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Paul Mihalka

The early beginnings

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Paul Mihalka

Venezuela. Family arrived in 1947 with a few suitcases. Minimal language knowledge but believe me, if you have to, you learn fast. All of us found minimal jobs. Mine was in movie theaters. I went in incognito, with a counter in my pocket counted the customers, later filed a report with my counts to be compared with the cashier's report - to prevent fraud. No talking needed. When the gate closed for the show, I went inside and by listening I learned Spanish. I'm still a expert on 194x Mexican movies smile.gif .

1948, get into school. Different from the USA system, "bachillerato" is half way between high school and college. I was very interested in photography, from early childhood. I had a 120 roll film type camera the folding bellow type, with adjustable everything. Started taking pictures at school events, and the school liked it. The school had a photo lab, and they let me use it. I needed money, so on Sundays I walked around in the nicest neighborhoods, took pictures of the houses, and went back next week to show them to the owners. I sold quite a few. I upgraded my equipment to a Rolleicord, pour brother to the famous Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex. I also got involved with the science society of the school. Went on several expeditions into the country, deep into almost untouched Indian territory. I was the photographer. Equipment was a BOLEX 16mm movie camera, a Leica for color slides, and my Rolleicord for black and white.

Since I remember, motorcycles always fascinated me. Two uncles rode bikes, I knew the exact spec of each bike. In Venezuela a older friend had a DKW 125cc bike for his transportation. I knew all the theory of how to ride. He let me ride it around a few blocks. No mishaps. My first ride!

I knew there were regular motorcycle races around the city. All legal, streets closed off by police, raced by privateers and mostly sponsored by the different brand's importer/dealers. I started to go to them, and started taking pictures. The Rolleicord was not good at taking moving pictures, as on the screen everything moves in opposite direction. So with camera technician friend we mounted a open frame viewfinder on the side of the camera. Bingo. Used fine grain film, with the enlarger got a bit of tele effect, and with good following I got wonderful pictures with sharp bikes and completely blurry backgrounds. It helped that there was no problem standing on the edge of the sidewalk and taking pictures of the bikes going by 10 feet from me. Selling pictures to racers and dealer sponsors was good business. Soon I upgraded to Ihagee Exacta single lens reflex with prism finder and a 135mm tele lens - wonderful!

A good friend, about my parent's age group, had a special European car repair shop. Often I hung out there. He just got in a new immigrant mechanic, from Germany. He told he used to road-race back home. I was asked, as he spoke no Spanish but I spoke German, to present him around to the dealers, who I knew from my photography. One of them took him to some deserted streets with a bike, and it was obvious that he knew more about bike racing than any local. So he became part of the racing team, and I had to go along as the interpreter. Tough! As some of the races were out of town, to get there the dealer loaned me any used bike they had, mostly 125cc and 250cc two-strokes, like Puch, Jawa, Villiers engined James or Francis Barnett (some junk!). By now we are in early 1951.

This dealer, who sold Matchless, Gilera, Velocette, Puch, etc. one day got in a six month old Matchless G80 500cc thumper, that the owner somehow had to sell back. I mentioned to the shop owner, with whom I became very good friend, that that bike is a beauty, and one day I'll have one. He came back with a proposal: As he is tired of loaning me bikes, I can have that bike now, he'll keep buying pictures and pay me half the price for expenses, and the other half goes on the bike account until it is paid off - It took me about 30 seconds to realize what he said! My first bike - and what a bike!

 

Will continue... Don't ask for pictures, I don't have any related...

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Dances_With_Wiener_Dogs

Wow. Thanks Paul. My turn? Okay, well I was arrived in New Jersey in 19xx. Okay, enough of that drivel! And not nearly as interesting...

 

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SageRider

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Fascinating story, Paul. thumbsup.gif

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JerryMather

You mean one like this !

Anyone that loves motorcycles would surely fall for that one. thumbsup.gif

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George Brown

Thanks for sharing your story Paul. clap.gif Can't wait for the next episode! grin.gif

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Tank

Thanks Paul, Its always interesting to learn how a BMW salesman gets his start grin.gif

 

 

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BruceWA

Fasinating story clap.gifThanks for taking the time to share this with us thumbsup.gifthumbsup.gif

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Joel
Thanks for sharing your story Paul. clap.gif Can't wait for the next episode! grin.gif

+1. This is like sitting around a virtual campfire ...

 

Where's my beer? wink.gif

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ESokoloff

More pleeeeeease lurker.gif

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Paul_Burkett

Sometimes the best meals are served in small portions, that way you can savor the what the chef prepaired. Very tasty Paul. Thank you. Looking forward to the next portion.

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ChrisNYC

Paul, this is so cool! lurker.gif

 

To my mind, this should go in Ride Tales, in the grandest sense of the term ..

 

------------------

Chris (aka Tender Vittles )

Little '77 KZ400 in the Big Apple

Black '99 RT for Everywhere Else, such as ...

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Edited by ChrisNYC

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BeamieToo

Hey Paul,

 

Isn't it wonderful and amazing how the books you read, the places you go, and the people you meet shape your life?

What a GREAT beginning to a super fine story! thumbsup.gif

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Hermes

Ver nice story, Paul.

 

I wasn't prepared for it. But for the next episode I will place a log in the fire, kick the cat off the ottoman, curl up with the laptop and read 'Fireside Paul's' gripping adventures.

 

Btw, I rode the DKW 125 for 3 years during my apprenticeship.

 

Jurgen

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RichEdwards

Paul--You have had such an interesting life. Keep the details coming. thumbsup.gif

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chrisd

Thanks, Paul. I hope there's more soon. lurker.gif

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Geezer

OK, you've got me hooked, can't wait to see how the story turns out thumbsup.gif

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USAF1

Thanks Paul............

 

Pat

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JBFields

Paul, as always, you're an inspiration.

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Rinkydink

Great job Paul, please continue the trend...

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steveknapp

Mine was in movie theaters. I went in incognito, with a counter in my pocket counted the customers

 

I once had the same job! smile.gif

 

Good reading Paul.

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camille
Thanks for sharing your story Paul. clap.gif Can't wait for the next episode! grin.gif

 

+1. I love hearing stories like this!

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