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Friday, February 24, 2012

"It's Not a Big Motorcycle..." Continued

I dropped her off at the resort, and rode my Honda to my girlfriend's house. She was sitting on on the picnic table on the West side of the house. I tried to talk to her and explain that I was only friends with the girl I was giving a ride, but she had no response and handed me back my initial ring. I could see no point in trying to talk to her any longer. I got on my Honda and headed back to the lake.
I was feeling kind of low as I wheeled down the resort driveway. I pulled up to the cable that was strung from post to post and designated the parking area. I just sat there on my Honda with my head hanging low. I had lost my beautiful girlfriend. "Oh Roger! I am so sorry! It's all my fault. I didn't mean to cause you and your girlfriend to break up." Standing in front of my motorcycyle stood the girl from Texas.
"If you'd like, I'll go with you?" she said.
With a shocked look on my face and feeling a bit puzzled, I answered her, "You would?!"
She moved in closer, with one leg on each side of my front tire and placing her hands on my handlebars. She smiled and said, "Sure I would!"
I had been dreaming of this moment since first meeting her as young children, but I had convinced myself that we would be better off to just remain the very good friends we were. I had convinced myself that if we ever developed a romantic relationship at some point we would break up and I would not only lose her as a girlfriend, but as one of my best friends as well. It just wasn't worth the risk. And yet, here she stood in front of me offering to go steady, and I found it impossible to refuse. I took my initial ring off my finger and handed it to her.
I was still young and very inexperienced. These were my first two girlfriends I had ever been involved with, and I was very wet behind the ears. While handing her my ring I questioned her again while questioning myself.
"You would?!" I answered with a surprised voice.
"Sure I would!" She responded with an excited, reassuring voice.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"It's not a Big Motorcycle, it's a Groovy Little Motorbike"

    On occasion me and my Honda slipt passed my girlfriend's house and down to Lacey Lake's Resort. I had to know if my Texas girl was back yet. After making several trips there and sitting on a picnic table for a while, at long last, one day as I sit on the table, I saw her come out of her family's mobile home. When she saw me there, she smiled and hollered, "Roger!"
    We spent a while catching up on the past months. Then she noticed my motorcycle sitting where I used to park my English bike. "Is that your motorcycle?!" She asked.
    "That's my Honda! Would you like to go for a ride on it?"
    "I don't know." She responded. "My Mother would have a fit!"
    "Well, it's up to you." I replied.
    She thought for a minute and then said, "I guess it wouldn't hurt to go for a ride this one time."
    I pulled the back foot pegs down into position and she climbed on. She wrapped her arms around me and I carefully drove up the resort drive. I didn't want her first ride to frighten her. When we reached the road, I turned right and we rode to the stop sign at the cross road. I made a right turn, and much to my surprise, walking in the road ahead of us was my girlfriend walking with a neighbor girl. I pulled up beside her and tried to talk to her. She looked straight ahead while ignoring me. After a couple of minutes I drove on.
     We went around a curve in the road and past a small house. I noticed a big, black, dog crouched down in an attack position. As the dog began charging at us I twisted the throttle to speed up. It was a small motorcycle with two people on it up against a very fast dog. I was picking up speed, but the dog was gaining on us while growling, snarling, and barking! In those days there was no helmet law and I had no helmets, nor turn signals. Safety was up to the driver.  As my rider screamed and began climbing my back, the dog was biting my legs and ankles. It became increasingly difficult to maintain balance and control, especially as I was being used as a human ladder. As she screamed, she managed to wrap her legs around my neck. We must have looked like a Circus Act with no circus, or prior practice! We finally managed to out-run the dog and by nothing short of a miracle, I managed to regain control of the motorbike as she climbed down and back onto the seat. I stopped for a minute while we gathered our thoughts. "Well we can't go back the way we came, or we would surely be attacked by the big, black, dog.That meant we'd have to take the long way back. All I could think of was, what else could go wrong. We had to go about seven or eight miles out of our way to come back around to the Resort drive.
    When we pulled up to the parking area, she climbed off and said, "You'd better go see your girl friend. She didn't look or act very happy when she saw me on the back of your Honda."
    "I think you're right." I replied. "I guess I'd better get going."
    I wasn't gone long when I returned to the resort parking lot. My Texas girl could sense things didn't go well.
      

Saturday, February 18, 2012

1966...

