Our town just experienced another conference week with the HOG – the Harley Owners Group. Having 5,000 or so Harley motorcycles in this town is quite an experience!
Last year when the conference was winding down, I heard some local citizens commenting on the event.
“What do you think of that motorcycle group that was here in town?”
“Well, at least we didn’t have any trouble out of them.”
What were they expecting, Hell’s Angels? Too many of us grew up watching Peter Fonda raise heck in the movie Easy Rider. And because of that, we show prejudice by lumping all Harley owners in with the bad guys in that movie. I bet most of the Harley owners that came to town were professionals, doctors, lawyers, bankers and the like. Even Jay Leno is a Harley man, and I hardly think we could expect “trouble” out of him and his friends if he came to town.
I must admit, having all those Harleys in town is a bit painful for me. Don’t get me wrong, I owned my own Harley Hog when I was in high school back in 1972. It was a 1948 model, with the suicide foot clutch and the gearshift mounted on the tank. My dad and I got it in a bushel basket and he assembled it from parts. We kind of semi-chopped it, and I got to kick my leg off every morning getting it started so I could ride to school.
But the pain came last year as I was sitting at a red light with my son, watching the Harley parade go by. The tears began to well up, as we sat there watching. I really couldn’t tell my son what was going on in my heart. Each of those motorcycles represented memories of my late father, who owned several Harleys in his lifetime.
I grew up on Harleys. They tell me I got my first ride was when I was 2 weeks old. As a young boy, I remember sitting on the back of that bike, and riding all over town with my dad – just cruising. But as I look back, I can now remember that later in my childhood, my dad no longer owned a bike. We were poor, and the pictures I saw of him and his motorcycles were dated back to his earlier days.
I guess having children put a financial strain on him. I know I can’t afford a Harley. As the Harleys paraded in front of us, I was taken back in time. I was taken back to a lost heritage, to memories of a young son and his father – not fishing, not hunting, but cruising. Sometimes I wish I could share some of the same memories with my children that my motorcycle daddy did with me.
I welcome the HOG group back to Hot Springs for their convention each year. And though the leather and the roar and the smell of Harleys is a bittersweet memory to me, it is at best, a fond memory.
by Randalf TheGrey
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A well written piece, and a great tribute to your father!
I remember my Dad's Harley...especially the one that I burned my leg on LOL!
Love your writing, loved checking out your website!
Good work! So enjoyable!