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James R. Stout

The Last Ride of the Thomas, Pounders, and Stout Gang

            It was early 1966 and as John T. Booker said in “The Shootist” it was a period of false spring. Warmer than usual temperatures had given the leaves a jumpstart and most of the trees were already budding out. It also meant that baseball could be played. So, one Saturday afternoon my mother dropped me off at a park where there were several baseball fields. Well, to tell the truth, it was more like there were several backstops and open fields. No bases per se nor were there any fences. Not that any of us were apt to knock one over a fence. There was me, my best friend Ronnie Thomas, his little brother Terry, and a few guys we didn’t know, but it was a pick-me-up kind of game.

            The game went well and about 4 o’clock Ronnie and Terry’s older brother Wayne showed-up with his buddy, Ernest Wayne Pounders. They had come to tell us it was time to get home. “Home” for the Thomas’ was about 2 miles away. I lived about 5 miles away. Wayne was sporting his new Honda 50 motorcycle. Despite its lack of power, it was the coolest thing around which meant that Wayne was the coolest guy around. All you had to do was ask him and he’d tell you all about it! When I had been dropped off at the park by my mother it with the understanding that Ronnie’s parents would bring me home. However, his dad was having to work late, and his mom was in the middle of cooking dinner. So, she had sent Wayne down to get me and take me home on the Honda. There was just one problem. Wayne and Ernest Wayne didn’t want to have to make several trips to take me home and to take Ronnie and Terry home. Never fear, teenage boys make up for their lack of brains with their apparent daredevil skills.

            Let me set this up for you. Terry was 8 years-old. I was 10. Ronnie was 12 and Wayne and Ernest Wayne were both 14. Yes, in those days 14-year-olds could get a license to drive both cars and motorcycles. The fact is they shouldn’t have been allowed such then nor now nor ever. Wayne came up with the idea on how to get us all home the quickest way. Remember, the motorcycle was a Honda 50. Look it up on the internet and you’ll see what is by today’s standards a toy. Dirt bikes of today are double or triple the power and much bigger. It was designed for no more than two people at a time. The driver and a passenger. I might add that according to the magazine ads for the Honda 50 the passenger was usually a very pretty girl wearing go-go boots and either Capri pants and a top or, GASP! - a bikini. Thankfully, none of us were so attired. Here’s the way it went. Terry sat on the handlebars, Ronnie on the gas tank, then Wayne, then me, then poor Ernest Wayne was hanging on for dear life on back. After taking our places on the bike, Wayne headed for the Thomas’ house. We went two miles down a busy street and garnered much staring, pointing, laughing, and in some cases headshakes by many adults. We lucked out in not being seen by the police. But our luck ran out when we thought that we could all get off the bike before Wayne’s mother saw the overloaded Honda. There she was standing on the front porch, hands on her hips, a serious scowl on her face, and lips pursed to give Wayne a tongue lashing. A lashing he deserved.

            After several choice words from Mrs. Thomas, she told Wayne to take me home. I must admit that while she was giving us all the “what for” our heads were bowed as though praying in church. Wayne got back on the motorcycle and I got on behind him. Frankly, I had a blast on that ride home. I don’t think Wayne was too thrilled at his prospects upon returning home. My mother and father never knew about The Last Ride of the Thomas, Pounders, and Stout Gang. It was probably better that way.

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