Who Saved The Cushman Scooter?

Chapter Nine

By Bob Jungbluth

I hope you will forgive me, but I got a little ahead of my story in the last chapter. About one year before I sold Paul Covert his first batch of Cushman parts, a friend, Pat Neher, in Logansport, Indiana called and said he had knew person that wanted to buy Cushman parts. When I called this person I found that his name was Ray Gabbard, and that he lived in Portland, Indiana. He had been to Logansport to buy a scooter and saw that our race club was racing the Cushman Husky engine.

I was due to race in Logansport within the next several weeks, and Ray gave me the first of many orders to bring to Logansport, where he would pick them up. Ray and I became good friends over the next 18 years, and I did all I could to help Ray find the parts he was looking for. Even though Ray and Paul Covert were competitors in the Cushman parts business, they often went together to have parts made to keep the cost down.

Several times that I know of, Ray bought a complete Shrine patrol of Cushman scooters, 10 to 15 at a crack, costing thousands of dollars. Yes, he sold them and made a profit, but the people that got them never would have had the chance to get a Cushman if Ray had not found and bought them first.

Ray Gabbard loved the Cushman scooter. This was just not a case of a chance to turn a dollar on some old scooter parts, he loved the help people with their problems with their scooters, and to restore his own. Ray was a walking book on Cushman Scooters, and what made them run, and how to keep them running.

Many times Ray and his wife came to Omaha to visit us and pick up parts. I took him to Lincoln to meet Cliff Tompkin, and George Hametz, and told him about the Surplus Center in Lincoln. He told me many times of the parts he was able to get from these sources, but that's his story, and I will let him tell it. I offered the parts I sold to Paul to Ray first, but he said that he did not think he wanted to get that heavy into the parts business. Later he would tell me that he was sorry for months that he did not buy them.

Later on one of his trips to Omaha to buy 20 Cushman scooters, he told me of meeting Dennis Carpenter, and how interested Dennis was in Cushman Scooters. I knew of Dennis because I was restoring a 1955 Ford F100 Pickup, and Carpenters was the place to send for rubber gaskets and molding rubber.

As time went by I sold Ray parts until he called and told me he was selling his parts business to Rich and Joan Suski. I felt bad because Ray had been my best parts buyer. I must tell all you Cushman friends out there, without people like Ray Gabbard investing thousands of dollars, as well as thousands of hours looking for scooters and having the parts made, the Cushman scooter would have died. Who is going to dig thru old barns and garages looking for scooters when there are no parts to make them go? Ray Gabbard help save the Cushman scooter.

Your California Cushman Friend,

Bob Jungbluth