I had this story running through my head when I went down to Bike Week in Daytona, Florida. I was a young man and I traveled down with a group from the local HOG Chapter. We went down to meet girls and party till all hours of the evening. An area of the beach was roped off for bike games. One game interested me, it was called a distance wheelie race, and so I signed up. Upon the firing of a starter pistol we were to get your bike on its rear wheel and ride it as far down the beach as we could. Once your front wheel went down a flag was placed at the spot with your number & name on it.
The race was conducted with two bikes at a time until all participants had completed the course. The winner was the one who traveled the farthest. The first pair went off at 3:00 pm eastern standard time. By the time my heat was called it was dark so the course had to be light up with floodlights. By the time my heat was called I had too many drinks. My name was called so I lined up with my partner and when the pistol sounded I put Big Red up on its rear wheel and took off down the beach. I went and went and went until we ran out of lights and I kept going. The feeling as I rode was exhilarating; I felt as I could go on forever. My partner rode alongside, on two wheels, lighting the way with his headlight. Others were also there to help keep track of the distance I rode. Sooner than I realized Big Red wanted down so down he went and I stopped. I looked back and it seemed that the floodlights were miles back. A pole was placed where Big Red went down and labeled with both our names and my license plate.
I had no memory of how I got back to my room that night. When I woke up, dressed and went outside and found that Big Red was in my parking place at the motel. When I went to breakfast I found that other riders had not yet broken my distance. I was an instant celebrity and every place I went I was congratulated for my ride. During the week no one was able to break my distance. At the end of bike week a raffle was held for all the winners of the weekly events. A wheel barrel was placed next to each contestant and people could put coins, bills, checks and other items of value into each wheel barrel. The contestant having the most in the wheel barrel won the raffle. If they wanted the other contestants could put their winnings in the winners wheel barrel. In a very short time it was apparent that I was going to win the raffle. All of the other contestants put their winnings into my wheel barrel and I was declared the winner. I thought that was the end but it wasn’t. An agency representative came forward and asked if I would like to exchange my winnings for a check in the amount of 200,000 dollars. A large crowd had gathered around us by this time and I was about to refuse the offer when another person from a different agency came forward and told me that he would double the amount of the first check for my wheel barrel. I now had to pause and think about this decision. I was offered a lot of advice from the crowd. I really did not know what to do when a little blond haired girl of eight years of age came forward and put 50 cents into my wheel barrel. I crouched down in front of her and asked her name. “Alice Dougal” was the response and I asked Alice why she put .50 cents in my wheel barrel. She said that it was to help me make up my mind as I looked lost and needed help. I hugged her; asked permission to pick her up and with tears in my eyes took her over to her parents. As I turned back to the two representatives, the crowd went silent, I took and ripped up their checks and said,” Out of the mouths of children comes the truth and love”, I will take the wheel barrel. The sound that went up from the crowd was like nothing else in the world, it was like very loud thunder. I have heard that sound only once before and that was when I rode my Harley-Davidson in a pre- homecoming assemble in the main Gym at Antioch Community High School in 2003.
A lot of people helped me sort out the contents of the wheel barrel over the next few days. I ended up with $250,000 is cash & checks, deed for a Gold Mine, deed for a silver mine and part ownership in quite a few business’s. I kept Alice’s .50-cent piece and had it framed. During Bike Week I spent a lot of time with Alice and her family and got to know them very well.
I was known where ever I went, in every restaurant, bar, studio and library. Where ever I went my money was no good. The people of Daytona Beach couldn’t believe that I turned down all the money for the wheel barrel. I was invited to dinner in homes of all the important people in town. I was even given an apartment to stay in whenever I would come back to Bike week. The apartment was right on the beach and had a separate bike-parking place.
I arranged for a local attorney, George Thompson, to sort and handle all of the items from the wheel barrel, including the deeds and part ownership in the local businesses. The cash was to be sent to Brain Wilson at my investment firm, for investing. I asked George to keep track of who these contributions came from, even down to Alice’s 50 cents. I also asked him to keep track of these families over the years and to give me a monthly report of their finances. The week was over and it was time to return back up north to resume my teaching career. It was 10 years later when I finally was able to come back to Daytona.
