by Charles Hall
It’s now April, 2020. Corona Virus shutdown. I live on a ranch about 10 miles outside of Kerrville, TX. My wife and I may live out in the sticks, but we have paved roads all the way back to our home site – about 280 homes on 3000 acres. It’s really nice and peaceful. I just finished mowing the yard, then pressure washed all our decks – in the hopes that someday soon we would be able to resume our great social life with friends here on the ranch and have some visitors. So I sit down on my front porch, about 150 feet from the road to relax for a little while. My mind took me back to peaceful times growing up in Midland, Tx. I started thinking about the blog book to which a bunch of us were contributing stories. Suddenly my daydreaming came to an abrupt end.
Off about ¼ mile down the winding road, I hear an unmistakable sound – one I will always love and will never forget. I could swear that’s a Cushman Eagle motor scooter coming up my little country road. This can’t be real, but here comes a friend of mine driving up the road on a bright red, completely reconditioned 1961, 8 horsepower Cushman Eagle. We had a great visit out on the road and I even took a picture (attached). He had just traded a Honda for this, and wasn’t too familiar with all the features. So I had a wonderful time showing him the baffles, the clutch (no, you don’t have to ease it out to take off), the oil screws for the shocks, etc etc. After he left, I wandered back to my porch and a cold beverage …. and let my mind wander back about 60 years to the incredible days after 8th grade and the endless summer days and nights in Midland. Drinking that water or whatever.
I was back in time, about 14 years old. I had lived in Midland since age six, and had gone through bicycles, Little League baseball, embarrassing moments, hanging out with friends and dreaming about the day we would have our own motorized wheels and FREEDOM !!
That day finally came. I had several friends who were a few months older than me who already had motor scooters (Bob Lambert, John Moore, Cliff Johnson, Tommy Franks). And now I could ride around anywhere in Midland, hang out, meet lots of people, go where I wanted when I wanted. Midland had those big wide streets, and although a few of the guys had crashes, it was basically pretty safe. (You couldn’t pay me to ride one now!!) I had my brand new bright red 1959 Cushman Eagle, 5 horsepower, 2 speed transmission. It would do about 45 mph top speed, and it looked very much like the picture I have attached of my neighbor’s scooter which was taken in front of my house just a few minutes ago.
My Cushman Eagle even had a buddy seat, which was required in order to let someone else ride with you. But it was on back order, so I didn’t have a buddy seat the first few weeks. This led to what I refer to as one of my “dumbest moments”, and I laughed about this with Shirley only a few years ago. You see, Shirley Dorff was a cheerleader and sort of like a Queen of Midland Junior Highs (along with Carole Scrivner, Karen Kimball, and Lynne Stoltenberg). It must have been a really hot Saturday afternoon shortly after school had resumed from the summer. I was out in my front yard on Illinois St. messing with my scooter, and Shirley comes walking by. Now Shirley lived about 2 miles West of my house, which is a long way to walk in that heat. So any normal 9th grade boy would have offered her a ride home – and to heck with the buddy seat law AND the fact that everyone knew that her parents didn’t allow her to ride on motor scooters. But NO, I just waved hello and didn’t offer her a ride. (I haven’t admitted this to any of my friends until just now, because at the time I would have been ostracized from the motor scooter crowd, and rightly so. John McElligott just now called me and I admitted this to him – not sure if he will ever call me again LOL). Anyway, to make things even worse, I saw Shirley at school the following Monday. She came right up to me and said “That is the only time I would have disobeyed my parents and ridden on a motor scooter, but YOU didn’t even offer me a ride”. End quote. Wow, the life lessons we learn when we are young, and you’d think I would forget after 60 years. Sorry Shirley !!! She was always very nice to me after that, because I think she realized I needed REMEDIAL training regarding the ways of the world. She ended up marrying a guy who was the Quarterback for rival Odessa Permian – but Frank is actually a really good guy.
I wish I had the skill to adequately voice the thrill that came with riding around on a Cushman Eagle at that age. There were probably 40 or 50 of us who had these scooters, and we would join up and ride all over Midland at all hours of the day or night. Some of us would arrange to meet by the Toddle House at midnight, and I would sneak out and push my scooter (parked right by my bedroom window) down the block to the Safeway parking lot before starting it. We would ride around half the night, and I would shut down the motor and coast the last hundred yards back home. My parents had no clue. Right? Wrong … at least 20 years later, in my mid 30’s, my Mother casually asked me why I pushed my scooter so far from the house before I started it late at night?? Not as crafty as I thought I was LOL.
A few years ago, a bunch of us who have remained friends on Facebook did a LONG back and forth telling stories about the joys of owning a scooter. So, I hope some of you pitch in and add to this tale.