Thursday, August 22, 2013

Last Tango, the Death of an Era

Haiku My Heart
August 23, 2013

We meet and greet each other every Friday here and on other pages for Haiku My Heart. See more and find out how you can participate at Rebecca's recuerda mi corozon

Author's Note: This is a long post. If you don't want or need to read the history of my motorcycle ownership, skip down to the last couple of paragraphs for the gist of this story. Thanks
My first bike

Hard for me to grasp

If you ponder the question

No motorcycle?

As the photo can attest, I have been riding a bike since I was two years old. My first one was a three wheeled affair, and it was powered by me, myself and I. Fast forward to my first ride on a motorcycle with my Uncle Louie. 

Uncle Louie had one like this, with that big solo seat

He had a 1958 DuoGlide Harley Davidson in baby blue and chrome. It had a big solo seat, but a 9 year old was able to fit behind him with my legs spread wide apart and my hands gripping his thick wide black leather belt as I reached around his sides.

I tell you, I can still remember that ride. The roar of the pipes. The inertia from the acceleration. The wind through my hair. I knew right then and there that I would someday own a motorcycle. 

Advertisement for a Sears Allstate motorbike

Right around that time, my brother had a motorcycle in the garage. It just sat there. It was an Allstate, sold by Sears Roebuck. I found out later that my brother had broken the cardinal rule of not giving rides to anyone, and when he had an accident and Jimmy Wilson’s Mom and Dad sued my Dad, that bike got put away and eventually sold. I only remember seeing that bike running one time, coming down the alley to go back in to the garage, then it was gone.

My Dad on one of Uncle Louie's older Indian motorcycles, circa 1946-47
I think we were 14 or 15, no one had a drivers license, but there was a place that opened up in the Chicago suburb of Melrose Park that rented these small Bridgestone motorcycles by the hour. They were barely bigger than the modern day mopeds that are on the streets these days.
They had 60cc and a 90 cc for a little bit more money.  We would rent bikes for an hour every chance we got. We spent every cent on riding. Renting those little motorbikes is where I cut my teeth, and in 1970, when I returned from Vietnam and got out of the Army, I bought a Gold and White 1970 CB350 Honda.

Actual photo of my 1970 CB350 Honda motorcycle

That Honda was my first motorcycle. I got it one day, and the next morning, I rode it to work. I was on Wolf Rd., headed South from 22nd Street through the Forest Preserves. The brake lights of the car in front of me came on and I put that bike into a sideways power slide to keep from hitting it. I went down and scraped my arm pretty good.

No helmet, no riding gear like leather. Ballistic material hadn’t been invented yet. When the woman driving the car in front of me stopped and came back to see if I was all right, I asked her, “Why did you stop in the middle of the road?”

She told me, “There was a duck crossing the road.”

I managed to ride from that incident, in 1970, to 2012 before I’d have another crash. I’d also have a few more motorcycles in between that first Gold and White Honda and today.

I met Mrs. Spadoman in January of 1971, we got married in October of the same year. She was pregnant with our first child and I sold the two-door sport car and motorcycle and bought a station wagon. 

That mind set didn’t last long. By 1973 I had a first born daughter that we named Maggie and a 1967 Yamaha 360 DT Enduro.

1967 Yamaha DT360. I had one like this in 1973
I rode the Yamaha into the ground and used it to get to work as well as towed it to the motocross track and roughed it up a little.

Also around 1973, I owned one like this in blue and white

There was a drought of motorcycle ownership for a while, but I did have a Honda CL450 for a while. I actually burned a piston on that twin cylinder, but got home with only one working. Those old Honda bikes were bulletproof!

My 1976 Honda CB400F
I actually owned both of the bikes in the photo above. I originally bought the red one brand new in 1976. My friend Bruce owned the blue one. In the photo, we are packed to the gills headed for Canada. I recall that trip as one of the first long distance motorcycle trips I ever did. Bruce sold his to a friend of mine and i sold my bike. Then, a couple of years later, my friend was selling the blue one and I bought it from him, hence I have owned both of these bikes, at different times.

Douglass Pass in Colorado with my 1993 Harley Davidson FatBoy
When we moved to Colorado in the early 1990’s, 1993 to be exact, I bought a new Harley Davidson FatBoy. I was right in  the middle of another round of heart attacks, but got the bike anyway. Ownership didn’t last long as feeding the family came first and the luxury of having a brand new $14,000 motorcycle while out of a job because of health issues made me have to sell it.

That was in 1994, I believe, and I didn’t have another chance to get another bike until 2001, when I bought another Honda 750 from a friend. I was going to fix this bike up. It ran, but needed some tires and some tweaking on the engine. Someone came along and wanted to buy it, so I sold it without doing anything to it.

