110th Anniversary Look Back

110th Anniversary Look Back - Day 186

110th Anniversary Look Back - Day 186

Today's #365daysofkegelhd was submitted to us by Mr. Tom Dean and features an awesome article that appeared in the Rockford Neighbors section of the Sept 11, 1997 issue of the Rockford Register Star all about Kegel regular and legendary Motor Maid member Ethel Voy!

"Great-grandma born to ride"
Ethel Voy: Honored by Motor Maids for 50 years of riding.

Rockford- Ethel Voy, 70, was born in Loves Park and has lived in the same house on Ashland Avenue in Rockford for 56 years.

But Voy, a great-grandmother, still enjoys nothing more than the open road and the wind whipping at her face.

In fact, Voy, recently was awarded a Golden Life membership for 50 years of continuous motorcycle riding by Motor Maids Inc., an international women's motorcycle club founded in 1940.

She was given a special plaque at the Motor Maids' annual convention in Staunton, Va., and has received congratulatory letters from Gov. Jim Edgar and American Motorcyclist president Ed Youngblood.

"There has never been a day in that 50 years that I have been without a motorcycle, and there was never a year that I did not ride," Voy said.

"When I was younger, a normal day of travel was between 500 and 600 miles; now it's between 300 and 400 miles a day.

Voy, who has logged more than 380,000 miles on various motorcycles, said the year she became a grandmother was the first time she rode through all 48 states in one summer."

Now retired, Voy has worked as a telephone operator, waitress, machine operator and cosmetic saleswoman.

She lives in the same house she, her mother and brother moved into 56 years ago.

She first got interested in riding in the fall of 1945 when Frank Gimbrone, a friend of her brother's, took her for a spin around the block and later to Freeport.

"The third time, he said, 'Do you want to drive?, and before I had a chance to replay he jumped up on the running board and I suddenly was at the controls. I got through it; I guess I was too young to be scared."

Voy said her love for motorcycling came on gradually.

"In the beginning, I said this is a lot of fun. The next year, it was fun again and here it is 50 years later. It's become a way of life."

"Voy has made many friends over the years and every year they get together at the Old Motorcycle Riders Picnic. This year's picnic was held Sunday at Rock Cut State Park.

Although she advocates the use of helmets, she thinks legislators should leave that decision to each rider. She's never been seriously hurt on a motorcycle and believes she has a guardian angel watching over her.

"I remember once, I was traveling along after dark on a Wisconsin blacktop road. As I came down a hill my headlights suddenly shone on a whole herd of cows covering the road. I don't know how I made it through, but I never touched one of those cows."

Voy says she feels safer on a motorcycle than she does in an automobile.

"The motorcycle is part of my surroundings," she said. "I'm not boxed up with the stereo and the heater going. You learn to respect your motorcycle and know what your limitations are. I had fun this year. I'll do it one more year, and then see if I'm still having fun."

Her daughter, Cathy Tarro, Byron, says her mother probably will continue riding for some time.

"My husband and I both ride, but I'm not as active as she is, by any means," Tarro said. "it was a part of everyday life when I was growing up. When it was summertime, there was no question about what we were going to be doing.

"She is healthy and very active, mentally alert and very sharp. I don't see her giving it up for quite some time."

Voy's husband, Dave, has a motorcycle, too, but he doesn't share his wife's enthusiasm.

"I ride sometimes," he said, "but long trips are boring to me. She and the other girls go. I ride about once a week."

Voy said she once asked her husband if he worried about her when she was off on her motorcycling trips.

"He told me if anything happened, he knew I was doing what I loved."

Photo Caption:
Ethel Voy, 70, enjoys riding her Harley-Davidson motorcycle and is national secretary for the Motor Maids. The club has about 450 members in Illinois.

Info Box:
Ethel Voy
Age: 70
Residence: Rockford.
Family: Husband, Dave; daughter, Cathy Tarro, Byron, one granddaughter, one great-granddaughter.
Hobbies: Over the years, they have included knitting, crocheting, dressmaking, designing upholstery, woodworking and refinishing, photography, remodeling an old house, "and at the present time I'm trying to understand the computer."

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