Chillicothe, Ohio... Mid 1940s
Gee that morning sun is sure bright, and really warm for a Fall day.
Here I am sittin’ on the curb like I had good sense. Look at that spider on those leaves in the gutter. Should I pick him up? No, I’ll just watch.
Wonder when the ice truck will get here? Today is his day for our neighborhood. I know this is the day because everyone had the ice signs in the window. All you have to do is to turn the sign up to show how many pounds you want. If you want a 25 pound block or a 50 pounder, you put the sign in the front window set up so that the amount you want is right side up. The Iceman will look at each house to see what you want and he chips off your portion from a huge cake.
Guess I better get up and be ready. All the other guys in the neighborhood will come running when they see the truck. We love it when the ice man cuts the block into pieces with his ice pick because there a lot of flying ice chips and they taste so good on a warm morning like today.
Later today Herb Valentine said he would come to give me a ride. But I could go for a ride ONLY if my Mom said it was okay. Herb is a young black guy, about 18 years old, that lives a couple of blocks down the street. His Dad, Mr. Valentine walks by our house on the way home from work a lot of days and he is a special friend. I walk with him as he goes by the house and he is always cheerful. I had told him that I wanted Herb to take me for a ride on his new motorcycle and he agreed to tell Herb.
Herb stopped by on his way down the street yesterday. Even though I am just a kid, he is kind enough to have spotted a motorcycle lover waving furiously from the sidewalk every time he rode by. Yesterday he showed me his BEAUTIFUL Indian bike. It was a Scout or a Chief, I think. I wasn’t so interested in the model but that it was big, and red, and had a side gear shift, and a big old seat, and it smelled like gasoline!!
Well, Herb came by today.and I am sort of in trouble. Here’s how innocent kids get in trouble. I’m sitting on the curb and Herb pulls up. First question, “Did you ask your Mom if you could go for a ride?”. The answer that popped out, sort of accidentally, was, “Yep, she said it would be okay.” Stuff like that happens to me, accidents of the mouth.
So, I jumped on behind Herb, held tight around his waist, and we took off on that Big,Beautiful, Red Monster!! I was in heaven. We cruised down Jefferson Avenue and out to Route 50. Herb knew some wonderful back roads that were covered with the falling leaves. The smell of the gasoline, the leaves scattering in our path and in our wake, the sun shining, the motor roaring… this must be what Heaven is like.
We rode around for what seemed to me like a very short time, but I guess I was mistaken. It must have been longer than I thought since when we pulled up in front of my house, a crowd had gathered. It seems that some of the neighbors had seen little Pat get on a motorcycle with “some man” and taken off. Not the sort of thing that Mothers want to hear. I guess they were ready to call out the Army to look for me. But Mom was relieved that it was Herb and that I was home.
Herb, in the true spirit of an experienced biker, nodded, smiled and headed for home!!
Well, another day in the big city…. Sigh….