Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Paul Richardson: The real steel horse

(Paul Richardson's column, The Horse I Rode In On, is published weekly in the Neosho Daily News, Seneca News-Dispatch and on the Turner Report.)

It all may have started on the day of my birth but there are times in our lives where a rebirth may occur. 

Fifty-one years ago, in June a rebirth happened. I had a job at a dairy located a little over a mile from my parents’ home. Glenn Cole owned the dairy and he had hired me at the phenomenal rate of fifty cents per day to come the dairy each morning and evening at approximately the time the milking would have been completed. 

My task at that time were to feed the bottle calves and when milking operations were completed, sweep and clean out the front area of the diary where the purge tanks were located. I didn’t have to clean out the milking area as that was power washed after each milking. 

On occasion the job would expand into greater realms. It was there that I experienced my first live birth. This was not a video experience as video did not even exist but was a “in person” live experience. Bit of a shock, it was, but we need to get back to my rebirth.

In addition to the job at the dairy, I also had a paper route. Each Saturday I would make the rounds to the area homes delivering the weekly edition of the infamous Grit newspaper. This route also carried me to areas about a mile outside of the town of Newtonia. 

My parents’ home was on the eastern most side of the village putting me about a mile to the west for the furthest delivery in that direction. I had to make a delivery to the Reynolds’ household a mile to the north and the Glenn Cole’s mother and the Hundley household both of which were located a mile to the east. You can do the math but as you can see, I was covering a bit of ground.

So, in June fifty-one years ago my dad brought home a motorcycle and said, “If we can get this rig-a-running, you will have some transportation to get around on”. 

Within a couple of weeks and a vast amount of patience the motor was freed, and the engine came to life. While my dad may have intended to provide a short-term solution to a transportation issue, this generated a birth of something within my spirit that still has me riding. 

Not only is this something I do daily, it is my normal mode of transportation. Without intending to be cliché, a statement that is often heard among those that ride is that “The worst ride on a motorcycle is always better than the best ride in a cage”. For those reading this that may not be familiar with the lingo, a cage is any vehicle with an enclosed cabin, generally a car.

There have been other periods of rebirth in my life. Some more meaningful and one that is eternal, but this specific event has had such an impact. 

Not only was my transportation impacted but certain choices lead to complete alterations in lifestyles. When certain choices are made, introduction to people, subcultures, habits, and even the way one dresses can be impacted. Recently I was reminded of this.

I had ridden into Neosho and as always stopped by the Flour Box Bakery to see my dear mother. That’s what I do. That morning I was wearing my vest with all its patches and the chain vest extenders. Those vest extenders are a practical accessory that allows me to wear the same vest with or without my leather motorcycle jacket. 

A person that regularly visits the Bakery took note of the vest and asked what in world was I wearing? Obviously, this was new to them. I assumed that everyone was familiar with my normal riding attire. A short explanation followed of which I am not certain that it was fully understood. What had been noticed was just the tip of the iceberg!

It may be the result of a rebirth or may just be the way someone has been their entire life, but what we are seeing in most instances is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more below the surface. I have been sorting through many of the memories and there are so many stories to tell. The problem lies in the fact that even my dear mother has only seen the tip of the iceberg! I may have to hang on to some stories for a while longer.

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