what I still remember as a very traumatic beginning to a less than stellar academic career. Dale joined me in many of my life’s high points and helped me through a few of the low points. He was the one neighborhood kid about whom my parents would say things like “How’s Dale? We haven’t seen him in a few days. We wish you’d get good grades like Dale does.” The two most momentous things Dale did for me were get me off the road to Hoodlumville and, a few years later, get me back on the road to two wheeled pleasure.
Visualize this if you will; It’s a beautiful sunny day in the summer of 1966 and a few of my buddies and I are sitting on the porch of my house. Off in the distance echoed the unmistakable sound of a Honda 305 Scrambler. These bikes revolutionized the motorcycle world by proving that, despite Britain’s best efforts to the contrary, motorcycles could be both affordable and reliable. The Honda’s sound grew louder and up rode Dale on a brand new Scrambler. Honda had managed to design a bike that was both beautiful and looked like a respectable motorcycle should look. The market was flooded with many choices of small output bikes that, unfortunately, looked like nerdy motorcycle wannabees. “Real” bikes were British manufactured Triumphs, BSAs, Nortons and Matchless’, or the American gorillas built by Harley Davidson. Japanese manufacturers made many dependable bikes but they had yet to design one that appealed to.......me.
I grabbed my ever present camera and took a picture of Dale on his new steed. His contemporaries always had him on a varying level pedestal and on this day that pedestal shot up to a new height. There was only one way to deal with this; go buy a new 305. The local, and only, Honda dealership had a showroom full of these bikes at a very reasonable $775 “out the door” price. This included a helmet that, at a later date and a future article, probably saved my life. I digress; my mother, being of moderately sound mind, refused to co-sign for the purchase of the bike. I consulted with another good friend, Bob, about my financial dilemma. Bob’s mom, having raised Bob and, as a result, no longer being of sound mind, agreed to co-sign for the necessary loan. On that day Bob’s mom became my new best friend and my mother’s public enemy number one.
Out of the showroom I rode along with seven of my buddies on their new 305s. One week after Dale’s two wheeled arrival a new motorcycle gang consisting of several of his childhood pals were all riding motorcycles and terrorizing the local streets.
The first thing anyone did to their new 305 was take off the mufflers. A sweeter sound will never be heard than that of an un-muffled Scrambler. The second thing to do was to not do a second thing. These bikes were perfect right out of the box with a silver and black paint scheme, graceful and aggressive fenders, and a seat big enough to be comfortable but small enough to force your girlfriend to snuggle up close.
That motorcycle was my only means of transportation due mostly to pleasure and poverty. The pleasure resulted from the wind in my face and the power at my fingertips. The poverty was from the hefty $35 a month payments. My buddies and I would ride to far away exotic locations like Portland, OR, and Walla Walla, WA. We even went to a foreign country by crossing our northern border and spending a few days trying to figure out how fast 80 MPH was in kilometers. It wasn’t long before my crowd sold off their bikes to finance the purchase of more useful transportation. I chose to step up to a prestigious Triumph 650 Bonneville and that, my friends, was the beginning of the end of my motorcycle riding career.