Every now and then, a scene—an observation–brings a big smile to my face. This morning was one of those as I drove through town to meet friends for coffee.
The school bus was coming towards me, and slowing down. I assumed it was going to stop to pick up a student. I slowed also with plenty of clearance to the bus. First the flashers came on, then the red flashers and stop sign extended out from the side. I rolled to a stop and looked for children.
Out of a car parked on the side street stepped a school girl, maybe 7-years old. Maybe 8. She had a pink backpack and was wearing a pink mask. She ran towards the bus, arms waving in the air as if to say “hi” to someone or everyone on the bus. She behaved absolutely joyful to be getting on the bus and seeing friends.
It brought a big smile to my face. The innocence of kids. The joy of seeing friends or going to school. Absolutely magical.
The bus flashing lights turned off. The stop sign rolled back to the side of the bus, and it began to roll. I waved to the bus driver. She waved back.
I have never seen anything like this. My wife can be walking along at a fairly fast clip, and she will stop, bend over and pick up a four-leaf clover. Amazing.
On a recent walk, the same thing happens, and I turn on the recorder. “How do you do it?” She puts the clover into her blouse like a flower or corsage.
I try to capture the moment with a photo, but we go into this dance like two birds spiraling around each other, flirting, yet not. In the blur of a moment, I capture the spin, her big smile and the prize adorning her top.
As in the past, she claims she does not know how she spots them, but I think she is keeping her secret to herself. As we find four-leaf clovers on our walks, we’ve been known to give them to passing neighbors or strangers. It always makes them smile. They feel lucky.
When I learned Melissa Holbrook Pierson was attending the Moto Guzzi National Rally, I set out to see if I could arrange an interview.
Pierson is the author of The Perfect Vehicle, and her most recent book, The Man Who would Stop at Nothing. She has also written two non-motorcycling books. The Perfect Vehicle is about her start into motorcycling, finding and buying a Moto Guzzi. The latest book, The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing, is about her mentor, a long distance rider. The Perfect Vehicle is one of the first motorcycling books I purchased. It’s a good read, and I am re-reading it … again!
In the morning, we found a quiet place to talk about her books and travels.
Frank rolled in a little late Thursday evening, and started to set up his tent in our “neighborhood.” I could tell right away, Frank was someone I wanted to talk with.
At age 75, Frank rode from his home in the other Buena Vista—Buena Vista, Colorado—to the rally, riding through Kansas with the temperature at 107 degrees. Even the youngest of riders hesitate in those kind of temperatures. But, here was Frank, safely arrived, telling stories and setting up his tent in the twilight of evening.
The next morning, I grabbed Frank’s attention and invited him to our table. The others didn’t seem interested in our conversation, preferring chats about horsepower and legendary rides, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Frank’s legendary stories.
He bought his first Moto Guzzi in 1967. “That’s when they came out with this new V-twin engine sitting sideways. I thought it interesting and took a chance on it. I’ve been riding Guzzis ever since.” An engineer, he decided that first Guzzi needed better carburetors and fitted a pair of carbs off a Honda 450. After years of working at various institutions, including M.I.T., he retired from Boeing, and eventually settled in Buena Vista, Colorado—a place I have been to many times, including four rafting trips down the Arkansas River.
Frank said he rides about 20,000 miles a year and attends several rallies. But, he never wins the “oldest rider” award. He says there’s always someone local who rolls their Motto Guzzi out of the moth balls to ride to the rally, a couple of miles away, and win the oldest rider award. “We ought to have some kind of formula taking age and miles into consideration.” Sooner or later, I think Frank is going to win.
Out of 316 attendees at the Guzzi rally, why did I choose to write about Frank? Well, he was interesting. And, maybe it’s my own age that notices younger men and women tend not to pay attention to seniors—in Frank’s case, dismissing him as an old man on a motorcycle. But, under that façade is a lifetime of experience. Having conducted dozens of interviews with seniors—many of them WWII Veterans—I have found some fascinating stories. Frank was a joy to meet and talk with, and I hope to meet up with him again. Maybe at another Guzzi rally? Maybe in Colorado.
Coming up next: an interview with Melissa Holbrook Pierson, author of The Perfect Vehicle and the Man Who Would Stop at Nothing.