Sometimes things just happen. This bit of wisdom did not originate with me. I have borrowed it for the time being.

It is something that is said whenever a satisfactory answer to life’s questions cannot be determined.

This can certainly cover a good deal of territory. As a declarative statement it comes in quite handy for a variety of situations.

For instance not a lot of thought went into my attending college. I was blissfully enjoying the summer after my senior year in high school.

Then summer faded and I suddenly found myself in college.

It was a strange phenomenon. It just happened.

Once, I found myself in the back of a police car with a policeman glaring at me and muttering something like, “I’m glad you are not my kid….”

That too just happened.

At one point in my life every other week brought something new. Things were happening right and left.

This requires a certain kind of adaptability.

Motorcycles and women seem to especially just happen.

A Harley Davidson happened my senior year in high school (women did not really show up until a while later).

The Harley was an honest to God chopper, the motorcycle of choice of the Hell’s Angels.

I was the only 17 year old at my High School to own a chopper back then.

As a fresh faced middle class teenager who had not yet stabbed another person, I did not have the proper pedigree to be a Hell’s Angel. I didn’t even have a tattoo. But the Harley was MY bike of choice as well, and it definitely led into Hell’s Angel’s territory.

The birth of the chopper was innocent enough.

In the back of Popular Mechanics Magazine was an advertisement for WWII Harley Davidsons “still in the crate”. I never lingered on that page long as there were any number of advertisements and stories in the magazine that commanded my attention. However the advertisement ran for years and the concept of a motorcycle “packed in grease and still in a wooden crate”, was an idea that gradually wormed its way into my mind and refused to let go.

Looking anew at the ad during my senior year I noticed that to get more information one was advised to write to a PO Box in Wichita Falls. Not having the aptitude or the inclination to write for the information, several friends and I piled into Rick’s GTO one Saturday and off we went….to Wichita Falls.

Somehow it didn’t dawn on us (till we were well underway) that we had no idea where in Wichita Falls we would find a Harley Davidson such as the one described in Popular Mechanics. But that didn’t stop us.

Once in Wichita Falls we began to ask people on the streets where the Harleys were kept. After a while we were steered to an old Harley Davidson dealership.

I explained to the owner about the greased motorcycles still in their crates. He had never heard of them and couldn’t help me, but he did have a Harley with a blown engine out back that he would sell me for $150.

It was close enough to what I needed at the time so I handed him the cash and we packed up the pieces in Rick’s GTO. It all just happened.

Once home I pored over the parts for several weeks and figured out where everything belonged. At the time I did not believe in reading “fix-it” manuals or following instructions.

I used the “trial and error” method. It has very consistent results. Those who follow this school of thought simply stumble on to the right solutions eventually. Not studying mechanics or engineering allowed me to adopt this method wholeheartedly.

The only real problem with this motorcycle was that the case had a hole in it with a rod sticking out…… not an easy fix.

Fortunately I already knew my way around the north side and some of the tougher parts of Fort Worth, and I had seen a veritable mecca of Harley Davidson parts. They were in a motorcycle shop that belonged to Michael Papaskar.

Michael’s shop was a large warehouse on the Jacksboro Highway that was in very bad shape. Entering the dark building it took a while for your eyes adjust. One could slowly make out huge piles of parts, Harleys, and garbage. I also noticed something else. Strewn about were leather jackets with the Hell’s Angels insignia on them. Anyone with common sense would think twice about continuing on. I didn’t think at all.

I pressed on intently looking about at a various piles of parts. There, along with other wonderful things, was a row of engine cases lined up along a wall.

All of this came rushing back to me once I happened to own the Harley and had need of some engine cases. I knew right where to go. I gathered my cash and my courage and headed for the north side of Fort Worth.

In hindsight I would have been better off going to Andy’s as he was quite knowledgeable about Harleys and was not likely to stab or shoot anyone. However he was forgotten in the rush to acquire the needed parts.

Michael Papaskar was not around when I showed up and I talked to a man with tattoos named Larry. I told him what I needed and he took my money and steered me to a particular pile of Harley engines. I wasn’t given an opportunity to look things over carefully which I later found out was not a good sign.

