The Yellow Jackets are probably the first Motorcycle club in America–forming in 1938, which makes it a toss-up between them and Illinois’ own Outlaws MC.
This was the first patch they ever had. They were mostly former military men who were among the most fearless road-bike racers in history. They raced wearing a black and yellow sweater under their colors as well as a bee-striped helmet. They were never an outlaw club and are not to this day, though early on, a great many of them were also members of the Boozefighters, including that club’s founder, Wino Willie Forkner.
The more one reads about motorcycle clubs, the more one comes to the realization of what a small culture it started out as. The Yellow Jackets were initially a car club and a lot of the guys (veterans without a lot of money) could not afford automobiles and were far more excited by the freedom of motorcycles.
Central to all of the MC’s, whether they are the darkest, meth-dealing, cold-blooded killer groups, or a club full of cops and former cops, is the idea of the motorcycle as an instrument of freedom. It is the binding object and metaphor–fast, dangerous, and eternal. Like I said. . .it’s why cowboys got off horses.