Thursday, January 13, 2011

Riding Around Part The Second

Last week at my mother's funeral in Centerpoint, Tx, I saw my cousin Charles David Millard again. Unfortunately, the last time I saw him was just a few months ago at our Aunt Annette's funeral. Charles brought his new Harley to the funeral. We talked bikes a bit. I admit I was feeling a bit frustrated that my Shadow is awaiting me to do some work. I started thinking about significant bikes in my past.
I grew up in and around my grandfather's garage at Seward Junction, near Liberty Hill, Tx. Here's a pic.
I lived with my grandparents, W.K. and Mildred Seward in the upstairs of the gas station on the right. We ran the station and store downstairs. Dad's (my grandfather's) garage is on the left. Doesn't look like much. You can just see my great-grandmother Seward's stone house behind the station to the right. The location is just on the intersection between State Highway 29 and U.S. Highway 183 between Austin and Lampasas.

Dad was a fix-anything mechanic. We took in anything, including trucks, farm machinery, autos, lawn mowers, also welding and the occasional appliance. 

When I was very young, I remember one of my uncles riding an Allstate scooter. He may have even given me a ride on some occasion. 

I seem to remember it looking something like this one. I seem to remember standing on the floorboard with the ground wooshing by below me thrilled and frightened at the same time. ( I doubt he was going any more than five miles per hour, lol.)

Some time much later, perhaps about the time I was in junior high, Dad took in a machine to repair in the shop. It looked really odd to me. It turned out to be a German-made moped. The early mopeds like that one were made to be pedaled as well as running with the motor. This one was black, the frame was slightly larger than normal tubing, and was obviously made to incorporate the gas tank, as well as the engine, I was really intrigued. Unfortunately, I've been unable to locate any pictures that match my memory of that one. Mom and Dad never seemed to like motorcycles much, so they had little sympathy for my interest. Watching the roads in front of our store, though, and pumping gas, I did get to see a few bikes now and then.

In my first years of high school a few things happened. One, an older student who lived a couple of miles away started stopping by for gas and supplies occasionally. His name, I think, was James Cole. He rode a purple Triumph Bonneville, something like this one.

One thing is very clear. This bike has always represented "THE Motorcycle" in my memory. For the first time bikes were Really Cool! 

Another thing that happened not much later than that, is that my cousin Charles David, the guy I mentioned at the opening of this posting, came to visit me and brought his Bridgestone 90 motorcycle. 

Here's one like it. This was a lot of fun. We rode it around the place while he was there, he taught me to ride it actually. Ironic, actually, since it was while visiting him and his sister in New Mexico back when I was seven, that I learned to ride a bicycle. I just realized that, small world.
I also remember that Mom, my grandmother, thought that Charles David was too reckless on the bike. It was about this same time period that a biker had a fatal accident almost in front of our store, so Mom and Dad were even more set against motorcycles.

My step-father let me take home parts to an old Cushman scooter he had lying around disassembled in his garage. I put it back together and got it running at least a little, and rode it through the pasture occasionally. It had terminal carburetor problems, I believe, and would only run for a few minutes at a time.  It wasn't nearly in as good a shape as the one in the picture, but it was mostly all there.

College, marriage, and job intervened in the early 70's. My brother Tim Barber asked me to drive for him to get his motorcycle license. In Texas then, and probably now, you had to furnish a licensed driver with a car to drive the license tester and follow the biker being tested. We did this, and, on a whim, we switched places and I tested also, getting my motorcycle license, even though I didn't have any thought of getting a bike anytime soon. 

However, it worked out well. I owned a 1964 Chevrolet Pickup that Tim needed to borrow now and then, so we traded for a weekend, or a few days several times. I got to ride his Yamaha RD350. 

My brother Steve also turned up now and then riding his friend's Kawasaki KZ750. Like this one, but green. I rode it a few times as well. At the time it seemed a bit high muscle for me, not to mention heavy. He only let me ride it off road, and one time I laid it over in the mud. I had to get all the mud off so he could go home!

Tim and I also went together on a little Yamaha dirt bike, either a 50 or 80cc. Tim found it somewhere, and we bought it and got it running again. It was a load of fun running around the pastures on, but it looked pretty funny since it looked really tiny under either one of us! The little rascal really scooted, though!

Finally, in 1993, I got my own "real" bike! It was a well-used Kawasaki KZ440. I rode it as my main transportation for a full year before wrecking it, and me. Actually, the bike came out of it really well other than a busted windshield and a crimped brake line. I wound up with several broken ribs, gouges, and a broken collar bone and arm. I was unable to ride for quite a while. I finally sold it. I hope it is still going out there somewhere. Of course, I had to endure a few "I told you so's" from my grandparents.

Now I'm up to my current ride. My 1984 Honda Shadow VT700c. I enjoy this bike, as I've said in my earlier posts. It took me a bit to get my "bike legs" back. As an older bike, it needs fixing now and then, but I'm able to do it all myself, thanks to my background in the old garage. As I write this, it has a coil out, and a replacement coil waiting for nicer weather to go on. I'll be out there riding again soon!

1 comment:

  1. May your mother and auntie meet in the Summerland and have a blast.

    I like the bikes, but I'm mostly crazy about the scooter. When I was in the Dominican Republic (I was born there) I dreamed with having one. I never did, for we were very poor. After I got out of the Marine Corps, I told myself that I was going to move to a warm place and get one, then I fell in love with a Utah boy who decided he loves NYC *sigh* My scooters dreams have to wait.

    But I'll get one some day, and it's going to be pink!