‘Over 30 years of giving, sharing, camaraderie and fun’
California 1 – 1975 California 1 – 1987 California 1 – 1993
Only a few of our members are aware that our charter “CA1” was originally located in Salinas, Monterey county, before being reactivated for the last time in Sacramento CA1 in 1993. Blue Knights® International began in 1974 and doesn’t have a written record of the first CA1 charter. However, after speaking with Steve Perryman, a member of the original chapter, CA1 was chartered in 1975 by two Salinas motorcycle policemen. The founders, Mike and his identical twin brother Patrick Duval are described as “good guys” with big hearts, and crazy about Harleys. They had a side business as a motorcycle escort for funerals. The first year for CA1, the members were made up of only Salinas Police Officers then more joined from the Peninsula cities, Seaside, Monterey and Carmel areas which included both city and county law enforcement and a few reserve level 2 officers – all active. Steve Perryman remembers the meetings were held at night normally at Mike’s home. A ride would be planned for the next weekend. Wives and significant others would be able to join the ride, plus normally there was a vehicle to follow with all the food and drinks for picnics. Early morning rides could include lunch and sometimes dinner. Rides would commonly be in the Santa Cruz mountains with once going to Tahoe for an overnight ride. Between 1975 – 1978, there were an average of 12-14 members (requirement is 10 to start a chapter). However, once one of the Duval brothers moved to Texas, the glue that held the group together changed. Work schedules started to get in the way, and the group disbanded and had to give up the charter in 1978.
First CA1 President, Mike Duval remembers; when he first realized there was a Blue Knights Club, he had been reading a newspaper and found a “very”tiny article about Blue Knights in Maine. He sent $10 for their trouble, and a letter requesting to be a member. He became a member and later recruited 12 other law enforcement officers to become a chapter. CA1 was chartered 8/15/1975. Then he adds to his story about the first conference. Mike had attended the first Convention at Berkshires in Massachusetts. A short time later in 1976, Presidents, CA1 – Mike Duval, OR1-Glen Cutler and WA1- Jerry Beem and club members, met in Redding and discussed instead of riding back east for a Convention, why not have something similar for the western states. They called their conference back then “Western States Conference” (predecessor to the current West Coast Conference) and invited all chapters west of the Mississippi to attend. Mike was the first Western States Conference President. CA1 hosted the first conference in Salinas in 1977. The clubs attended the first conference are listed as, TX1; CO1; AZ1; OR1; and WA1.
The CA1 vest is another interesting story. Mike tells it like this. Salinas Police Department tailor-made wool uniforms were dark pants with medium blue shirts. Mike wanted a vest to show everyone they were a riding club. The club used the same uniform business to make the CA1 first vests out of flag satin material. Mike explained all “road clubs” (back then) wore a vest with their name. He mentioned the “Ramblers” from Salinas had the rockers. The “rockers” were normal, he said the 3-piece name and logo were common. The medium blue was chosen with the knight logo which was taken off the CA1 Charter certificate. The top rocker was Blue Knights while the bottom was Calif 1. Later in Mike’s story, he says Chuck Shuman from International came out to visit him and his wife. Chuck saw the club’s vest and discussed International getting a vest like CA1. A deal was made and International for a time, purchased their vests through CA1. It was later when International “got into the vest business” they became leather – medium blue. The patch was also developed around the same time with a medium blue slash in the background.
Mike now is an elected Constable in Potter County near Amarillo, TX. A member of the oldest law enforcement in Texas, pre-dating the Texas Rangers. Mike is a current member of Texas X.
The charter – CA1 was reactivated in 1987. Blue Knights International records do not show the location of the charter, but memories include the first time CA1 was reactivated was in Sunnyvale, which included members from Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety. According to International, their first President of record was Kip Ringer with 17-chapter members. The chapter was active until 1990. No further information could be obtained for this charter.
