A HARLEY DAVIDSON FUNERAL
R. D. ICE
[This is loosely based on a real event about 1955. The All Weather Riders was a club of local riders centering around the Harley Dealer on Parsons Ave. in Columbus, OH. A.D.Farrow owned this and ran it as competition to his dealership. I rode a KH (Harley Sportster) to the funeral in my suit and tie. I don't remember how 'Larry' died. I think it was the big "C". I don't remember the funeral service, but I know I was there. I do remember it was a huge funeral with most of the riders in Columbus attending.]
"Motorcycles are dangerous!" We know that and accept it. "Ride fast and live free!" But when someone wraps a car around a telephone pole and dies, no one says: "Those cars are dangerous! They ought to be banned!"
Sometimes a brother is struck down by the Grim Reaper. I remember Larry. I never did know his last name. Just Larry. But when he hit the last pothole of life, it was the "Big C" that got him.
Larry rode what we called a "dresser." A Big Twin Harley with paint so black you could almost see down deep inside it. Lots of chrome. A hundred or so lights. Leather saddle bags with lots of fringes. You know, it was beautiful!
When we "All Weather Riders" met in our clubhouse, Larry sometimes was there. I can't remember now what he worked at, but it must have paid like you wouldn't believe! He traveled all over, and when he could, it was on his "Hog" (as Harley riders affectionatly call their Bike).
But as I say, sometimes Larry was there at the club house with his beautiful dresser Harley. We all loved him. And could he tell tales! He must have known everyone across the country. He went to Daytona for the big races in the spring. He hit all the major events like Sturgis, Aspencade, you know. He had the money and he found the time. Did I mention he was about 6'4", 300 pounds? He worked out regularly and he was solid muscle. That's why we nicknamed him "Tiny."
But a time came when he started losing weight. He didn't think anything about it. But it kept on. Finally he went to the doctor. After some time and every test the doctor could think of, he was sent to the Veteran's Hospital in Pittsburgh.
It took the doctors there some time. But the word came: "Big C." Chemotherapy and radiation. Then the day of surgery. I don't know what all they removed or what they did. The head doctor said it: "Don't plan on anymore birthdays."
I wrote this poem about him.
Don't make any plans
Isn't that a bummer
coming from a
and part of April
in the hospital
I thought I was
healthy. But now
nausea and fatigue
lost 120 pounds.
Terminal - I don't like
the sound of that,
I want to get out!
out on the road!
the wind in my face!
But here I am
riding the bed
needles in my arm
an IV bag above
I think he had a wife, but I had never seen her. He was loaded up and sent back home. Home health nurses came out and did what they could for him. I can picture the IVs and the hospital bed. What can you do???
Many of the brothers went to see him. But the time was short and I did not get there. It was too late. "Big C" had struck him down - as it does so many.
This was all years ago. I thought I would never forget, but too many years, and I cannot remember the name of the funeral home. I can picture it in my mind. Yellow bricks and a big two story house. A beautiful sunshiny day. Larry lay in the casket, looking just like he was sleeping. Back then "gestapo uniforms" were all the rage, and he was dressed that way. Black shirt and tie, black trousers with white piping, and an American Flag draped in appropriate fashion. He was a veteran and received veteran's honors.
I expected Brother Ed Beeson [a Harley mechanic who preached for a store-front church in the inner city] to conduct the funeral. But it was some "Reverend" from one of the big churches in town. I don't know who arranged that. He did say a lot of good words, but you could tell he didn't know Larry or anything about him, or about motorcycle riders.
But the real story is the brothers (and sisters) who turned out for the funeral. The parking lot was full of motorcycles. I wore my best suit and tie, and rode my Harley KH-model. (a pre-Sportster if you didn't know.)
When the service was over, there was a long procession of brothers (and wives, etc.) following the hearse to the grave yard. This was one of the biggest funerals seen around there in years! I wish I had taken pictures and written down all the details about it. I just have a dim memory.
Was he a Christian? I don't know. But I am and so are thousands of others in the Christian Motorcyclist Association. Will we have bikes to ride in heaven? We will be so happy there that we won't even think about it! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!!