Lying on my cot at near midnight in the Kingman, Arizona jail. I had time to reflect on the day that was coming to an end. It started innocently enough at 6:30 A.M. in my family garage in La Jolla, California.
I was having my morning breakfast of Coke and cold pizza when Linda Davidson, my 13-year-old neighbor rushed in and said, "Why are you still here? You are supposed to be on a bus to Tennessee so you can spend the summer there." I explained that I had spent all but $45.00 of the bus ticket money my parents gave me before they left for Tennessee two weeks ago.
Linda was being a real pain as she expounded on how mean nature of my father. She suggested I figure out a way to get to Tennessee or commit suicide at the earliest possible convenience. (Parents are evil, I knew that!)
Suddenly she said, "Why don't you just ride your motorcycle? When you get there, you can hide it at a friend's house and call your parents from the bus station."
I glanced at the two year old black 1952 600cc AJS twin and considered that Linda, pain that she is, was right. As I was packing my duds in a duffel, Linda was making food. I pulled out at 7:30 A.M. on my first ever trip on a bike. I had owned it only two weeks.
I picked up Route 66 and headed east. As the day wore on and my adrenaline rush turned from fright to terror. It was becoming apparent that this part of the country was not civilized. I pulled into Kingman, Arizona, at about 11:00 P.M. and went straight to the police station to inquire about a semi-safe motel. Police Chief Hanna said, "Ain't no real safe place. Why don't you stay here in the jail for the night and the county will feed you breakfast in the morning." At this point I knew I was near death anyway, so why not?
Chief Hanna woke me at 6:00 A.M., and after a nice shower, he took me to the Rambling Rose Motel for breakfast. He even picked up the tab. I felt better as I mounted the big AJS and headed east, hoping desperately to find some semblance of the familiar California civilization I had always taken for granted. I didn't find it.
After three days, two flat tires, many clutch adjustments and a terminal case of "Lucas, the prince of darkness," I limped into Humboldt, Tennessee. While I was stopped at the first red light, who should pull in behind me? My father! Then I knew there is no God. The lashing was not that bad so I settled down to three months of hard work on the family farm. (You know, the kind of work that builds character. Parents are evil!)
The big AJS got new points, plugs, tires, generator and a general make over. My father also crated my bike for the trip home to California.
With my crated bike and duffel in the back of the truck, we arrived at the train station for a two-hour wait before departure. My evil parents had gone back to the farm. As I fondled my crated AJS, the agent wandered up. On impulse I announced a change of plans and I headed west with $168.57 in my pocket. I am now rich, very rich! I dare not stop lest my parents catch me. (Parents know everything and I am sure they are chasing me.)
At midnight I crossed the Oklahoma border and I continued to ride all night. The next morning I pulled into Kingman, Arizona at about 2:00 A.M. You guessed it, one more night in the Kingman jail and home at 10:30 PM.
After pulling into my garage, I sat listening to the lusty rhythm of the big AJS when Linda appeared yelling, "You did it! You really did it! And you didn't get killed or anything." I sadly turned off the engine, walked to the carpeted part of the garage and lay down, totally exhausted. Linda lay down beside me and started being a usual pain. "Tell me! Tell me! I want to hear everything." So I did (tell her), and sometime in the wee hours we both dropped off to sleep.
Now I knew things were different. I had ventured off on my own for the first time and had made my own decisions. Yep, I had it all, and I was 14.
A few years later, Linda became my wife, and today many years later, Police Chief Hanna' s granddaughter, Eve Hanna, is my fiancee.