The demise of an American Icon

My husband retired this week
He spent 28 years working for Harley-Davidson
The first time we met, he drove past the plant and told me proudly that he’d worked there for 14 years. Later we went out and fed the deer that lived on the land Harley owned, he bought a bag of apples and cut them into pieces that we threw to the deer – deer that would come up to the fence to get the pieces and then run back to safety.

A few years later, those deer would be slaughtered during a night hunt that was organized by Harley for reasons no one could quite understand.

We should have paid closer attention to that decision.

A few years after that, it was contract time. We had married, and built a house, a house that’s way bigger than we need for the two of us, but it was okay, because he worked at Harley and life was, and always would be, good. Harley took care of its people. Harley wasn’t a company as much as it was a family.

My family – dysfunctional doesn’t begin to describe us. I should have remembered that.

Harley management took lessons from my oldest sister. Make them think you love them, then stab them in the back. And smile. “You didn’t REALLY think we cared, did you?”

I should have known better.

I wrote this three years ago. It’s still true. And it still makes me sad.

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6 Responses to The demise of an American Icon

  1. ekurie says:

    That’s terrible.


  2. Congrats to the Hubster on retirement. If I’d known how much fun it is I would have done it sooner and starved to death. :snorf: Harley Davidson sure was the Boomer Icon of the 60s. Got its financial butt walloped in the 70s and 80s and never really found its way after that. Still has the best stock symbol on Wall Street (“HOG”.) Now they say they will transition to electric bikes starting in 2020 – I wonder about that for a brand built on a distinctive loud sound and muscle image. I get what you say about changing company values; I had it happen too in a totally different industry. The old timers were no longer valued for institutional knowledge, they were expensive deadwood. OH well at least you’ll have ample opportunity for some downhome schadenfreude if (when) the business goes tits up.


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