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Northeast Passages: June, 2017

By Loretta Jackson

Celebrants en masse visited Wilkins Harley-Davidson in Barre, Vermont, on Saturday, April 1, to raise a slice of cake in a toast to co-founder Barbara Wilkins, celebrating her 88th birthday at the dealership she helped launch in 1947. As a memory marker, know that it was the year the flying saucer crashed near Roswell, New Mexico. And the year the World Series was first televised. Barbara was 18 years old when she and her hub, Harry Wilkins, opened the doors. Now, the dealership is operated by a third generation including John Lyon, the grandson of the founders. Congratulations, Barbara… Recently, there was good news for Gold Star mothers and their families in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. The Dirty Water Crew chapter of American Legion Riders, based at Marsh Post 442 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, hosted a Cabin Fever Party on Saturday, March 11, at the Knights of Columbus in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. Some tasty food, a slew of donated raffle prizes and non-stop music by a quintet of house rockers—the band Inner Child—moved folks to generosity amounting to some $5,000 earmarked for the families. Jay Champey, vice president of the chapter and son of the late Army veteran Joseph Champey, later told me that the cash goes directly to the Gold Star families with nary a slice shaved off, as sometimes happens when funds dribble down from big foundations where administrative expenses chew up a big bite of each donated dollar. Champey said, “We go to the individual families and hand them the money, or, if they maybe need a ramp on the house or electrical repairs, we pay for it.” Champey said the 12 members of the chapter, founded four years ago, named their group after the “dirty water” of the Charles River. I’ll sing my praises for the Dirty Water Crew by yodeling a little. How about a line from the 1966 hit by the Standells? “Well I love that dirty water. Oh, Boston, you’re my home!”… Elsewhere, riders throughout New England, the Midwest and elsewhere were poised at press time for the MDA Ride for Life charity fundraiser, launched 30 years ago by the Eastern Harley-Davidson Dealers Association (EHDDA) to assist families affected by Muscular Dystrophy, ALS and other degenerative neuromuscular conditions. According to mdarideforlife.org, the 2016 event raised $1,110,838. This year’s 30th annual Ride for Life weekend, May 5–7, surely will add to the tally. I spoke to Tracy Hausknecht, MDA Ride for Life event coordinator, from her office in Allentown, Pennsylvania, shortly before the big weekend. The Pennsylvania doings at the Reading Fairgrounds include a massive parade and a concert by LANco, comprised of country-rock honcho Brandon Lancaster, bassist Chandler Baldwin, keyboardist Jared Hampton, drummer Tripp Howell and guitarist Eric Steedly—a group signed with Arista Nashville. The name, “LANco,” stands for “Lancaster & Company.” Hausknecht anticipated the May ride to be the best yet. She said, “We couldn’t be more grateful for everyone’s enthusiasm and support.”… June brings riders to the 94th celebration of Laconia Motorcycle Week, slated for June 10–18. It ends on Father’s Day. What a great gift for any dad. Give him a week at the Beach—Weirs Beach, that is. It’s a sunburn in the making that’s well worth the ouchie. That’s all for now, friends. See you down the road.

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