Bio Bite: Leon Leslie Smith

By Eilene Lyon

Leon Leslie “Bill” Smith (1898–1985)
Leon, Laurence, and Clifford Smith about 1910 in Moscow, Idaho.

Leon “Bill” Smith was born in Sprague, Washington, where his maternal grandparents lived. He attended school to the 8th grade. His interests lay in hunting, fishing, and motorized vehicles.

Bill drove a truck for his father’s delivery business and a gravel truck for road construction projects. Around 1920, he rode his Excelsior motorcycle from Idaho to California, and worked there as a mechanic. He returned to Moscow to join his brother, Harry, in the Smith Brothers Garage.

Leon “Bill” Smith and his motorcycle.

“Harry soon learned to insist that Leon stay at the back of the garage in the shop. Leon had a tendency to get in a hassle with the customers. His ability to deal with people was zilch.”

In 1923, Bill married Helen Oberg; they had no children. After selling the garage in 1942, he and Helen moved to Chatcolet Lake where he did odd jobs for the people who owned cabins there.

Helen Oberg (1904-1970) and Leon Leslie Smith wedding photo, 1923.

Smith, Laurence. “The Passing Parade.” February 15, 1990.

39 thoughts on “Bio Bite: Leon Leslie Smith

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  1. I also am struck by how many of these siblings had no children. It may have been a choice, but I think it’s at least as likely that they either had fertility issues (especially the men) or their wives miscarried. Even today birth control isn’t that perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope doing it in short posts like this doesn’t lose the thread for people. I thought it might be better than a really long post people wouldn’t want to finish reading. Thanks for following along.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Shayne’s question occurred to me too, though I’ve checked some of our old photos and it doesn’t apply to them. Maybe an American thing? My other question is how on earth did he get Bill from Leon Leslie? Must be a story to that, or maybe he just didn’t like either of his given names. And I did laugh at the description of him – very honest!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a formal-looking shot of the three boys Eilene. In the wedding photo, Leon reminds me a bit of actor William Hurt. I like the photo on the motorcycle. I have a vintage photo of my grandfather on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. I once sent that photo to Harley Davidson and said if they wanted it for their archives, they were welcome to use it. I never heard back from them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that is a cool photo with the motorcycle. Grandpa said it was a top of the line Harley-Davidson, and my husband thought so, too, at first. I just went with the name printed on the tank and didn’t research it. Hubby says that Excelsior is the brand and it was around for about 15 years – competed with HD and Indian.

      Liked by 1 person

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