Old Motorcycles, Young Rider

This post will date me, but it doesn’t much matter, since it sometimes seems to me that I’ve been here forever. I recently got back in contact with an old friend from Bellona, New York, Paul Simmons. Paul currently owns five motorcycles including a beautiful old Yamaha 750. His photos prompted me to think about motorcycles I owned decades ago.

I’ve been going through a large box of prints that span several decades. Some of the prints appear to be from 1949 or so – at least before I was born this time around the wheel. All of the photos in this post were taken by someone else, but in a couple cases I’m no longer certain who pressed the shutter.

Though not a motorcycle, this photo is of my “first ride”. I remember the tractor well. I thought it was a wonderful thing. It was an “all terrain” vehicle that spent most of the time being pedaled through the yard.

The photo was taken by my mother. On the back of the  print there is a note in her hand that indicates that I was 2 years old, so it must have been about 1953.

The photos below were taken in Coral Gables, Florida in 1972, on the day that I bought my first big road bike, a Harley Davidson Sportster. I bought the bike at the Harley dealer in Fort Lauderdale, then rode it back to Coral Gables to Christine Anderson’s apartment.

From left to right: Newly ex-girlfriend Tish and I starting off on a short ride. Robert and Chris setting off on a “test” ride on the new motorcycle (note Robert’s Triumph Bonneville in the background). Chris and I at her apartment (which has nothing to do with motorcycles – I simply like the photo). All three photos were taken with Chris’s camera.

This photo was taken by my mother three years later in 1975 when I returned to New York State from Southern California for a short time.

The bike is my 1974 “74”, a 74 cu.in. (1,200 cc) Harley Superglide. I had a hard time a year later and ended up selling the bike to Paul Simmons’ brother, Farrell.

It was hard to part with it, but at least it went to a friend.

There is some uncertainty about this photo. It appears to have been taken when Lisa and I lived on Delano Avenue in Riverside, CA around 1982. The bike is a 1978 Kawasaki KZ 650. The KZ was a fine bike, though it sounded “wrong” to my ear, since it was an inline four, rather than a V-Twin.

I rode the KZ 650 until it no longer made any sense to repair it. Looking at the photo, it seems a bit odd to me that it was taken thirty years ago by my brother Joe (who owned the silver version of the same motorcycle). That was half a lifetime ago (so far)…

Featured Comment From Dave Gullo:

Haven’t thought about the Simmons brothers or Bellona for quite some time. Farrell was my age, Paul a lttle older. Very cool guys in my opinion; had some good records. I remember borrowing Blonde on Blonde around 1967 from one of them and we spent a fair amount of time hanging out. When we were about 16 we thought we had discovered a bumper pot of marijuana in one of their fields, harvested and dried large bags full, only to realize it was some sort of hemp. Sure looked like the pictures of pot we had seen.

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