ack in 1974, I was 16 years old and just received my first Harley – Davidson XLCH 1000 Sportster motorcycle. I was in heaven, although my grandparents weren’t too happy with themselves for allowing me to buy the two wheeled ‘deathtrap’ as they called it. They were concerned that I would end up like my father, a ‘motorcycle tramp’ who couldn’t hold a job down for more than a couple years. I understood where they were coming from, but I wanted a bike since I was a kid and I actually looked up to my dad. He would take my brother and me on small road trips out o the countryside’s of southern California. My brother rode on the luggage rack, positioned over the rear fender with his feet in the saddlebags and I was placed behind the old man on the buddy seat.
I saved my own monies for that motorcycle and although I respected what my grandparents said, I was determined to purchase the ’74 one way or another. With the $500.00 down payment and my Uncle Bob cosigning the paperwork, I was the proud new owner of my dream.
I was officially broke and Uncle Bob had to give me money, just to get the bike home. Within 3 months, I was well on my way to being a ‘Bad Ass Biker’ and my grandparents weren’t too happy about that either, but with the help of Uncle Bob, they broke down and bought me my first leather jacket and boots. Dude, I was beside myself.
The jacket was black cowhide leather with fringe on the sleeves and across the back shoulder blades. There was two ‘gun pockets’ on the inside, one on each side, a fleece zippered in lining and three zippered pockets on the outside with a small cigarette pocket with a snapped flap on the left lower side. The waist belt was sewn in on both sides, with a kidney belt in the rear lower portion of the jacket. There were shoulder flaps that were snapped at the neck and the collar was also snapped. All of the snaps, zippers and buckle were silver. Over the years, the entire fringe was either ripped off or cut off by men who didn’t think it was appropriate for a tramp to have on his jacket.
Just the other day, while rummaging through the back garage, as my wife and I were rearranging boxes to make room for the new pool table, I came across that old jacket that was replaced a few years back. As I opened the box, I notices several T-Shirts that the wife put away, thinking she was being ploy with my belongings. Under the T’s was a familiar site, the old leather jacket that held so many fine memories. She didn’t throw it away after all. Sometimes, it amazes me with some of the things a woman will do. Not that that’s a bad thing, women and men just think differently and what a woman will keep stowed away, is not necessarily what a man would keep.
Anyhow, back to the subject at hand. I took that old jacket down to the local leather shop and was introduced to some fine products to help me restore it. Leather cleaner, black leather dye and a leather treatment that altogether came to just under $50.00 and there was plenty left over for the rest of my leather products. This jacket looks brand new and according to the grapevine, is probably worth ten times what it was new. I will most likely keep it around for when my son becomes of age to properly take care of such a treasured article.
I’ve learned a lot over the years and have learned to take care of the things that matter in my life. I’ve been given a second chance with that old jacket alone. Normally, with the way things are made these days, products don’t usually last that long, that’s how companies stay in business for so many years. If you take care of things properly, business would only sell to new customers and unless it’s a product that is in great demand, businesses are going to fold. The price of leather has sky rocketed and it’s nice to be in that business right now, but learn from an old man and take care of your leather products and your leather products will be around for the next generation of motorcycle tramps in your life.