Jean Davidson may be approaching her 80th birthday, but she still loves getting out among the crowds and meeting new people.
“I just love talking about fun stories, all the people I've met, and the experiences I've had traveling around the world,” says Davidson, granddaughter of a founding member of one of the most venerable companies in American history, motorcycle pioneer Harley-Davidson.
The mother of five and grandmother of seven will get the chance to make plenty of new acquaintances Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 7 to 10, as a first-time special guest at the 21st annual Roar to the Shore motorcycle rally taking place throughout town in Wildwood.
Those seeking to shoot the breeze about the evolution of motorcycles and Harley-Davidson's history, however, may be better off talking with Jon Davidson Oeflein, who co-authored with his mom a book called “Harley-Davidson Family Memories,” and who will also be on hand at the event. The two will be at the Stark & Stark Law Firm booth from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“Jon is vice president of an antique motorcycle club here (in Wisconsin, where Harley-Davidson was founded in 1903), so he can talk more about motorcycles,” Jean Davidson says during a conference call that included her son. “I want to talk about other fun stuff.”
There will be no shortage of "fun stuff" when Roar to the Shore returns to Wildwood for the 21st year, again serving as a much-anticipated, post-Labor Day sendoff to summer. Roar to the Shore is one of the largest, free-to-attend motorcycle rallies on the East Coast. Thousands of motorcycle aficionados will descend on Wildwood from the far reaches of the East Coast to enjoy hundreds of vendors of merchandise, food and beverage; nearly non-stop live music indoors and out; special events and a grand-prize raffle drawing for a 2017 Harley-Davidson Sportster.
Jean Davidson and her son will be posing for photos, signing autographs and inscribing copies of their latest book, “Harley-Davidson Family Memories,” which chronicles personal stories and rare family photos of the Harley-Davidson founders and their families.
“My mom was nice enough to let me co-author the book with her, and it was quite fun,” Davidson Oeflein says. “It was a good partnership. The book's a collection of photos and memoirs and personal stuff from members of the extended Harley and Davidson families, who we tracked down and asked to contribute memorabilia. Many of the images in the book are from family connections who contributed photos that have never been seen by the public before.”
Davidson Oeflein also co-authored a children's book with his mother called “Riding Back in Time.” Milwaukee childhood friends, William Harley and Arthur Davidson, hatched the company brainchild in 1901. Arthur's brothers Walter — Jean's grandfather — and William Davidson joined in launching what would become one of the world's most recognizable brands, Harley-Davidson, as a company in 1903.
Joel Rosenberg, an avid Harley-Davidson motorcyclist and attorney for Stark & Stark, initiated the contact that brought the Davidsons to Wildwood.
“My wife and some friends and I were on vacation in central Florida in March 2014, and we stopped in a Harley dealer in St. Augustine,” Rosenberg says. “Lo and behold, Jean and her son were there. We took some pictures and later I read her book, and I just got it in my mind that it would be awesome to bring her to New Jersey for this Wildwood event.
“I gave her a call and was sure she wouldn't remember me — there were a lot of people there that day to meet her — but she said she did, and eventually we were able to put this together,” Rosenberg says. “We are beyond thrilled to have her and her son at the Wildwood event.”
Rockin' live musical lineup
An array of food and beer stations and a covered seating area, will be set up Friday through Sunday for folks to enjoy four live bands for free at the Wildwoods Convention Center pavilion (4501 Boardwalk). The inaugural Rock-and-Roar beach concert starts 6 p.m. Friday on the beach adjacent to the Convention Center and features Eddie Money, Foghat, the Michael Allman Band and Dead Fish Handshake. General admission tickets to that show are $39.50.
Friday, Sept. 8
4 to 6 p.m.: Light My Fire, a Doors tribute, free
Saturday, Sept. 9
Noon to 3 p.m.: The Brandon Ireland Band, a classic-rock tribute, free
4 to 6 p.m.: Led Blimpie, a Led Zeppelin tribute, free
7 to 9 p.m.: Decade, a Neil Young tribute, free
Sunday, Sept. 10
Noon to 3 p.m.: The Brandon Ireland Band, free