charlie wrote to Ted, to offer his assistance in saving the magazine. He noted that although he had never taken on a project like this, he did work in the printing trade.
The letter written to Ted could be regarded as Charlie’s application for the Editor’s job. Ted consulted with Art, who confirmed Charlie’s position by year’s end. In only the thirteenth year of the publication, Charlie Carter became the club’s fifth Editor.
Original letter from Charlie Carter to Ted Hodgdon. Charlie looked at this as what turned out to be his resume.
It’s only fair to mention that even though Charlie got the “job” it was still a volunteer position and one that frequently required money out of his own pocket which was never reimbursed.
The old days of putting the magazine were primitive. When Charlie took it over, they were still typing out the text on typewriters and pasting it up. With the use of a type shop, Charlie soon started doing the typing by lead cast type, which was pasted up, photographed and converted to flats.
Charlie Carter and Ted Hodgdon in 1973 at Ted’s home. The airplane in the background is an original painting given to him of an Avro 504 biplane (British Trainer as Charlie remembers.)
In Charlie’s debut as the Editor in 1973, the issue was led off with an introduction by Gary Breylinger, entitled, “Good Ole Charlie Who?” In establishing Charlie’s roots in Florida, he makes it clear (GOC) was indeed “Old Florida.” “In fact,” Gary said, “he is such Old Florida that he is a direct descendent of the first white child born in Mosquito County, back when it was really “Indian Country, but now it is named Orange County.”
Gary went on to explain that after Charlie got out of the Navy, he went to work for the very printing company that printed The Antique Motorcycle. He gave a detailed account of Charlie’s daddy and how he got into Indian motorcycles with his first purchase of a 1934 Indian Four for $75 in 1935.
When Charlie returned from the Navy in 1970, Gary explains that Charlie found himself with a handful of disassembled Indian Fours, but in good condition. Gary said, “I guess he just wondered if he was smart enough to put them back together again. Needless to say, Gold Ole Charlie became one of us in that instant of time.” “So that’s the story,” he said. “The ’42 is running now, the presses are running, and our magazine is in good hands.”
As Charlie honed his craft he said, “Because of my involvement in the print shop I had all the forms of production that it took to make a book if you will, a magazine. That is how that progressed. I personally did lot of the typesetting, paste up, camera work and everything that led right up to the actual press work that printed the magazine.”
The Spring issue of 1975, which was the first of the quarterly issues back then, was the first issue of The Antique Motorcycle to be professionally typeset. In the opening page Charlie dedicated the issue to Ted Hodgdon for his lifelong commitment to the club and specifically the magazine.
As the friendship and developing mentor relationship grew between Ted Hodgdon and Charlie, the young protégé’s interest turned towards Excelsior’s. Ted himself had restored the 1920 Excelsior which once belonged to the infamous pilot, Charles Lindbergh, for the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit. Over a period of many years Charlie eventually owned several Excelsior models from ’15 through 1920.
This was the first photo Ted sent me of himself and wife Alice. Taken at AACA meet at Mt Dora, Fl after he moved to Sarasota. Date of pic is unknown. Excelsior SC rig was previously sold to AMC member Don Nichols, a NASA space engineer.
Charlie followed the Excelsior interest with much enthusiasm and Ted steered him through several people and contacts that he acquired parts and pieces and built five machines from parts he collected from all over the world, the America’s in particular. Charlie said, “This was all before computer days; the internet did not exist then and I did all that with letter writing.”
Summing up his time at the helm, Charlie said, “It was involved evolution. It didn’t happen quickly and a lot of it is just because the constraints of time and money. Early on when I joined the club, membership was less than a thousand people. It wasn’t the big professional magazine that it is today with the magnitude of members that we have.”
Charlie served as the Editor to the magazine for 14 years. One year longer than the four editors who preceded him. Forever etched in the club’s history with over 50 issues of our treasured past to his credit, his name will always grace the final page of every issue. Charles “Charlie” Carter will be remembered as one our Honorary Members. Thanks Good Ole Charlie – Keith S. Kizer
Collage of photos of Charlie at work in the print shop at Brewton Co., on vacation in China and in restoration mode with his 1918 Excelsior.
Collage of photos of Charlie with Ted's early Indian above and 1910 Pierce below. In front of Ted's home in Longboat Keys
Newspaper clipping: “Found this Orlando newspaper article about me a few years ago. At the risk of being vain, I like it as best of ME.” - Charlie
Charlie's photo of his buddy, Ted Hodgdon on his 1920 Excelsior, just like the Charles Lindberg bike he restored for the Henry Ford museum in 1960.
This is a copy of the photo Ted Hodgdon made of me and Cliff Spohn after Art Sigal approved Ted's endorsement of me as Editor for the club magazine. I'm sitting on Cliff’s 1937 KSS Velocette- Charlie
Charlie with his 1918 Excelsior which started out as basket case.
1972 Medina: Start of the 5-mile run. Photo featured in Charlie’s debut issue in a story by Jim Lucas.
The Girls: L to R are Lillian Evans, Marybeth Bowman, Barbie Breylinder, Alice Hodgdon and Sylvia Bowman with John Bowman’s shaft-drive 841 Indian.
Charlie with Ted's 1920 Indian Scout.
Charlie on Ted's 1909 Indian
Note: The letter to the left is interesting on three fronts. First, it's the congratulatory letter from Henry Wing, Jr. to Charlie on his appointment as Editor. Second, all the markings are notes for the use of the letter in the magazine. The Wing Mailer Letterhead is equally interesting. What you may not know is two of the founders of the club invented the Wing Mailing Label application device which was a patented machine the Wings developed and sold. At the Brewton Co. print shop where Charlie worked used a few dozen when he worked there. In addition to the AMC mag they produced over a DOZEN other publications for organizations and companies within Florida. When Brewton closed its doors Charlie kept one and still has it.
Keith and Charlie first met in January of 2019 when Keith and his family were visiting their daughter who lived in Orlando at the time. As an Honorary member of the AMCA, Keith wanted to take the opportunity to interview Charlie. - Photo by Larry Lawrence at the 2021 Sunshine Meet