After we moved to Alamogordo, I started riding my motorcycle to school. The old Central JHS was unable to handle the large number of kids, so Chaparral JHS was in the works. Until the new building was complete, the students would have split days. Central would go in the mornings, and Chaparral would go to school in the afternoon. This was October, and I loved the weather. It was 5 p.m. when school was out, and the weather was nice. I would walk out to my Cushman motor scooter and prepare for the short drive home. That was great. Since the legal age to drive a scooter was thirteen years old, the school had scooter parking. There were a fairly large number of scooters in the lot. At Runnels JHS, I was the only one who illegally drove a scooter to school. I didn’t have a license, but I needed to go to the Big Spring Daily Herald and pick up my newspapers. The thing that bugged me about Runnels was that high school kids would come and drive my scooter around during their lunch hour. I reported it to my teacher, and her response was, “You’re not supposed to drive a scooter to school.” I didn’t report it again.
I had my aircraft helmet from Big Spring, so I would ride with a helmet. Webb AFB was a training base. That meant there were several salvage yards that had helmets for sale, and they were cheap. I bought a nice pilot helmet for twenty dollars. It had hookups for oxygen and radio communications if I needed it, but it might have been a bit dangerous to install liquid oxygen on a scooter. My nickname quickly became Steve Canyon. I was quite a sight I’m sure. I was a skinny kid with a huge jet pilot helmet over my head. Finally, the ridicule ended when I parked my scooter at the school for some function like a basketball game. When I came back out to go home, the helmet had been crushed. Someone in a car had removed the helmet from the scooter and driven over it. At first, I was mad. The more I thought about it, the better I liked not having a helmet and not being called Steve Canyon. Yay!
I loved riding motorcycles all my life and this was the start of that love affair.
Read more stories like this in my new book, Life Lessons for My Daughters.