The deeds to the Gold and Silver mines turned out to be the greatest asset that I owned and some of the local businesses did very well. That over the next ten years a total of 10 million dollars was added to my account with George. I used a lot of those funds to help those who had placed contributions in my wheel barrel. There were expensive operations that were paid for, college education for the kids, loans for business failures, money loans and sometimes grants. George made the suggestions and all I did was to write the checks. I was able to help everybody that George was able to identify from the wheel barrel. I refused all repayment of this assistance and asked that they take the money and give it to someone who is need of help. In this way I was able to give back all that was given to me and create a philosophy that each person is responsible to those around them.
I rode with a group of my friends back down to Daytona Bike week. It was 12 years to the date since I had last rode down to Daytona. I called George to tell him that I was coming down and asked if my apartment was available. He expressed great delight to talk to me again and that the apartment was indeed available. I asked that he not tell anyone, and to get the apartment ready for my arrival. My friends went to the campground where they were staying and I rode down the main drag and across the bridge to the beach. As I turned into the parking place in front of the apartment I noticed that the lights, in the apartment, were on. As I turned and began to back Big Red into the parking spot I was stopped by the arrival of a police car. I was told that I could not park there to turn off the bike and was asked for my driver’s license. I complied with his request and gave him my license. His partner was walking around my bike shinning his light on rear plates. He went up to his partner and whispered something in his ear. He then turned to me and introduced himself as Tim Morgan and handed back my license and apologized. Tim said he noticed my plates Buddy 2 and recognized the bike. They had been stopping people all day from parking in that spot. The police department has been charged with making sure that this parking spot was available for my arrival. George Thompson had called them and told them that I was coming in.
Tim also remembered the bike from 12 years ago. It turned out that I had helped his parents pay for his policeman training some years ago. I asked him if his folks had helped out another family when they had problems. Tim said that they had but would not talk about it. I told him that was the condition I placed on their loan. I asked Tim about Alice Dougan and her family. He said they were fine and Alice was back in town from college. Tim and his partner helped me settle into the apartment and park my bike. Tim drove me over to the Dougan residence and went with me to the door and rang the bell. I stood back when Mr. Dougal appeared in the door. Tim said I have someone here I think you know and I stepped into the light. It was a surprise and I got a big hug from him and he quietly led me into the kitchen with “you will never guess who is here, dear,” and I got another big hug from Mrs. Dougal. We talked for a while and Mrs Dougal broke it up by saying that Alice is home. She went to the stairs and called up to Alice.” Honey, there is someone here to see you”. They went into the kitchen to observe. Alice ran down the steps as only a 20 year old can. She stopped suddenly when she saw me, with her blue eyes opened widely and her hand over her open mouth. She was the most beautiful person I ever saw, her blond hair in a ponytail and she was dressed sport bra and white shorts.
We stared at each other for a few seconds, it seemed like an hour, and then Alice launched herself at me with a squeal of delight. She wrapped her body around me with huge hug and was crying on my shoulder saying, “you really are here, you came back” repeatedly. It took a while for us to calm down and I was invited to stay for dinner. Alice did not leave my side for a minute during and after dinner, I filled them is on what I had been doing the past 12 years and they told what had been happening in town. I told them that George Thompson had been sending me a monthly report on the happenings from town.
I turned to Alice and again thanked her for what she had down all those many years ago and teased her when I said if it weren’t for her all the good that I did over the past years would not have happened. She turned a little red and was going to say something when her mom interrupted and said “Jim you would have known to do the right thing”. Mr Dougan asked me about my personal life and what my goals were. As he did this I felt Alice tense up along side me and turned toward her but she was looking across the table and I turned back to Mr. Dougan and told him about how I liked teaching. I told them about my wolf dream that led me to be a teacher and that brought a lot of questions and discussion around the table. I then told them that I was 32 years old and had dated a lot of ladies but had not yet found my significant other with whom I wanted to have a family with and hoped that it would be soon as I wasn’t getting any younger. I glanced at Alice after I made that statement and her face was slightly red and she had a smile on her face but she would not look at me. Mr. Dougan said that my distance record still stands but that this year it might be broken. To me it would be the right time and maybe someone else would be as lucky as me.
Tim drove me back to the apartment and as we came into the drive there were a lot of people outside on the lawn, George Thompson and many others. They surrounded the car as we drove up. A good number of the people that I helped, the town leaders and others were there to welcome me back to Daytona. I later asked how everyone knew that I had arrived. George said they saw the lights in the apartment were on. For the last 12 years the lights were off and everyone in town knew that when Bike Week came that the apartment was my place to stay. When the light went on the word was passed very quickly that JC had come back to Daytona. That is why everyone is here, to welcome you home.
copyright © 2014 James M. Curtis