In 1993 the charter – CA1 was reactivated for the second time with Charles Ward as the first President. When International reactivated the CA1 charter to Sacramento, there were thankfully 20 members. This success was due to some hard work and recruiting by the three men who began this chapter, Chuck Ward, Tom Weis and Rich Francher. Soon after the chapter began, a newsletter, called the “Knights’ News” was used to share information, photographs and keep the chapter members up to date. Rich kept the newsletter going for 7 years. Of course, no computers, so all the newsletters were printed and mailed. According to Rich, the official chapter photographer was Tom Weis. In later years, Walt Beck worked on the Knights’ News from 1999 to 2003 when Vic Victorino continuted the good work for about 10 years. Present day, Board members continue to change, but all who hold positions donate much of their time to make sure the chapter runs smoothly. Our chapter has been active not only on the chapter level but two of our members have been active with International as holding the West Coast Chairman position. *Chuck Brown (past Chair) and Karl Hutchinson (past Chair)*
Rich shared an interesting story that took place in 1993 or early 1994. The newly formed Sacramento CA1 chapter members were riding to Salt Lake City. While the group had stopped at a gas station near the Utah border, another group of motorcyclists stopped. Conversations took place and it was learned the group from Lake County had all been members of one of the earlier CA1 chapters. It truly is a small world!
Several of our members mentioned some of their best memories included monthly breakfast meetings at the Waffle House in Roseville and, of course, the after-meeting rides. Through the years, other meeting venues include, in part, the old Venita Rheas in Roseville, the Cattlemen’s restaurant in Penryn, and a little restaurant in old town – Roseville. After all the monthly meetings, there was and still is an “after meeting” ride.
Chuck Brown remembers his first CA1 Christmas event. He explained some of the Christmas dinners were held at members’ homes back then, and the first time he remembers there were 12 couples in attendance. In years past, the Christmas Party event was held at various venues, such as, Folsom Lake Activity Center, a county fire station and recently Elks Lodge in Auburn, CA. As the membership grew, so did the attendance. Our Christmas gatherings have included a “white elephant” gift exchange, a delicious dinner, desert and, of course, always the camaraderie.
In addition to the monthly meetings, Rich told me three of the original members, Chuck Ward, Ray Peppers and he met once a week at Brookfield’s restaurant for lunch. This happened by accident with one of the men inviting the other two for lunch one day then later decided to continue to meet each week. The only rule was NO TALKING BUSINESS. Through the years, and as the group grew, they moved to the Elephant Bar in Citrus Heights. Back then the group sometimes decided to do an “after lunch” ride. Ray was always the ride leader as he knew every “nook & cranny” road in the area. The group never knew where they were riding to, and sometimes some of them didn’t know how to get back home. Soon the group grew to 12 – 16 guys including Karl Hutchinson, Mike Martin, and Chuck Brown. Present day, this lunch tradition is still alive. The group meets once a week for a hearty lunch and great conversations. And, the NO TALKING BUSINESS rule still holds true.
Blue Knights CA1 has been the largest chapter for the West Coast area since our chapter’s existence except for 2 to 3 years prior with Australia having 125 members according to Karl Hutchinson. However, after splitting that chapter into 2 chapters, CA1 now holds the title of being the largest chapter. In the past, Oakland chapter also had a few years of holding the title according to Warren Vandersyde. Our chapter’s recruiting new members is mainly by “word of mouth” and always has been according to our long-time members. Although fliers were handed out in past years, it seems our members are our best recruiters.
Some members may not know the chapter logo on the back of our vests was designed by a member, Jerry Lewis. There is an interesting fact to share. Within the design below the horse’s head and the shield, the word “KNIGHTS” is embroidered within the horse’s body. Look now and see for yourself!
***Thank you to many long-time members and International
staff who helped tremendously with this article.
Chuck Ward 1993 – 1995
John Barrow 1996 – 1997
Chuck Brown 1998 – 2002
Woody Sturm 2003 – 2004
Karl Hutchinson 2005 – 2007
John “Gary” Stevens 2008 – 2008
Merle Schneblin 2009 – 2010
Warren Vandersyde 2011 – Present
West Coast Chairmen
Chuck Brown 2004 – 2007
Karl Hutchinson 2008 – 2018
The photographs below were taken between years 2000 and 2019 from rides included, in part, Arizona Winter Ride, WCC Reno 2014, Nevada County Toy Run, Oregon Trips, Pacific Grove, Spud Run and Sutter Mine. Just a touch of our chapter’s history. Enjoy the memories! Click any photograph – magically appears larger.
“Riding engages the whole of a person’s physical and spiritual senses, literally and figuratively. You feel the wind and sun on your face, breathe the smells of the earth around you, and immerse yourself in the moment.”
Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona – 2017