The Avenue

A Ride to Remember with “Bronco” Telkes

Photo+of+Bronco+Telkes
Photo of Bronco Telkes

Photo of Bronco Telkes

Photo of Bronco Telkes

Alexis Villa, Senior Writer

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With a nickname such as “Bronco” you know there’s a good story behind our DePaul Prep counselor, Clarence Telkes. At eighty-nine years old, Bronco Telkes has some great stories to tell, one of his favorites beginning in the spring of 1947. That spring, Telkes purchased an Indian motorcycle that he saved up for over many years, and planned an extended trip with a group of veteran riders that would be more than 3,000 miles. This motorcycle trip would extend through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming and last a duration of two weeks, where the group would sleep on the ground in public parks, farmer’s front lawns and nature centers.

Telkes stated that, “Departure time found clear skies and temperatures in the eighties; we revved up our engines, and the motors gave a roaring sound as we sped west on North Avenue with the sun rising at our backs.” While there were plenty of cornfields or mountains to tread and see, Telkes’s favorite part of the trip was in Colorado. Bronco said, “The highlight of our trip was centered on the ascent of Pikes Peak, a 14,110 ft. mountain south of Denver, no cement or blacktop road, loose gravel all the way to the top. The winding narrow road allowed for two cars in opposite directions to pass extremely close to each other with no guard rail on either side.” Before the group tackled the peak, the group leader, Chap, told the others to not look down and to only keep their eyes on the road ahead of them. He told the group this because any error in driving could not only be fatal but could potentially cause a domino effect upon the biker’s behind them. During the climb, Bronco disregarded Chap’s words and looked over the edge, seeing auto wreckage strewn along the mountainside as well as some cars lodged in trees and scattered among boulders, summed up by Telkes as “a memorial to those who failed the test of the journey.” The constant driving of the motorcycles and the low altitude caused the engines to overheat and the group found a small rest area carved into the side of the mountain to let the engines cool down. While at the rest area, the group took a look at the view they worked so hard to carefully reach. Telkes described the view as breathtaking saying, “a postcard picture could not duplicate our vision.” Bronco describes the journey with a sense of pride saying his “rookie ride was successful, the veteran riders slapped my shoulders and back and commented about better rides ahead, I still haven’t equaled that ride.”

Clarence “Bronco” Telkes has more stories and secrets to share than what first meets the eye, for example, a snake tattoo on his left forearm representing temptation from the Garden of Eden or a tattoo of a skull with a cigar and top hat that represents death that he got with some WWII friends of his. On each of his upper arms he has a heart tattooed, one including a sword pierced through it.

Bronco Telkes remains active in the Catholic school environment that he described as saving him as a youth. He works with young students and athletes in hopes of steering them along the right path and avoiding the road that he went down. Turning ninety his year, Bronco looks back on his life happily with fond memories, and still has many great stories to share.

Alexis Villa
Temptation Tattoo

Alexis Villa
Death Tattoo

1 Comment

One Response to “A Ride to Remember with “Bronco” Telkes”

  1. Casey Kozlik on April 11th, 2018 12:36 pm

    What a man. Bronx Telkes is a true legend in catholic education. Ask him about his NCAA boxing days at DePaul university. I have great respect for him and consider him one of the most interesting man in the world. god bless him for being him. Your school is so fortunate to have him around.

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A Ride to Remember with “Bronco” Telkes