A warm welcome back

Doodlebug Club members return for 31st reunion

Jim Dotson prepares to park his Doodlebug scooter Wednesday afternoon at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds. Doodlebug Club of America club members are expected from across the country this week for the club’s 31st annual reunion.

The ‘Bugs are back in town. If you head out to the Hamilton County Fairgrounds this week, you’ll find it filled with members of the Doodlebug Club of America. Members returned to Webster City in honor of the organization’s 31st reunion.

The Doodle Bug motor scooter was built from 1946 to 1948 by the Beam Manufacturing Company in Webster City. They were sold through the Gambles Stores. The small inexpensive scooters were sold for as little as $69.95, according to the Doodle Bug Club of America’s website. The little red scooters are now prized by collectors. Club members believe there may be as few as 1,000 left in existence. The specially made Webster City product turns 71 this year.

The organization boasts members from 35 states across the country. Individuals drive and fly to town with their motorized scooters. Throughout the reunion, members catch up, reminisce on their childhood memories of first obtaining the scooter, and most importantly, take their prized possessions for rides around the community.

Elroy Gertner, 81, of Papillion, NE, has been coming to the reunion for years. This week, he brought two scooters to Iowa. Gertner rode Doodlebugs as a young child with his siblings.

“When you were 10 or 12 years old, riding Doodlebugs was freedom,” Gertner said. “We had a long lane on our farm and we would drive it up and down the lane.”

Elroy Gertner, 81, of Papillion, NE, has been coming to the reunion for years. This week, he brought two scooters to Iowa. This is Gertner’s 12th trip to Webster City for the reunion. He’s been a member of the club since 1975.

This is Gertner’s 12th trip to Webster City for the reunion. He’s been a member of the club since 1975.

The 31st reunion also marked a new first for the club. They obtained their first supporting club member, SOS Vintage.

“The Doodlebug reunion is one of my favorite things about Webster City. It brings so many fun, unique people to town to celebrate the Doodlebug history,” said SOS Vintage owner Denise Smith. “It’s an awesome event. Family-friendly. Every body should attend at least once, maybe twice.”

“Thank you to the Doodlebug Club of America for allowing me be one of the first supporting members,” Smith said.

“We’re very glad to have Denise as a supporting member of the Doodlebug Club of America,” said club co-founder Vern Ratcliff.

—Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Adri Sietstra Doodlebug Club of America members Jerry A. Wells, left, and Vern Ratcliff, left, are pictured above with Denise Smith, owner of SOS Vintage in Webster City, on Wednesday afternoon at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds. Smith was recognized by the club for being their first supporting club member.

The fun is just beginning for reunion attendees.Club members will also be scooting on down to the Music in the Park/Open Mic Night event this evening at Availa Bank Plaza. The fun begins at 6 p.m. and runs through 9 p.m.

On Friday, attendees will ride out to the Webster City Municipal Airport at 1 p.m. On Saturday morning, members will tackle a 12-mile round

trip trail ride out to Briggs Woods. Their annual meeting will be at 2 p.m. Club members will finish up the reunion with their annual banquet at 6 p.m. on Saturday evening at the Van Diest Building at the fairgrounds. An optional farewell lunch will be held on Sunday morning at 8 a.m. at Hy-Vee.

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