In the late 1990's, I bought a used 1982 Yamaha SR500 Thumper. A Thumper is a single cylinder motor. This was a really great little bike and would most everything that i wanted to do on a motorcycle. Here is an actual photograph of that bike in 2000:
1982 Yamaha SR500
Then came the Harley Davidson Sportster 883
Not much of the bike, but my two oldest Grandkids liked my 2004 Sportster
In 2004 I bought a new Harley Davidson Sportster. Harley, as do most manufacturers, sell their bikes plain so the buyer will spend oodles of money buying aftermarket doodads and farkles to personalize the bike. I was no exception and bought doodads and farkles for every bike I’ve ever owned.
The Sportster was okay, but I really wanted a Dyna Glide. I had seen one on the showroom floor and returned to the dealership with the Sportster and asked them if I could trade it in. They accepted, and in fact, had a promotion in place to take the smaller less-expensive Sportsters in trade for the bigger bikes.

My 2004 Dyna Glide Sport at the Delta Diner in the Northwoods of Wisconsin
I traded the Sporty in on a 2004 fuel injected Dyna Super Glide Sport. I really liked that bike and had it rigged up so I could cruise with it in town, then convert it, via quick release windshield, luggage rack and saddlebags, into a traveling highway bike.

After riding the Dyna for a few years and many thousands of miles, I sold it and bought a bike I had been reading about, the newly designed and engineered Triumph Tiger 1050i with ABS braking system.
One of my first rides on my 2008 Triumph Tiger
I put over 30,000 rounds on that Tiger and rode it to the West coast a half dozen times. I had a metamorphosis of a sort and started buying bikes so I would have one for each purpose. My thinking was that if I wanted to go riding on a gravel road and splashing through water-crossings in the mountains, I would need a bike suitable to do so. The Tiger was not the right bike to get the job  done.

2010 BMW G650GS
So, I bought a 2010 BMW 650gs, a bike to ride on and off road, what they call a dual sport bike in the industry. I didn’t like the way the seat was and the configuration of the bike and gas tank made it impossible to buy a new seat that would satisfy my tastes. Of course I had to ride this bike considerably on and off road to determine that I didn’t like the way the seat was engineered, and I still had the Triumph Tiger.

1973 Honda CL350
I also bought another old vintage Honda, a CL350, which is called the Scrambler. I was going to restore this Honda back to original condition and have a collector bike that ran and looked truly vintage.
I sold the BMW and bought a Triumph Scrambler, then sold the Honda so I could have more money to spend on doodads and farkles for the Triumph.

My 2008 Triumph Scrambler 900
I rode the Triumph Scrambler for a couple of years and really enjoyed that bike before I sold it and bought another Triumph, but this time, I opted for the Bonneville SE. I rode that SE a lot last Summer. I had some great thrills on that bike as these next two photos can attest:

Click on this one and check out the speedometer. 105 MPH!

I also went for a 2005 Moto Guzzi Nevada Classic, but I didn’t like the Guzzi at all and sold it.

2005 Moto Guzzi Nevada Classic

Last September I was involved in a wreck and the insurance company totaled the SE. I went without a bike through the Winter of 2012-2013 and in Spring, bought yet another Honda, a 1977 CB500K, and rode that for a while.

The first 2011 Triumph Bonneville SE
I wanted another Triumph Bonneville and bought one in April of 2013 and sold the 1977 Honda. I just finished a deal and sold the Triumph Bonneville and I now own no motorcycles.

My 1977 CB550K Honda

The last one, 2011 Triumph Bonneville mag wheel
So, It is finished. The end of an era. A slow death, if you will, or at least a part of my soul is dead and gone. 

I sold the last of my motorcycles and I have hung up my riding boots. The decision was easy to make. Complications from health problems and small ailments all together gave me many reasons to stop. It’s no longer safe for me or the motoring public. 
My philosophy is simple. If I can’t do everything that ownership and riding requires, like checking the tire pressure, lubing the chain and checking the oil, then I shouldn’t be riding. Doing any kind of activity that has me bending down, like regular maintenance on the motorcycle, is painful and next to impossible for me. I don’t deserve to ride a motorcycle.
My feet are numb and legs are tingly, a condition called neuropathy, from years of uncontrolled diabetes. Sometimes I can’t feel the shifter on the left or the brake pedal on the right. I take insulin and could go into diabetic shock if my blood glucose levels go too low. I have a heart pacemaker that regulates my heart rate, and although that keeps me from having rapid heart rate episodes, with my heart history, that sucker could go off and defibrillate me at any time. That would, in essence, be like having someone putting their hands on my chest and pushing me off the bike while I’m riding it.
I have congestive heart failure. This causes shortness of breath and fatigue in my muscles. The arthritis in my hands keeps me from having a tight grip on the hand grips, making some quick response maneuvers impossible to perform. The retinopathy in my eyes, also an after effect of the diabetes, makes it hard to see, especially with dark glasses on or at night. Light glares at me, sunlight or headlights. I have hearing loss. I have less than normal flexibility in my joints, especially my neck and I can’t turn my head to the right or left far enough to see the road to either side.

