This article came to the newsletter in a round about way. Van Bartlett, Ada, Oklahoma sent the "touring kit" to Dennis Gish, Waldron, Missouri. The following is a letter to Van from Dennis. After receiving the following letter from Dennis, Van sent the letter to Bob Jasper, St, Joseph, Missouri, and Bob thought it was humorous so he sent it to me (Frank). I wrote Dennis and requested permission to print his letter and so here we go! Thanks everyone!
The other day, after retrieving my mail, I came across the wonderful Harley Davidson "touring kit" you sent me. I want to thank you very much for this gift.
Of course, upon opening it and finding a tow-rope inside, I just couldn't wait to try it out. Looking out the window I saw my Moto Guzzi and my Harley Davidson both parked in my driveway. So out I went and, using the rope, I tied the two motorcycles together. As I stood back to admire my work, I noticed a terrible problem! The front of the rope was tied to the front of the Guzzi, and the back of the rope was tied to the back of the Harley. Now, anyone knows that the front of the rope should be tied to the back of the Guzzi, and the back of the rope should be tied to the front of the Harley. Then I realized what had happened. This rope, having been manufactured in Oklahoma, was made with the ends reversed.
Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, I decided to make that rope work anyway. I removed the timing sprocket from my Guzzi and turned it 180 degrees. Then by putting the timing chain on the other side of the crankshaft sprocket, I soon had that Guzzi running backwards and purring like a kitten. With a five-speed transmission, all gears turning backwards, I had a real machine, ready to take to the road, backwards.
About this time my friend Moe drove up. I explained the situation to him and soon had him seated on the Harley, which he always wanted to ride. We headed for town with me towing him, both of us facing backwards.
I noticed people pointing and taking pictures. At first I just waved and smiled, but then it dawned on me that when those photos were developed, it would look like a Harley pulling a Guzzi. I was trying to come up with a solution to this problem when I noticed the red lights flashing. Our local cop had caught us. He walked right up to me and said, "Dennis, I see you have taken up drinking again." "No sir!" I said, and explained the whole thing to him. When I came to the part about the Okie rope and its reversed ends, he said he understood but would give me a ticket for riding backwards. At this point I told him I did not know of a law against riding backwards. He seemed confused, and then he said we had to have eye protection, so he would ticket us for that. I said, "Both motorcycles have windshields, and the law doesn't specify which end they must be mounted on. Besides, any bugs or stones would hit us in the back of the head anyway, not in our eyes." Then he mentioned rear-view mirrors. I pointed out that each bike had two. How else could we see where we were going without them? "Okay," he said, "but you must have a headlight that shines on the road ahead and tail and brake lights than can be seen by motorists following you." Well, he had me there. Thinking quickly, I pointed out that Moe was on the lead bike, but just try to explain otherwise to a judge!
Moe got a ticket, and was he ever mad! He fired up that Harley and headed home. He forgot I was in tow, but we made it home safely. Moe hopped in his car and left. I haven't seen him since.
The "Harley touring kit" is currently at the local rope maker's shop for correction. Once he gets the ends swapped, it will be a nice addition to my touring supplies.
Except for losing my friend Moe, all is well that ends well. Thanks again, and happy biking!