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Henry Custer

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The Ride
By Henry Custer
Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Rated "G" by the Author.

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My first Motorcycle ride; meaning and lasting effects.

  In the hills of northeastern Oklahoma in 1935 the sight and sound of an old Harley going down the newly oiled dirt road was very exciting to a six year old boy.
Nearly every day while waiting for the school bus with several other kids this 'MOTOR', as they were called in those days, came roaring by.
The boys would all stick out their thumb as if hitch hiking. The rider would wave and smile but always kept going. We knew he wouldn't stop but it was fun and became a daily routine.
Then one day for some unknown reason I found myself waiting all alone for the bus. I heard the bike coming and without the support of my comrades, I turned my back and was nonchalantly cracking a pecan.
PANIC! He stopped. He just smiled and asked,
"Want a ride to school?" Trying not to show any fear I said "Sure." He told me to climb aboard and hang on.
I didn't know this guy from Adam and had only ridden in a car a couple of times in my young life, plus the school bus of course. Needless to say I was very scared but climbed onto the big buddy seat behind him. I know, I should have 'just said no' but in those days saying no to any adult was unheard of.
Anyway we rode very slow and sensible the seven miles to school. Dropping me off with a smile he shook my hand saying "I'm Charlie." I told him my name was Henry and he says, "You must be Jesse's boy." I nodded and ran off to school still nervous from the experience but not scared anymore.
That night Dad chastised me for riding the 'motor' but he knew Charlie from a job they had worked on. Then he told me about Charlie's older brother Frank, who was killed the previous year when his motor hit a telephone pole. I didn't know Frank but with a boy's morbid curiosity the next Sunday I walked three miles to Bethel Union to see the telephone pole where they say Frank "busted his head open".
Every school morning thereafter we all stuck out our thumbs as Charlie came roaring by and waved to us. I was always disappointed that he didn't stop. Somehow I expected to get another ride. I don't think the other kids ever believed he had given me a ride.
It was about that time that I knew that someday, some way, I'd own one of those machines.
At the age of fifteen my dream came true in the form of an old 45CID flathead hardtail Harley. But that's another story. :-)
I've ridden most of the time since then thanks to Charlie, who didn't try to impress me or scare me but instead left me with a positive, enjoyable riding experience.
Some twenty years later I got to know Charlie personally. He was still riding to work everyday and I was so glad to have the opportunity to thank him for that first and most important ride.
Now when on a rare occasion I haul a new passenger I try to be extra careful to leave the same impression I was so lucky to get from my first ride.
Charlie is no longer with us but I'm still grateful for that fifteen minute ride that will forever live in my memory and that set me on a lifetime of adventures that just gets better every year!

Copyright © 1999 by William H. Custer. All rights reserved.


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Reviewed by Divinity 11 1/8/2004
so well written and very enjoyable...

your use of words wraps the reader like a warm blanket
Reviewed by Dave C. 10/24/2002
It reminds me of my first ride with my older brother.
Reviewed by tony ball 5/28/2002
I remember this story Henry! Thanks for sharing it around the campfire and in print xoxoxo
Reviewed by Sandie Angel 5/20/2002
Very enjoyable write. Sometimes we'll never know what a stranger can inspire us in a certain way which makes a difference in our life.

Sandie Angel :o)
Reviewed by Lynn Barry 5/11/2002
A feel good vignette...nice job!
Reviewed by Kate Clifford 5/10/2002
I enjoyed this story and could feel your excitement as you got on the bike.
Reviewed by Shirley 4/29/2002
A very touching story Henry and kept my interest all the way. Can't wait to get you book that is being published to come out.
Reviewed by Sid 4/27/2002
I though you “motorcycle people” were tough, insensitive and loners, boy was I wrong! Nice story.
Reviewed by Karen 4/27/2002
This story brought a tear to my eye. As I was reading it I could hear your voice the the inflection that you put into your stories.
Reviewed by Roger Cornelius 4/26/2002
1 point off for a typo:( When are you going
to publish that "other" story about the first


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Henry Custer

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