Faces In the Crowd: Karla Moses

January 31, 2019

By Aaron Michell
Correspondent

Up until a few years ago, Karla Moses, the proprietor of the Vogel Center Store, had never ridden a motorcycle.
Her brother, Kevin, however, was an avid Harley Davidson collector and had built up his collection to over 90 bikes.
After Kevin tragically passed away from cancer in 2010, Karla and her family were left with all those bikes, and no one to ride them.
So Karla, along with her mother, Joan, and her father, Stu, created the Museum of Moses in downtown Vogel Center – right next to the store – to serve as a tribute to Kevin and his collection.
The family then began hosting annual Harley events in Kevin’s honor: The Moses Bib Bash, held the first Saturday in May, and the annual Kevin Moses Memorial Ride, held the first Sunday in August.
And in the meantime, Karla learned how to ride.
We caught up with Karla at her store recently, where we were blessed to be given a tour of the Museum of Moses. In addition to the Harley collection, the museum features a plethora of family and local history: from the oil and gas industry, to the Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribe, to antique furniture and keepsakes.
During our conversation, we learned a lot about the store, the Moses family, and the community of Vogel Center. Most importantly, we learned that Karla Moses is more than just another face in the crowd.

Karla Moses standing next to a life-size cutout of her brother Kevin at the Moses Museum.

Karla Moses standing next to a life-size cutout of her brother Kevin at the Moses Museum.

Marion Press: Where are you from originally?
Karla: I’m from Mount Pleasant, born and raised.

MP: What brought you up here?
Karla: I lived in California, and I needed to come home and be closer to my parents. So, I found this place and moved back up here almost 24 years ago.

MP: So that would’ve been in the ‘90s. What was this store before you bought it?
Karla: It was a hardware store. And it was actually an International Harvester dealer at one time.

MP: And here at your convenience store, you have a little bit of everything.
Karla: Beer, wine. Basically, all the different food you can imagine. There are 40 different food items in the freezer under the TV – not counting ice cream. Four kinds of chicken; four kinds of pizza; tater tots, French fries, onion rings, cheese sticks, jalapeno poppers; three kinds of TV dinners; three kinds of garlic bread. I have something that will work in a pinch, almost every time. Don’t be asking for white grape juice, but other than that – may I suggest a cheap bottle of white wine?

MP: You grew up in Mt. Pleasant, but you were out in California for a while?
Karla: Yeah, I was out there for 10 years. I was an office services manager at a law firm in the greater Los Angeles area. We had three offices and I took care of all those heathens! And then my folks thought I should come home; I’d been gone since high school, so they thought I should come home. Subsequently after I got back here – I was married – and this was supposed to be a mom and pop operation, but I divorced my husband back in 2002.
So, it’s basically been just me here since 2002. This was never intended to be a one-person operation; I have one employee who works one day a week in the wintertime, and as many days as I can be gone in the summer.

Karla and the Museum of Moses.

Karla and the Museum of Moses.

MP: Moving from California to the middle of farm country, what was that like?
Karla: For the first ten years I was here, I probably didn’t see as much traffic as I see every day on the freeway. Other than missing pizza delivery – that was the only thing that was really noticeable – because everything else was readily accessible; it’s 23 miles to most everything – Harrison, Cadillac, Houghton Lake – it’s no different than going five miles in the city. It still took 25 minutes, and the travel time isn’t really any different, and it’s much more relaxed. And as you get older, the less traffic you’d like. So I’m okay with the slow down and the quiet now.
My brother got sick – he had cancer – and he died in 2010. And he left my parents and I all these motorcycles; there were nearly 90 bikes at the time of his death. We only kept ten of them – we have eight in the museum next door.
Since his death, my mother and I have learned to ride these beasts. My mother got her endorsement when she was 77 years old; she’ll be 83, and she was perfectly healthy until [just recently].

MP: There’s a lot of history on the walls of your store here, can you tell us a little bit about that? Is your family originally from Mt. Pleasant?
Karla: My father owned a business there for over 50 years: Stu’s Electric. It’s still there. We sold it in the summer of 2010, because my brother was dying, and wouldn’t be taking it over.
We’ve got lots of history there [on the wall]. My grandparents were one of the 202 families chosen by President Roosevelt in 1935 to settle the Matanuska Valley in Alaska. They were originally from Minnesota, and they had met some people from Roscommon, and they moved back here after the first year in Alaska.
There was nothing going on in Minnesota – it was 1937 and the depression was in full swing – so my grandfather walked from Wisetta, Minnesota to Saginaw with four dollars in his pocket, and got a job with some people he met in Alaska, who now had lived in Saginaw. He stayed with them until he saved up enough money to send for my grandmother and the children to come by train. So my family started out in Saginaw in 1938 – my mother’s war rations book is up there on the wall.

Karla and her mother Joan out for a ride in August of 2012. They have become well known in the Harley community.

Karla and her mother Joan out for a ride in August of 2012. They have become well known in the Harley community.

MP: There’s a lot of history up there [on the wall].
Karla: Yeah, and this is just the leftover stuff that didn’t fit next door [in the Museum of Moses].

MP: And your brother, Kevin – he was a Harley collector?
Karla: Yep, neither one of us had any kids, so he spent all his money on motorcycles. He always said that he had a lot of wives, but none of them were his!
My mother and I have become quite the team, learning to ride those bikes. And we have two big events here every year: the Moses Bib Bash in May, and the Moses Memorial Ride in August. At our August event last year, we had 156 motorcycles here on Sunday morning. We had 225 people, and in two and a half hours they ate 85 pounds of Dearborn ham and 15 gallons of homemade ice cream. We haven’t done any advertising for these, other than my mother and I riding these bikes and driving my brother’s Cadillac – it’s all original, not repainted or restored; 85,000 miles on it. It’s quite a beast – we call it the cupcake.

Karla and Joan attending a WUPS Bike Night.

Karla and Joan attending a WUPS Bike Night.

MP: But before your brother died, you never rode motorcycles?
Karla: No, I was a passenger a couple of times, but I’m a control freak and didn’t do well as a passenger. But I’d never even considered riding my own – I was one who didn’t even like to ride in the car with the windows down because it would tangle up my hair!



Please follow and like us:
Error, no Ad ID set! Check your syntax!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *