I’ve Always Wanted a Harley — Part 6

Limestone, Maine

Jerry Roth
I’ve Always Wanted a Harley
7 min readMar 31, 2024

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Jerry Roth and Fawn headed for Maine 1975
1975 Jerry and Fawn Loaded for Maine — JerryRoth.com

It took a week of my thirty-day leave to get ready to go to Maine. My mom and Fawn were getting along like she’d always been there. My father stayed busy and scarce but did pay for a 1970 Ford F-150 pickup truck for our wedding present.

I put the Triumph and my furniture in the back, my new Thai wife and 3 cases of 16-ounce Coors in the front, took the long way via Disneyland, SeaWorld, and then Phoenix to see my sister. She was no longer with the Triumph salesman but did have her own Vespa and Ivan, her new husband, had a Honda 350.

I unloaded the Triumph and got ready to go for a scenic tour of Arizona when I saw my sister arguing with Ivan about taking her own scooter rather than ride on the back of his Honda. He finally relented and we took off enjoying what would be the last warm weather we would see for several months.

Next day, back in the truck, we headed to Carlsbad Caverns, checked into a two-dollar motel for the night and had to buy toilet paper since there was none in the room. After exploring the biggest cave in America and a couple miles of walking through smaller ones, we climbed back in the cab and drove to Stonington, Illinois to visit my favorite Uncle Bill on the family farm. In the morning, we had home-made sausage, fresh eggs with garden-grown vegetables, and milk right from the cow.

With only two weeks left, we crossed the border in Detroit to Canada for the 14-hour trip through Montreal and down into Maine. Fawn saw more sites in three weeks than most people see in their entire lives.

1975 Fawn at SeaWorld — JerryRoth.com

After a year in the tropical heat of Thailand, driving through Canada and into Maine in early December was a cold shock. The freeways up until now had all been clear and dry but Limestone wasn’t on a freeway. It was barely on a road. The only reason it was called a town was because it had a post office. There was one gas station, one grocery store, and a Walgreens. The snowbanks along the side of the road were over six feet tall. There was snow on top of everything.

Even though the road was plowed every day, there was always a layer of frozen snow and ice on top. Every time a car stopped at a stop sign, the exhaust would blow onto the road and melt a two-foot-wide puddle. The F-150 had a three-speed stick, single rear wheel drive, and no snow tires or chains.

Early in my time there, at one of those stop signs, I managed to stop with my right rear tire in the puddle. Since that was the drive-tire, when I stepped on the gas it just spun in the slippery slush. Unable to rock it out of the rut, I left it in gear, let out the clutch, and while the tire was spinning slowly at idle speed, I stepped out and pushed the truck back onto solid ground. Running alongside, slipping and sliding, I climbed back in the driver’s seat.

Water freezes at plus 32 degrees. At zero degrees, your breath freezes on your mustache, nose hairs, and face. At minus 20 we were warned not to run because our lungs would freeze.

They also said not to pee outside because it could freeze up and break off, but I figured that was probably one of the many wild rumors that GI’s like to tell the new guys and I wasn’t too worried as I wrote my name in the snow while singing Frank Zappa’s “Watch out where the huskies go and don’t you eat that yellow snow.”

But what did scare me was the news that alcohol dilates the blood vessels and makes you more susceptible to frostbite. As a teenager, I suffered frostbite on my toes when the snowmobile I rented in Lake Tahoe got stuck in a stream buried under the snow. The fear of that happening again meant every time my fingers got cold, I raced back into the truck or stood by the portable heater unit.

The Air Force had a rule that if the temperature ever got down to minus 50 degrees, they would shut the flightline down and no one was allowed to work outside. Minus 50 degrees is 140 degrees colder than the plus 90 degrees I had just come from. In the year I was there, the flightline was closed twice; once at minus 55 and once at minus 56. Even after growing up in the snows of Illinois and learning how to ski in Lake Tahoe, I had never been this cold before. I really missed the tropical heat of Thailand.

We settled into an old, wartime, cinder block, two-bedroom house provided by Base Housing. We had an old dinette table and chairs my mom had donated, a used couch from a local motel after they redecorated, my waterbed from high school, and a stereo shelf made from plywood laid across stacked cinder blocks.

I put the Triumph in the second bedroom to hibernate until Spring.

As I drank the Coors and finished off the 3 cases, I stacked the empty cans into two pyramids on each end of the stereo shelf like pop-art sculptures. Coors was not sold east of the Mississippi back then and visitors were always taken aback when they saw the “sculptures”.

Fawn, in her heavy Thai accent said, “You drink beer like water.”

1975 Jerry Roth and Fawn in Maine with Coors Sculpture
1975 Maine Living Room — JerryRoth.com

Maine in spring and summer is absolutely gorgeous! I met several riders at work and we would head out every weekend looking for different places to drink beer. The goal was to find the best pickled eggs and each time we had a contest to see who could eat the most AND drink the most beers. I usually won the beers but a guy named John always won the pickled eggs.

He came into the Air Force with rotten teeth, had them all pulled, and was waiting for his new false teeth to be made. But he didn’t let his lack of teeth stop him from enjoying food! He ate apples, steak, popcorn and peanuts. And boiled eggs. Lots of pickled boiled eggs.

Winter in Maine lasts several months, and it is no longer motorcycle country. It becomes snowmobile country. A GI leaving for another base had one for sale and I bought it to satisfy my motorcycle bug. I even rode it to work every day on the main road. On weekends, Fawn would ride with me as we ventured off into the forests and the countryside with a co-worker who also had a Thai wife and a snowmobile.

There were plenty of wide-open spaces to explore and one day, on a long, straight, smooth, mildly rolling stretch of meadow between the trees, we were zipping along fast enough to make our eyes water. Fast enough to get a little air as we flew over small moguls in the snow-covered trail. Fast enough that when one of those moguls was too tall, we flew up at an angle, tipped over, and landed on our right side.

We slid for several yards, the skis and handlebars digging into the snow. I let go and rolled off, but Fawn was wearing a pair of my combat boots and because they were too big, her right foot got trapped in the running board. It dragged her along in the snow long enough to cover her inside and out with snow. Her parka hood had collected so much snow, I couldn’t see her face. But I didn’t stop laughing until I dug her out from under the pile of snow and saw that she wasn’t smiling.

Winter in Maine is what hell will be when it freezes over and since my first four-year tour would end in May, I decided to re-enlist early and get out of the snow. I asked for Mather AFB in Sacramento as my base-of-choice and when the Air Force said OK in December of 1975, we started packing. Back in the truck went the Triumph.

1975 Jerry Roth and Fawn Shoveling Snow to Leave Maine
1975 Fawn Shoveling Snow — JerryRoth.com

We shoveled the driveway one last time and took off for California, taking I-95 South through southern Maine, Boston, then New York City where we stopped to get gas and discovered New York hospitality. The pumps all had padlocks and chains on the handles and two German Shepards inside were guarding the door. The clerk gave me the key, I filled up the tank, and made sure not to make any sudden moves as the dogs watched me.

We thought it would be cool to see the statue of liberty and started asking directions. Many people said they did not know; they had never been there. Several more would simply point to it on the skyline and say, “It’s right there!” We finally found the parking lot for the ferry, but it was too late to go across. Welcome to New York.

Turning west on I-80, it was a straight shot all the way to Sacramento. Without the beer on the floor in front of the passenger seat, Fawn was more comfortable and slept most of the way.

Check back for Part 7 coming soon! And go to JerryRoth.com to get a copy of my book, “What Would the Boss Do?” on Amazon.

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Jerry Roth
I’ve Always Wanted a Harley

It’s only lonely at the top if you're there by yourself. 44 years of management experience I would love to share with you. Visit JerryRoth.com