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Lois Tannehill was the typical wife and mother who raised a family, kept house, and sang in the Bellflower Choir. But when her husband bought a motorcycle, she was ready for adventures on the road. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns
In 1979 my husband Frank bought an 850 Yamaha Motorcycle to drive to work. He was 54 years of age and figured he could economize on gasoline. The first thing he bought for it was a faring, or windshield, and crash bars. It had a buddy seat.
The first time I rode with him we had an incident as we were getting on the 710 Freeway going north at the Imperial entrance. Frank felt the incident would frighten me and I wouldn’t want to ride with him again.
A car was coming up behind us fast just as we were entering the freeway. My husband saw the car and he increased his speed so it just bumped our bike. We stopped and so did the two young men in the car, asking us if we were alright.
Frank said, “We’re OK, but the motorcycle will not start.” The young men said they would go for help and left. Soon Frank got the bike started, and there didn’t appear to be any damage.
We had gotten the license number of their car, and as we drove we spotted a Highway Patrol officer. We stopped him to explain what happened, and he was able to find out their address. The car was in the driveway when we drove by the house, and we don’t believe they went for help as they said they would. This just made me mad, and it didn’t stop me from riding with Frank.
We took many rides on that motorcycle. We bought luggage, a radio cassette player, and a receiver mounted in our helmets. The control was on the dash so we could communicate with each other without shouting.
On some of our long trips we might have a disagreement. So Frank, being in control of the communication system, would turn it off and we would ride in silence. Sometimes when we didn’t talk for a while, I would doze off. Frank knew when that happened because my helmet would hit his helmet.
We would ride about one hundred miles before stopping to stretch our legs and maybe have coffee or something to eat. If it was a hot day like one hundred degrees, we would remove our helmets because the heat was too intense.
Our first longer trip was to Orangevale near Sacramento to visit our dear friends the Crosby’s, who moved there from their home in South Gate. They didn’t believe we came that far on our motorcycle. They thought we hauled it with our station wagon, which we probably left around the corner.
We took a three thousand mile trip up the coast to Washington, then across to Montana through Idaho, and then back through Wyoming, Utah and Arizona. Arizona is where we got into one hundred degree weather at eight o’clock in the morning.
On a motorcycle a person can see more things than riding in a car. You can smell more smells, some pleasant and some not so pleasant.
We were fair weather riders. If it started to rain, we would pull into a restaurant or somewhere to get out of the rain. When the wind blew hard we would have to increase our speed or we would get bounced from one lane to the other.
I really miss those times. When my husband passed away, I would inquire of friends I knew who had motorcycles if I could get a ride. Most did not have an extra helmet because their wives did not care to ride. I should have kept my helmet.
Frank was a safe driver, although when he drove very fast I wanted him to slow down. After all, we only had two tires instead of four as on the car.
My husband introduced me to so many wonderful experiences. We had a wonderful eight years with the motorcycle before we had to stop riding it.
Published: April 3, 2014 – Volume 12 – Issue 51