I spent the first 38 years of my life in northwest Indiana and the first of May always brings back memories of back home in Indiana.
The first of May is when the Morel mushrooms turn to grey, a delicacy in most parts of the world. The lilacs are in full bloom and the large-mouth bass are hitting at the farm ponds.
Jump on I-65 southbound for about four hours and you’re in the infield at Churchill Downs.
For a little more speed and less travel, in an hour you can be in the infield at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The one thing that I remember the most (other than it’s my birthday month) is the sound of motorcycles during the first of May as the Abolafia MC rolled into the north cemetery of my hometown to pay respect to one of their brothers who was laid to rest in 1976.
My cousin was 25 years old and Vice President of the Abolafia MC. While on a run eight miles north of Delphi on U.S. 421, he hit a pothole going into a cure and ran off the road and into the roadside ditch. He was able to ride this out for more than 400 feet until he hit a concrete culvert he didn’t see in the high grass. He was wearing a helmet (mandatory helmet law in Indiana at the time) and died instantly of a broken neck.
This was my first biker funeral and a first for the funeral director. In later years the funeral director confided in me that he was scared shitless in handling this one. Abolafia members controlled the funeral and arrangements from start to finish. Embalming was the only thing allowed. No cleanup or best of Sunday clothes here. The coffin was open, he laid there just as he had died, wearing the colors of the Abolafia MC.
To this day, just like the last 34 years, they make the first of May cemetery run to pay respect. That is brotherhood that many will never know.
The NTHSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,829 motorcyclists in 2008. They have no estimates of how many were killed because of helmet use. I believe to let those who ride decide.
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Remember people in cars are out to kill you. Ride safe and within your own skill limits.