Fifty-nine degrees in Little Egypt…while it had been below zero just last week. It was a bit difficult to know how to dress for this peculiar winter. Two days left until the New Year and the decision of how Billy B. wanted to conduct himself in this New Year and his new world. He thought of his dad a lot and wondered how he was and where he was. Billy B. had a mental photograph of dad with his motorcycle hat on and his leather jacket and a Pall Mall cigarette hanging from his lips. Dad was a bit of a tough guy and had a little Al Capone in his genes. He was not a tall man but he cast an imposing figure. He carried a concealed handgun before they were in vogue and he did not have a license to carry. Billy B.’s dad’s passion was his Harley Davidson Motorcycle. Dad seemed to always have a wallet full of cash and he was generous with it. The last time that Billy B. saw him he was driving an old Cadillac that had silver dollars affixed to the trunk. He dislodged the silver dollars and handed them to Billy B. and he drove off into the sunset…
‘I have been looking at the Sears and Roebuck magazine and I want a motorized bicycle,’ Chet announced. ‘They are $159 dollars and mom told me to wait for New Year…for a New Year Suprise,’ Chet explained. ‘Chet, if you had one of those you could easily ride from your house in Parrish Addition to my house on Sixth Street and then we could go to the Orpheum to see more movies, Billy B. commented. ‘You know…Chet…we will all want one of those motorized bicycles if you get one on New Year’s Day…gosh we could ride to Broughton and Wasson and even Muddy…on the back roads’ Jane exclaimed!
‘Your dad loved his Harley Davidson Motorcycle…do you remember riding between him and me all over the country…and even a trip from Chicago to Eldorado,’ asked Neva J.? ‘I not only remember the Harley trips but I remember dad telling me that he would buy me a motorcycle when I got older and bigger,’ Billy B. answered. ‘I can not think of a more happy and complete memory of dad than when he was riding his Harley,’ Billy B. added.
1964 is going to be an interesting year with Johnson as our new president and the war in Vietnam raging…I fear that both you and Chet will be drafted one day and sent to fight in the jungles of Vietnam,’ Neva J. lamented with a tear in her eye. ‘Your cousin Gene received his Draft Notice and he is endeavoring to go as a Conscientious Objector, Jane said. ‘What does that mean…Conscientious Objector,’ asked Chet? ‘It essentially means that he refused to carry a weapon because he does not believe in killing,’ Billy B. said. ‘What if someone shoots him and he does not have a gun to defend himself,’ asked Jane? ‘Then he is dead as a doornail…I think that I would want some protection if I was in a war zone,’ Billy B. answered with a serious expression on his young face. ‘A lot of young men are moving to Canada to Dodge the Draft…they will be prosecuted when they return to the United States,’ Neva J. remarked. ‘I hear Walter Cronkite tell how many Americans were killed in Vietnam each evening on the Evening News With Walter Cronkite…and he announces how many Vietnamese
were killed as well,’ Chet said in a whisper.
‘McLintock is on at the Orpheum with John Wayne,’ said Billy B. ‘If John Wayne was in Vietnam fighting for us…the war would be over in a few days,’ said Jane.
‘Mom this is just what I wanted…a bicycle with a motor on it,’ announced Chet! ‘Well you must be careful Chet and only ride it on country roads…and do not forget your hand signals that Carol taught you before he died,’ Thelma said with a slight smile. ‘I believe that Billy B. and Jane are both getting the same thing…which was originally for Christmas…but was delayed due to Western Auto not being able to receive them from their manufacturer in time for December 25th,’ Thelma added.
January 1st, 1964 contained the joy of the late Christmas presents and freedom that they brought…while also holding the winds of change. The war in Vietnam went on throughout 1964 and escalated until 50 thousand Americans lost their lives in the conflict. Billy B. moved away from Eldorado and Chet stayed to care for his mother. John Wayne continued to portray courageous American heroes who never lost a battle.