Day 58 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Tuesday, May 12, 2020 – Live to Blog from Atop a Harley-Davidson

#alongtogether

Is there an unlimited supply of drivel? Apparently not because I’m still delivering it. Occasionally I wonder if I’m running low. Just when I think there is nothing else to write about my mind wanders and – boom! – there it is. So, dear friends, you have no reprieve. Let the drivel flow!


I Was a Biker Baby

I know very little about the family into which I was born. I know my dad was born in 1913 and my mom in 1916. I know little about their their lives prior to their marriage in 1935. I know even less about their lives between 1935 and 1954 when I came along. Apparently we weren’t big on talk story…or stories…or talking.

For me the history of my family begins in 1953 when my oldest sister married Boomer. Boomer is one of the most memorable and influential characters in my life for two reasons. First, he lived a far more interesting and dangerous life than most people I knew in my hometown. Second, he was a father figure to me. From as long as I can remember, I spent as much time, if not more, with him and my sister as I did with my parents. In fact, my oldest sister likes to remind me that she practically raised me and often says she tends to think of me more as her child than as her brother. Seems reasonable. Her daughter, my niece, is barely three years younger than me.

Boomer came roaring into my sister’s life on a motorcycle. He was a biker. Not a biker like you’d see in Born Losers, the movie that introduced the character of Billy Jack in 1969. His time and style was definitely early 1950’s, Marlon Brando, and The Wild One.

Boomer was the wild one in our lives. He even looked a little like Brando, especially in his biker outfit. Boomer was four years younger than Marlon Brando. Both were born and raised in Iowa (Boomer) or near Iowa (Brando). Brando was from Omaha, which would have been in Iowa if weren’t for the Missouri River. Oh, and they were both commonly known by only one name. Actually, “Boomer and Brando” might have made a good name for a pair of tag team wreslters.

After seeing me atop his hallowed bike dressed like this, Boomer made sure I was properly attired. Dog unknown.

I have a vague memory of having my own leather biker jacket, leather hat, and “motorcycle boots” – compliments of Boomer. I don’t remember what happened to the jacket and hat, but, man I loved those boots!

A less vague memory – probably because of the sheer terror of it – is riding the Harley with Boomer and my sister but inside a rear saddle bag. My niece was placed in the one on the other side, probably to make it easier to balance the bike. Boomer really liked to lean low into the corners which gave me a spectacular view of the ashphalt.

Boomer with his #9 dirt track “stock car,” circa 1959. I spent many Saturday nights in the summer with my sister at the dirt tracks in South East Iowa where I grew to love the sounds and smells of dirt track racing.

Even after Boomer got into dirt track racing, he loved and rode motorcylces. Of course, for him, there was only one – Harley-Davidson. He loved to “mess with” people and did it constantly. When Yamaha and Kawasaki motorcycles began to make their way onto American highways he loved to irritate their owners by imitating their bike’s high-pitched “ERRRING-ding-ding-ding” sound and laughing derisively at it. He often suggested, to the riders, that such a whiney, pathetic sound was indicative of their manhood. (Oh…did I mention he was also very good at picking fights?)

So, why am I writing about this drivel today? While the sheltering-in-place orders means automobile traffic has gotten less around our home, the motorcyle traffic has picked up, especially as the weather gets warmer. The sound of high pitched motorcycle engines seems to surround us at times. I can’t help but think of Boomer and his “ERRRING-ding-ding-ding” everytime I hear one.

If Boomer were still alive, I think he might be a COVID-19 conspiracy theorist. Even if he really wasn’t one, he’d love reading this Facebook posting I got from my friend Beth Howard today. He’d select the craziest of the conspiracy theories it parodies and then pass that theory off as fact just for fun. Did I mention he loved to mess with people and pick fights?


A Conversation: Leading In Crisis

In late March, as the Novel Coronavius pandemic was triggering a plethora of stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, I began to collaborate with a group colleagues. In record time we produced blogs and videos to encourage, support, and, hopefully, guide nonprofit leaders through these difficult times. On Friday, May 8th we met via Zoom to film one of our conversations about leadership in the midst of crisis. That video is now ready and can be viewed below.

There may be some additional collaborative work that emerges. For this moment, though, I just want to say thanks to Forrest Alton and Cayci Banks of 1000 Feathers, Charles Weathers of The Weathers Group, and Patrick Jinks of The Jinks Perspective. Each entered this collaboration with spirits of giving, caring, and conviction that we needed to do all we could to be of service to nonprofits and their leaders right now. If you haven’t already done so, please stop by their websites to learn more about them and how they help nonprofits accomplish the greater good in their communities.

The video below is a conversation among the five of us, facilitated by Forrest Alton. It is about 50 minutes in length but it moves quickly. I hope you enjoy and find it useful. Please feel free to forward it on to others whom you think would benefit from it. You can also find this video, the previous ones, and links to other free resources in the special section, Work in the Time COVID-19, on this website.


The Adventures of Chickenman

In Episode 27 Chickenman stops a robbery, only to discover he may have also shattered a man’s dream and caused the world the opportunity to have an irving.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep wearing a helmet if you are a biker of any kind.

Tom

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