If there’s one thing I want to make clear, it’s that the Chicago chapter of the Vespa Club of America is for everyone. Sure, this chapter is built around our love of scooters, but the whole point is to make friends, build relationships, and chase dreams.
To quote James Michael Cooper,
…it isn’t the bikes, is it? It’s the people!
I mean, sure, Jimmy was on a lot of pills, and he was basically a wound-up mod elitist calling “rockers” dirtbags, but if you take it totally out of context, as I do, he was saying that it doesn’t matter at all what bike you ride. Yes, the international Vespa Club infrastructure (being run by Piaggio) is generally Vespa-only, but here in this corner of the world, you’re lucky to come across anyone on two wheels, let alone a scooter, let alone a Vespa, so we’re happy to include everyone. “Vespa” is right there in the name of the club, and will always be our first love, but what Piaggio & C. SpA doesn’t seem to understand — in the United States, anyway— is that in the 25 years I’ve been riding Vespas, (including before Vespa returned to the U.S.) I’ve seen countless folks enter the ‘scooter scene’ on other marques, and eventually end up on a Vespa. (Also, to my personal delight, a lot of modern riders end up on vintage bikes!). Others don’t, and that’s cool. Other marques have plenty to offer. All that said — long story short — we’re doing the Lord’s work here, and our Lord is Corradino D’Ascanio. A high road lifts all scooters.
So I’ll say it again: this four-year-old chapter of this 31-year-old club celebrating a 76-year-old marque welcomes all, young and old, vintage and modern, manual and automatic, and everything in between. We’re all friends of the Vespa. And we’re always on the lookout for more Chicago scooterists.
To that end, it seemed prudent to make a card to leave tucked into the windscreen or under the seat strap of scooters we see in the wild. And after agonizing over a catchy headline for a few months, I finally settled on “Scootering is better with friends.” Because it is! Riding alone is great, and a Vespa always turns heads, but having a network of other riders around the city to ride and socialize with is a whole different experience.
Next, we needed artwork. I figured it was important to show a vintage and a modern Vespa displaying our club banners, and a couple members, so on our ride to Highland Park last September, I asked Phil and Christine to pose with a couple bikes for reference. Then MK and I worked together on the illustration, I mostly drew the bikes and they mostly drew the bodies. They gave me a few random heads to choose from, so I kept Christine’s, but for some reason this other guy spoke to me, so Phil’s head got replaced in the final cut (sorry!)
Once the drawing and text were nailed down, I designed the card in Adobe Illustrator, and ordered 3-color printing plates for a letterpress-printed postcard. Did I mention I have a vintage printing press? It’s a Chandler and Price Model N, from 1964, about the same age as my scooter. My friend and I bought it at auction a couple years ago and I started a small printing business, Midwest Ephemera.
I had some French Kraft-Tone Chipboard left over from another print job, so i mixed up some ink and got to work. I printed 300 cards; light blue first, then the brown with a slightly deeper impression, then the red with a good noticeable deboss. Three colors on 300 cards was 900 hand-fed impressions on the press, which took a few hours of printing.
I’m very happy with how they turned out, hopefully they’ll stand out more than a full-color glossy card from an internet printer, and at least a few recipients will reach out and join us for some rides this summer, and eventually end up joining the club and becoming another of the many longtime friends we’ve all met through scootering.
If Piaggio USA gets a few sales out of the deal, that’s gravy, but that’s not why we’re here, ha!