Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Paul Richardson: From grocery store kidnappings to motorcycle madness

(Paul Richardson's column The Horse That I Rode In On can be found on the Turner Report and in the Neosho Daily News and Seneca Post-Dispatch)

I have not always been a large man. In fact, I was very short and small upon arrival. My entire perspective of the world was from the position of being carried around. I had to be hauled everywhere as I couldn’t drive, actually I couldn’t even walk. It was a very embarrassing position to be in.

The non-ability to walk turned out to be a short-term imposition. Once that phase passed, I was freed from the constantly being carried position. However, it turned out that they still wouldn’t let me drive for several years. Throughout that time my perspective of the world was constantly and steadily changing.

The inability to drive was further frustrated by the constant kidnapping. These people would insist on my accompaniment to the most mundane of affairs.

Sure, I understood that they needed to go to town to get some groceries, but that was not my problem nor did I have the funds to make any purchases. Nevertheless, I had to go along.

At first I would need to accompany them into and through the market. Later, I was finally able to convince them to let me stay in the car.

With a little persuasion, the keys would be left and I could listen to the radio. Oh what a joy and a taste of freedom to listen to the major market stations out of Kansas City or in the evening hours Chicago or Little Rock.

I can still remember the call letters; WHB Kansas City, WLS Chicago or KAAY Little Rock. A few years later I also discovered that we could get the signal of WOAI San Antonio.

Those were the days of major market AM stations. Lots of power, lots of range. Neosho just wasn’t positioned in the corridor for Wolfman Jack’s pirate signal.

The restriction on driving intact, I still took advantage of the opportunity to secure the keys while others were making their appointed rounds. This was real me time. I never recall the radio being on while either of my adult kidnappers drove. So when I was allowed this one luxury, I indulged.

I distinctly recall one pre-Christmas Friday evening sitting in their Buick on the downtown square as they shopped. Pre-Christmas being the weeks after Thanksgiving prior to Christmas, but this incident was closer to Christmas. Snow was falling and I was bathed in the sounds of Smokey Robinson singing “Tears of A Clown”. What a great Christmas song!

Yes, you could leave your kids in the car in those days, without fear of problems. Although I was anxious to drive, I never once considered just taking off. I had the keys, I was in the car, they were elsewhere but upon their return I was still there and so was the car. In addition I never even once considered complaining to someone about the kidnapping situation.

Fortunately, as my perspective of the world changed I was able to discover other mechanical means by which I could travel despite their refusal to let me drive. The first magical means of transportation was the ever faithful bicycle.

My memories of my first bicycle was that it was just the standard model. When the era of the banana seats and high rise handlebars arrived I was destined to remain the owner of a standard model.

However, I was able to purchase a banana seat and high rise handlebars at one of the then existing hardware stores on the downtown square. The best I can recall there were two hardware stores on the square at that time, the big one on the north side later to be know as Johnson’s True Value and Erickson’s on the east side. I believe that the purchase was made at Johnson’s.

These were the days before I even aware of anything other than a single speed bicycle. But the transformation with the banana seat and high rise handlebars was magical.

A few years later both my sister and I received three-speed bikes. Hers was an English Racer and mine an Italian made bike. Both bikes had been the property of my uncle from whom my folks had purchased the bikes for Christmas presents. I don’t recall any significant songs connected to this particular holiday, however.

Somewhere in the mix of all this activity, along came a Cushman Super Silver Eagle. The first motorized transportation that I had access to. This little motorcycle unleashed a passion that has never waned. Because of this most of my perspective is from the saddle while being carried on two wheels with a motor between my knees.

How ironic that my beginning perspective and possibly my ending perspective are both from a position of being carried! So just bear with me as I bring you my perspective from the saddle of the Horse I Rode In On.

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