Monday, September 30, 2013

Lillian LaFrance: The Girl Who Flirts with Death

Oddly enough I had never seen the photo below before yesterday. There are a number of amazing photos of early woman motorcyclists you tend to see over and over. How I've never seen this one I really can't say.

The skull motif, "The Girl Who Flirts With Death" banner, effortless rollers riding performance, it's almost a caricature of modern roller derby girl culture. Upon first viewing I genuinely thought it might be a faked photo. I had to look further. Below is some of what I found. My quick search included gobs of contradicting information with very little solid citation so don't any of this as gospel. Hell, for all I know it could still be a hoax.

Lillian LaFrance (1894–1979) - Agnes Micek was the second of nine girls born into honest-livin’, hard-workin’ Catholic family standards. She christened herself  Lillian LaFrance and quickly shook the dust of her Kansas hometown from her boots sometime around 1916, and roared off to create the life she had always dreamt of, carving it raw as she went along.  She began Motordrome riding in 1924, and left a blurry, yet brilliant legacy behind that still haunts many who are taken by the images of her incredible spirit staring back through squinty eyes in a copy of a copy of old grainy photos.  Incredible.

“I was never meant to have children, or to be a plain housewife.  I saw how my mother lived, so you know married life never appealed to me– to endure what she went through…”
–Lillian LaFrance

In 1998, a documentary about Lillian was done by writer, filmmaker Kim Wood called “Advice for Adventurous Girls.” Her novel, based on the life of a Kansas farm girl turned world-famous motorcycle daredevil, will be published in 2012.

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