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Thursday Edition


My Indian Larry Story

Getting To Know The Man And His Thoughts

Photos and Text by Crazyhorse
1/18/2007 12:11:14 PM


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1il3

It's been a hell of a summer. A twisted journey I could have never imagined, a series of sky highs and surreal lows. For those out there who read my articles on Bikernet and in The Horse and see only a person who does high profile paintwork, goes to bike events, and gets magazine covers, believe me, it was not always like that.

There were many years of near horrific poverty.

I say, horrific because, to live each day with your stomach in knots because worry is eating you alive feels horrific. Worry about what? Mainly about paying bills, the rent, gas, phone, and then trying to keep a business alive. Much of it was my own fault. Bad decisions, screwed up priorities.

It was no picnic. 13 years ago, all I wanted was to get a "real" job, doing welding or parts inspection, some kind of manufacturing job that would give me the security of a weekly paycheck. A successful painting career was a far off pipe dream.

Sure it wasn't all hell. There were adventures mixed in, breaks from the reality of what my life had become. There were those rare moments when I'd be able to see clearly through the haze and see the beauty of life in this world. The two men who had hoped I would achieve some kind of stability or success in my life both died before it finally happened.

As hard as I tried, I began to think it would never happen.

I would get close and then an event in my personal life would derail the momentum and I was forced to start over again and again and again. And up until last year, it was like that. In the middle of some crisis, I would think back to the few years of steady employment, basking in the memory of working a set amount of hours each week, then doing whatever I wanted, whether it be riding motorcycles, hiking or cleaning the house.

Then Sturgis 2003 happened and it all changed. Suddenly all the pieces began to fall into place and all those years in hell began to mean something.

1il

That's how it happens. For some fortunate people, it happens early in life. But for others, it happens late. And that's how it happened for Indian Larry. Most people, including me had never heard of him prior to The Motorcycle Mania Show on Discovery. I was completely blown away by the bikes he built. But to him it was always a team effort. I especially admired the paintwork on his bikes and he was quick to give Robert Pradke the credit. "He just comes up with this stuff," Larry said. "It blows me away."

I only met Larry a little over a year ago at the Smoke Out. But I was just another face in the crowd. It wasn't until Myrtle Beach of this year, that Larry became someone who gave me a hug each time I saw him. I was staying with Sam Morgan and the Thrill Arena stunt riding crew. Looking back on that sunny, quiet morning when he showed up at the drome, I knew then what a treasure that time was. In fact that whole weekend trip was priceless. But then that's what Larry tried to tell me a few months later in Sturgis.

Sturgis wore on Larry hard. He'd been mobbed wherever he went. So he began to take breaks at American Motordrome Company's compound. It was a relaxing hideout where he could sit back and BS with Jay, Sam and the rest of the crew. I know he had a few good talks with Sam. She and I are very similar in our backgrounds. I was fortunate enough to see him there a few times as I had been using it as a refuge too.

Located on Main St, it was perfectly situated. I could ride down the back streets, bang a left into an alley and park my bike right at the drome. I never waited in traffic. You never knew who'd you'd run into there. I'd pull up and see certain bikes parked and could tell who was hanging out.

It was at Michael Lichter's bobber bike show that I spent the most time with Larry. I knew he was busy but wanted to tell him something and next thing I knew, it was a half hour later that our conversation finally ended. I felt bad for taking up so much of his precious time but he was on a roll, asking me questions, explaining things to me. It was the kind of advice a father gives.

My dad has been gone nearly ten years. I had not bothered to take his advice seriously when he gave it, as I was younger and "knew more than him." And now that I am older, I sorely miss his words. So it was with great interest that I listened to Larry, trying to file each and every word away, so I could remember it forever.

"Never take a moment for granted no matter how bad it feels. Life is so precious and it goes by so fast," Larry said.

He explained that the days I had spent in hell made me into the person I am now. "Without going through that, you wouldn't be who you are. You had to go through that to get here, where you're standing right now," He said.

"But," I explained, "I'd probably wouldn't have such a bad attitude." He looked at me with a slight smile on his face, shaking his head. "And all that makes you a survivor. You can handle situations a lot of people couldn't deal with. I know, believe me, I know," Larry said.

larryandjay

His words that day will stay with me forever. I will honor Larry by trying to live by that advice. I'll try and be more patient with people. I won't take a single moment of life for granted, wishing things had gone different. That's just a waste. Instead I'll put my emotions, dreams, and wishes into my writing and painting. And if I succeed in my career, that's great. If not, I gave it a hell of a try and it was an awesome ride that let me meet incredible people and took me to fantastic places. Hopefully Larry met my dad. I know my dad would have loved Larry's bikes. Maybe he can tell him that I didn't turn out to be such a hopeless mess after all.

Thanks,

--JoAnn
Crazy Horse Painting


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