WAY back when I was 15, my first set of wheels was a Honda 50 and although I traded it for a bigger and faster motorcycle after a couple of years, the Honda 50 still held wonderful memories.

After talking to a friend about the Honda 50 a couple of nights ago, I did a search on Kijiji and found there was a 1962 Honda 50 for sale in nearby Winnipeg. A search of the Internet showed a profusion of original and re manufactured parts are readily available at good prices and this one was offered for sale at a VERY reasonable price so I drove into Winnipeg and scooped it up before someone else did.

It is perfectly runnable but at 52 years of age it needs to be "brought back a bit" so that is next winter's project!

Once a kid, always a kid I guess LOL!

As much as I like the 1962 Honda 50, it is just TOO SMALL for me and not suited for highway travel so when a 1983 Honda 750 Shadow came up at a bargain price, I went to have a look at it. It was in good shape and within my budget so it came home with me. The 50 will get restored over the winter and put up for sale in the spring. The 50s are popular so hopefully it will sell at a small profit.

Funny thing is that I was having a heck of a time riding the Honda 50, wobbling around like a drunken sailor, but feel much more at home on the 750. I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that the 50 is 1/2 my weight and the 750 is more than twice my weight?

As much as I like the 750, it just never 'fit right'. The last bike I had (before the recent madness) was a 1982 Harley Davidson FLH that I absolutely LOVED but had to part with in 1987 because I couldn't afford the insurance.

I knew better but I just couldn't help checking out the Harley Davidsons for sale. I looked at a few Sportsters but they felt small (for me) but when I sat on a 2002 FXD I knew that was the right bike for me. After a few days as a cooling-off period, I bought it.

My aunt Frances
I had an aunt Frances when I was growing up. She was as proper and 'stuffy' as any woman I knew, very stern and seemingly no sense of humour. I always thought she was too stiff and starched for my taste but that changed the summer I was 17.

I started riding at 15 on a Honda 50 and traded the 50 for a 305 Superhawk when I was 17, 1966. The Honda Superhawk was a FAST bike bike for its time, the fastest of the Japanese bikes then.

There was a family reunion that year at one of my uncle's farms just a few miles away so I decided to go out on the bike. Motorcycles were still a bit of a rarity in 1966 so the Superhawk attracted a LOT of attention from my uncles and male cousins and many of them wanted to take it for a ride. All of them used the electric start and slowly wobbled out the dirt lane a few hundred feet in first gear, struggled to turn the bike around without dropping the bike, and wobbled back to the starting point.

After all the men-folk had a turn and wandered away, my aunt Frances came up to me. She was tall and slender and dressed in a white sun dress with a flowing skirt and sandals, her hair in a neat bun and she asked "May I take your bike for a ride?" I was rather startled but said "Sure!"

My aunt Frances threw one leg over the Superhawk and jumped on the kick starter. She tucked her flowing skirt between the tank and her knees and took off with a ROAR, throwing dirt in every direction! At the end of the lane she turned on to the highway in a sharp turn that almost put the bike on its side and hammered the throttle. With each gear-change, she opened the throttle as far as it would go and was in high gear within a few hundred feet. As she vanished over the first hill she had the bike flat out - I knew from the sound that she was near its 120 MPH maximum speed! As the sound of the bike faded in the distance I could see her crest each subsequent hill until she vanished in the distance.

My aunt Frances was gone for about 20 minutes before I could hear the bike coming back, still flat out and well over 120 MPH. A spot appeared and disappeared over the furthest hill, then the next one, then the next until she finally closed the throttle as she approached the laneway to the farm. She made the turn, still at considerable speed, and came up the lane in a cloud of dust. At the last moment she threw the bike into a sliding turn and came to a stop on the main stand right in front of me without ever putting a foot on the ground - I had never seen ANYBODY do that before! She shut the engine off, stepped off of the bike, smoothed her skirt, and very demurely said "Thank you." as she shuffled off to the reunion crowd. It was at that point that I noticed all my uncles and male cousins looking very sheepish.

Later in the day my uncle Wilfred, Frances' husband, came up to me when I was alone and said "You are probably wondering where your aunt Frances learned to ride like that. UNDERSTATEMENT!!! I knew they had met in France during WWII but knew no other details.

My uncles Wilfred continued, "When I me her, your aunt Frances was a dispatch rider for the French underground during German occupation. You either out-rode the Germans (and their bullets) or you died."

My opinion of my stuffy and proper aunt Frances was changed forever. She had never spoke about the war or her role in it but knowing the truth I had the utmost respect not only for her skill with a motorcycle but for her bravery in defending the cause of freedom. She laid her life on the line for something she believed in and became my hero!

Sometimes you think you know someone only to find out what you knew was only a small fraction of the whole story!

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