Wattle Park Jr. High
In the fall of 67 I started 7th grade. Mr Wilson was my teacher. We learned the usual stuff. Reading math English etc. This was the year that we dissected animals so we could see there insides. It was a gory experience. I had a cat and it was so hard to get it’s brain out having to cut and saw through its skull. The classroom smelled of formaldehyde for weeks! It was not a pleasant experience especially for the girls in the class. We also continued to reenact episodes of Star Trek in the playground.
Honda 50 Mini Trail
I continued my adventures in the fields on my mini bike with my friends Greg and Carlos. Greg had a Yamaha 100 and Carlos had a Honda 90. I still had my little mini bike and was always trailing behind as the mini bike was not very fast. Dad noticed this as I trailed behind the others. So he began to work on mom to upgrade my ride. Dad won approval from mom and one day when I got home from school mom and dad sat me down at the kitchen breakfast nook. Dad told me that he had seen that I was not keeping up very well with the “pack”. He asked me if I would like an upgrade for my ride. “Of course I would! That would me great!” I exclaimed. “Well” said dad. “Take a look in the garage and see what we got for you.” I leapt out of my chair and flung open the garage door. There it was! A brand new 1967 Honda 50 mini trail! It was a 3 speed automatic clutch vehicle. It had a 50 CC dual overhead cam engine. I was delighted. Dad helped me put gasoline in the tank and we started the engine. I asked if I could take it for a ride and got approval. So off I rode across the edge of the Beaumont retention pond and across Wattles road and over to the trails in the hills.
Honda CL 70
Spring and summer continued with many adventures riding the trails with Greg and Carlos. Dad watched me as we rode off on our adventures and noticed that I still was not keeping up very well. The mini bike was just not powerful enough to keep up with Greg and Carlos on their more powerful motorcycles. So he gently began to work on mom again about this. Mom resisted at first but at last relented. So one day in late summer I came home from a long ride and parked my mini bike in the garage and entered the house. Mom and dad were waiting for me at the kitchen table. “Sit down with us Jim.” Dad said. I sat down and dad said. “We have noticed that you are still having trouble keeping up in your rides so mom and I have decided that you need one more upgrade for your ride. Let’s take a ride to the Honda dealer and see what they have.” I could not believe my ears! Was I going to get a motorcycle? I have wanted one for some time but never asked for one as I had vehicles and was satisfied with them. Could this be a dream come true?
A Honda Dealer in the 60’s
So I got in the car with dad and we drove to the Honda dealer. Wow what inventory they had there in their showroom. Big cruisers that were far to big and expensive for me. Road bikes. Trail bikes etc. Dad brought me over to one that seemed the right size and power for me. It was a 1969 CL 70 trail bike. It was still 1968. However the new models were out. It could be licensed also as it had a place for a license plate. It had lights and had a 70 CC dual overhead cam engine. It was blue. I fell in love with it instantly! The Honda CL70 was a small motorcycle with a 72 cc (4.4 cu in) four stroke engine, a pressed steel frame and a four-speed manual gearbox. It essentially replaced the Honda CL90. It was very similar to a CL50 with a larger engine. It had a high-mount exhaust and a high rear fender. This allowed the look, though not really the capability, of extended off-road capability, before real dual sport motorcycles were available.
Dad finished up with the salesman and after some dickering they decided on a price. Once paid for we loaded the brand new beauty into the station wagon and headed home. At last when I went out for adventures with Greg and Carlos, I could keep up! I was in vehicle heaven!
The summer came to an end and fall began. It was time to start eighth grade. The final year of Jr. High. I think my teachers name was Mr. Stetson. I may be wrong. I am a bit foggy on what his name was. It was a good class and it introduced me to government and politics. Nixon was about to be elected president and there was a new course called capitalism versus communism.
I got into some trouble in gym class that year. I am very much a follower in many ways and still am to this day. Being a follower would get me on trouble from time to time over the years. A few of us got together and decided it would be fun to run around the gym floor and pull people’s gym shorts down. The object of this was to determine who was wearing their athletic supporter and who was not. The gym teacher was in his office so now was a good time to try and pull this off. So we spread out and began to pull shorts down. I found out that 2 people were not wearing their cup before the gym teacher came out of his office and caught us. He yelled “Hey! What’s going on here! Alright you boys. Line up on this line right here.” He said as he pointed to a line on the floor. We knew we were in for it now! We went back to his office and came back with his paddle! It was a monstrous thing with some holes drilled in it so it would administer more pain. One by one we each receive one wack! One was all that was needed. It hit so hard that it lifted us off our feet momentarily. It hurt. However we did not cry as that would show weakness. One thing for sure is that we never pulled the same stunt again!
Camping in winter
In December of 1968 Greg Habenicht, Carlos Washington, Mike Zull and I planed a camping adventure in the snow. We got approval from our respective parents and one cold evening we loaded up our motorcycles with provisions and headed out into the field directly across from the Habenicht residence. We set up camp. No tent. Just sleeping bags. It gives me chills as I am writing this. It was so cold!! We lit a fire and settled down around it.
Greg, Mike and I had started to smoke cigarettes that year hiding it from our parents. However our parents knew and were always smelling our breath. They were not stupid. It took me years later in my adulthood to stop the nasty habit of smoking. Carlos did not smoke. He hated it. Once in a while he would ask either Greg or myself for a cigarette. If we gave him one he would immediately break it between his fingers right in front of us! We learned quickly not to give him a cigarette if he asked for one! So we smoked a couple of cigarettes before climbing into our sleeping bags.
Greg noticed that Mike had placed his sleeping bag very close to the fire. Greg said “You are too close to the fire Mike. Move back a little bit.” Mike said “I will be okay. Don’t worry.” “Okay” said Greg. ” I still think you are too close. Be careful or the bag will catch fire.” Mike said he would be careful. We all got in our bags and soon fell asleep.
We woke during the night with the sound of mike crying and moaning. He was saying “My legs. My legs.” It had happened. His sleeping bag was too close to the fire and had caught on fire while Mike was sleeping. The fabric of his pants and the fabric of the bag had burnt right into his lower legs. He was in extreme pain. He had third degree burns. So we got him up on the back of Greg’s motorcycle and Carlos and I followed Greg and Mike out of the field and made our way to the Habenicht home. Mike could not bend his knees without causing extreme pain so he left his feet off the pegs and let them drag behind him. We woke up Betty and Glen Habenicht and they made preparations to drive Mike to the hospital. Greg asked his mom if we could go back to the field and resume our camp out. She said no. Greg pleaded and assured her that we would be fine. Still the answer was no. So we laid out our bags in Greg’s basement and spent the rest of our adventure there.
We were not happy about what happened and we were disappointed that Mike did not heed Greg’s warning. It had ruined our adventure. The following morning Greg and I rode out to the field with me on the back of Greg’s motorcycle to retrieve Mike’s motorcycle. Greg and I started back. I drove Mike’s motorcycle back to the Habenicht home and parked it on the patio next to Greg’s motorcycle. The incident drove home the importance of safety especially when it came to fire!