The Barber Museum, Birmingham, AL

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Communication has really been disconcerting lately, and I have been even thinking if myself I am falling into the mainstream of my own concern. I am not trying to be controversial or claim that my personal replies or initial e mails to my readers and friends are the most exciting ones, but while they are there… flying through space back and forth, I am realizing that so few really read the words! How do I know?… I had a friend the other day after telling me that she read the Blog ask me when my mother was leaving… it was in the Blog, she had already left and been back a couple days. When I had to visit this dear dentist under emergency situation, I wrote a couple friends of mine about some "medicine" advice… One a "Pharmacy Director" and the other one a recently retired dentist… Yes, I did get a reply but no mention at all regarding my questions! And the examples are many, almost on a daily basis…


It is like we want to communicate but only write what we have on "our mind" regardless of the context of "the" incoming e mail. I have so many questions that have gone unanswered lately… so many that when I read the replies remembering I had ask about apples, and all I see are oranges, I shrug my shoulders, smile, and just go on about my Life. Don’t give me wrong, I love my friends and my readers, I am just concerned at the speed everyone is trying to move on through their own Life only skimming its surface and breaking down the communication which is truly all we have left amongst us of any human value. Look around you, every thing is fast and getting faster. When is the last time you had a 5 hour meal with your friends or family? When is the last time you rode or drove 55 miles per hour or slower through the countryside and actually smelled the roses? I see as we have been in or near cities lately the facial struggle on the drivers while moving on, they are mad, cutting everyone off, tailgating, cell phone taped to their ears, trying to gain only a few mere inches of the black top ahead of their "now" competitors and more so often only falling back "feet" adding to their despair. I have taken the habit to click on "reply" answering my e mails just so I can address the paragraphs and questions asked and written, after all all, isn’t it what it is all about? Communication?


The days have warmed up since we left Atlanta on Sunday morning. Less than 200 miles away we settled in pretty quickly at this nice campground in the southern part of Birmingham, after a leisurely stop somewhere on Highway 20 while "AAA" was called in to change a shredded tire on the trailer! I love it when a bend fender starts shaving the rubber off… Thank you to the cars signaling us to pull over with hand gestures resembling something round!!! Finally got the message…

Barber Building

Of course the highlight has been the Barber Motorcycle Museum. I had seen it years ago when still in the old location, this time I was left speechless, fortunately able today to tell about it a bit. The unanswered question however is… what am I going to do with all the 300+ "good" pictures? Smugmug, truly the best Photo Storage Gallery around, will have to come to the rescue as I will start uploading slowly everyday the bulk of it all and post its link for those wanted to see them all when done. No! They are not paying to say that… it is just a fact that it is the best commercial free and loaded with cool features features storage site!

Neon sign  

stack 2

Overwhelming is the word. The bikes, the cars, about 600 of them… it is not how many they have displayed, it is "what they have"! So many manufactures have gone defunct over the years, so many models have only been produced in small limited numbers, sometimes only 3 are left in the World… and there you are, looking at one! Racers, cruisers, antiques, newer models, military, made in the USA, foreign, some of totally unknown names to me… each with its own information displayed for your reading pleasure… did I say overwhelming?

Barber 3

We spend all day walking and reading and going "wow"… till later on in the afternoon when I was thinking… "enough… this is enough, too many bikes…" talking to an employee "Matt" who took me downstairs to the basement which is normally closed to the public, OSHA regulations, and we had the good fortune to meet Mr Barber himself! Nice man, very unassuming, he comes in every day, we talked about our Journey as I also filled him with compliments which I am sure he has heard a zillion times, he wished us a safe passage and I went on a bit taller and filled with an incredible pleasure of my visit. It was truly an honor to meet him.

Mr Barber  

Mr Barber 1

The Museum employs 6 mechanics and 2 restorers, he was in checking on the progress of this Vincent being refurbished, and as I heard their conversation, always full of compliments. Great job the mechanics have… as I saw a couple of them road test the bikes they were working on over the incredible race track right behind the Museum! So what did "you" do today!


This "test" Bimota also caught my attention while in the shop area… the conventional forks are missing replaced by two horizontal ones which pivot up and down. Maybe a sign of "things" to come. I was told it handled incredibly well and… expensive.