If that isn’t enough, I am on a fixed income and can’t afford bike payments, taking trips or insurance along with the aforementioned doodads and farkles.

There you have it. My motorcycling history, from beginning to end. An end to an era in my life. Am I sad? Yes, very much so. Do I have memories? Yes, very many of them. But I’ll tell you, there is nothing like blasting along a two-lane highway in the dessert at 100 miles per hour, wind in your hair and the telephone poles going by so fast they look like toothpicks.

I will miss riding motorcycles, and I’ll cry when I see others enjoying them. I’ll drool when the new models come out. I’ll imagine what it would be like to swing my leg over the saddle and put one through its paces. I’ll sit with maps and find the roads that will take me there and plan trips that I’ll never be able to take. You bet I’m sad.

Maybe I should be glad that I’m alive. Maybe that’s a good thing, but maybe a small part of us dies every time there is a wholesale change in our lives. I think so, I think this is how we die, losing bits and pieces, a chunk at a time. This is a big chunk.

Day is done


Monday, August 12, 2013

Maytag Saga

Just got back from Sears. Had to buy a new refrigerator. The old one was only 21 months old, but it died, compressor seized up, and since I didn't buy the extended warranty, I either had to pay what the fridge cost new to repair it, or buy a new one, so we bought a new one and got a great deal at Sears. They are even going to deliver it tomorrow! The next day! 

Maytag, which is Whirlpool, won't stand behind their products. We expected to pay for repairs since we didn't buy a service agreement, but we never expected a major part like a compressor to take a dump before the $1500. appliance was less than 2 years old. Home Depot sold it, but they can't do anything. 

Sears, even though they are made by Whirlpool, will stand behind this new appliance, and I did opt to buy a service agreement. I am 64 years old and I don't ever remember having a refrigerator die like this. I realized that I never had that experience before because we, and our parents before us, always bought our appliances at Sears. 

It was in November of 2011 when we purchased new kitchen appliances. If I remember correctly, we went to Home Depot because
 they were having some sort of a sale and we actually got a few hundred dollars off for buying three appliances, a microwave, a stove and a refrigerator.

It was the microwave that petered out and quit, and although we don't use it a lot, my daughter and the Grandkids that live in the same house with us, use it. The one in question was a built-in that came with the house when we purchased it in March of 2009.

We went to get a replacement for the microwave and we saw this really nice stove. We like to cook with natural gas and we had a stove, but the one we had was old and had been moved around quite a bit. It was also the cheapest model stove you could buy and it was poorly insulated. It had absolutely no frills like a timer or thermometer. It seemed like a good time as any to replace that old stove while the appliance sale was going on. The model we bought was made by GE and the price was good as it was on sale, so we bought it.

The refrigerator was also on  sale and with the purchase of the other two, we saved another hundred bucks. That, along with my 10% discount for being a disabled veteran, gave us a pretty good deal. We did purchase a service agreement on the stove because it had a lot of electronics on it. We didn't on the microwave because we could replace the entire microwave for under three hundred dollars, the service agreement was half that, so we opted out.

The refrigerator? Well, as I mentioned, I never had a refrigerator go out in my lifetime. A switch here or a control there, but never a compressor. Guess what? We were really surprised when everything in the freezer started to thaw and the whole thing died.

The repairman from the appliance store came out today to take a look at the Maytag. He tried to jump start the compressor and told us it was dead and seized and would not start. He told us it was junk and that a new compressor would be upwards of $700.00 for the part, plus the labor at a small town rate of $80.00 per hour. You'll probably pay more per hour in  Minneapolis or St. Paul.

We called Home Depot. They sell them, but don't service them. They tell you up front not to call them, but rather call the manufacturer for repairs. Since we didn't buy the service contract that goes beyond the one year warranty period, the warranty was non-existent after 1 year from November 2011.

We called Maytag, but couldn't get through their automated phone system. We did a "live" chat. The minimum wage phone correspondent answered our questions, but offered nothing as far as even a chance to talk to someone in a position of accountability. In other words,  "No", we couldn't speak to a supervisor. The phone call center clerk was as far as we get to go when dealing with a problem with a Maytag/Whirlpool appliance.

