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So it’s 1968 and instead of living in upstate New York, Syracuse, I am now living roughly 3 miles from the Virginia D.C. line. I am 16 years old. My father had been transferred from New York to D.C. or so he said. I could never figure out how getting fired from one company and joining another constituted a transfer but that’s a story for another time and place.


A year earlier from the moment I walked down those shallow halls of that Virginia high school I was that damn Yankee that had invaded their precious world. Images of the Civil War would flash in my head as the comments prevailed. As a sophomore I had made some acquaintances and a couple of friends through football. But fists were always at the ready in case I was cornered in a hall, a classroom or the boy’s rooms.


I began skipping a couple of classes every few days to go work out in the gym with another class I sneaked in with. Hence the disciplinary vice-principal, Mr. Ford (not the future president) became acquainted quite often. Trouble is I was passing the classes I skipped because I always showed up for the tests. Finally I was restricted from “extra time” from the gym thinking I would give up and go to class. Au contraire I found another diversion and hiding place. In the gallery of Congress of the United States.


Of course not all my skipping school time was spent watching Congress what I thought was at work. It was later I found out most of the work was done (Deals) behind the scenes. But I digress. Like I said there was much more to do in D.C. than attending Congress. Rally’s, demonstrations, sit-ins, speeches on all sides captured my attention. I remember at the tender age of 16 sitting down, drinking coffee and talking with Coretta King, Godfrey Cambridge, Bob Dylan, Black Panthers, SDS, John Birchers and so many others. I also remember one Saturday or Sunday sitting close to the White House fence and out comes this tall guy walking around with secret service. I pressed myself against the fence and watched as this tall lanky man with a cowboy-like hat on came sauntering up and shook my hand. The only words I heard were.


“Nice to see you son.”


Now I don’t care who you are or your political affiliation is. When the president of the United States walks up and shakes your hand at 16 years old it is something to remember.


But on with my story. It was at one of these demonstrations pro or against the war or pro civil rights or whatever that I heard an interesting rumor. It was floating around that a certain motorcycle “club” was going to come to D.C. I also found out they would be here in about a month.  So I kept tabs with a couple of people in the SDS that I had met to keep me posted. Why I wanted to see or even meet them I had no idea I just did. Well not only did I find out when they were coming but the route they were taking. So now I needed a plan.


At 16 years old I came up with a plan which, of course, was absolutely brilliant. Not having a car yet I either needed to “borrow” one for a while or recruit someone to join in my insanity. Someone who preferably had transportation. This person readily joined me and as a senior had the wheels. When he asked me what the plan was he roared. So I had enlisted a compadre. Next was to obtain and organize all the implements necessary for our adventure. Things were borrowed from the neighbors, neighbors kids and purchased from the store that imprinted T-shirts for 10 bucks a piece. Small price to pay since my friend was furnishing the wheels.


Finally the magic day arrived and we loaded his trunk with our stuff. Arriving at a particular spot on the D.C. beltway we parked, albeit illegally, and prepared for our fun. We took two kiddy tricycles equipped with bells and pink and red streamers out of the trunk and set them beside the beltway. Next we donned out T-shirts with the image of a corncob with its mouth open and smoking a cigar. The words SCREAMING CORNCOBS MC were on the back. Next came the baby bonnets, one pink and one blue, on our heads. Finally a couple or Tiparillo’s to complete the scene.


While traffic passed by we could see people shaking their heads and laughing hysterically. I looked at my friend and we both felt like a million bucks. After about a half-hour we could har the beginnings of the roar of engines. The closer they got the louder the roar. As they approached the lead bike spotted and started to slow. There were about 50 or more Harley’s following him. As they slowed down my friend and I looked at each other . We both said it at the same time.


“Oh shit, we’re dead.”


Finally the lead biker stopped and turned to show us his Hells Angels logo. He stood with his back towards us for what seemed and eternity. I looked at my friend who was pale as a ghost. Finally the lead biker turned towards us laughing. As I recall he was tall and neither skinny or fat. He was a white guy with a road worn tan and dust. He had the biggest afro I had ever seen. When he started to laugh the others joined in. Then he looked at us.


“Name’s Turkey. You guys got some balls.”


With that Turkey cranked his bike which signaled for the others to get ready. With that they sped off laughing all the way.


Funny thing is about a year later I hitched from D.C. to Atlantic City Race track for a 3 day concert. The concert started on Friday and lasted through Sunday. On Saturday afternoon I was walking through the crowd when I heard someone behind me yell.


“Hey tricycle. Ever get a bigger bike.”


I turned around and there he was still sporting an afro and beard but now he was smoking the biggest joint I ever saw. We laughed and slipped skin.


I never saw Turkey again but when I first saw the movie “Woodstock” I swear he was in the crowd with the same afro and beard and smoking a different fattie. So here’s to you Turkey, if you’re still alive, for making my life a little more special that day on the beltway.


