By Karassa Stinchcomb
If there was one thing Rosetta Mondul was not going to let happen, it was letting a man outdo her in anything.
Her daughter, Ethel Mondul, said whatever her father did, her mother had to do.
“She was a daredevil,” Mondul said. “My daddy rode motorcycles, so whatever my daddy did, she did. She would not let a man outdo her.”
Mondul, now 95, was the only black motorcycle stunt woman living in Jacksonville during the 1940s.
Bessie Stringfield was the only other black woman motorcyclist during the 1940s. Stringfield, who lived in Miami, was the first black woman to drive solo from the East Coast to the West Coast. She also performed stunts in carnival shows.
But Stringfield never performed or rode with a partner, like Mondul did.
Mondul and her husband, Albert Mondul, were both motorcycle riders. Albert owned a motorcycle that he used for racing and they purchased another motorcycle, a Harley Davidson, for $800 in the early 1940s.
That $800 Harley changed Modul’s life and her passion to never be outdone by a man.
Mondul performed the stunts with one of their best friends, Boots Stockton. The two performers, along with Mondul’s husband, would ride throughout Jacksonville, Georgia and Southern Florida performing stunts over the weekend.
One of the stunts Mondul and Stockton would perform consisted of her standing on his shoulders and the pair would jump through a big, fiery hoop.
Mondul never sustained any serious injuries throughout her career except a small cut on her leg.
She shares stories and memories of her daredevil days with her grandchildren, Mondul said.
“My mom, dad and Boots would attend motorcycle meet-ups at a place called the Two Spot,” Mondul said. “That’s where all of the motorcycle members would gather up on Saturday nights or Sunday mornings and tell stories and jokes.”
The location of the Two Spot would be hard for the public to picture. It was located at New Berlin in the Mandarin area on what was then only a dirt road. Today, subdivisions and commercial buildings cover up where Mondul would perform her stunts.
There was no competition back in the 1940s. The need for recognition and fame did not exist like it does today, Mondul said. They were riding around and performing stunts on dirt roads trying to fulfill their need for adrenaline.
After Mondul’s mother died in 1949, she stopped performing stunts and helped her husband drive tractor-trailers. She also started driving school buses to fill her time.
Eleven years after retiring from being a stunt woman, Mondul traded her leather vest for a picket fence and took to the streets of Jacksonville to protest during the civil rights movement.
She would take her four children with her to participate in the marches and demonstrations.
“She was doing a lot of picket lines a long time ago when everything was segregated,” Ethel Mondul said.
Despite her daredevil past, Mondul never steered her children away from driving or owning motorcycles. Ethel Mondul was in a motorcycle club, but never owned a motorcycle.
There are no pictures, awards or memorabilia that represent the stuntwoman’s past except for a single black and white photo of her posing by her Harley Davidson. The photo is on display at The Ritz Theatre and Museum.
The photo, taken in 1946, shows Mondul sitting on her motorcycle wearing black pants, a black long-sleeve shirt and a black studded and embellished leather belt. Though she performed with Stockton, she is photographed alone.
Even in a photograph, Mondul would not be outdone and upstaged by a man.