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South Williamsport, PA
United States

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Todd

Around 1980, I was walking down Main St. in Watsontown, my hometown, headed to the store with my mom. It was a summer day, as I still remember it like it was yesterday. The events of this day would be stamped in my 9-year-old mind like the serial numbers on an engine block. As we

Around 1980, I was walking down Main St. in Watsontown, my hometown, headed to the store with my mom. It was a summer day, as I still remember it like it was yesterday. The events of this day would be stamped in my 9-year-old mind like the serial numbers on an engine block. As we neared the borough building at 4th and Main, out of nowhere came a sound, unlike anything I had ever heard before. Loud and screaming with a deep rumble — if freedom had a sound, this was it for sure I thought. At the time I had no clue really what it was or who it was that roared past us, but I wanted it to be me in the worst way. Later, after asking some of my older friends in town, I found out what passed us on the street was Todd Williamson on his red 1979 Harley Davidson Sportster. At the time he went past us I can remember saying to my mom, “I’m gonna have one of those someday.” That was quickly followed by my mother’s reply, “Your gram and I will both disown you if you ever get a motorcycle.”

Flash forward to 1993. I had just come home from Basic Training at Ft. Jackson, and I asked my dad if he would go with me to pick up a motorcycle I wanted to buy. Years earlier I had asked him for a loan to buy a Harley Davidson and he refused (I am sure having everything to do with my mom, gram and of course my safety), but he agreed this time to ride along. After purchasing a black 1971 Harley Sportster, my first bike, we loaded it into my truck and brought it home, unloading it on a paved incline at the Watson Inn Parking lot. After unloading it my dad asked how I was getting it home, I explained I was going to ride it — I had never ridden a motorcycle in my life until that day.

It was around 1995 that Todd Williamson and I began to plan a trip to Daytona Bike Week in 1996. Todd still had the red ’79 Sportster, and it looked just as good as the day I remember seeing it over a decade earlier. We recruited two more of my friends, Tom and Dave and the four of us set out for Daytona in a 2wd GMC single cab pickup my dad owned with a borrowed six-foot cap on as eight-foot bed and a U-Haul trailer in tow.

We all took turns driving the 1,200 miles, three of us in the cab and rotating one in the bed of the truck under the cap. Looking back on this I would never even consider doing this now, but back then, none of us even considered not doing it! Upon reaching the Sun and Fun of the Daytona area, we stayed with my “Aunt and Uncle” Eleanor and Sterling Kulp. Aunt Eleanor and Uncle “Unc” Sterling were not actually my Aunt and Uncle, but they always treated me like family, and I loved them dearly. On their yearly summertime visits to PA, they would always tell me to come visit them in FL. In 1996, I took them up on this offer. They had a detached garage in the rear of their Oak Hills, FL home that had a full bath as well as a table, chairs and plenty of floor space to set up air mattresses and a big yard for tents. We set up “camp” and enjoyed the early morning visits by “Unc” asking what we got into the night before in Daytona. One day on a morning ride into Daytona, Todd had an oil line rupture, and Dave went into town to get parts while we all reclined along the roadside, feet over the handlebars, soaking in the sun, waiting for Dave’s return.

Sterling, Eleanor, and Todd are all gone now, but those memories, visits, and travels live on forever in my mind. I now proudly own Todd’s red 1979 Harley Davidson Sportster, the exact bike that fueled my passion for Harley Davidson back in 1980. Todd bought that bike brand new when he graduated in 1979 from Fisher’s HD in Northumberland. I became friends with Todd around 1991 and even though he was nine years older than I (nine years and three days exactly) we remained friends right up to his passing in July 2016. Months after his passing, I purchased it from his widow as a way to preserve his memory and lifelong love of that bike and the memories I had as a child — I can still see him and his mustache blowing in the wind, headed up Main St. I also look at it as a way to express that love to others, — by telling the story of our 40-year love for Harley Davidson Motorcycles.

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