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A Piperguy48 Production
These fellows that I’ve known for the past 40+ years are a remarkable group. Most of us gathered together in high school sharing the common bond of motorcycles, all except me. I was always the one sitting on the back, hanging on to the seat strap for dear life. I don’t know why they put up with me. Could be because I played tenor sax in a local R&B group and got to do some club dates…. pretty exotic stuff.
At that time, a big bike was anything over 100 cc’s so most of them started out on little red Hondas or black Yamahas. I can remember some other extraordinary bikes that can along later; a Suzuki X6 Hustler (500 cc’s of twin-cylinder screaming suicide); a Triumph Lightning; a Ducati 160 with a bark far worse than its bite; a black and chrome ( BSA?) Commando or maybe it was an Enfield. The big advantage was that the school would let you park on the lot but they frowned on cars. It was always a big plus with the girls to get a ride home, books tucked under one arm, skirts hiked up & hair flying in the breeze (no helmets required then). The other advantage to these little screamers was mountains of torque, not from the engine, but from the gearing. Hill climbing in the local park was a regular roulette game with these guys where bike and rider spent more time flying in opposite directions than they did together. One fellow could stand his Honda 50cc step-thru on the back wheel for over 100 ft. Anyway, they always let me tag along, probably because they knew they were always welcome at my folk’s home. They got fed there, drank my Dad’s beer, and always had a garage to hide the wheels when the local constabulary was looking for the noisy delinquents. We survived some very dangerous times, as anyone who understands the meaning of D & S & R&R will know. The sixty’s were sincerely crazy and wickedly delicious times.
We drifted away for a while. Got married, had kids, pursued careers, all the usual stuff that happens between the good old days and now. Some did exceedingly well and others managed OK, but we survived. Significant birthdays came along. 30, 40, and now the inevitable round of ’50s is upon us. About 10 years ago one of the crew offered his cottage for a weekend getaway, just the guys. I think he may have had me in mind as my father had just given up the fight with cancer and I needed something else to focus on. October on a small lake near Georgian Bay did wonderful things for me. I was among friends where I didn’t have to pretend about anything. And the strangest thing of all was that it seemed as if there were no years at all between those high school days and the present. We rarely talked about family or work. The conversations just picked up where they left off 10 years before. And it has been that way ever since. You could cut out the intervening 6 months and not be able to tell where one weekend left off and the next began. We caught a few out-of-season fish, drank more beer than was wise, and reminded ourselves what a hell of a good time we’ve had.
And that’s where it all began.
Last Friday I picked up one friend, met another along the way who took over the driving and headed for the marina at Parry Sound. Two others met us thereafter an unprofitable 2 hours at Casino Rama and we loaded the gear aboard the host’s 20 ft. Grew inboard sterndrive. His wife’s family had owned a 10-acre island in Georgian Bay that a grandfather had bought in 1919 for the sum of $20 / acre plus a $20 survey fee, that’s $200 for a piece of property that today is likely valued over $1.5 m. Not bad. He got sick of the family squabbles over the island, so he bought them all out. After a 20 min. ride, we docked at a scene that was worthy of A. Y. Jackson; Canadian Shield granite, Georgian Bay water, and grotesquely twisted pines. We unpacked and got down to the serious business that had brought us there. It started out seeming endless and it was over in a flash.
There was a roaring fire by the lake (cigars and bottles well in hand) until 3 am, trolling remote bays in one of several small boats looking for that legendary muskie (he’s still legendary) and getting on with the business of being friends. We went on a cruise of some of the islands that made the average working guy realize his station in life. “Those 3 islands over there are owned by the Eaton family and run an average of $2-3 million each.” HUH? Their boathouses were bigger than my place. The fuel their boats used to get them there would run my car & van for a year. I had made up booklets of scanned photos from the trip last fall & handed them out. I had drawn up a very official charter for our group that christened us the
Distinguished Order of Royal Kindred Spirits
It took a while for them to realize that I had just labelled us all DORKS but they accepted the title after I pointed out to them some of the stupid things we had done over the years and gotten away with, usually with only minor injuries.
It was a very therapeutic weekend. We get so wrapped up in the here-and-now that we forget there ever was a there-and-then when things were a little simpler, the signposts clearer, there was more hair on our heads, more healthy cells in our livers, and fewer inches round our middles. A mindboggling thunderstorm on Saturday night gave way to 90km winds and 3 ft waves on Sunday and there was the slightest glimmer of hope that we might be forced to stay for another day. But it eased off enough to let us pack the boat and arrive back at the marina by 2 pm. The trip home was quiet as our minds nursed more than just fond memories. There seemed to be a small but nagging ache behind the eyes. We saw evidence of tornado damage by the highway, signs twisted and old barns flattened. It wasn’t til we got home that we learned of the twister threat.
And just to prove that we haven’t learned our lesson, the plans have been made for the next gathering of the DORKS in October.