Home Harley davidson 94-year-old vet offers himself a new premium Harley

94-year-old vet offers himself a new premium Harley

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MEDFORD, OR – At 94, Harry Howard is making no apologies for the new 2021 Street Glide he rode on Tuesday in the showroom at the D&S Harley-Davidson dealership in Medford.

It’s ridiculous that he bought it, he laughs.

“I have a ’91 Fat Boy and a Dyna Wide Glide ’04,” Howard told Patch in a phone interview. “I was in the store buying parts, and I was walking around the showroom looking at these shiny motorcycles, and then I said, ‘Oh, what is this. Why not?

“At my age,” he says, “I have the right to do just about anything I want.

Howard says there is nothing quite like seeing the outside from the seat of a motorcycle.

What is the lure?

“Oh my boy,” he began. “Motorcycles are a fascinating machine to start with. The power you have at your fingertips, that fresh air, the sound of that engine when you crank it up, when you hit the accelerator, and it throws you away. against the seat – that’s just the whole motorcycle experience. “

It’s one of those “you have to be there to figure it out” things.

“If someone asks why I’m riding,” he said, “if you haven’t driven, an explanation is not possible. If you have driven, it isn’t necessary.”

Terrie Martin and her sisters, Sandy Unruh and Kim O’Toole, run the family concession that their parents, Dick and Marie Martin, bought 50 years ago. Customers like Howard are like family, and Terrie Martin wanted to make sure the ’21 Street Glide was right for him.

Martin wasn’t sure. The premium touring motorcycle has a 1,750cc engine and weighs around 800 pounds. She understands the “Harley mystique” and the universal truth among bikers that “if I have to explain it to you, you won’t get it”, but the Street Glide is a big bike to handle, let alone a nonagenarian. .

“You should have what you want, if you can take it,” Martin recalls telling Howard when he said that at 94 he should ride the bike he wanted.

“If I don’t think this is the right solution, I will step up,” Martin told Patch in a telephone interview. “We lose customers every year because of motorcycle accidents or whatever. You have to see what could have prevented this. When you sell a bike, you have to sell the right bike. Our customers are lifelong customers. “

Howard handled the bike like the seasoned cyclist he is.

“I feel very lucky that I can still do this at this point in my life,” he said. “I am very health conscious and strong. I pushed the iron until my 50s and was a gymnast. I have never smoked and I am not too fond of alcohol. quite well. “

Howard was born in Los Angeles and has spent most of his life in Southern California. He retired after 40 years at Heidelberg Asia-Pacific, where he worked in after-sales service, and moved to Medford.

“Oregon is pretty scenic,” he said, adding that seeing the back roads, highlands, lakes and streams from a motorcycle is one of the best sensations on Earth.

“I’m an outdoors person – I like fishing and camping – and I don’t like being locked inside,” he said. “On a motorcycle, you can throw up your chest and feel some of the outdoors.”

Howard rides about 5,000 miles a year on his motorcycles. He doesn’t have any particular trips in mind, but Howard – who served as a Merchant Navy in WWII and with the US Army during the Korean Conflict – is certain he will be called up to the Old Guard Riders, a non-profit organization. group that honors and supports U.S. military veterans and their families.

Members of the Old Guard horsemen escort the veterans to their final resting place and stand in front of the flags. They also work closely with the Missing in America Project to locate, identify and bury unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans.

Howard was 22 when he got his first Harley in 1949. He gave up street bikes when his two children – a daughter, now 64, and a son, 59 – were growing up.

“When I started a family I decided I had better give up street bikes because I was the breadwinner,” he said. “I had a dozen off-road motorcycles. Falling into the dirt is not like hitting the asphalt.”

Howard has plenty of time to tour with his Street Glide now that he’s retired from a volunteer gig that almost turned into a second career, spanning three decades. He was a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for abused and neglected children who cannot speak for themselves.

“When I was working, I didn’t have the time or the funds to do much in terms of contributing and volunteering,” he said. “When I retired – I was very lucky in life – I decided I had to give back.”

When he signed up and learned that a two-year commitment was required, he was skeptical.

“I don’t know about it,” he recalls thinking. “Well, okay, 30 years later….”

The children got under his skin like a Harley-Davidson.

“Our job was to get to know the child and the conditions in which he lived, and to report to the courts on the progress and, in particular, if he needed anything,” he said. . “We were seen as an extra friend to be there if they needed anything.

“It’s amazing how the kids react. I get along really well with all the kids,” he said. “It was really rewarding.”

With more free time on Howard’s hands, Martin at D&S Harley-Davidson can expect to see more of the dealership’s older customers.

“Dealership” is too sterile a term to describe the place, Martin said.

“You don’t hang around at the Ford dealership,” she said. “At a Harley dealership, you hang around. We know your name. We know your dog’s name. You become part of the Harley family.

“If that person next to you is a plumber, doctor, Hells Angel rider, or club rider, you are all from the same tribe.”

And Harry Howard can rightly be called the eldest of the tribe.

Harry Howard, 94, added a third Harley-Davidson to his collection on Tuesday when he drove a 2021 Street Glide away from the D&S Harley-Davidson dealership in Medford, Oregon. “Motorcycles are a fascinating machine to begin with. The power you have at the twist of a rich man, that fresh air, the sound of that engine when you crank it up, when you hit the gas, and it throws you against the seat – that’s just the whole motorcycle experience. ” (Photo courtesy of D&S Harley-Davidson)