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Bummer's Monthly Musings

Bummer, who's an ABATE institution, writes one of the most widely read articles in the Outspokin' each month. Now he's also right here on the web! Welcome to the Computer Age, Bummer! ~ Enjoy!

 

 

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Shootin’ the Breeze 

 December 2002 

by Bummer

Email: bummer@abate.com

    “Pappy!  What are you yellin’ about?”

     “Oh, this jerk on the damned TV!!  How ya doin’ Bum?”

     The man yells at television sets.  For those of you who don’t know, Pappy is a biker living in an elderly care facility.  I first met him a few years ago through a friend of my son.  At 85 years young, he’s been a biker since the early 1930’s and has more great stories to tell than anyone I’ve ever met.  The guy just blows me away.

     “I think television is one thing I wish I had nothing to do with!”

     “Whatcha mean Pappy?”

     “I helped invent it.”

     “Oh boy!  Here we go again!  You mean to tell me that you invented television?”

     “I didn’t say that now, did I?  I said that I helped invent it.  Ever hear of Vladimir Zworykin?”

     Uh....like, no.”

     “Didn’t think so...most people never did.  He invented TV.  I just helped out a little.”

     “What kind of bull are ya tryin’ to feed me this time?”

     “If ya don’t wanna hear it, that’s OK with me!”

    “No....I GOTTA hear this!  You go ahead.”

     “Back in the early 30’s my daddy was drivin’ truck regularly from Pittsburg to Camden, New Jersy. What you’d call a milk run.  I was 16 years old, just got my license, and on one trip he agreed to haul me and my motorsicle.  He had to lay over in Jersey for a few days and I thought it would be fun to tour around the East coast a bit.  Since I was new at it he thought I shouldn’t ride too far alone.

     “As soon as we unloaded the bike I was on the road headed for sights unseen.  A few miles out of Camden I passed a car broken down on the side of the road with a little guy leanin’ under the hood yellin’ like crazy.  I turned around, pulled up and asked him what the problem was, since I’ve always been good with fixin’ things.

     “Turns out he was from Pittsburgh too, just moved to Camden and was a scientist workin’ for Westinghouse.  After we got his car runnin’ he invited me to his house to see some gadgets he’d been workin’ on.  One of ‘em was the original prototype for the cathode ray tube.”

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Bummer's Shootin' the Breeze Page!
 

      “So tell me more about this Vladimir guy.”

     “Well after we got his cathode ray tube perfected, he bought a bike and we started riding together.”

     “Pappy, I don’t have any boots on and it’s gettin’ pretty deep!”

     “Did ya bring any sippin’ liquor?”

     “Last time the nurses almost threw me out of here.  I’m not even supposed to be givin’ ya smokes.”

     “Ya know the saddest thing ‘bout growin old Bum?  Ya start losin’ yer freedoms one by one.  Starts when yer about 18.”

     Now, I’ve seen Pappy drunk, grouchy, pissed off, flirty and even happy.  But I’ve never seen him feelin’ sorry for himself.  I quickly changed the subject.

     “You ever been to Sturgis Pappy?”

     “Have I ever been to Sturgis?  Boy, I was there when it was just a dirt track and a bunch of prairie dogs!  Hell, I got lost in the Black Hills near there for over a month one year.  That’s when I met Crow Who Flies Crooked, my blood brother.”

     Now, this was the Pappy I knew!

     “Tell me all about it.”

     “I was wanderin’ around for days....Bike was outta gas so I parked it.  I passed a whole bunch of skeletons of critters that lay half buried in the dirt.  Buzzards were circlin’ overhead.  I ran out of water and was just a-crawlin’ along thinkin,’This is it Pappy.  Yer a goner now.’, when suddenly out of nowhere this old Indian was standin’ there watchin’ me.  I thought he was a vision or somethin’.

     “He had a water skin and dumped some of it on my head before givin’ me a little to drink.  Ya got another smoke?

     “So anyway he brought me back to his teepee and said I could rest up there, but I’d have to sleep with his three daughters.”

     “PAPPY!!!”

     “OK OK, I was just pullin’ yer leg.”

     “Visiting hours are over, you two!”

     This was my favorite nurse.  Pappy’s too.  She has a sense of humor and actually cares about the old man.  Great legs are a BIG plus.

     “OK I gotta git anyway Pappy.  See ya soon.”

     “Next time bring me some you know what.”

     The nurse just smiled and shook her head.

     When I got home I looked up Vladimir Zworykin and it turns out he did invent TV.  Ya learn something new every day if ya pay attention.  I doubt Pappy had anything to do with it but at least the old man tells a good story.... and I just love a good story.  Sure is better than watchin’ TV anyway.  He was mostly right about that.       That's me, dammit!~Watch here for next month's installment!

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       “What the hell is that?”

     “The cathode ray tube is what is now known as a picture tube in a TV set.  He was workin’ on building the first TV.  Ya got a smoke?”

     I fished one out, gave him a light and waited for him to go on.

     “Vladimir, that was his name, was born in Russia and moved to Pittsburgh and was gettin’ to be pretty famous for some of his inventions when I met him.  Anyway, we got to messin’ in his workshop and I helped him straighten out a few problems he was havin’.”

     “You mean the guy that invented the TV was some dude named Vladimir that most people never heard of, and YOU helped him do it?”

     “Yup.  After we finally got it goin’ we sat there and watched it for a while, but it got kinda boring ‘cause there was nothin’ on.”

     “WHAT?”

     “Well nobody invented TV stations yet.  At least it was commercial free.”

     “So ya just sat there watching snow?”

     “Yup.  After a bit Vladimir made some popcorn, but it was still boring as hell.  We probably would have just broken the damned thing up if we woulda known what folks were gonna do with it.  Hell, the only thing worth watchin’ nowadays is Jerry Springer.”

     “JERRY SPRINGER?”

     “Yup.  That show tells it like it is.”

     “You mean to tell me that you think that all that stuff is real?”

     “How many screwed up people do YOU know?”

     He had a point there.  “But if yer selective there’s all kinds of good programming on besides that.”

     “Like what?  Sitcoms just bore me.  Even the History channel is mostly stuff about war!  Seen enough of real war to last me a few lifetimes.  The news just makes me sad or it scares the hell outta me, and I find all infomercials stupid and offensive.  They should pay us to watch ‘em.”

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