Shoe Column: Shoe’s Motorcycle
By Tim “Shoe” Sullivan
The year was 1966. I was a senior at Pacelli High in Stevens Point, and I was working at Northside IGA (it later burned down). My fellow workers Don Shannon and Don Wiczek did something pretty nifty that summer of ‘66. They both went out and bought new motorcycles.
So of course I just had to have one. Called Bring’s in Rapids and ordered my very first (and only) motorcycle. It was a 1966 Super Sport 65 Honda. Set me back about $300 as I recall. Pretty sure they delivered it right to the house.
Like any kid, I had no problem riding a bicycle. So operating my brand new Honda 65 couldn’t be too difficult, right? Well, I was about to find out.
By the way, you only needed a “temporary” license to legally ride it. I didn’t get a regular automobile license until I was 35.
So, a day later, time for my first “road trip.” Took about fifteen minutes figuring out how to start the thing. Hopped on it and slowly drove down the neighbor Rossier’s driveway. Took about ten minutes to cover maybe twenty yards.
I was now on Brawley Street, a street with almost no traffic. Made it all the way to the corner of Elk and Brawley. Time for my first big turn onto Elk.
As soon as I got onto Elk, my plan was to keep going north. That didn’t work out very well.
On the turn, my beautiful Honda 65 had other ideas. It headed straight EAST! Went up the curb, with me still on it, continued over the sidewalk, and rammed against Tommy Jensen’s 3-foot stone wall. I went airborne and landed smack dab into Jensen’s bushes behind that wall. I wasn’t hurt, and neither was the spinning cycle, but this was not a good start. Wasn’t quite ready to join the Hell’s Angels yet.
Definitely needed some work on the driving technique. The thing is, my Honda had something called a “clutch,” and something else called “gears.” That was news to me, and they turned out to be problematic. I can safely say that I never got out of first gear.
A month later, the time had come for my first “real” road trip. The target was Park Ridge, maybe two miles from home. The neighborhood around Iverson Park was my goal. And remember, back in 1966, Park Ridge was like the Wild West. Lots of dirt roads. No sidewalks as I recall.
It probably took an hour for a normal ten-minute ride, but I made it into the Iverson neighborhood. Problem was, I couldn’t seem to stay on the road. I would drive on people’s lawns, just miss mailboxes, and really didn’t have a clue.
And then the cop came. A Park Ridge cop??? He said: “Son, turn that thing off! You don’t know what the heck you’re doing!”
I totally agreed. He said: “I’m sorry, but I gotta write you a ticket.” I said: “Oh. What’s a ticket?”
He politely said: “Son, we have a magistrate here in Park Ridge. He’s like our judge. You will have to go to his house which is our “court” and probably have to pay a $3.00 fine for dumb driving.”
Yikes! This was the big time now. The next morning, I jumped onto the Honda and somehow found the judge’s house. Knocked on his front door. The judge answered. A nice older guy. I explained why I was there. He brought me into his office and even put his black robe on.
Court was now in session.
I was sweating bullets and tried to explain why I was driving on everybody’s front yards. To my great surprise, he said: “Well, I understand what you’re saying, Timothy, and I’m gonna cut you a break. You don’t have to pay any fine.”
Elation! As I was going out his front door, happy as hell, he suddenly said: “By the way, how did you get here?” I answered: “I rode my Honda.”
He said: “Oh. Where did you park it?”
I replied: “Right on your front lawn.”
He hauled me back in and made me fork over three bucks.
Man, I tell ya, that cycle was something else. One day I took it to Northside IGA. My buddies were admiring it. Then Ray came over. He worked at the store and tipped the Toledos at well in excess of 300 pounds. Ray considered my cycle to be a mere toy.
He got on, revved it up, popped the clutch, and went flying, just like I did in Jensen’s bushes! We picked up the cycle, and then the three of us picked up Ray.
We all got our Hondas 63 years after Harley and Davidson came along. Drove it to Sunset Lake. Once. Took forever to get there. Then it overheated. Later on, I almost ended up WALKING it back to Point and almost stepped on a snake on the highway.
Rode that baby for twenty years. Put 8000 miles on it. Paid about $1.29 for gas a whole summer.
Then time caught up with it. The seat fell apart. Down to metal. Put a rug on it. The clutch broke (not that I used it anyways). Totally somehow blew out 2nd gear. The horn stopped working. Tires went flat.
So, in 1985, it found a home in my basement.
It sat down there for 34 years. Then some guys got it going again! Somehow. Brand new seat. New everything. The lights even work. Starts right up. Drove it around the Lincoln School parking lot last fall.
So you think I’m ready to take another crack at Park Ridge?