Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My First Harley

Sometime in 1969 I lost two cousins in the war..One died on the spot the other lived ten years after..Willie died on the spot, Charles lost a leg and the will to live. Willie had an old Panhead he was building when the draft caught him in the spring of life. I was handed the keys, they were in on of the boxes in the summer of 1975..not yet 15 years old..

Blown away but clueless where to start I bought a shop manual..Knew a ton of local and riders through the family..Charles when I could pull him out of his drug and whiskey funk was my guide..I worked and I worked to buy parts..gaskets, seals, tires..Stopped reading school books and started memorizing Easyriders and shop manuals..It was a little over a year before me and Charlie turned the last bolt..I was the proud owner of a 1964 Pan..

Dad didn't say much, I'm sure he knew I was learning more than Harleys out in the barn..he just stayed away..like most fathers he had big aspirations for his son and saw them slipping away...Mom was happy, hauling me to the bike shops and mingling with the bikers,,she understood that from day one I was going to do what I was going to do..she never tried to change it..Loved her for it..She bought the tags..I was legal..

November 10th 1976 I rolled the Bitch out of the barn..That's right the Bitch..smash a finger, won't start, flooded, flat tire and sitting broke down beside the road..Bitch..After 6 or 8 good kicks she came to life..my first legal ride, off to school..Now the Bitch wasn't pretty and shiny the first few years I had her..in fact she ran more into the ugly side but I rode a Harley, it was mine..Thank you Willie even though today I still don't remember much of you..Now the Bitch did draw attention and more than I expected when I parked it in the High School parking lot..Saw the dean checking her out when I went to class..cool..Well not really he called Mom sometime that morning to talk about the motorcycle..Mom and the dean were on a first name level by then..From what I remember Mom told him to stick it..common phrase in the day..I was riding my bike whenever I wanted..

I rode that bike till 1995..Not much, in fact thinking back I spent more money, time and effort on the Bitch then any bike since..Five complete make overs..Ness ridged that got 700 miles on it..Sanatee Softtail and chrome and gold..She was a bar hopper and a trailer queen..most of the time not by choice..She was the Bitch and lived and breathed giving me grief..She also taught me about being a man..if you want something you have to be willing to work for it..she taught me the lifestyle and made me friends in low places..She found her way home when I was unable..

I still see the Bitch from time to time,,she's still just a shiny bar hopper..she's in good hands..Thanks for the lesson in life...

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