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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 

 May 2003 

by Bummer

Email: bummer@abate.com

    Doesn’t it seem that the older ya get, the faster time slips by?  To me it sometimes seems that a thing that might have happened years ago just happened last month.  But a thing that happened last month seems like yesterday.  No wonder old folks get so damned confused!

     It was the mid seventies and some friends and myself were headed to an event in upper New York State called the Harley Rendezvous.  This event drew folks from all over the country and was more well known in this neck of the woods than Sturgis was at that time.

    I was riding a ‘72 Sportster with an 8” over front end and a 3 and a half-gallon tank.  She was lean and blood red and covered in chrome.  God, how I do miss that bike.  Sold it to help make one of my marriages work.  Needless to say that was a BIG mistake.

     Anyway, we were traveling on state routes instead of interstates ‘cause we all had plenty of time and was livin’ life the way it should be lived.  All of us had been plannin’ it for weeks, so we had time off from our jobs.

     On the trip were me, my first wife Linda, Bird Dog, his woman Wendy, and Sammy, Doc and Buford all ridin’ solo.      First night out we camped at a huge state park called Cook’s Forest in Pennsylvania.

     Nowadays whenever I go on a weekend road trip somebody is usually with us drivin’ a truck and we bring all kinds of comforts, but there’s something to be said about just packin’ necessities on yer scoot.  Ya get to camp further out in the wilderness, away from dogs and kids and car stereos playin’ bad music [boom boxes weren’t even invented yet].

     After settin’ up the tents and fetchin’ some firewood, we discovered that Doc had set up his tent smack dab in the middle of a bunch of poison sumac!  

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The next morning, we woke to the smell of coffee, bacon and eggs.  Wendy had a thing about doin’ the cookin’ and all the rest of us had to do was clean up after.  There is NOTHING like campfire cookin’ in the morning.  The forest just seems to put a smile on yer face, especially with all the birds and other critters wakin’ up with ya.  Doc climbed out of his tent itching, bitching and moaning.

     “HELP!!  I got this stuff all over me!  Everytime I scratch myself I seem to be spreading it further!”

     My wife gave him a bottle of sun tan lotion and that seemed to help a little bit until we could get to a drug store.  The druggist gave him some white cream that made him look like an alien.

     That evening we pulled into the Rendezvous and had a great time the rest of the weekend.

     I’ve always prided myself on my ability to make acquaintances easily.  I have no problem walking right up to a complete stranger and talkin’ to ‘em.  But, to be with people you know and like is much more than that.  Ya get a sense that you can be yourself, and knowing that the ones yer with have no problem with who you are, well, it kinda sets ya free.

     Will Rogers once said that he never met a man he didn’t like.  Well, I certainly wouldn’t go that far.  But I feel that the same can be said referring to bikers to some extent.  Sure, some bikers are absolute jerks.  And I wouldn’t even want some to know where I keep my bike parked.  But on the whole, most scooter people have a sense of integrity and dignity that ya don’t usually find in others.  They’re real people, and they’ve driven the same roads under the same conditions as you have, and that makes them part of yer tribe, if ya know what I mean.

     I know I’ve been rambling this month, and now it’s time for me to ramble on out of here.  May is my favorite month for ridin’, and the road awaits.....Be safe, be free and be happy.

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

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    Doc got his name ‘cause he was a medic in Nam and had training on all kinds of jungle stuff that could hurt ya, but apparently he didn’t know what poison sumac looked like. 

When he asked for help moving his tent, we all suddenly found other things to do.

     “C’mon you guys!  I need a hand here!”

     The poor sucker had the stuff all over him the next day, but that first night we had a great time sittin’ round the campfire under a starry night sky.  I brought a harmonica and Bird Dog passed around a big jug of his uncle’s homemade apricot brandy.  Being in the woods with friends around a campfire is probably the closest thing to heaven that I can imagine.  As the night darkened we began tellin’ stories, and here’s one of my favorites.  It’s a short one and I’ve heard it told different ways, but this is the way I tell it........

     An old biker had a small farm in Northern Illinois, and one day sent his oldest son to the local feed store to fetch seed.  As the young man was loading it into his old man’s pickup he turned and saw Death standing on the sidewalk staring at him.  He backed to the cab of the truck in horror, started it and flew home to his father.

     “Father!  I was in town and saw Death!  I fear he was coming for me!  Let me use your bike so I can leave here and escape my destiny!  I’ll ride to Chicago and lose myself among the masses and he’ll never find me!”

     The old man sadly gave him the bike key and watched as his first-born son left for the safety of a big city.  He then drove to the feed store in anger and sorrow to confront Death.

     “You’ve driven away my son!”

     Death, wearing a black robe that covered his face and clutching a long scythe with bony hands replied, “I’ve come to your town on other business, old one.  I was staring at your son because of my surprise at seeing him here, for I have an appointment with him tomorrow..........in Chicago.”

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