The Ramblers may have exceeded mom’s limits

“When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ It is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to do it anyway.”

— Erma Bombeck

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Exploring the old East Texas Light offices down on Austin Street when I returned to The Light and Champion two years ago, I found 40-plus-year-old copies of a couple of newspapers.

Yellowed issues of the defunct Sabine News in Many, La., and the still going strong Monitor from Naples up in northeast Texas were lying with a framed certificate in the bottom of a long-ignored built-in storage cabinet. Everything in the cabinet was covered in dust so thick, the pages were barely recognizable.

I wrote a column about the unusual find. If you missed it then, or like me, just forgot about it, I also offered my thoughts on how the combination of newspapers bearing those dates, along with the other framed find, could have been placed there by just one person — me.

That 2021 discovery was in a room that has housed printing press air compressors for at least 30 years. However, the room was once the publisher’s office at The East Texas Light and the office I occupied in 1980 when I filled that position.

I started my newspaper career at The Monitor in 1974. I left there to become editor of The Sabine News before joining The East Texas Light, which became The Light and Champion while I was there. And that other document?

That other dusty document keeping the newspapers company came to mind last week while perusing a collection of old columns I wrote about the same time those papers were stashed away. It was a Texas Motorcycle Roadriders Association Club charter for the East Texas Ramblers dated 1982.

I was a charter member of the Ramblers.

It all came together last week while reading one of my columns from 1981 elaborating about the club. In the piece I penned when I occupied the office described above, I opined about how my mother was adamantly opposed to me riding a motorcycle, something I spent many enjoyable years of my life doing.

I also added that perhaps the newly organized Ramblers community activities might help boost my mother’s visions of motorcycle riders: black jackets and dangerous noisy machines.

Knowing she was a faithful follower of my column back then, I wrote, “For anyone with reservations like my mother, let me clarify. Motorcycle enthusiasts can be any person of any age, sex, creed, or national origin who enjoys riding lawfully registered two- or three-wheel motor powered vehicles for fun or transportation, or anyone wanting to associate with persons of similar persuasion.”

I followed with, “A club is a lawful and legal gathering for the natural and normal pursuit of motorcycle enjoyment in a family-oriented fashion. See, mom, nowhere in there did you read anything about black leather jackets or noisy and recklessly operated machines.”

The old column defined the Ramblers as 15 members that included respected community individuals, like police officers (Ed Roberts), judges (Billy Ballard), bank presidents (sorry, that one slips my mind), and business people (Robert Poffinbarger). I considered including newspaper publishers but decided to keep the image completely respectable.

“The club has participated in homecoming parades and will be a part of seven upcoming Christmas parades in the area,” the column continued.” Two of the club’s members, Dennis Leggett of Joaquin and Paul Blackwell of the James Community, have planned the ‘Fourth Annual Poker Run and East Texas Progressive Field Meet’ for Sunday, November 15, 1981. All proceeds from the Poker Run and Field Meet go to the Texas Motorcycle Roadriders Association which in turn supports organizations like the National Hemophilia Foundation.”

The invitation encouraged motorcycle riders to try their hand at the events or simply enjoy the ride scheduled to cover 70 miles of East Texas. Reading the column, flashbacks of my choosing the latter that day more than 41 years ago made me smile. That, and recalling my now 44-year-old daughter, who was three at the time, riding with me.

I ended the column with a note to my mother. She was not only fearful of my motorcycle riding, but also of my flying. And my drag racing. “Dangerous activities,” she called them. So, I ended the motorcycle riding column by telling her we would address my fondness for flying at another time.

Erma Bombeck was right. I always listened to my mother’s advice … even if I didn’t always follow it.

To mom’s credit, she did fly with me—once. Plus, she and dad attended a couple drag races to watch me participate in “dangerous events.” Mom had her limits, however.

She never, ever accepted any of my offers to take her motorcycle riding.

—Leon Aldridge

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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, the Alpine Avalanche, The Fort Stockton Pioneer, and The Monitor in Naples.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and ‘A Story Worth Telling’ with appropriate and specific directions to the original content.

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