My earliest memory is of my sister and myself sneaking out through the
front window of the house and riding our tricycles around the driveway.
This was, as it turned out, to be the pattern for my life.
My first love was music, more specifically Beatles music. I can remember
standing on a street corner in Bombholder Germany in 1964 singing a
Beatles song when an American couple stopped and gave a coin. I don't
think they knew I was American also. It is the only time I ever sang
professionally. At the time I was seven and my love for the Beatles was all
The first time I rode a motorcycle was in the California desert while
camping with some friends. At the time I was about thirteen and the bike
was a Honda trail 70 or 80. I did fall over but only once or twice and more
importantly, no-one saw me. Around the time I entered high school my
step father's brother gave us a Vespa 150. It was a good little bike, and
never gave us any trouble unless you tried to do a wheelie. The back
fender would hit the ground, and the shock would knock the rider off the
bike, then it would continue down the street without the rider.
At the time, I lived in Fountain Valley. Some of my friends lived miles
away but this didn't present a problem. I would simply use the tract streets
and run with my headlights off. If I saw a cop, I would jump off, kill the
engine and start walking the bike. This worked well for a couple of years.
That was all the poor Vespa lasted, but it was not the bikes fault, it was
me. When I was sixteen, I got a Honda 160 scrambler for $250. I had my
driving permit and life was sweet. No more walking or taking the bus.
Unfortunately, I received two tickets and had my privilege to drive
revoked. We moved to Anaheim, and I turned the little Honda into a
custom bobber, but no-one else shared my enthusiasm for bobbed Honda
Around this time, I had started working with a man named Ray cleaning
Sambo's restaurants at night. This was a difficult time for me because I
was always tired working 5 or 6 hours a night and going to high school in
the day time. The one shining moment in all of this was the night I saw
my first old Indian motorcycle.
We pulled into the Sambo's off the 5 freeway in Santa Fe Springs and
there it was, sitting in the parking lot with it's gorgeous rainbow painted
valanced fenders. It was love at first sight.
These fenders were designed by some old geezer around 1940, and as it
turns out, he just happened to make them perfect. You cannot make these
fenders any prettier. The only direction you can go would be uglier like
the new Indian fenders. I said to my boss Ray "did you see the guy who
was riding this bike," and he said to me "he's at the counter, you can't miss
him". I walked up to the man at the counter and said to him "where did
you get that bike," and he just smiled and gave me a Starklite Motorcycle
Sometime within the next week, I went to visit the shop, and I was
spellbound by all the beautiful bikes They had two bikes for sale that I
thought I could afford, one was a 1946 Chief and the other was a Sport
Scout. I went back the next week and said "I'll take the Sport Scout," but it
was sold so I bought the 46 Chief. I began paying off this $1500 bike with
about $50 a month plus $5 for storage, but after a few months a friend of
mine named Jerry paid the balance, and I then spent a few years paying
Wilson Plank, who now owns the shop in Fullerton, rolled the 46 Chief
out the back door and asked me if I wanted to be shown how to ride it, I
said "no thanks" and off I went. The very first time I drove into the high
school parking lot, the prettiest girl in school who had never even spoken
to me before, ran up to me and asked me for a ride. I thought to myself "I
could get used to this."
It is not a good idea to ride a bike like this on a suspended license, by the
time I got my license back, I had been given 12 tickets for driving on a
suspended license. The same cop got me a few times.
In 1976 the Indian was stolen out of the parking lot where I lived. I went
out to ride it, and it was just gone. For about a year, I had dreams that I
was riding the bike, but I would wake up and remember that it had been
stolen. Then one day while I was taking a nap in the afternoon, a friend
came over and told me " I saw your bike" my brother had let him in, and
when I heard this I was standing before I had really woken up. "Where" I
said, " "about a mile away," said Richard.
So off we went. When we got to the house the sun had just gone down, but
the light in the garage was on, I peered through the one inch gap on the
right side of the big garage door and there was my bike. We drove around
the corner and called the police, "how do you know it is your bike" they
asked and I told them " I can see the discolored spot I repainted on the top
of the rear fender."
The police woke up a judge around midnight and got a search warrant
signed, then woke the guy up around three in the morning. When I picked
the bike up at the Anaheim Police station it would not run, I had to walk it
home three miles, and then found that the battery was hooked up
backwards and the oil pump had lost it's prime. I was very quickly back on
the road, no more bad dreams.