Ric Wells



Ric Wells Added Sep 13, 2018 - 1:24am
The time line may be a little off meaning when did I move from Syracuse to D.C. but we're talking 50 years ago. But I think it's pretty accurate. 
opher goodwin Added Sep 13, 2018 - 2:15am
Ric - that is an amazing set of tales! I knew this Digital Tavern idea of Burgers would be good. Pour yourself another beer you deserve it!
What a lot of great experiences there are locked up in this great bunch on WB. It was all bursting to come out!
This one certainly wasn't a turkey!
Ric Wells Added Sep 13, 2018 - 2:18am
I am assuming the one caveat we have is that the tales we tell are true. I think it will be better if we hold to that. 
Flying Junior Added Sep 13, 2018 - 3:42am
Well told Ric.  Good suspense!
Stone-Eater Added Sep 13, 2018 - 7:47am
Congrats on that one. Another gem in the series :-) Really, we're an interesting bunch here !
Mustafa Kemal Added Sep 13, 2018 - 9:04am
Ric,  the two screaming corncobs meet Turkey.
What a great story.   Did you ever get used to those Virginia boys?
I had one teach me how to skip school.
I was in Fairfax in 68 but not hanging around Congress. 
We were diggin Hey Jude and Revolution on 45s
Ric Wells Added Sep 13, 2018 - 9:19am
Mustafa. We kind got used to each other. Football helped. I was starting varsity QB as a sophomore. But went through trials and tribulations. Had my hair longish and the varsity basketball coach hated me. He had his players hold me down in a locker room and they cut the front of my hair off. He thought I would get the rest cut but so word it like a badge. Everybody knee what happened. 
He had to turn away every time I walked towards him. But I left Virginia after my junior year. Dad got another transfer Haha. Ended up in Cincinnati my senior year. Life got real interesting there. Maybe that's another Digital Tavern. Maybe not.
The Burghal Hidage Added Sep 13, 2018 - 9:31am
Good tale. You had to have witnessed nearly the whole circus. And Hells Angels to boot? I always liked part of their creed: when we're good no one remembers, when we're bad no one forgets
Ric Wells Added Sep 13, 2018 - 9:34am
Grew up on very interesting times my friend.
opher goodwin Added Sep 13, 2018 - 11:16am
Ric - oh yes - absolutely. It would be wrong if they were otherwise.
opher goodwin Added Sep 13, 2018 - 11:18am
There are a great bunch of tales already building up. I can taste the excitement. What lives we lead.
Stone-Eater Added Sep 13, 2018 - 12:44pm
I had that Beatles 45 too. The first I ever had was Michelle/Girl in 1965.
opher goodwin Added Sep 13, 2018 - 3:00pm
Mustafa/Stone - I used to buy every Beatles single - from From Me To You onwards on the day of release. They were always different and never disappointed.
Ric Wells Added Sep 13, 2018 - 3:04pm
Favorite Beatles song. Tomorrow never knows.
opher goodwin Added Sep 13, 2018 - 3:50pm
Ric - must be one of mine too though I love Across the Universe and Come Together. I change my mind every time I catch one again. So many were just outstanding.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 13, 2018 - 11:19pm
Very creative.  Sounds like you learned more by skipping classes than by going to them, like how to make the Hell's Angels laugh.  Now there's a survival skill worth developing.
Ric Wells Added Sep 13, 2018 - 11:25pm
Katherine sometimes life experiences are more valuable than schooling. Outside the walls are a better education than inside the walls. 
Jeffry Gilbert Added Sep 13, 2018 - 11:53pm
Stones of Rushmore proportions. 
Ric Wells Added Sep 14, 2018 - 12:42am
Either that or youthful exuberance. (Stupidity). LOL.
Mustafa Kemal Added Sep 14, 2018 - 1:05am
re:"Stones of Rushmore proportions."
I agree with Ric here. That would require that you actually knew what you were doing.  
Jeffry Gilbert Added Sep 14, 2018 - 1:48am
I stand corrected. 
Stone-Eater Added Sep 14, 2018 - 3:08pm
Your Mother Should Know influenced my piano "composing" style. I don't go for the hyped songs like Walrus but for stuff like I Want You or Glass Onion...
Ric Wells Added Sep 14, 2018 - 3:41pm
Agree Stone . But at the time I liked The Stones Satanic Majestys Request better. Especially 2000 light years from home. But all time favorite Stones are can't you hear me knocking and last time. 
Leroy Added Sep 15, 2018 - 2:46pm
Good story.  Sounds like you had a front row seat to the greatest circus on earth.
Ric Wells Added Sep 15, 2018 - 2:54pm
Sure did Leroy from many aspects. 
Flying Junior Added Sep 16, 2018 - 2:05am
I liked The Stones...  Especially 2000 light years from home.
I agree about Can't You Hear Me Knockin?  That was Mick Taylor's audition!  Best Bobby Keyes tenor saxophone ever.  I think Keith's outrageous guitar riff intro must be his  open-G tuning.  I heard the last four minutes one time in 1971 in an upstairs men's boutique on Carnaby Street in London looking at some flowered shirts and other faggy menswear.  I had the original album with the zipper.
Ric Wells Added Sep 16, 2018 - 2:08am
Saw an interview with Muddy Waters and he said The Last Times was just as good as any blues song he ever wrote. High praise at the time.
Ric Wells Added Sep 16, 2018 - 2:09am
No not a stoner but I really did like a lot of acid rock.
Flying Junior Added Sep 16, 2018 - 2:28am
I used to see Muddy on a fairly regular basis playing with different bands on KPBS in the late 1970s and the early 1980s shortly before his death.  There is a raucous youtube out there with Muddy dropping in on Mick and Keith at a club in Chicago.  He was a distinguished elder statesman of the blues.  And a threat to our daughters.
Imagine the amplifiers and the microphone that Muddy and Junior Wells must have had to get that badass sound in the early 1950s!
I'm goin' down in Louisiana get me a mojo hand.
I'm goin' down in Louisiana get me a mojo hand.
(Lawd take me wit' you man when you go!)
You know I just found out, my trouble's just begun!
opher goodwin Added Sep 17, 2018 - 8:56am
I have that CD of Muddy with Mick and Keith at the Checker Lounge. A great one. I was lucky to see Muddy three times in the 70s. Would have loved to have seen him in a Chicago club back in the 50s - and Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson and Elmore James.
I feel myself very fortunate to have seen Muddy and Son House, Bukka White, Big Joe Williams, Hounddog Taylor, Jimmy Reed, Skip James and Otis Spann.

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