If you have read anything on my “Steel Road” page, you know that I write about personal experience and interests. Recently I wrote and recorded several songs about my childhood. I’ve had an idea for another song about growing up in rural Ohio during the 1960’s and early 1970’s that I have been batting around for a couple years. I finally got serious about it.
One of the verses in the song pertains to memories of my uncle Tom, who probably spent more time on motorcycles than in a car during that era! In effort to inspire a few lines and give them some context, I asked him to tell me a bit about what got him started riding and to send me a few pictures. The result was a number of great pictures and several personal insights into his experience.
Apparently this brought about some interesting memories for Uncle Tom! He and Aunt Rose, have written down a few of them and forwaded them to me. Far more than I can use in my song, but a fun read!
With their permission – I’m posting this one.
The adventures of Uncle Tom!
My fascination with motorcycles was an off shoot of my fascination with tractor trailers. When I was 8 or 9 years old I lived on Case Ave in Mentor, Ohio, which ran north and south from route 20. Rt 20 was the main truck route between Buffalo and Chicago.
I would go up to the corner by the Sinclair gas station – Robinsons, who owned the Sinclair, would allow me to sit and watch traffic. Big trucks couldn’t stop at the little gas station, but motorcycles could. Back in those days it was all Harley Davidsons and Indian motorcycles. It was exciting to learn where the people were traveling to and from.
Most of our relatives lived on the west side of Cleveland and my cousin Steve Dodd was quite a bit older than me. By the time I was 12 years old, he was already married and had his own house and farm. He also owned an old Harley Davidson motorcycle. Whenever we went to visit, I would be out in the garage, trying to get that Harley started! He wouldn’t tell me how to do it, but promised if I ever got it started, he would teach me to ride! When I was 12 years old, I finally got it started!
So Steve taught me how to ride it in his field.
When I was 14 years old, you could get a small motorcycle to ride on the street. And because I was delivering newspapers, The Plain Dealer and The Telegraph, I had saved enough money to buy a Cushman Eagle motor scooter. Which was like a little Harley Davidson. I didnt tell anybody what I was doing and when I brought it home, my mother told me I had to take it back. I told her I couldnt, because I had paid cash for it. I rode that until I was 16.
I traded it for a BSA 650 cc motorcycle. I had that for about 6 months and a friend had a small Harley Davidson, about 125 cc. I traded my BSA and I now had my first Harley Davidson.