In the meantime, everything we bought and put in the freezer was salvaged by some quick work. We have a second refrigerator in the downstairs and it was almost empty. It's filled now, but that made it quite a nuisance to go up and down a flight of stairs, a chore i don't do well anyway, to fetch the milk or orange juice.

It's been like this since Friday morning. Today is Monday, and Sears will deliver the new refrigerator tomorrow, and they apologized that they couldn't give us a firm time as other deliveries that were scheduled might take longer than expected in some cases. We were more than willing to accept that. We'll be home tomorrow and be waiting for the new fridge.

I am disappointed with Maytag/Whirlpool. I didn't expect a new refrigerator or to do the repairs for free, but I thought they would at least be sympathetic to our plight. Well, I got news for them, I can't put them out of business, but I'll be grinding on them about this for a long time to come. If I stop one person from buying a Maytag I'll be happy. 

Maytag Sucks, pass it on.

Peace anyway, (except to those that make the policy at Maytag.) 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Joe Matradatz

It's Friday, August 9, 2013. On Fridays, a bunch of us gather from around the globe and write haiku poetry, tell stories, display photos and generally just visit back and forth and share bits of our lives with each other. We call it Haiku My Heart
Join the fun. Visit Rebecca's blog, recuerda mi corazon.

What is excitement?

Finding your name in bright lights

Maybe I'm famous

When I was a young boy growing up in the Chicago suburbs, we had a name that we would use when we wanted to tell a story or a joke or tease someone. It was a name for a nondescript male of the species. We would say Joe Matradatz. That’s Mah-Trah-Dots’, with the accent on the Dots. It isn’t unusual to use the first name of Joe, as that is customary in many cases, like when I referenced it in a previous post of mine entitled "The Name Game"

I revolted. “If Joe isn’t more popular than that, why do we have so many references to Joe?” 
Who hasn't heard these phrases; Hey Joe, (Where you goin’ with that gun in your hand?), Cuppa Joe, Morning Joe, Joe Momma, Plain Old Joe, GI Joe, Say it ain’t so, Joe, Joltin' Joe, Joe from Kokomo, Joe this, Joe that, Joe the other. Joe the plumber. Joe the bartender. Joe’s Bar. Joe’s Diner. Joe’s Bar and Grill, Eat at Joe’s. Joe Mauer, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Joe Hill. 
Cowboy Joe, Joe Millionaire, Joe Blow, Average Joe. Not to mention the use of Joe as a middle name. Billy Joe, Bobby Joe, Randy Joe. There is a town called Joe, North Carolina and a Joey is what they call a baby kangaroo in Australia. And how many more using the shortened version, spelling Joe without the “E” on the end like Mary Jo? Who is Joe Blow anyway?
Why when I was a kid, a fictitious character we all sought to mock was a character we called Joe Matradatz! I mean, if James is so damn popular, why don’t they use his name for coffee? Cuppa Jim, or Jim Matradatz?

Anyway, you get the point, I think. But in real life, one of the things that was more than subtle that we noticed while on our recent trip to British Columbia was the common, and even frequent, occurrence of the name Joe, or a derivative, in the form of what my Mother called me when she wasn’t angry. That would be Joey. 

Joseph was what she used to call me when she wanted my attention or was angry. Joey was what people called me when I was growing up and what most of my family and some old friends call me even today.

The first Canadian town we stayed in, Cranbrook, BC, had us finding a suitable place for dinner on a very hot sultry July day. In a handy guide to area restaurants that we found in our motel room, we spotted a place that served fish and chips and on Tuesdays, you could get all you can eat.

Guess what? It was a Tuesday, and the place wasn’t far from the motel. In fact, you could see the sign for the place from the motel room window.

It was called Joey’s Seafood Restaurant. I guess there’s a chain of them in Canada. But the weird part of this story is that before dinner, we were spending some time shopping for little gifts and post cards we could send to our Grandkids and we saw the big Walmart Supercenter, but we didn’t want to shop somewhere that was familiar. After all, we were in Canada, a foreign country. 
Besides, we usually don’t go to corporate chain stores or dining establishments, but since we were in Canada and didn’t know any better, and since it was named Joey’s, which is my name, we thought it okay to try the eating place out for dinner, but not the Walmart for shopping.

