Plenty of mopeds and scooters are zipping around Iowa’s roadways this summer but only a few were actually built in the state. A convention gets underway today in central Iowa to unite enthusiasts of a particular kind of Iowa-made motorbike that dates back six decades. Vern Ratcliff, of Webster City, is organizing the gathering.
“The Doodlebug, of course, was built in Webster City in 1946, ’47 and ’48, right after World War II,” Ratcliff says. “They built 30,000 of them.” Only a few hundred are still chugging around. The Hamilton County Fairgrounds is hosting a Doodlebug Reunion this weekend to celebrate the gasoline-powered two-wheeled scooters from a bygone era.
“Most of the people here have seen ’em but there’s still quite a few people we run into in different areas that’ve never even heard of or seen one,” Ratcliff says. “If we can get the word out enough, we can keep drawing a lot more people.” This marks the 23rd annual Doodlebug Reunion in Webster City. Ratcliff says it’s bringing in Doodlebug lovers from at least a dozen states, from as far away as New York and California.
Ratcliff says, “A few years ago, we decided since it was a Webster City product, it might be nice to get something going to bring it back into remembrance.” Beam Manufacturing, now known as Electrolux, made the Doodlebugs during the post-war years. For more information, call Ratcliff at (515) 832-5727.
Contributed Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City