In most cases, a family heirloom might be an old Steamer Trunk, a piece of jewelry, or great grandpa's favorite rocking chair. For some family heirlooms the passing from one generation to the next only comes when the elder feels the younger has matured enough to properly care for and appreciate the heritage and history behind the object. For Jetro Callison his family heirloom consisted of being handed down one of motorcycling's most recognizable and desirable motorcycle models, a '47 Indian Chief. However, Jetro's possession of his father's '47 Chief didn't come easily nor quickly, it took more than 30 years before Jetro's dad decided Jetro was ready and deserving of his prized possession.
"In 1967 my father brought home this 20-year-old motorcycle along with some parts in a peach basket. Much to my mother's chagrin, dad began restoring the old scoot night and day in every spare moment he had," Jetro said. "I was only 5 years old at the time, but dad let me 'help' as much as I could. I have one vivid memory of trying to hold up the frame while he worked on the center stand. My dad finally got it together and rode it around. He entered into a few bike shows and won. Then we moved to West Virginia, life got busy for dad as it does for everyone and he parked it in the garage. It sat in the garage for 20 years.
"When he finally decided to give me a shot at restoring it I asked him why it took so long for him to give it to me? His reply: 'I had to see how you were going to act.'"
"When he finally decided to give me a shot at restoring it I asked him why it took so long
"I started asking for the bike when I was about 27 years old. I wanted to restore it back to its original state of glory and reverence in my family. My dad finally saw I was serious about taking care of the old Indian when I was 37. That's right, 10 years of asking, begging, pleading, and proving my worth finally paid off! When he finally decided to give me a shot at restoring it I asked him why it took so long for him to give it to me? His reply: 'I had to see how you were going to act.' I didn't know what that statement meant until now."
Just like when his father originally got his hands on the bike back in 1967 and dedicated himself to getting it on the road, when Jetro was finally handed the bike he spent five years meticulously restoring the Chief back to its original factory state. "It took about five years and a lot of cash to get it restored," Jetro said. "It was a labor of love and was worth every minute of time and every dollar I put into it. My dad only had one provision when he handed the bike down to me. He said, 'It has to be red when you're done.' To see my dad's reaction the day he finally saw it restored was one of those days you always remember. I am very proud of this bike that has been part of our family for more than 40 years and I am sure my dad is proud of it too. That's what makes it all worthwhile.
The '47 Chief featured left-hand throttle, right-hand manual spark advance, and a three-speed hand shift on the right side of the tank.
The '47 Chief featured left-hand throttle, right-hand manual spark advance, and a three-sp
The '47 Chief saw the introduction to probably the second most iconic component of the Indian motorcycle, the Indian head and war bonnet front running light (the skirted fenders are arguably number one).
The '47 Chief saw the introduction to probably the second most iconic component of the Ind