Way back in the last century when I was a young pup I was working in a factory in a town about 20 miles from my home. I decided I wanted to get a motorcycle for cheap transportation mainly because I really didn’t like riding in the car pool with the bunch of old-timers that my Dad had set me up with. I know he wasn’t too thrilled with the idea but then he told me if I was going to buy a motorcycle to at least buy a Harley since it was made in America. Then he went about telling me he had won one in a crap game on an air base in North Africa during WW II. He never told me whether it was a WLA or XA or even if he ever rode it. I imagine it was probably a deal like the jeep in the movie “MASH”, stolen with the numbers changed.
Unfortunately by the time I got around to saving up enough money to start hunting for something he had passed away. But I did take his advice and went looking for a Harley. With the help of my friend “Hambone”, so named for the stub where his arm had been amputated after a fireworks accident, I found an old Harley Servi-Car that had been used by a local police department. It was no beauty queen and had certainly seen better days. But it was all there, it did run and it was within my budget. So after the next payday it was mine. One of the changes the previous owner had done was place a big car battery in the box behind the seat. The only trouble was that he had neglected to mount an anchor for the battery in the box so on occasion the battery would bounce around and one of the cables would come off causing the trike to stall. It rarely happened and was a mere inconvenience to me.
My friends were surprised when I pulled into the local gas station where everyone hung on it. Most of them didn’t even know such motorcycles existed. One day a friend of mine asked if he could take it for a ride even though he didn’t know how to ride a motorcycle. I figured since it had 3 wheels that he wouldn’t fall over. Now I knew he knew how to drive vehicles with clutches and a shifter and since the shifter gate was on the tank he would know what gear it was in. I showed him how to kickstart it and told him he had to steer it like a car instead of leaning into curves. After a couple laps around the gas pumps he took off down the street.
At first I didn’t worry too much but after he didn’t come back for an hour we all became a little anxious. That is until we looked out the window and saw him silently pulling into the gas station, with 3 grey haired elderly ladies pushing him and the trike. After coming to a stop he got off and profusely thanked the ladies and offered a reward for their help which they declined before walking away. After they were gone I asked what happened and he said he’d hit a pot hole and the engine had quit. He said couldn’t figure out what was wrong and that he’d tried kicking it for about 10 minutes until his leg got tired. Then the ladies offered to push him to try to bump start it and that didn’t work. Finally the ladies had pushed him a couple blocks back to the station.
I tried not to laugh but I had to give him a small smile. I told him I knew exactly what was wrong. He watched as I lifted the lid of the box up and put the ground wire back on the battery. I could hear him muttering something under his breath that I won’t repeat. I climbed on and with one swift kick the trike fired up and I headed home. Thankfully none of the ladies were the worse for wear and my friend stayed my friend, but he never asked to take the trike for a ride again.
Story by Sam Kanish