    From 1962 to 1966 I matured from a twelve year old boy into a sixteen year old teenager. I still thought a lot of my girl from Texas, but I began to realize she lived so far away and 3/4 of each year was spent in Texas. I also realized how much I thought of her as a very, very good friend, and the distance between us kept it from ever developing into anything else. People tend to become attached to those they are near to daily. I would always have a place in my heart reserved for her, but as my love life matured I would move on.
    By the Spring of 1966 I was the proud owner of a small motorcycle, a Honda S 90. Plus, I was going with a beautiful, young, girl that only lived about half a mile from Lacey Lake's Resort drive. I seldom made it to the lake that early Spring. My Honda seemed to have a mind of its own. When it reached my girlfriend's driveway, it automatically turned in. I was still very backward and shy in the field of Love. As I said before, my parents never hugged us, kissed us, or used the Love word.
    Everyday my girlfriend and I spent the afternoon sitting on the couch together, holding hands, and watching Soap Operas. I guess you could say I was the worlds worst boyfriend. We never kissed. We never hugged. We just held hands and watched Soap Operas day after day after day.   

Monday, February 13, 2012

Back to Lacey Lake Again, and Again, and Again

    Sometimes I would go to the lake four or five days in a row, but when Dad needed me to cultivate corn, bale hay, fix fence, or combine wheat and oats, I was forced to stay and farm. Mom would tell me, "You don't need to be going to that lake every day when you're needed right here!"
     When I finally did get to go back to the lake, my Texas girl would say, "Roger, where've you been?"
And I always replied the same, "Oh, I've been around."
     I didn't know how to swim. In fact, no one in my family knew how to swim. The girls swam like fish in the water, and didn't hesitate to go into deeper water where it was over their heads. In the mean time I would only go out where the water was waste deep. One day another guy came swimming and was out in the deeper water with them. I couldn't stand it, so I made up my mind it was swim or drowned trying. Fortunately, I found it to be quite easy once I had gotten over the initial fear of it all.
    I spent every day I could at the lake, but  soon enough the summer days were over, and my Texas girl and her family had to return to Texas. This is how it was for the next few years. She would be gone all winter and I never knew for sure if she would ever return. I missed her dearly!
     It was my sixteenth year, and after much begging and teasing, plus, my parents figured I had earned it, they bought me a small motorcycle. I loved it! It was a Honda Super 90, It was 90 c.c., 8 h.p. and supposedly had a top speed of 65 miles per hour. I suppose riding my bicycle to the lake and all the swimming was better for strengthening my legs, and they were much stronger, but my Honda was much more fun!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lazy Days at Lacey

    I was eager to return to Lacey Lake, but found it to be a bit more difficult than expected. It was early summer. Dad and I had been up since 7:00 a.m. The corn was several inches out of the ground and the weeds were beginning to take over, so it was time to cultivate. In those days we didn't use herbicides to spray and kill the weeds. Cultivating was a much slower and lengthy task. We had to mount the cultivators onto the tractor so they could rip the weeds out of the ground around the corn. The corn was very small so shields had to be attached on each side of the corn to keep from ripping it out, or burying it with dirt.
     It was a beautiful summer's day. I asked my parents if I could ride my bike to the lake, but they had other plans for me. It was a perfect day for cultivating, and Dad had to leave for work by 2:30 p.m. That left me to cultivate. I looked out at the nearly 30 acre field of corn, and seeing how small it was, I knew I would only be traveling about two miles an hour. That meant I would be out there until dark and still wouldn't finish it that day.
     I wanted to return to the lake so badly that my insides ached with anticipation as the tractor crawled and I was unable to take my eyes off the row of corn for even a second or it would stray one way or the other and rip out the very small, delicate stalks of corn. By the next afternoon I had finished the field and gotten permission to go to the lake. I peddled my bicycle as fast as I could go.
    As I reached the parking lot, I seen the girl from Texas and another girl walking along the lakeshore. When they saw me, they smiled and waved. It wasn't long after that the three of us were sitting along the narrow beach, soaking up the sunshine and talking.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

David's Straw Pile

     One beautiful, Michigan, summer's day, David and I decided to walk  down the road to Howard's barn. It was a big old barn that was on his eighty acre farm. He lived a couple miles North of there at his other farm and used this as a sheep barn with a large pasture for the flock. The barn had a hip roof, which  was common in those parts and was considered a basement barn. You could drive a tractor in one side and the door on the other side was a story above the ground.
    We were exploring the old barn when David noticed the door was open on the other side. He walked over to investigate and looked down. Much to his delight, he spotted a large pile of straw. "Come on! Let's jump down into it!"
     As always, David was the Leader. "Ok David. You go first."
      With a large smile on his face and a loud yell, he took a flying leap! Unfortunately, what had appeared to be a large pile of straw from above was in truth a large pile of hardened sheep manure that Howard had stacked while cleaning  out of the barn. When David landed, his right knee came up and bashed him in the nose causing it to bleed profusely. I think probably he broke it. He cried the whole entire half mile walk home. And once again, I sauntered off in search of another Leader.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

