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Potluck: Doodlebug Reunion

Webster City

The Little Red Bug

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner
and Mary Gottschalk

Consider yourself lucky if you’ve ever seen a Doodlebug.

“Our best estimate is that only 1,000 or so are left,” says Vern Ratcliff, cofounder of the Doodlebug Club of America. That’s a small fraction of the 40,000 bright red motor scooters manufactured in Webster City between 1946 and 1948 and sold as the Western Flyer, Wheel Goods, or Hiawatha but known simply as “the Little Red Bug.”

You’ll have a chance to see one — and maybe even ride one — during the 2012 Doodlebug Reunion. Last year more than 80 Doodlebugs from as far away as Washington and Texas were on display at the north central Iowa event. A few were original factory floor models, but most have been restored, often with a larger engine.

“Most Doodlebug owners weigh more than they did when they first rode them in the 1940s and ’50s,” chuckles Ratcliff. “The original 1½ hp engine doesn’t get most of us very far these days.”

The 26th annual Doodlebug Reunion scoots into Webster City September 13–15. Learn more online at — M.G.

Photo courtesy Jerry Wells.

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