Ponycycles back in town for Fourth parade

Terry and Jan Hawke with three of the Hawk Tool manufactured Ponycycles, from left, last one off the assembly line, military ponycycle with side car, and three quarter prototype of first ponycycle. Photo provided

Special to the Clarkston News
The Hawk Tool manufactured Ponycycles returned to Clarkston for the Fourth of July parade. It is the 70th anniversary of the Hawk Tool Company manufacturing of the Ponycycles.
The Hawk family purchased property at 20 W. Washington Street from Ford Motor Company in 1948 for a manufacturing plant, said Terry Hawke, grandson and son of the owners of Hawk Tool.
Hawk Tool and Die Company focused on tool and die making for the auto industry and companies manufacturing military tanks during the Korean War.
The family became interested in the Ponycycles, small motorcycle or scooter-type bikes, during the early 1950s and bought a patent on how to manufacture them. Some of the seven models of the Ponycycles had side cars attached.
The Ponycycle would go about 40 to 45 mph, according to Hawke.
Originally, Ponycycles were used by the Air Force as scooters or maintenance vehicles on airfields to bring parts back and forth to planes needing repair. Hawk Tool sold a hundred units in 1954 to the military.
Later, Montgomery Wards wanted to featured three styles of Ponycycles in their 1956-1957 catalogue for public purchase. Seven different designs of the Ponycycles were made in Clarkston for five years before the Hawk family decided to discontinue manufacturing it.
“Ponycycles were especially popular for paper routes in the 1950s,” Hawke said. “You didn’t have to have a license back then to ride a Ponycycle.”
Hawk Tool was focused on tool and die making for the automotive and military manufacturers and decided that would be their focus. The manufacturing of Ponycycles was a sideline and was discontinued near the end of the 1950s, he said.
In the late 1970s, developers remodeled the factory building into a boutique-style mall with a restaurant in the basement. As retail operations dwindled, a new owner converted much of the space to accommodate office use, according to Clarkston Independence District Library.
Hawke and the seven Ponycycles he brought to the Fourth of July parade were lined up next to the Union Joints entry. Curt Catallo, Union Joints owner, has a Ponycycle and rode one as a youngster.
Hawke graduated from Clarkston High School and lived on Middle Lake Road while his grandparents lived next to Hawk Tool during the production of the Ponycycles.
Hawke has a collection of Ponycycles and meets people all around the United States who remember them.
“Everyone has a Harley but not many people have a Ponycycle,” he said. “Many people come up to me and tell me they had one or heard about them (Ponycycles).”
Hawke believes there are about 500 Ponycycles still kicking around.
He is heading to the 47th Annual Vintage Motor Bike Club Meet in Portland, Indiana, on July 23 to show the Ponycycles.
People interested in more information can check out Vintage Motor Bike Magazine and Ponycycles on Facebook.

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