Posts Tagged ‘osage iowa’

New Life for 1946 Motorette

A few months ago, I wrote a post about my dad’s 1946 Motorette motor scooter. I’ll admit, we had talked about trying to sell it, and I did have that on my mind. I had promised my mom I would look into it, yet in a couple of years, I hadn’t done much. It’s the kind of odd item for which you need to find just the right buyer, and we weren’t hooked into the right community to do that. So, I thought I’d write a blog post and see what happened, never expecting much, but hoping I might generate some interest and maybe a lead. Little did I know how fruitful that post would be.

A few days after I posted it on this blog, Larry Fisher wrote a comment, and I replied, telling him we’d be interested in selling. A few emails later, we reached an agreement. Larry collects and restores autoettes, the class of vehicle the Motorette is in. He’d even tried to purchase one a few years back. And it turned out that Larry’s wife and my mother share the same name, and they had even been in Osage, my home town, a few years back on a trip down Highway 9. They remembered stopping at Stan’s Drive-In. It seemed too good to be true.

I will say that we weren’t looking for a lot of money from this sale. We asked him to name a price, and we offered to help some with shipping. Our main goal was to find the Motorette a good home, where it might be restored to running condition (we had no idea how much work this would be — as it turns out not that much, since it’s been running already this summer, but still much more than I could imagine doing myself). The Motorette had been stored in my parents’ garden shed for over twenty years, and was in decent shape, though it needs some care to really restore it. Field mice had nested under the seat and eaten through some of the wiring. Larry flushed and lubricated the engine, transmission, and bearings and rewired the electrical system to bring the scooter back to life.

Though we were glad to get a little money out of the deal, and glad to know that the Motorette was still valuable, the best part of the deal has been getting to know Larry and finding out more about the scooter. My mom found a newspaper clipping that talked about how my dad bought the Motorette and had it delivered by my (soon-to be) uncle Frank Mulvihille. Frank was a pilot, and his airline flew the Motorette from Chicago to Des Moines for free. It made the news, since my Dad was a WWII veteran who suffered from polio, and that kind of public interest story was popular in the months after the war. Larry even did some research and found some newspaper archives with other references to my dad’s military service. We found multiple license plates and old registration papers. This allowed my mom to renew the registration and then transfer the title to Larry, making the whole process much simpler. I now have a license plate and photos from 1976 when I rode the Motorette in the Bicentennial Fourth of July Parade in Osage, one of the last times we got it running.

The only hassle was with shipping the Motorette across the country to its new home. There were many delays and we were nearly afraid it wouldn’t happen, but finally in late May, the shipping company came through, and the Motorette was on its way to its new home. Since then, we’ve maintained contact with Larry, who has sent some video of the first time the Motorette was running, the engine, and a visit with my brother Kermit and his wife Kim when he was in Boston for a gathering and showed the Motorette for the first time. It sounds like Larry has plans to continue restoring it to get it closer to its original state (with the modifications my Dad made for using hand controls). We’re glad that Larry is so interested in the history of the vehicle and so willing to share what he learns. Maybe one day we’ll all get a chance to meet him and thank him in person. We’re glad Dad’s Motorette has a new life in a new home, and we’re thrilled to have made friends with Larry and Leone, all through a simple blog post.

Merry Christmas

As a Christmas present to the blogosphere, I’m posting a poem from my second book, Time Capsules. It was originally composed on a bitter cold Christmas Eve in 1996, when I was visiting my parents. Lilith, the black lab/border collie mix, who is mentioned in the poem, died several years ago. She was a constant companion for over 14 years on late night or early morning walks.

This year, Iowa has relatively warm weather and our chances of snow are slim. I’m here with my family and our new dog, Zinneke. Though much has changed in the last 15 years, the dark nights of deep winter and the clear air or Northern Iowa, especially walking out into the countryside late at night, still brings a special kind of clarity.

Christmas: Osage Iowa, 10:00 p.m.

I take 10th Street out of town. The only life
on the road is a snowmobile, a couple of cars,
my dog Lilith, and me. It’s ten below
with a light snow. The wind is still tonight,
making the cold bearable. Snow underfoot
and the slightest breeze in the pines create
the only sounds. Then just beyond
the city limits all stops. Around me, empty
white fields and tiny flakes descending
gather up a little stray light to illuminate
the dim landscape. There, half a mile off
the lighted trees at a farmhouse add color
to the stark white of yard lights, muted
now by snow. A car’s red tail lights
glide along the highway headed north.

This stillness is what I’ve traveled two
thousand miles for: the clean, crisp
subzero air, the light invading the dark
to clear my soul. It only lasts a moment,
then the wind picks up and Lilith wants
to play, dashes at me, herds me back
toward home. We run back and forth along
10th Street, stop to savor the cold night,
check the scent of pheasant in the windbreak,
search for a trace of the near-full moon
through thin clouds. The snow obscures
everything even as it makes everything
brighten. The turning point of the seasons
remains elusive, and yet this moment is
enough to take me through another year.