1%er’s Daughter

His name was Dangerous Dan and he was my Daddy’s best friend. I didn’t care much for him because he didn’t like kids too much, and being 4-years-old, that meant me. But he was nicer to me than my siblings because I knew how to behave with my Daddy’s friends.
They called my Daddy “Scary Larry” and he called them his “Brothers”. There were so many that came to our home, I could never keep track of them all. They rode what we children called choppers, had tattoos of naked women or snakes on their suntanned arms, and smelled of cigarettes and the road. They came to my Daddy to do business and work on their motorcycles in our garage.He had the best garage of all of the Brothers, or so I would hear them say.It was 1969 in Southern California.  Daddy ran a “home based” business which was somewhat of a mystery to me, but I knew that he was well respected and well liked. Dangerous Dan seemed to be at our home daily, working with my Daddy on this “endeavor”. We often had the “Ol’ Ladies” stay with us, sometimes for months at a time, while their “Ol’ Man” went up North. I often wondered what “up North” meant, but I knew I didn’t want to go because it sounded like a real bummer. My mother was a wonderful hostess for the ladies, as they would all stay up for days at a time, painting the ceiling, making macrame and other crafts, chattering all night.My days and nights often got mixed up, because I never left our home. Weeks would pass that I never went anywhere but our backyard with my dog Clarence, a 125 lb black German Shepherd/Alaskan Malamute mix.  Clarence was my best friend, spending most of his time between me and my Daddy’s friends. He seemed to know the nice ones from the mean ones, growling and baring teeth at anyone who he deemed unsavory.

I would wake up at odd hours of the night, wander into the kitchen to find Daddy talking to his Brothers, and crawl into his warm, loving lap. Wide awake, all I wanted was to cuddle with him, smell his skin, and let him feed me his treats of Screaming Yellow Zonkers and Hershey Kisses.  Seemingly uninterrupted, the men continued their discussion, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. I knew not to interrupt them, but be sweet to them if they spoke to me. Daddy would pet me, stroking my hair in his special Daddy way, keeping his attention on the important business of his Brothers.

He and his Brothers all belonged to the same club and they all rode motorcycles; American made, of course. It seemed sacrilegious to ride anything else to these men. They all enjoyed working on their bikes in Daddy’s garage because he always had extra parts for them. I remember milk crates filled with gears, carburetors, heads, and nuts and bolts of every kind, stacked up against the wall.

At 4-years-old I knew to treat Daddy’s friends with respect, never speak until spoken to, be sweet and pretty at all times, and to never judge a book by it’s cover. Just because someone dressed poorly, it didn’t mean they didn’t have money for nicer things. I would often see these shabbily dressed men pull enormous rolls of $100 bills from their pockets while buying things from Daddy. And many of them were really kind, even the ones who looked really mean.  I trusted Clarence the Dog to sort out who I could be sweet with and who I should avoid.

I learned that dressing nice was for the Ol’ Ladies and little girls, that no one ever touched any one else’s motorcycle without permission (and little girls never had permission unless they rode with Daddy), and that the men were in charge. I learned that my Mom only answered to my Dad, but she was polite to all of the men, even the one’s she didn’t like. I learned that if the men were talking, the women went somewhere else. But as Daddy’s Darlin’ Baby Girl, it made me feel special to be the only female to sit in on the kitchen table discussions.

What I also learned about the Brothers was that they were incredibly loyal to one another. If a Brother needed something, they banded together to help. If an Ol’ Lady needed a home for a while, or someone was getting “hassled by The Man” (who sounded like a real bad guy), the Brothers would come to our kitchen table and talk about it, making a plan of action. It seemed unacceptable to let a Brother down, or ignore his or his families needs.

My parents divorced when I was 5-years-old, and I didn’t get to see Daddy nearly as much as I wanted to. When I went to visit him, I often saw his Brothers come and go, and the rules I knew at the tender age of 4 still applied. In his home a sign hung over his television for the entire 50 years of my Daddy’s short life.

“Brothers Are Forever”

I like to think of him riding down a long, open highway with Dangerous Dan, wind in their faces, sun shining on their cuts, and the familiar roar of Shovelheads beneath their dirty Levi-clad behinds, heading to assemble their Brothers for a heavenly ride.

Big Thank You! to our friend Sash Mouth for this great article!
Age 5 with Daddy Sash Mouth
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