It was spring of 1966 and I was playing in
the school yard (elementary school). I was in the 8th grade. No, we didn't
have middle schools back then. An (older) acquaintance of mine had just
purchased one of those "new" step-through 50cc Yamahas. He asked
me if I wanted to go for a ride. I said "sure". The ride was
shorter than it seemed and I was scared to death. As soon as we got back
to the playground, my only thought was "I've got to have one
of these things".
My mission had several obstacles. First of
all, my Mom wouldn't let me have a motorcycle. Second, I had never worked
a day in my life, so I had no idea how I was going to pay for it. Third, I
was only 13 and didn't have a driver's license. First things first. Get a
job. My Mom wouldn't be against that, right? I went to the district
manager, Mr. Cates, who handled the newspaper routes in the area. I asked
him for a route. He told me that there was nothing open at the time, but
as soon as one opened up, he would let me know. I said "fine",
but I told him that I wanted the longest route in his district. He asked
me what I was going to deliver the papers on and I pointed to my lime
green string ray bicycle parked outside. He nodded with skepticism. That
was in April, 1966. I turned 14 the next month and, at the time in Texas,
one could get a special license at 14 to operate a motorcycle as long as
it didn't exceed 5 brake horsepower.
That August, I got the call I've been
waiting for. A route had opened up. Mr. Cates told me that it was the
longest in his district and wanted to confirm that I could handle it. I
told him "That's the route for me!". The route started 2 miles
from my house and was 14 miles long with over 250 deliveries. Being a fat
little kid who had never worked a day in his life, this was quite a
challenge. For three weeks I delivered papers on my bicycle after school,
riding 18 miles and carrying all those papers. Every day I would come home
and crash on the sofa.
Finally, the day came. I was lying on the
sofa and my parents were smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee at the
dining table as the did every day after work. I heard my Mom faintly tell
my Dad: "Well, maybe he can have a motorcycle". YES! My Master
The next day, I took my Dad down to the
Yamaha dealer in El Paso (Rathbun Motors on Paisano) and showed him the
bike my friend had. Of course, there was this "spiffy" 60 cc
bike that looked more like a motorcycle for just a little more money.
Besides, it was black!
I sold him on it and bought my first
motorcycle on September 7th, 1966 (yes, before I started high school). It
was $315. A month later, I got my driver's
I rode this bike for about a year and a
half, putting on over 11,000 miles throwing papers. My Dad wouldn't let me
ride it to school as a Freshman. Sigh...