What Don't I See?                                                                      Reflection 653 words
Copyright
Howard R Music



"Why would anyone be against this?" a woman sitting behind me asked.

Astonished at the question, I glanced back and told her I would explain later, and resumed listening to the speaker in front of us who was reporting on half-life statutes. Half-life is an expression of proposed legislation designed to get older, less fuel efficient conveyances off the highways by mandating scrappage after so many miles or years.

We were at a meeting of Texoma ABATE, a motorcycle rights' organization in Sherman, Texas that lobbies federal, state, and local governments for biker friendly laws and statutes. An officer in the organization, I also participated in the county and state Democratic delegate process, as did riders from all over the state. In fact, at some state conventions Texas motorcyclists were over 40% of the delegates. Molly Beth Malcom, the first woman to chair the Texas state Democratic Party, won her position after being endorsed by the biker caucus. Her opponent simply dropped out because Texas riders controlled too many votes for a successful run against her.

Due to the heavy involvement of motorcyclists in the political arena, politicians and party officials would sometimes attend Texoma ABATE's monthly meetings, which were open to the public.

At this particular meeting a group of women from the local Democratic Party showed up, and they were clearly puzzled by the bikers opposition to the concept of half-life statutes; hence the question from the woman, a retired school teacher.

After the meeting broke up I did the best I could to explain the resistance of motorcyclists to half-life to the visitor.

First off, it involves the taking of private property, one of the mainstays of the Bill of Rights. Though I have since updated, the motorcycle I rode at the time was 20-years old. My pickup, that I still drive, is a 1972 model. Essentially, half-life statutes, if signed into law would turn me into an instant pedestrian and motorcycle boots aren't made for walking.

Like myself the other bikers were working class Texans and most possessed an older truck or car. Thirty-year old Harleys are quite common at their gatherings.

Grayson County where Sherman is located contains a vast rural area. There is a speedway, and since country folk are not subject to city ordinances, many keep "parts cars" for restoration or hot rodding.

There are various car-shows held throughout the year for gear-heads to attend and also an antique tractor event featuring gas and even steam powered equipment restored to showroom quality.

Classic car ownership is not just a rustic tradition. A few years ago I moved to an urban area so my daughter could attend a local college. On my block alone there are five Harley Davidson owners plus several more foreign brand machines.

An elderly neighbor drives a 1967 Chevrolet. Down the street sits a 1952 Chevy pickup. One eccentric has a 1957 Rambler complete with tail fins. There are two other Ford trucks the same vintage as mine. A block over is a Triumph, a British made sports car. In the opposite direction, near an alleyway parked under a carport, is a 1926 Ford Model-T.

These are collectable vehicles that I see just about everyday as I commute through the neighborhood. What classics are squirreled away in garages or behind privacy fences I can only guess.

The point is car culture runs deep in Texas. In fact, across the entire nation. There are classic American car shows in Europe, and I read of one held in Iran, of all places.

The woman I talked with was educated, well traveled and articulate yet, puzzled by a common activity enjoyed world wide.

It keeps me wondering ... just what aspect of her life that is as plain as trees or grass to her ... am I totally oblivious to?

What don't I see?

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