Real Canadian Superstore

We wandered down a street that intersected the main drag through town and saw a large stand alone store with a hugh parking lot. It turned out to be the “Real Canadian Superstore”. We parked and went in. We were giggling to ourselves at the prospect of not having any Canadian currency in our pockets and how conspicuous we seemed to be. A stop at an ATM and a hundred dollars in Canadian bills later, at an exchange rate of $0.97 American cents to each Canadian dollar, thank you very much, and we were in business.

What caught our eye was in the clothing department, where we shopped for close-out bargains of T-shirts that were left over from Canada Day, which had past. Now, like Christmas wrapping paper on the day after Christmas and Halloween candy in November, said T-shirts were reduced up to 50%. Yes, the bargain had our attention, but the designer label for all apparel at the Real; Canadian Superstore was Joe Fresh..

Joe Fresh

After shopping, it was time to eat and we went to Joey's Seafood Restaurant. as planned.The food was so-so. Service was terrible as the place got slammed with fast-arriving customers when we were there. Aside from that, we still thought the name unique. 

I took a paper napkin with the name on it as a souvenir. Imagine, a restaurant with my name. How cool was that?

Joey’s Seafood Restaurant

It wasn’t long after, the next evening to be exact, we stayed in the town of Hope, BC. Sure enough, we spotted Joe’s Restaurant and Lounge. We considered eating there, but opted for some fresh fruit from the local grocery instead. Still, another eating establishment with that all too familiar name, my name, Joe.

Joe’s Restaurant and Lounge

The next day, while we were getting around and seeing some sights in Vancouver, we saw another place named Joey Broadway. Turns out, these too are a chain of Joey restaurants throughout Canada. We didn’t eat there either, but we did go around the block, in very busy traffic I might add, to get a photo of the Joey Broadway sign.

Joey Broadway

Next, we were in Klamath Falls, Oregon and saw this gas station deli sign. Sure enough, Joe’s Deli Mini Mart. That’s where I filled the gas tank on the Edge, at Joe’s.

Joe’s Deli Mini Mart

I tell you, there were a few other places with that name on them all over the place. Joe’s Cafe, Joe’s Diner, Joe’s Barber Shop, Joe’s Lock and Key, and on and on. So many, I stopped turning around to take pictures of all the signs. Joe this and Joe that. Seeing my name being so popular could have gone to my head. But it didn’t. I did comment to Mrs. Spadoman that I never saw one place that was called Barb’s or Barbara’s along the entire trip.

Anyway, mundane as it seems, it is a thrill to see something with your name on it publicly. Plenty of Joe’s and Joey’s out there this trip. It was fun joking and laughing about it and taking pictures of the signs.

Here a Joey, there

A Joey, everywhere a

Joey Joe Joey


Friday, August 2, 2013

From the Personal Archives

Haiku My Heart
August 2, 2013

Young boys frolicking 

Shadows of Nui Ba Den

A long time ago

Personal Photos and Video (Click on this to view video)

To be honest, I don’t know if I’ve ever posted this YouTube video before. I’ve had it for a while, just can’t remember if you’ve seen it. If so, I apologize. The Haiku is new, I wrote it this morning. If not, it is unique in that these are my personal photos from 1969 in the Republic of Vietnam. 

This YouTube video was made from snapshots. Most of them taken in the Republic of Vietnam in 1969 when I served in the US Army’s 25th Infantry Division. A few of them were taken a short time after I returned home. 

None of these depict the ravages of war from a standpoint of the death and destruction or combat operations. Read that to mean there are no dead bodies or photos of people shooting guns.

What is evident by some of these photos are the grim facial expressions on some and the terrain in the background as well as the armament by way of vehicles and weapons. Also, there are many with smiles on our faces. War was not a 24/7 affair. We were not locked into mortal combat every minute of every day. In fact, most of these photos were taken when we had a chance to relax and we did indeed have smiles on our faces. We didn’t have time to grab a camera when we were involved in combat operations.

The soundtrack is unique in the fact that it was recorded on a small battery powered boxy cassette recorder that was simply activated as we were in a bunker in a base camp near the city of Tay Ninh. I’m sure there was pot and alcohol involved. Down time like this was a time to let loose. The day the music was recorded was the day before one of the guys was leaving to go home. A going away party for a fellow soldier.

It is a little over nine minutes long. Having these memories as a YouTube video doesn’t allow the viewer to dwell on any one photo for long unless you have the stop gap capability on the equipment you are using to view the video. Of course I have the original cassette tape and the actual photos. I also have more tapes of other times during my stay in Vietnam, and a 10 minute piece of video taken during my last days in country. I offer to share this part of my life on my Round Circle blog.

Enjoy the film, enjoy the music, enjoy...


More Haiku My Heart can be seen at Rebecca's blog, recuerda mi corazon