Pierce 1 Pierce 2

 bike 1

 sidecar 1

sidecar 2 sidecar 3

bike 4 bike 5

Some of those engines are work of Art! They would fit right in a living room as a display and then again, why not ride them. All the vehicles that you see are in running order, within one hour they can be ready for the road.

bike 2 bike 3
BMW sidecar 2 BMW sidecar 1


Indian single

The building itself is incredibly conductive to photography with its curves and straight lines combined, beautifully designed inside out and… immaculate! Matt said he was a bit behind on the cleaning! I just did not see a spec of dirt on the bikes, cars, floor… nowhere including the restrooms! One of my favorites was also the elevator which is huge, carries 20,000 lbs easily and up to 25,000 as long as all is well balanced. Used to move the bikes and the cars during catered affairs, I was told it will shut the place down when under repair or when malfunctioning! This is what I call a real elevator shaft!

elevator shaft  


With 700 more bikes in the basement they have again run out of room, the reason for the clusters of bikes on each floor. There are 5 floors including the basement and your best bet is to start on the top floor and slowly make you way down. The cluster below is my favorite picture of the day… As mentioned I will start uploading all the pictures on my Smumug Gallery soon and will post the link when done. So many taken… There will be a part II!!!

Cluster 1

Till next time…

"Spirited Doggie Treats" and "Art Cards"…. Dogs cannot live of Love and food alone… they need treats, they like treats… we know! Put Spirit to work!

We are always under deep appreciation toward the readers that have send in a contribution helping this website’s expenditures. For those who have not, continue enjoying the site, pictures, recipes, and if you feel it’s worth $1 a month, the contribution button is above, snail mail is below…

Ara Gureghian   853 Vanderbilt Beach Rd #245   Naples, Fl 34108

You be well and stay well…. Ara & Spirit

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • RSS
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
  • Technorati

6 Responses to “The Barber Museum, Birmingham, AL”

  1. Garry Says:


    Don’t feel you are all alone in the lack of answers. I live 1200 miles from most of my family and Email is the primary mode of communication. I can ask four questions and be lucky if I get one answered in a reply to that message. And it isn’t always that much better on the phone.

    Great blog you have..

  2. Don Van Zandt Says:

    Ara; I have seen numerous pictures / articles about the Barber Motorcycle Museum in various motorcyce magizines, etc… but NONE of them could compare to the pictures you have posted here. Fantastic! Not only are you an excellent photographer, but that camera of yours is something else. The quality of ALL of your photos is outstanding.
    I very much enjoy your site, and hope you (and Spirit) continue your journey for many years to come….and Thank you, for letting us ride along.


  3. Semper Gumby Says:

    Ara. Hang in there and thanks for all the “Motorcycle Photos” – Beautiful machines all. I was there for the auction during the races this last time around. Simply wonderful. How did we get so lucky? Now if we could get them to re-pave I-20 in Alabama to the GA border. Gee what a rough peice of road. I guess next time I will take the back roads! Sorry no answers (my crystal ball is pretty cloudy) just support.


  4. Scott Sand Says:

    Hi Ara and Spirit,

    I make an effort to visit your web/blog every couple of days. I absolutely love your text and photographs. The latest entry with the trip to the Barber museum was most awesome.

    I wanted to comment about something you said about communication, or lack there of…. It seems most of us live such hectic lives, we’re caught up in the “spin” if you will. Seems there’s never enough time to get things done these days.

    I too am guilty of only reading “so much” or skimming the text to pick out bits and pieces of information. I know I do it and I don’t like it. Or maybe only hearing the things you want to hear. Sometimes my wife will tell me things and I only get part of the story… She ask me about something and I’ll go “what?? when did you say that?” And she’ll say “oh, about an hour ago.” I know that I’m not as sharp as I was yesterday but it hurts when I know that sometimes I’m not even paying attention to my beloved wife.

    I think many of us riding along with you and spirit are living a bit vicariously through your grand adventure through life. Maybe, secretly wishing we were the ones traveling unexplored roads with our loving pup by our side.

    I think most of us can learn much from your free spiritedness.
    Learn to slow down a little, stop and stretch your legs, look people in the eye, really listen to what they have to say. I think it’s a healthy tonic that can quench our thirst to slow down and truly live our lives.

    Anyway, I don’t want to take too much of your time with my rambling… just a thank you for sometimes opening our eyes to reality a bit.

    You have a wonderful blog.
    Ara and Spirit, may your adventure be safe and rewarding.
    Thanks again,


  5. Luxamor Says:

    What Scott said… very well.
    You know…not only have I not had an extended meal with a friend lately, I haven’t had an extended meal with my own family.
    Thanks for reminding me to slow down with a good choice of photos to mix with that bit of philosophy. I stopped and stared at the geese as if I were there with you, not with those scrunched-face drivers you described. 😉
    Take care Ara.

  6. Markhas Says:

    Have you ever been to the Guggenheim? Any one of them? This place is very competive, on the same level of content. I gotta visit.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.