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Northeast Passages: October, 2017

By Loretta Jackson

Suspense is building for Brookfield Indian Motorcycle of Brookfield, Connecticut. It is in first place, as of this writing, out of 191 associated dealerships nationwide, as judged by parent Polaris. Patty and Robert Gaulin and their son, Eric Gaulin, own the top-ranked contender. She told me, “We are very excited about the ranking.” It is based on customer service, volume of bikes sold and many other factors. Patty had just returned from Vegas, where the 2018 models debuted at a dealer’s conference… Meanwhile, some 200 bikers in New Hampshire did $9,000’s worth of good on Saturday, July 8, in Hudson, with a 76-mile ride for Army Spc. Joshua “Josh” Keller, 23. The local guy was negligently shot in the neck in February by a fellow soldier. The shooter, Spc. Thomas Popek, 22, got three years and a month, plus a bad conduct discharge. Josh’s mom, Maria, and his dad, Matt, owner of a 2014 Indian Chieftain, say Josh thought nothing of doing 800-mile runs on his cherished 1995 Sportster. He’d rest in a sleeping bag. That’s on hold for now, for the weapon that did major damage to tissue and arteries was a .45-caliber pistol. Josh is in the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division of the Army. Thankfully, Josh’s twin brother, Zachary, also an Army Ranger, was in the room when the admitted “fooling around” by Popek went down. (Zachary owns a Honda Fury and often went riding with his brother, as did the shooter.) Zachary saved his brother’s life with rounds of CPR and by staunching the blood flow until medics arrived. Staff writer Don Himsel in The Telegraph of June 29 reported Josh lost full mobility in his arms and legs but can speak. Josh is recovering in a veterans hospital outside Boston and his brother Zachary said in the story that Josh “crushes it” in PT. Back home, Josh had been in maintenance for the Hudson Police Department and Zachary was an animal control officer. It was Hudson police officer Pharith Deng who proposed the ride. He was quoted in The Telegraph as saying, “Why not do one for Josh?” Officer Deng told me in August that Bay State Welding was the run’s launch point and that Spyros and Angela Saucier and Rick and Bridget McCartney there were big helps. The $9,000 will assist with Josh’s many needs. The twins’ father, Matt Keller, told me that, “Josh is pushing hard with his therapy and plans on riding again in the near future.” Want to help a fellow biker and a guy who is serving his country? Go online to GoFundMe.com and look for the “Josh Keller Recovery Fund.” Good luck, Josh! And Zachary—you rock!… Elsewhere, Tramontin Harley-Davidson in Hope, New Jersey, launched its Homeless Vets “FunRaiser” Ride, benefiting Operation Chillout Homeless Veterans Outreach, on Saturday, August 12. Some $20,000 was raised and everyone partied at Vasa Park in Budd Lake during Chillout’s annual Vets Summer Fest. Music, food, bands and other fun happened bigtime. Tramontin’s Nancy Duthie told me some rare auction items included 10 dealership-donated autographed guitars from Les Paul, James Taylor and other greats. The auction alone raised $5,000 and included a concert poster signed by Vanilla Fudge. Their 1967 hit, “Ticket to Ride,” reminds me—See you down the road, friends.

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