As my octogenarianism grows into its fifth year, my mind continues to wonder as I wander. Or could it be that my mind wanders as I wonder? I
I The most popular motorcycles in the 1950s were the Harley Davidson and Indian. My Uncle Kenney Gabor, husband of Mother’s sister Lyla, let me ride his Harley now and then. I didn’t become skilled like I assumed him to be, but I managed to never turn it over.
I went to the A&W on my human powered Elgin vehicle to hang out with some of the recent Central High School class of 1955 graduates.
One of the guys pulled in on his well-used Indian motorcycle. He ribbed me a few times about the rebuilt Whizzer motor bike I’d ridden to and from Dean’s place for Freeloader Club meetings. As I remember his good-natured ribbing included my downgrading to pedal power.
When he suggested I should ride a real motorcycle, I told him about my riding the Harley. I guess he believed me because he offered to let me take a spin on his Indian. Of course, I accepted. I idled it around the A&W perimeter to show that I could ride, and he said something like, “Take it to the street.”
The street was clear, and I cranked up the compression. What I didn’t know and wasn’t told was that the compression and throttle on the Harley were on the opposite handlebars of on the Indian. So, at full throttle, I flew across the street, over the curb, smashed a lawn mower, and ended up under a picnic table with the motorcycle still idling in a lilac bush.
Other than having some dirt and lilac branches on it, the motorcycle was undamaged. But the lawn mower was totaled. I caused some alarm because a scrape from something under the picnic table made a minor gouge on top of my head. We all know that head wounds seem to bleed disproportionally to the damage.
I got cleaned up and arranged to pay for the lawnmower damage as soon as I got my first Army pay. Without knowing my agreement, Mother sold the special motor, a Model B Ford with Riley overhead valve conversion, I’d bought for my garaged Model A and paid the bill before I could.