“What?” My dad looked up from reading the paper.
“I posted this picture of you and Mom on Facebook and a bunch of people liked it. I need something to blog about, so if there’s a story here, I want the scoop. Tell me about this bike.”
My dad, never one to pass up an opportunity to tell a story, set down the newspaper and cleared his throat.
“Well, it was a 1944 Harley – a 74 cubic inch flathead.” Details meant nothing to me, but they seemed important to Dad. He quickly added, “And if you’re gonna put that on your computer, you can say that your dad wants to buy another one.”
“Oh my goodness,” Mom gasped. She shook her head and continued washing dishes.
I steered the conversation back to 1957. “So after graduating high school, you worked at a little grocery store, right?”
“Yep," he said. "Bob’s Market.”
Over the next few minutes Dad described his many responsibilities at that hole-in-the-wall grocery store. He ran the cash register and stocked shelves, cut meat and trimmed produce, bagged potatoes and swept the floor. Eventually he saved up enough money to buy a used, 1944 Harley Davidson.
“Fifty dollars.” He didn’t even take time to think about it.
I was sure he was joking. Turns out he wasn’t.
Around that time, Dad also helped his sister and her husband on their farm. He still remembers one particular day, while helping his brother-in-law.
“Run over to the neighbor’s and ask to borrow a spark plug wrench.” His brother-in-law instructed.
Coincidentally, the neighbors were my mom’s parents. And as fate would have it, Mom was the only one home at the time. (Well, I call it fate. Mom calls it a set-up.)
So Dad knocked on the door and Mom answered it. Dad asked for the tool. Mom was clueless.
“I had no idea what a spark plug wrench was,” Mom said, laughing.
(Honestly, I can’t picture this. My mom is the ultimate farmer’s wife. Let’s just say, she knows her way around a tool box.)
“I’ve learned a lot since then,” Mom added.
Anyway, Mom took Dad out to the shed so they could look for the tool. (Nicely played, Mom!)
In time, Dad started helping other members of Mom’s family. He baled hay with her uncle. He helped her dad haul cattle to the stock yards in Chicago. Mom and Dad started dating, but my mom wasn’t the only one that liked my dad.
Mom chuckled. “I remember my grandma saying, ‘If you want to make your old grandma happy, you’ll hang on to him.’”
Dad took another look at the picture on my phone. “I probably won’t ever find another bike like that.”
“Nope.” Mom said, drying her hands on a dish towel. “And you won’t find another girl like that either!”
Dad laughed and handed me the phone.
“So whatever happened to that bike?” I asked. “Why did you get rid of it?”
Dad gazed across the table at Mom. “I sold it to buy a ring.”
Just as I was thinking this was the sweetest story I’d ever heard about my parents, Mom ruined the moment.
“I know,” she said with a spark of mischief. “You probably wish you would’ve kept the bike and got rid of the girl.”
“No!” Dad hollered through his laughter. “I should’ve kept them both!”