A friend of this page wondered how we could be so stoned or drunk or uninformed as to miss the heartwarming, wry, human interest tale of June Pearce, the 84-year-old grandma from Okeechobee, Florida. If you know this story, keep reading anyway.
Pearce has suffered multiple strokes, she has lung cancer and when she looks back at her life through an ever darkening veil one moment that continues to shine is that golden day, long ago, “riding on the back of a boy’s motorcycle in the 1930s.”
The Secret To Our Success
Of course, no biker is surprised to hear this. Bikers, either on account of mutant instincts or bad parenting or some brew of the two, live by the code that you will never regret anything you do nearly as much as what you won’t try. This is the attitude that led every biker to climb into a saddle in the first place. But, normal people apprehend this world-view only now and then in a little flashes.
Grandma Pearce’s daughter, Carol Brown, had one of those flashes. She decided she would try to get her mother a motorcycle ride for her birthday. Why not? To quote every single one of us.
“When you’re 84, what is there” Brown asked a reporter named Tamara Lush. Brown typed, as Lush described it, “Come Give Granny A Ride On Your Hog” into an ad on Craigslist. The ad got one response, from a 45-year-old guy named Ron Borowski.
“My mom passed away from cancer, so the ad touched me,” Borowski told the reporter. “I just figured it would be an adventure.” By which Borowski seems to have meant, “Why not.”
Grandma Pearce got her ride. No one was hurt. Everybody had a good time. And one can only hope and expect that now that she has had another taste of the biker life, after more than 70 years, Grandma Pearce went home that night and rocked Grandpa Pearce’s world.
The tale of Grandma Pearce’s motorcycle ride is a great story. And, at just under 850 words it is, as almost any working reporter will tell you, a perfect “Sunday story.” It ran Sunday in the New York Times, which is about as good as a Sunday story gets.
It has run so far in 165 newspapers, magazines and other news outlets under a dozen headlines. You are most likely to see it under some variation of a banner that reads, “Woman, 84, gets the ride of her life for birthday.” It has also run under the upbeat and street, “Senior’s moment: cruising the ‘hood on back of a hog.” And, at the other end of the headline spectrum, things must be really grim in Delaware. The News Journal thinks it can get you to read a story with the tease “Best days behind, 84-year-old enjoys perhaps her last thrill ride.”
You should find this story in its original version and read it because you will enjoy it. Most of the versions you will see will be credited to the “Associated Press.” Many readers and virtually all television “journalists” don’t really know the difference between the Associated Press and a Magic Eight Ball.
Wizard Behind The Curtain
And, that is actually a good thing. A reporter is the opposite of one of those humanoids you see on television. As often as not, the best reporters are like George Bernard Shaw’s Shakespeare, very forgettable guys sitting alone in a corner, furiously scribbling down just everything they see and hear. Tamara Lush, the reporter who wrote the tale of Grandma Pearce’s motorcycle ride is the exception that proves that rule.
Lush is disarmingly attractive and hardly forgettable. She is a graduate of Emerson College in Boston. In addition to the Associated Press she has written for the Saint Petersburg Times and the Miami New Times. In the last couple of weeks she has told the world and you about a little, missing girl named Haleigh Cummings, the plight of jobless ex-offenders and the Miami Boat Show.
Today she told a nice, sentimental story about the difference a ride on a Harley could make in an old woman’s life. And, you should read her story in her words. Surf away from this page now. Go Google “June Pearce” and see what you find. If you have already read Tamara Lush’s story once, go read it again. It will make you smile.