Stan the Man
The little town of Marquette, Kansas, home to 600, know the Curator of The Kansas Motorcycle Museum as such, but after knowing this very friendly, white headed man for over four years, I asked myself the question “Who is the man?” What’s the full story of “Stan the man?”
Carl Stanley Engdahl was born November 23rd, 1928 on a farm 6 miles up river, North West of Marquette, Kansas, to Swedish parents, Carl and Hulda Engdahl. He grew up on the farm and helped his father with all farming duties. He inherited the land, and although he chose not to farm it himself, he still owns it and rents to other local farmers.
In 1952 he joined the army and was stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas, for two years. It was there that his girlfriend from Marquette joined him and in 1952, after a four year courtship, La Vona became Mrs. Engdahl. Born in Marquette, 1931, also on a farm, three miles East, she had known of Stan all her life. She knew from the beginning she had to share her man with his love of motorcycles. The couple joke about their first date, stating Stan's bike was broken down, so he asked La Vona out because he had nothing else to do that evening!!! The joke continued to the actual wedding proposal being on the account of Stan needing some money from La Vona to get his bike out of the shop in Texas, prompting her visit there!
But when you look at these two soul mates of over 50 years, it is apparent that their relationship could never play second to the motorcycles, no matter what they want you to believe!!! They spend 60 hours a week together, welcoming visitors to the museum that Stan was the inspiration behind, and the stories they can tell!!!
It was whilst he was still in high school that Stan found his passion for motorcycles. He had the opportunity to purchase a “dirt bike“ at a bargain price and the rest is history. He kept the purchase a secret from his parents for fear of disapproval, until one day his father caught sight of him seated upon it down town! His fear was not realized and his father supported his new found interest.
Stan attended his first race shortly thereafter, his second race, well, he was in it! His father attended some of the races and Stan knew this was something he wanted to do more of. As it turned out a lot more of. Over 50 years to be exact!!! Winning over 600 trophies and even a couple of National Championships! He spent many years traveling and racing, and in 1963 found himself in Daytona Beach, Florida to compete.
The museum, visited by over 16,000 people since its 2003 labor day opening, displays over 100 motorcycles and memorabilia, along with photographs and all those trophies!!!
You have to wonder how the couple have time to dust the displays, because Stan is also the town’s Fire Chief! He became a volunteer fireman in the mid 1950’s and was made Chief in 1971. Twice monthly he meets with fellow volunteers and, despite walking on cane, still leads the race to the fire!
He prides himself in a special “Wild-land fire“ fighting truck, that he helped rebuild. The town obtained the wrecked fire truck from an Air Force base in New Mexico. The truck was designed to put out airplane fires. With its extended front, it was perfect to put out prairie fires. So good that Stan believes their two years of hard work rebuilding it, acquired them the “best wild fire truck in the Nation!”
So, now I know a little more about the man, Stan Engdahl.
But with his gift of story telling and the pride he has in the museum, there is always more……..go see for yourself!
Kansas Motorcycle Museum,116 .N Washington, down town Marquette, Kansas. (785) 546-2449.
You can check out the museum web site for more details www.ksmm.us