Al Glasserman passed away in South Carolina the weekend before the August 2012 meeting. In my 19 years in this club, Al was without a doubt the largest character in a club that is cast full of characters. Al was a neighbor of Steve Paleos, in Annandale back in the early 1990’s. Al, who had been involved in the motorcycle industry at various times, spotted Steve’s Norton’s and as they say the rest is NCNO History.
Al could flat out ride. I recall following him back from the 1994 Rolling Thunder in group of riders heading home from the rally. Al was mounted on a Harley soft-tail with a kicked out front-end. There was no way that bike could keep up, right? Wrong. I followed him in a turn that I knew well. When I reached my lean and speed comfort level Al was still pulling away. He had climbed up on the tank, put his feet on the passenger pegs and his left hand behind his back to squeeze every mirco-inch of ground clearance from that big twin. Later when he got a Norton, or rode Steve’s VFR, stand by, the Lad could fly.
Al was also a self professed expert in all things and loved to tell you so. He had a habit that after about a month on a new job of telling his management how screwed up they were. This trait caused Al to often be unemployed. He was always on the verge of financial disaster but always had a scheme to get out of his predicament. When I first met him he drove me crazy. Mike Bolton got me to see the light and pointed out that you had “to learn to dig the Al” and appreciate his full “Al-ness.” I learned to appreciate this unique personality and his amazing tales of past accomplishments. Some of these included smuggling a bear onboard a specially designed speed-boat with a stainless steel bow designed to pierce surfaced submarines hulls, teaching the astronauts to swim, or bringing an Israeli ballistic missile into the U.S. in his suitcase without a passport. He once offered to save Mike Bolton some money and perform a shoulder operation in his kitchen.
Al had amazing powers of mind over matter. He claimed he could instantly sober up or will himself to not feel heat. Or so he said one Rolling Thunder during the fireworks show. To demo his amazing self control he asked B.J. Thompson to hand him a broken exhaust header that B.J. was using to launch fireworks into the night. B.J. was holding it with thick gloves because it was very hot. When Al grabbed the pipe, he yelped “THIS %&*%^*& THING IS HOT!!!” threw it on the ground and ran away into the night holding his smoldering hand. Of course, he had a perfectly viable explanation for this anomaly of mind control later when soaking his wounded paw in ice water.
Al turned a joke played on him back on the rest of us at the 1999 National. NCNO was running the National that year in Buena Vista. A bunch of us were camped in a wooded area that has a bathroom/shower facility in the middle. One morning Al’s 1975 Norton Mark III Café bike turned up missing. He announced his bike was stolen. When I asked if he had looked in the showers, maybe someone had rolled there as a joke, he said he had, both the men’s and women’s sides and he was sure it was stolen during the night. In fact he had already called the local police and the State police to report a stolen motorcycle. They should be on the lookout for a Norton, they are kind of rare you know, should be easy to spot. Recall Buena Vista is small town that during the National was FULL OF NORTONS! Several of us went into low earth orbit imagining many of the rally attendees being pulled over looking for Al’s missing Norton. Al finally told me he had found it in the women’s showers and for once the joke was on us.
Al was more or less adopted by the club. He really liked us. We accepted him for what he was, another crack pot motorcycle owner and rider, much like the rest of us. He fit right in. I know Steve Paleos helped him a lot, even hired him as a driver. I did some repairs on his Mark III, Mike Bolton did some work on his house. Bobby Florenz convinced a friend who refurbished houses as a business to buy’s Al’s place in Annandale. This got Al enough cash to keep from losing the house and moved to South Carolina in early 2004. Even though he had some health problems after the move, I had heard he was happy with his new life down south. Details of his passing are not clear, maybe the CIA knocked him for smuggling that ballistic missile. Fair winds and following seas to one of the biggest characters to ever grace our membership roles.
-Burt Upchurch in the August 2012 NCNO Flyer
Al Glasserman passed a week ago Saturday. If you ever rode with him, you would know that he could go faster on his Harley that everyone of us on our Nortons. I witnessed that on a group/rally ride one year. Some of the stuff I did not personally observe: His trek across south America on foot doing work on behalf of a caldestine US agency; his return to the States without any ID packing a pistol and talking his way through customs (with the pistol); his involvement with the most important design changes in the development of submarines, space craft, electronics, and, well just about anything that warranted a story in the Washington Post. Let’s not forget his ride up the California coast witin a VW with a full gown lion on the passenger seat. If anyone can remember more of his exploits, I sure would like to see them in print – that means you Burt.
His last years were spent in South Carolina. I visited him down there once. He had gotten himself a great house on enough land to support several dogs and domesticated animals, including a goat. Cy Early, who can do everything, both body work and mechanical on cars and bikes, was a friend who had moved down there. Al kind of followed as Cy was orphaned and Al had kind of stepped into his life when the kid needed someone close. He got married to a wonderful woman who cared for him during the last years of his life -helping him get Social Secirity benefits at age 62, numerous operations and being there for the last few years while he was in a nursing home.
-Steve Paleos via Facebook