PRAISE VS. LOVE

    Although my parents were good people, they had a few strange ways about them. Mom was very frugal and put a value on everything from empty egg cartons to empty, plastic, gallon, milk jugs. I think these ways dated back to her being raised in the Depression Era. And Dad was a hard working farmer who believed in always making a profit, but seldom invested in new equipment, or ways to simplify his work, and mine. He didn't have water run to the barn until after I had left home. Even in the dead of winter, I'd have to string out several water hoses from the basement door down to the cow tanks and water the cattle, and carry pails of water to the cows with calves in stalls in  the back of the barn. Dad worked the three to eleven shift at the factory in town, making it my job to do the evening chores. Dad also owned a farm about a mile and a half North of ours. It had a newer barn that he'd keep half the herd of cattle at in the winter. He never had a well drilled there, so I'd fill nine milk cans with water in the back of an old 53 Chevy pickup and though I was only twelve, I'd drive it there, back up to the barn door, and dump the heavy cans of water over the gate and into half barrels. Sometimes I'd have to make several trips.  Plus, all the animals had to be fed and bedded down. I always said, "I wasn't Amish, but I was raised Amish!"
    My parents had a strange viewpoint on love. The word was never mentioned in our home. I know this greatly effected myself, and I'm sure it had the same effect on my brother and sisters. Mom often said,"She couldn't stand people that were always hugging, kissing, and slobbering all over their kids."
     As a replacement to love and those acts of love, my parents used praise. My brother, sisters, and I would strive to please my parents to get this praise. Myself, I would work like a man to please my father.That is, until I discovered girls. Then pleasing my father and mother somehow didn't seem quite as important to me. It wasn't until years later that my mother was on her death bed that she looked at me and in an uneasy voice said, "I love you, Roger."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lacey Lake

     ""It was the summer of 1962. I was nearly 12 1/2 years old and felt strange things happening to me. At last I could ride my new, lightweight, 3 speed, English bicycle with limited effort, making it easier to peddle to Lacey Lake's Resort. The four mile ride there, and the four mile ride home was good exercise for my legs. It was early summer as I coasted down the hill to the parking area at the Resort. I parked my bike and walked over to sit on one of the picnic tables.
    At first, there didn't seem to be anyone around. It was a small, back roads, Michigan lake with a house built close to the water that had a small store built on the lakeside. It was a small resort with several picnic tables, an old bathhouse close to the narrow beach. I heard the store's screen door slam and looked up to see a beautiful young girl leaving the store. She looked over at me, smiled, and with a sweet, Texas accent said, "Hi. How y'all doing?"
    It was at that very instant that I realized I was no longer going to be quite the dedicated farm boy to my dad I had been in the past. My mind did a flip from tractors to girls. She was so cute, and had the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. Plus, the sexiest accent I had ever heard! "I'm doing great!" I responded. "Do you live around here?"
    "We live in Texas. We only come up for the summer. It's a lot cooler here than Texas summers.  I'm staying over there in my grandparent's mobile home. Do you live around here?"
    "I live on a farm a couple of roads from here. Maybe we'll see more of each other this summer. I come here swimming quite often."    

THE LEADER

                                                                         
    One summer day I decided to walk across the road to David's Grandparent's house and see what he was doing. He saw me coming across the road and came out to greet me. David was a born leader. As for me, I chose to be a follower. He noticed his Grandpa had been painting on the side of the house and had left the ladder leaning up against it. "Let's go up on the roof!" He excitedly proclaimed.
    "Ok David. You go first." I replied.
    So David climbed the ladder to the roof. It was a two story house with a high pitched roof. Then I joined him. The pitch of the roof made it hard to hang on. We carefully made our way to the peek. Let's play 'Rip Chord." David announced as his eyes lit up. (Rip Chord was a popular t.v. show of the times where two guys would parchute out of airplanes while hollering, "Rip Chord, Cut!")
I feared my skinny legs would snap like toothpicks if I were to jump off the roof. David was a solid, muscular boy with stout legs. I said, "Ok David, you go first." After all, he was the leader.
    He took a flying leap off the roof while hollering, "Rip Chord, Cut!"
   And when he broke his arm, I took the ladder down. I watched as his grandparents loaded him in the car and raced off toward the hospital. Meanwhile,  I sauntered off in search of another Leader.