July-August 2002

The Old Copper Washtub

Many, many years, ago I purchased a new 1975 900 Kawasaki motorcycle with all the extras. One summer day, a customer called from Nashville to ask if we would consider traveling to Tennessee to estimate the repairs on a band organ that had been in a flood. It was mentioned to my wife Phyllis that this would be a nice trip on a hot summer weekend, and we should ride the bike instead of driving the car (Terrible decision on my part).

Prior to departing for Nashville, the saddlebags were packed with extra clothes, and required tools. We started out in the afternoon to get a head start and midway through the trip decided to stop at a motel for the night. The distance cannot be recalled, but it must have been three hundred miles, or better, each way. Regardless, it felt like about a thousand miles as the new bike still had the standard factory seat. During the trip, we thought it possible that Kawasaki built their seats filled with concrete before installing the top layer of leather. The motel chosen was one of the better ones, however, they must have had a bad experience with bikers since when we pulled up to the front entrance, and the desk clerk saw the motorcycle through the window, a sold out sign was placed on the counter saying "no rooms" regardless that the parking lot was nearly vacant of cars.

Tired and frustrated, we proceeded along our way finding a motel a bit closer to Louisville that was friendlier. When we arose early the next morning, it was already extra hot, with the air feeling like a blast furnace. By the time we arrived in Nashville, we were hot, sweaty, totally worn out, and it had started to rain.

The next day, we checked out the band organ, gave the repair estimate, and started for home. We climbed back onto the motorcycle to be rudely reminded how hard the seat was. Actually, the leather must have hardened out more during the night, and we were a long way from home. Just north of Louisville, we pulled into a roadside park and strolled around for while trying to convince ourselves that the ride was really not so bad and we might even be able to walk in a normal way if we survived the trip and arrived home. Suddenly, a thought came to mind that my aunt and uncle lived in Wilmington, Ohio, which was just a couple hours down the highway. So, we decided to take a detour and pay them a visit. That was when catastrophe struck. We took another break, and stopped at a small antique shop where my wife spotted this gigantic copper wash boiler, which she simply had to have to decorate the house. It was a losing battle trying to convince Phyllis that we didn't need the washtub, so we bought the thing anyway, and lashed it to the baggage rack on the back of the bike. It was very easy to think what people were saying when they saw us on the road (look at those two crazy people joy riding with that giant oblong tub on that motorcycle). One might have thought we were taking our portable swimming pool with us.

Along the way, we visited my aunt and uncle for a while, and proceeded to arrive home after dark. When I pulled the motorcycle in our drive my wife told me to stop ten feet inside the driveway where she tried to get off the bike. I don't know if she hit the big tub getting off, or was just on the ground giving thanks that the ride was over, but she was laying out on the grass with a smile on her face. That was our only, and last, long trip on the bike. We still have this bike today, but have not taken it for a ride for ten years or longer. We will probably keep this motorcycle forever to remind us of challenging times and some poorly thought out decisions that we made in the early days. The big washtub had a place in our home for a few years as a magazine rack, but it has since disappeared and I do not recall where it might have gone.

And so, this is the way it was in the old band organ shop...


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