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South Bay's first biker mama? Susan Walter | Sat, Feb 26 2011 12:00 PM

Florence Gavett was born in 1919 in Brooklyn. The youngest of four children, by 1930 she was living on Front Street in San Diego. Her father was an artist in the tattoo business. Her older brother was a motorcyclist, and Florence caught that interest as a teen. In the 1930s, pretty and perky Florence met another motorcycle enthusiast, Floyd Emde. They were married in 1941.

Floyd had been born in Seeley in 1919. In 1930 he was the oldest of three sons living at 259 Second Ave. (now Fourth Avenue). His dad, Louis "Joe" Emde, was the progenitor of the motorcycle bug in this family, working for the city of Chula Vista as one of its first five motorcycle police.

One day Floyd exhibited the careless behavior that young men at times are prone to. Careening wildly around at excessive speeds and fearing arrest, he raced over to the old National City airport and ditched his bike. But he got caught anyway.

When he came up for sentencing, he found his uncle Judge Ira Harbison presiding. He cheekily said, "Unc, how you doing today?" With absolutely no partiality nor sympathy the judge curtly replied, "Mr. Emde, follow the bailiff."

The Floyd Emdes owned three motorcycle dealerships. The National City store was the site of this event in 1962: The High Boots Club had organized the Tecate Grand Prix races, but it had been destroyed that year by the Hell's Angels to the point the military closed the border.

Afterwards, 16-year-old Bob was downstairs when four Hell's Angels rode up, demanding to see the High Boots. He directed them upstairs and heard them shouting obscenities. Twenty tense minutes elapsed and then the bikers stormed out and roared off. Bob was relieved he hadn't had to make the dash across the street to the police station.

As a youth Floyd was pretty hot stuff; not only handsome but very competitive in the racing circles. In fact, at one time or another the Emdes raced in almost every competitive event there was. Nearly the entire family spent time on motorcycles.

Here are just a few of their many notable records: In 1948 Floyd raced in the Daytona 200 and took first place (he's in the 1998 Motorcycle Hall of Fame). Son Don (1999 Motorcycle Hall of Fame) won first place in the Daytona in 1972; they are the only father and son to both place first in the Daytona races, and it also made Florence the only woman to have had both a husband and son win the Daytona races. David (inducted last year into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame) won the 1977 250cc National Road Race Championship. Daughter Nancy placed first in her class at the Baja 1,000 in 2006. Onlookers gasped, "It's a girl!" when she passed the finish line.

Curious for more? There's a whole lot more! Look up "Emde motorcycle" online to get more details about the Emde family motorcycle dynasty.

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