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GOING THE DISTANCE
"OPEN LETTER TO BEV & DAVE IN LONDON "
Photo by Genghis
ADMISSION CARD: My entry into the biker subculture in 1968 when I bought my Sportster.
Dear Bev & Dave:
The last time I spoke to you guys (actually Dave, I never got to speak to you---only to Bev and your father-in-law), was about 20 years ago. That was when I was writing for David Snow's late and great Iron Horse magazine. In a Going The Distance column then, I asked Iron Horse readers to help me to locate my old 1968 Harley-Davidson XLCH Sportster, "Sally The Bitch," vehicle Identification number 68XLCH10381. Lots of leads, false and well-intentioned came streaming into the Iron Horse offices in lower Manhattan, by IH readers who scoured the vehicular records of their locales, using Sally's VIN number as an identifier. However, only one proved to be the correct one. I learned about this accurate lead one day, when David Snow called me at work:
"Hey Scott! Guess what? A chick called me and said that her old man owns Sally now. Yeah, he's got her. Guess where she was callin' from? London! Ain't that a trip? Her name is Bev. Listen, here's their number in London. Give 'em a call---but don't charge the call to the magazine."
Because we lost contact 20 years ago, I never got to tell you the backstory about how you came to own my old Sportster. I hope that she's still in your hands, and that there must be at least one biker friend of yours in Merrie Old England, that reads my articles online---who will contact you, so that we can finally connect. I'm anxious to ask you about my beloved Sally The Bitch. I still miss the old girl. In any case, here is that backstory I promised:
In 1985, I was financially able to move on to my beloved Shovelhead, Mabel. As you probably know from my writing over the years, I'd been coveting a Shovel for years while I rode Sally The Bitch. After I finally scored Mabel in '85, I had two motorcycles to keep stored, which I couldn't afford to do. While my Shovelhead, Mabel was with me in lower Manhattan where I live---I just couldn't swing paying to keep Sally in the garage where I kept Mabel. Keeping a motorcycle parked on the streets was out of the question, as far as I was concerned. Too many ripoffs happen that way, man. Thankfully, my mother agreed to let me keep Sally in her Chinese laundry in Queens (Queens is a different borough of New York City---NYC consists of five boroughs---Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and The Bronx). This was agreeable to my (now your) Sportster, because that laundry was where Sally grew up.
The problem arose when my mother began developing Alzheimer's symptoms in the early '90s. Up until that time, she was able to keep her business going (which she'd been doing all by herself since Pop passed way in the early '70s). There came a point where my family had to seriously consider closing my mother's laundry, and selling her building---and moving Mom to a small apartment. Mom's building was a three story structure in Jackson Heights in Queens that my parents bought in the 1930s. Part of the preparation for the closing of Mom's business and the selling of our family house ("house" is used generically in New York City for any home, whether it's an apartment or actual house), was finding a new home for Sally The Bitch.
Because I saw Sally as a family heirloom, my original plan was to give her to my son, Mike. I desperately wanted to keep her in the family. Unfortunately, the impending dissolution of our family home as ours, forced me to alter this plan for Sally. Other considerations were, that my son had never developed an interest in Harleys, and even if he did---he was unable at that time in his life, to take Sally on. Mike was away at college at that point. Because of the confluence of the events I cited, I decided to give Sally to my father-in-law, Orazio "Chick" Cicchinelli.
I did this, believing that Chick would keep her. Chick's a biker, and appreciates Harleys. At the time I had to get Sally out of Mom's laundry, Chick and Patty's mom, Joyce, lived in North Hollywood, California. I contracted a trucking company to transport Sally out to Chick, and I must admit---I felt melancholy as I watched the movers wheeling Sally into the truck. That was the last time I laid eyes on her.
Chick enjoyed Sally in the warm California sunshine for awhile, but he eventually got to craving a Big Twin again. Regrettably, he traded Sally in at an independent bike shop, for a Harley FLT. Here's where Sally The Bitch became a cold case to me. After the shop acquired Sally, I lost track of where she'd gone. Then came my inquiry in Iron Horse to readers about Sally's whereabouts, and finally, your call to Snow at the Iron Horse offices, Bev.
Bev, as you know, the phone number you left with Snow, was your father's number in London---because you and your husband Dave didn't have a telephone in your home. When I called your father (who was very considerate), he said that he'd arrange to have you call me at my office number. I do thank you for calling me, and filling me in on how Sally was doing in yours and Dave's hands. I was gladdened to hear that Sally was running well, and seemed to have adapted well to her new surroundings. Frankly, I was comforted. The last time we talked, you told me that you'd have your husband call me, so that we could collaborate on an article about Sally's being in England, with photos of her in her then current state of beauteousness. The problem was, Dave never called me.
To friends of Bev and Dave in England---if you happen to be reading this---please ask Bev and Dave to contact me. Bev and Dave, if you hear from any of your biker buds about this open letter, or if you're reading this open letter yourselves, please contact me at my Facebook page:
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Scott "Genghis" Wong