Meadville Tribune

May 7, 2013

Spring brings back motorcycle memory from the old country

By Luigi DeFrancesco
The Meadville Tribune

RICHMOND TOWNSHIP — Traditionally, the sign of spring is manifested by the return of robins. But I know spring is really here when a roaring motorcycle goes by my house and my son’s shop gets full again with motorcycles that need serviced. Immediately, memories from my youth come back to me, and the following is one of those memories.

The most cherished and unforgettable memory goes back when I was 8 years old. Eight years after the big war was over, Italy was still trying to make a comeback.

Gasoline was still in short supply. Those who owned cars made them inoperative during the war so that the Germans and the Italian government could not confiscate them. My father did own one, but he could not use it for both reasons.

So his reliable mode of transportation was a motorcycle that he borrowed from a friend of the family. The motorcycle was a Moto Guzzi. Actually, it was, what we call it now, a big-wheeled motor scooter.

It was a spring day when my father decided to take my mother to visit her mother 20 miles away. I was told that I was going with them, and as soon as my mother was ready, we got on the Moto Guzzi and departed. The scooter did not have a side car, and if you wondering where he placed me, you guessed it: right between him and the handle bars. It was not the most comfortable place to be, but I enjoyed every minute of the ride mainly because I was able to see all around me in contrast of having to look at the driver’s back or twist my head from right to left.

It definitely was a nice ride — until we came to a steep downhill and my father decided to turn the engine key off to save gasoline. I was admiring the blue sky, and occasionally a freedom-loving bird, when all of sudden I saw the ignition key flying over my head. “Dad, dad!” I yelled, and of course, the first reaction I got was, “What are you talking about?”

When he finally realized that the key was gone, he stopped, and we did make an attempt to look for it — in vain. We weren’t too far away from our destination, so my ride turned into a nice walk the rest of way with my father pushing the scooter and my holding on to my mother’s hand.

Those of you who are wondering how we got back, this is what happened: My father had been a very talented individual who was able to make a key from a piece of metal with a file. A few days later, we got on the scooter and we went back home.

This time, the ignition key was never switched off.

DeFrancesco, a Republican State Committee member, is a Guys Mills resident. He can be contacted at