In about 1978 I took the Indian apart because I felt that the bottom end
was getting too sloppy. The bike sat in boxes for 18 years.
The years from 1978 to 1990 were the lost years of cool motorcycles for
me, I had a Kawasaki 350 enduro, a Honda 750K, even a Honda Shadow.
These bikes were for the most part, just transportation. I also started
having the dreams again where I am riding the Indian around, and I wake
up only to realize that the bike is in boxes in the shed.
Around 1990 or 1991 I decided to put the Indian back together, Wilson
Planck swears that he thought I was just dropping off some Indian parts
that I wanted to sell, but really, I didn't want this bike to die with me. This
bike deserved another shot at immortality even though I had lost a lot of
I went into the shop two or three days a week and did as much of the
work myself, as I could. It was around this time that I began my
association with the infamous Maytag Messerschmitt Motorcycle Club,
mainly because I had purchased a 1964 BMW R60/2 and a 1969 R69S/2.
That put me in good standing with the club. If you know anything about
the history of the club, you've been lied too. This is a club of myth and
legend, and only many years of merciless prodding will get you even the
faintest glimmer of the wonder that is the MMMC.
The god like leader is Art. That is all I know about him. There was another
founding member who I remember as the guy who fired a shot down the
railroad track as a demonstration of displeasure because someone had
stolen something from the back of Wilson's shop.
The official drink of the MMMC is, as I understand it, Hatuey Malta
It has been their official drink since 1952.
I did try, although unsuccessfully to get the club to adopt Moxie
as the official drink.
As I understand it, you can not join this club unless you express a
willingness to not belong in the club, and you were not officially
indoctrinated into the club until after you quit. The good thing was that
everyone could do what they wanted, that was an official rule. I became
road captain for a while because I was the guy who was never quite sure
where we were going. I spent a lot of time at the front of the pack setting
the pace and hoping I wouldn't miss a turn. I also spent a lot of time at the
back of the pack, keeping an eye on things.
When I finally got the Indian running it was, of course, the bike I rode. It
ran like a scalded dog. I had Wilson do every trick he knew to this bike
including 80" flywheels and Bonneville cams and carburetor. I surprised a
few Harley people with this bike. Harley people always think Indians are
slow like a Harley 45" Flathead, nothing could be further from the truth.
The Indian Scouts were the fastest bikes Indian built, and at least one land
speed record is still held by an Indian Scout. My bike was a Chief but it
was a really fast Chief.
I don't have the bike anymore, but for many years I would run into people
who would tell me, "I remember you, do you still have that old Indian"?
I moved to Kentucky in 2005 mainly because I could afford to buy a
house there. Sadly the MMMC did not share my appreciation for cheap
housing, and worse I have no motorcycle when I arrive, let alone a job.
Within three months I do find a job in the warehouse of an electrical
contractor, and surprisingly they pay me a decent wage. What this means
is I can afford to buy a motorcycle, which I do. It is a 1996 Harley
Heritage Softail with a stage II Screaming Eagle kit in it. This gives the
bike about 75 horse power. However I do not have any idea about the
stage II kit because the guy that sold it to me did not tell me. I guess that
when you sell a vehicle maybe it is best to say as little as possible, and let
the buyers imagination fill in the rest. I thought I had a stock bike that
would cost me little or nothing to maintain, that I could put 5 or 10
thousand miles a year on for the next 20 years without too much
headache. I forgot this was a Harley, even though it was a 1996 which is
considered one of the most reliable bikes Harley ever built, it was not the
bike I hoped it would be. Yes it was fast but so was my old Indian, and the
Indian never gave me any grief.
I have not come this way to see my own shadow
I have not ventured forth to abandon my faith
I have seen all there is in the heart of the the lowlands
And now wish to find my place in the stars
Beyond the forest and the fields
Fending off subdued alarms
And our preference to weep
A mere madness for the moment
For in truth I am a Prisoner
Along my trail you see the rabble
We are infected with a wanderlust
Our poor condition won't deter
Under your imagination
With your vistas and your influence
Myself so long inside the void
To suffer loss, it's own reward
I once loved the near forgotten
Who's caresses I preserved
She is soaring in your garden
And on occasion lends you words
Half world, odd light, secrets
Half dreams, fragile, darkness
Halfway, being, somewhere...