Item two: A toolbox covered in vintage stickers. This
is where my mental hard drive is clearly faulty. I carried
this toolbox to the track for years, and I know every inch
of it, inside and out. A week ago, I would have said that
the toolbox was still in my van, probably under the rear
seat. Apparently not. It was covered with at least 20
years of dust. The most current sticker said: “Racing
World, Trabuco Canyon, 1977.”
Item three: Another trophy, apparently modified into
a lamp. This was a product of my dad’s post-retirement
arts-and-crafts phase. I remember the trophy itself
clearly; it was from a CMC race at Plymouth Raceway
where they once held the Hangtown National. In its new
life, it had been wired and repurposed with a girly lamp-
shade. I think it was my father’s unconscious revenge
on me for leaving so much junk behind.
Item four: A forgotten photo album. Apparently, this
item had been permanently deleted from my memory. I
had no recollection whatsoever of the album or its contents. Of particular note was a picture of me, age 15,
wearing a Dirt Bike magazine sweatshirt. The face is
pimply and the hair is tragic (it still is). The sweatshirt
itself, I’m sure, is in one of the boxes I haven’t opened
Item five: Leather riding pants with “Trac sid hot”
written across the seat. In my college days, it said,
“Trackside Photo,” which was my untrademarked business name when I sold photos at the track for $2 each.
The waist seems sized for Gollum.
Ever wonder what happens to old inventory? Ever wonder what happened to the jersey you were wearing the
first time you rode a dirt bike? How about a particular
trophy, or even a certain set of boots that you really
liked and that were only half worn out? I have a garage
full of meaningless junk, but if you asked me to find a
photo of my first motorcycle, I wouldn’t have a clue.
Stuff just disappears over time, and we quietly accept
that without complaint, because we really don’t want to
see it all every day. But, what happened to it?
I now know. Last month, my parents had to move
from a regular-sized house to a single-room apartment
with other kids their age. It was my job to clear out the
house. It was all there. There were thousands of items
of old inventory, not forgotten, just placed in a dark
room in my head, waiting for me to flip a light switch. If
human brains were computers, they would be sent back
to the factory with nasty letters on a weekly basis. On
one hand, you can’t store any new data without massive effort; on the other, deleted files keep coming back.
Every box, every drawer and every cabinet made me
stop in my tracks to examine some memory that hadn’t
been accessed in years. Every item unlocked a story.
Item one: A three-foot trophy, seemingly made from
leftover PVC piping with a little plastic motorcycle dude
on the top. On the marble base there’s a plaque that
says “B.A.R.F.” This was my first trophy. I remember
the day, the place and everything else about it as if it
happened this morning. The Bay Area Racing Federation
was an organization in Northern California. As I recall,
the promoter skipped town in some kind of scandal
involving someone else’s money. The B.A.R.F. logo
caused me some discomfort at the time. I would proudly
show the trophy to my high school buddies, who would
then break out laughing. It wasn’t very satisfying.
By Ron Lawson
“On the marble base there’s a plaque that
says ‘B.A.R.F.’ This was my first trophy.”
“The most current sticker said: ‘Racing
World, Trabuco Canyon, 1977.’”
“If human brains were computers, they
would be sent back to the factory with nasty
letters on a weekly basis.”
Item six: A Bultaco service manual. The clutch section
is heavily covered in greasy fingerprints. I’m sure that the
manual outlived the Bultaco itself by several decades.
Item seven: A Honda CR125 piston that was converted into an ashtray in high school metal shop. I never
smoked, but the school system seemed to encourage
the practice in those days. I must have made about 15
ashtrays in school.
There were thousands of non-motorcycle inventory
items, but they still made me stop and stare. Some of
the items were passed down from my grandparents,
from a time when my mom and dad were charged with a
similar task. There were carefully preserved newspapers
from D-Day, the end of WWII and JFK’s assassination.
There was a torn, worn stuffed animal that meant nothing to me until I touched it and felt the texture. It was
freakishly familiar, making me wonder what other hidden
files are locked in my head.
So, what happens to all this stuff now? It gets tightly
packed in boxes that I will never, ever open again. And,
someday, my kid will have to deal with it all. It’s only