Bronson memorabilia

Tom Hansen of Little Rock, Ark., is shown with a 1969 Harley-Davidson Sportster that he bought and rebuilt to match the one ridden by Jim Bronson, the lead character in the 1969 TV show, “Then Came Bronson.” The MountainFest Motorcycle Rally in Morgantown was celebrating the show’s 40th anniversary, including with several replica motorcycles and the screening of the show’s pilot movie, at the Vintage Motorcycle Display.

Forty years ago, 13-year-old Tom Hansen was at his parents’ house, channel surfing the old-fashioned way — manually — through the four channels offered on television at the time.

“I was two and a half feet away from the TV, and it was a little after 9,” said Hansen, a motorcycle afficionado who lives in Little Rock, Ark. “I changed the TV to NBC, and I saw a guy riding a motorcycle and I got hooked. The rest is history.”

The show Hansen saw was “Then Came Bronson,” and the “history” part started the teen’s love affair with motorcycles that 40 years later landed him at the 2009 MountainFest Motorcycle Rally at Mylan Park in Morgantown.

He was there baby-sitting two 1969 Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycles he had “built” — essentially, changed into replicas of the one ridden by the short-lived TV show’s hero, Jim Bronson, a disillusioned newspaper reporter who set out on America’s highways to make the world a better place.

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