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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 

 June 2003 

by Bummer

Email: bummer@abate.com

   

June Jam!!!!  You asked for nationally known bands?  Ya got it!!  You wanted hot summer nights with lots of good people?  Ya got it!  Ya wanted a break from all the cares and drudgery of life?  COME TO THE JAM!!!

     I took an old friend named Pappy out to lunch the other day and as we sat waiting for our grub he began to tell me of the days before electric starters, before turn signals, hell, before ya even needed a license!

     “When did ya start ridin’ Pappy?”

     “Oh, musta been about 1930 I reckon.  I was about 14 years old.  My parents owned a farm and I was drivin’ the truck to town whenever we needed anything.  People didn’t pay attention to licenses and such back then.  One day a fella in town bought a new motorsickle and when I saw that I was hooked.  I tried to make my own out of an old bicycle, but it didn’t go worth a damn.  In a few years I saved enough to buy a used Indian.  That musta been about 1934 or so.”

     “What was it like back then?”

     “A whole lot different!  Most roads were dirt and gravel ‘cept the ones in the cities.  Most people didn’t have to pay attention to licenses ‘cause like I said before, the po-lice didn’t bother ya much unless you were actually doin’ something wrong.  The only traffic lights were in the cities and small towns usually didn’t even have stop signs.

     “Ya see, back then people who didn’t farm lived close to where they worked so they could walk to their jobs.  If ya worked in a factory ya probably lived in housing that the company owned close to the shop.  If ya worked in a store or for a tradesman ya lived in a room in a boarding house.  Most folks rarely went more than a few miles from home.  Ya gotta remember Bummer that few people could afford cars or motorsickles, even though a new car was less than $1000 and a new bike was only a few hundred bucks.  Lotsa people still used horses back then, and those in cities just walked or used trolleys if they could afford that.  The depression scared the hell outta folks and even when they could afford transportation they thought long and hard about spendin’ their money.”

     “You once told me about being a motorcycle dispatch rider in the army.  Tell me how ya got into that.”

     “Well, before the war broke out {World War II} me and a buddy decided that ridin’ a bike and wearin’ a uniform would probably be the best way to get girls, and the funnest way to make a livin’ you could imagine.  We did boot camp with no problem.  Before the war

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Bummer's Shootin' the Breeze Page!
 

 

was put together the chassis and mount the engine.  Cleaning the cosmoline off was the hard part.”

     “If you could give any advice to someone just starting to ride, what would it be?”

     “Ride defensively.  Figure that every car, and even other bikes, are out to get ya.  When ya see a car approach a red light, figure that he’s gonna run it.  When ya got one on yer butt, watch him closely.  Count on that so-and-so in front of ya to slam on his brakes and whatever ya do, watch out for idiots coming at ya from the opposite direction making left hand turns into you!  I don’t even want to add up the friends I’ve had that got messed up by that!

     “Oh, and one more thing...”

     “What’s that?”

     “Never give a woman a ride if she weighs more than you...but you probably don’t have to worry too much ’bout that Bum!  Ha ha ha!”

     Did I ever mention that Pappy was a smart-ass?

     See y’all next month......

         That's me, dammit!~Watch here for next month's installment!

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    the instructors were more like teachers than anything else.  After boot, we got assigned to the Dispatch Corps and got to ride new Harley Knuckleheads and Flathead 45‘s.  I thought my old Indian was something, but those Knucks were fast and a lot more responsive!  Spent all of our off time ridin’ around and lookin’ important.  We didn’t even have to stay on base!  During and after the war they got real serious about concentrating on yer training, but back then it was all different.  Hell, they still used mules on some posts!

     “We trained with all kinds of weird equipment.  I remember once they had us usin’ a 50 caliber machine gun mounted to a side car!  Every few times the gunner fired a long burst, the side hack would come loose from all the vibration.  They ended up welding the hacks to the frame, but that made the bike a permanent 3-wheeler then, and transporting them became a real problem.

     “Until the damned war broke out all we had to do was deliver dispatches for the brass {officers}.  Sometimes we went from base to base.  It was everything this old boy wanted!  Ridin’ all over the country back then was a lot more adventurous since everything was highway and no interstates.  Every few miles there was some kind of roadside attraction and restaurants served up real chow instead of the crap they got now.

    “The only thing I don’t miss ‘bout the old days was the roads.  They didn’t stripe ‘em on the sides or even in the middle usually.  Like I said, most were dirt and gravel, but some were what they call macadam, kinda a combination of gravel and tar.  They lasted well, but were full of holes and crumbly on the berms.  I patched a lot of inner tubes sittin’ on the side of the road.  Maps weren’t very dependable and sometimes the damn roads ended up in somebody’s cornfield.  We carried compasses just to make sure we didn’t get too lost.”

     “You’ve spoken a little about your war experiences in the past so we won’t get into that now, but what was it like when ya came home?  Did ya notice much change in things?”

     “Oh hell yes!  When we shipped out the only folks who rode bikes were those that couldn’t afford a car.  When we came home more and more people were riding.  I think it’s ‘cause bikes kinda give ya that thrill and most of our guys had a hard time adapting to civilian life again.  That, and they were exposed to so many motorsickles over there.  Besides, you could buy an army surplus bike for about $25 still packed in cosmoline {the grease they used for packing}.  All ya had to do

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