Barbara Ross married to Sherwood Ross of the Ross Cycle family was a fixture in the Pines throughout the 1970’s and early 80’s. Her yacht the “Barbara” was moored at the Blue Whale where she could see and be seen.
She was involved in the community always donating bicycles to charity events. Most notably the Fashion of the Pines fashion shows. Her signature look of Dolly Parton hair, full on makeup, and sexy outfits fit right into the era.
The “Barbara” was known throughout the community as it sat parallel to the Tea Dance daily. Dinner was ordered in daily from the Blue Whale restaurant where she entertained many including Cher.
History of the ROSS Bicycles Company 1946 – 1989
Albert Ross, founded the company in 1940 as the Ross Galvanizing Works. It was located in Brooklyn, New York near the Brooklyn Navy Yards.
During WWII the company had extensive contracts with the U.S. Government to coat (galvanize) the bottoms of ships.
When the war ended, at the suggestion of Albert’s son, Sherwood (Jerry), and Sherwood’s brother in-law Samuel Wilkens, the company switched to the manufacturing of wheeled goods including bicycles, tricycles, wheel chairs, lawn mowers and roller skates. The company was incorporated in 1946 as Chain Bike Corporation with Albert Ross as President and Sam Wilkens as VP and sales manager. The company moved its manufacturing plant to the old Arverne Hygeia Ice plant in Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York in the 1950s. By the late 1950s they were solely manufacturing bikes and trikes. At the time, Chain Bike Corp., was the 3rd largest domestic producer of bicycles after Schwinn and Huffy.
Upon Albert Ross’s retirement in 1969 the ownership of the company was turned over in equal shares to Sherwood B. Ross and his sister Teddy, allowing the company to be half controlled by the Wilkens family. This would create some bad blood between the two families. Sherwood was the President, engineer and driving force behind the company and deeply resented the equal control arrangement.
The company moved the factory again in the early 1970s to a new facility in Allentown, PA but continued to operate the business from the Rockaway Beach office. By now, former Plant Manager, Willie Ehrlich was Vice President. During the two oil crises of the 1970s (1973 & 1979) the company worked around the clock in three shifts and turned out over 1 million bicycles in each of those years. In 1980 Sherwood bought out the Wilkens’ share of the business and remained the sole owner from this point on. This was also the year the pricey high-end Signature series, which featured Cro-Mo tubing and Campagnolo or Shimano 600 components, was launched with Tom Kellogg in charge of the division.
In May of 1982 the company re-incorporated as ROSS Bicycles, Incorporated. In the mid-to-late 1980s, it was becoming abundantly clear that the company was in trouble. Like many American and European manufacturing companies, it found it was simply unable to compete with products imported from the Far East, made with very cheap labor. The company began to use cheaper components on its lower end products. Finally, it tried to stay solvent by shifting its bicycle manufacturing to leased factories in the Orient (Ross Import Division) and using the Allentown facility to fulfill government contracts, for ammo boxes. Sherwood Ross was reportedly accustomed to a lavish lifestyle and he decided not to make the restrictive budget management decisions that might have kept the company afloat a bit longer. All manufacturing stopped in 1987. The factory was vacant for a year and in 1989 the ROSS Bicycles company went bankrupt. The ROSS name was purchased out of Bankruptcy Court by Rand Cycle (now Rand International), Farmingdale, NY. Sherwood Ross worked for Rand for 5 years as a consultant as part of the name purchase agreement.
For many years, Sherwood Ross was the President of the Bicycle Manufacturers of America (BMA). By his mid-80s, he was living in South Florida and working part-time as the pre-eminent expert witness in bicycle product liability litigation. After divorcing Barbara and remarrying again he passed at 92 in 2013.
As the AIDS epidemic hit the Pines in the mid 80’s, and like many people with a fear of contracting it, Barbara and the yacht disappeared from the community. Never to be seen again…
1960’s Pre- blonde Barbara…