Ramsey County History Winter 2023: My Harley Grandma
Volume 57, Number 4: Winter 2023
Growing Up in St. Paul:
My Harley Grandma Mary Eileen Kehoe and the St. Paul Motorcycle Escort Club
Author: Eleta Pierce
When friends introduced Mary Kehoe, fresh out of high school in 1944, to the world of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, it didn’t take her long to figure out a way to buy her own bike, join a local motorcycle club, take on a parttime job at Howard W. Belmont’s cycle shop to pay for her hobby, and keep this new part of her life hidden from her Catholic parents. Oh, to be young! Kehoe spent her early twenties riding with friends, attending bike rallies and runs, and, with a cycling friend, even participated in the 1950 St. Paul Winter Carnival as a candidate for Fire Queen. Eventually, though, she married Mel Bowser, sold her beloved bike, and began raising a large family. Still, her motorcycle memories remained in her heart until the day she died in 2018. Her granddaughter, Eleta Pierce, who also took up motorcycling after high school, shares this precious story of her Harley Grandma.
Featured image: Mary Eileen Kehoe in her early twenties on her Harley-Davidson. Photo courtesy of Eleta Pierce, colorized by Jon Kowalski.