Summer 1998
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TCU Magazine Purple Heart

Frogs on Hogs

Forget soaking up the sun on a warm rock. These Longview alums prefer the wind in their face and bugs in their teeth, all the while continuing to forge their Horned Frog friendships.

By Nancy Bartosek

Phil Wilson '69 didn't think he looked menacing on his Dyna Wide Glide Harley-Davidson as he slid smoothly through the streets of East Texas. He was just an old Horned Frog out for a quiet ride.

But that's not what the woman at the stoplight thought. She didn't know that the black-clad Wilson was a family friend, and when he began waving to get her attention, she stepped on the gas and roared through the red light to escape.

"We really laughed about that later," said Wilson, the charter member of the "Happy Bottom Riding Club," a group of Longview alumni who have succumbed to the lure of the open road and ride together regularly on their "hogs."

"For an old man it is a lot of fun," said Wilson, echoing the sentiments of the other "crazy old fool Frogs" who find life astride a Harley is a great way to ride out a mid-life crisis.

It's natural they would do this together. Wilson, a general contractor; J.R. Curtis '67, businessman and former owner of several radio stations; Jim Hurst '67, attorney and part-owner of a Ford dealership; and Jerry McCaffity '67, the "wheel man" who works with Hurst and drives the supply Jeep, grew up together in Longview before heading for TCU where they cemented their lifelong friendships. One other rider, Guy Harrison, (whom Curtis said went to a "lesser school") joins them. But it's okay, his son is a Frog.

"We don't look tough," Hurst said, laughing. "We look like a bunch of middle age men. . . and don't scare anybody except ourselves." Curtis' assessment is a little more descriptive. "I look like a Michelin man in black."

Anyway, that's not the point. It's the freedom the leather-clad adventurers feel while tooling through the spacious countryside that appeals to them. They take short trips nearly every weekend if the weather holds out, and each fall they head to Durango, Colo., for the Iron Horse Motorcycle Rally where they join 20,000 other Harley aficionados.

"Oh, I don't know that we're being bad boys," Curtis said. "There is that image from biker movies, but you have to have a pretty good income to own and ride one of these, so a lot of them are business people."

And though they all skirted questions about "the crazy stuff" they wouldn't want in print, these Frogs think that burning a tank of gas and heading for a rendezvous with some lovely ladies (they often meet their wives on the road) is a great way to keep the Easy Rider lurking inside at bay.