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RIP Earl Small

I found out today that Earl Small, owner of Earl Small's Harley Davidson died this past weekend in a helicopter accident in New York. Everything I've read said he was on his way to purchase another helicopter and when his family hadn't heard from him, they called the authorities who found him and the helicopter Sunday.
My dad spent many many years working for Earl so I saw him often when I was a kid.

I can't think of Harley's without thinking of Earl. His first shop was off South Cobb Drive in Smyrna. I have awesome memories of that place. I loved it. I spent so many Saturday's roaming around that shop watching my dad work on bikes and sell bikes. I mean really, how cool was I that I got to hang around with all these rough and tough bikers? I loved their long hair. I loved that they all wore black and they cussed like sailors. I loved that they liked me and I was allowed to hang out with them.
Earl was another story. He always looked like a business man to me. He scared the shit outta me. Weird how none of the "dirty bikers" intimidated me, it was the business man. He reaked of authority. I don't remember him ever even speaking to me. Well, I heard him speak ABOUT me once when I was 14 or 15. He was having a big party at the store and I had offered to help with one of the booths. My dad and I went to ask him if it was all right and Earl not noticing me right behind my dad said "No, she looks like a freak with that hair of hers". Seriously??? A freak? Um, ok. You take a good look at what's hagin' around here buddy? From that day on I despised Earl Small.

When I would go see my dad at work Earl was never really there or if he was, I didn't usually see him. If I did, I'd turn tail and head in the other direction. I didn't want him to say the normal bullshit hellos while he was really thinking about how stupid I looked.

As the years went on, I no longer worried about what he thought of me. Turns out everybody thought I looked weird! Earl may have not liked my hair, but he gave my dad a job time and time again. My dad would screw up, get pissed and quit or have the bright idea that he really wanted to be a weatherman instead of a bike salesman or mechanic and he would leave Earl Small's. He would always go back and Earl would hire him. Then, when my Dad died, we were frantic over how to pay for the funeral. We all had nothing. Miraculously, the funeral was paid for in full. We all knew who had done it.

It turns out that my fear of Earl Small was an unfounded fear. He wasn't a scary mean ass man. He was a husband, a dad and a very successful business man. Earl Small had a heart of gold......he just didn't like my hair.

RIP Earl Small, tell my dad if you see him that I said "hello".
Visitation will be held Saturday, October 24th from 2 - 4 and 6 -8 at Mayes Ward-Dobbins Funeral Home in Marietta
The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, October 25th at McEachern United Methodist Church in Powder Springs


Randy Rabinowitch said…
I worked for Earl for 7 years during the late 80's and 90's.
He was an awesome employeer and a voice of reason when you needed sound advice.
Was your dad Jim Ratliff? Rat and I were buddies and we enjoyed each others company. I miss him too!
Pushrod said…
Randy Rabinowitch said…
Rat helped me build my first PC back in the day, when he lived in the apt. off Whitlock ave. You are right about the weatherman thing, Jim used to have the local TV chopper land on the front lawn at Earl's. I did remember that Jim had a daughter, and I have to admit that some of those early days at Pat Mell Rd are a little fuzzy but I am glad to hear that you have grown up and doing well.
Thanks Randy, and it was good to hear from you. I love hearing from people that knew my dad!
Stitchblade said…
Wow..its a crazy small world on the net! Too meet an old friend of your dads through your blog!
Cap'n Cornhole said…
I, too worked for him for a short time. He was a good guy, fer sure. RIP earl.

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