The motorcycle trip went into planning stage around Christmas 2007. It wasn’t that the planning was so complicated, but rather John was anxious to start rolling. He called from Oregon twice each month. Sometimes he called more often.
At last it was warm enough to cross the Rockies. A few days later he called from his daughter’s house in Fort Worth and we set departure date as well as a place to meet – McDonald’s in at the intersection of US 82 and US 75 in Sherman at 0700. I rolled the forty miles up to Sherman and I couldn’t find a Mc Donald’s anywhere close to there. So,as,to not miss him, I rode west on 82 and set on the roadside so as to not miss him. After an hour I found a phone booth and called Barb. John had called her. The McDonald’s he was referring to was located inside Wal-Mart. He was mad as a hornet. Leaning out of the phone booth I spotted his motorcycle – dah.
CMe and John, Two Old Geezers
He was pretty antsy, but he waited while I had some coffee. As soon as I walked toward the trash can he started his bike. He was ready to go – past ready.
Heading north on 75, we were soon in Oklahoma and looking for the old home place where a mutual friend Rolla, a full-blooded Choctaw, had spent his youth on his grandfather’s ranch. Zigzagging north and east we finally reached Poteau. Since Rolla was 96 in 2008 things had probably changed.
From there we ventured into Arkansas, headed for Rudy where John lived as a toddler.
I might not have found this little town, he not been in the lead. Without much warning we darted from black top to gravel. Then I saw the sign. A bit farther we crossed a small bridge and we were in Rudy.
Only the store was open. The other few buildings were in various stages of disrepair. After parking our bikes we bought some soda and took a seat on a bench out front. That was when John told me about the yesteryear when his dad was town Marshall.
“There were rumors that Bonny and Clyde were not far away and headed toward Rudy. The town council called an emergency meeting and decided that John’s father should blockade the road and take them into custody, thereby putting Rudy on the map. But he said he wasn’t having any. A few nights later, while he was making his rounds he heard the crunch of tires. Just to be on the safe side, he crouched behind the horse water tank. He said there were no lights, but he saw the moon reflect off their car as it crossed the bridge and then passed on through town.”
John and I were about to head back to Dallas when we were joined by an elderly man and another who might have been his son. They both had been working on a building adjacent to the store. The old man talked non-stop. The son was busy chain-smoking roll-your-owns. He never uttered a word. The old man was wearing overalls with the legs cut off. He couldn’t seem to keep his eyes off our bikes.
“I rode one of those motorcycles once. The feller who owned it said it was a hopped-Harley and invited me to take ride. Well, I was young and foolish. As soon as it lit that sonofabitch took off with me only hanging by one hand. I made the turn and crossed the bridge, but just a bit yonder that dirty bastard shook me loose and I went through the barbed wire. It ripped me open from my ankle plumb to my ass,” he said, pulling up his pant leg, exposing a nasty, three-foot-long scar that looked as though it had been stitched with a length of rawhide. I glanced at the younger man but he was too busy with cigarettes. “Well, Ma probably has supper ready,” added the old man. They left without another word.
John and I headed back for Dallas.