Once home I inspected what I had bought. Large pieces of metal began to pore out of the thing as well as what appeared to be a finely ground metallic dust.

There was about 3 inches of play in the rods and I soon figured out that all bearings were frozen, disintegrated, or beaten to a pulp. The good thing was these cases did not have a hole in them.

Unfortunately, that was not able to redeem them in my mind. I realized that the Hell’s Angels had sold me some bad parts….. really bad.

Not that I blamed them. Had I been a Hell’s Angel I probably would have done the same. But how to remedy the situation was the primary thing I was concentrating on. I kept envisioning that line of engine cases along the wall at Michael’s, and I knew that there had to be some good ones in there somewhere.

A plan was developing.

To do what I wanted I would have to get Rick involved. Rick and I were in a similar situation in life; we were smart enough to know better, but that was not going to keep us from doing it anyway.

I loaded the offending motorcycle cases into the blue‘56 Ford, handed Rick some money, and we headed over to Michael Papaskar’s. Once there, we looked over the situation. Toward the back of the dimly lit building a group of men stood talking. I could see Michael amongst them and they seemed intent on ignoring us. Rick milled around looking at stuff and I went out to the ‘56 Ford and retrieved the Harley parts.

I then walked intently into the building set the damaged bottom-end down and found another one in better shape.

Again acting as though this was normal and I was a milkman, I picked up the new parts and headed for the door. Rick stood nearby. Just as I was about to get to the door I could hear a lot of shouting. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of Rick waving a wad of money in his hand and walking toward the men.

“Thank God I gave Rick the hard job,” I thought as I emerged from the door seeking the safety of the blue’56 Ford.

I loaded up the parts and started the engine and waited. I waited some more. Just as I was about to get nervous Rick burst through the door running as fast as he could.

“They are gonna kill us!” he kept shouting over and over,

”They are gonna kill us! go ! go !”

The ‘56 Ford had a 6-cylinder engine and was not built for speed but there was no time to quibble.

Just as Rick reached the door, I slammed it into reverse and backed it into a tree.

I have learned that at times like these its best not to look too hard at what is going on around you. I had developed what is called “tunnel vision“ and all I was aware of, beside my swiftly beating heart, was the gear shift lever, the clutch and the accelerator which was pressed all the way down to the floor.

I slammed it into first and I could feel the old Ford actually laying rubber. I did not look into the rear view window. We never saw the Hell’s Angels again.

Once we were a few miles down the Jacksboro Highway I was able to look over at Rick. His eyes were still wide and he was muttering “They’re gonna kill us,” to himself, but all in all he seemed a lot better.

We made it to our more sedate side of town and soon it was feasible to forget all about this misadventure, and all about Michael Papaskar and his friends.

I finally had all I needed to bolt the engine together and amazingly once this was accomplished the Harley started right up. The “trial and error” method actually worked.

During my senior year in High School that motorcycle evolved over and over again and I soon became good friends with Andy who was able to guide me through the mysteries of a Harley 74.

It took 3 or 4 months before it was road worthy but once that occurred I was forced to once again deal with Michael Papaskar. In order to get a title from the MVD I would need a bill of sale for the engine as the engine numbers were stamped on the cases.

How much I explained to my father I’m uncertain, but he stopped off at Michael’s one day and had a friendly chat, and got the required paperwork.

My father was a good friend with a Notary and it was necessary for him to forge a few things and get the Notary’s blessing, which he did.

I then began to respect my father’s ability to skirt the law and we grew closer for a while.

After I graduated from high school I sold the Harley and bought a Honda 305, which was destined to take Bill and I to Mexico and Falcon Lake. But there is a bit more of the Harley Davidson story still to cover.

A few months after all my family’s dealings with Michael Papaskar had concluded, I read an article in the paper about three bodies that were discovered in the trunk of a car on Fort Worth’s north side. In order for the three bodies to fit in the trunk, it was necessary for someone to cut them into pieces. The article stated that drugs were probably involved. Within days Michael Papaskar and Larry were arrested for the murders.

Sometimes things just happen.