In early May, 1958, Naren and I decided to buy a
better motorcycle and ride it south. We could have
bought a new BMW bike for about twice the $400 we
paid La Grace Sales on Long Island for a used R-69, but
we were determined to save every penny we could, and
for us, $400 was a lot of money.
In late June, we headed west, bound for San Francisco,
where Naren had friends he wanted to visit. I was in no
hurry and more than ready to go the extra miles to check
out the Beat scene for a few days. Along the way,
wherever we stopped, we attracted attention. On the
main streets of the Midwest we would often have a dozen
people gathered around us before we could go into a
restaurant. A foreign motorcycle loaded down like ours
was a rare sight, and the unfailing comment was, "Got a
little load on there, haven't you." When asked where we
were headed we usually said 'California' and, if we
wanted to impress them, we'd say “Argentina” though it
was often clear they weren’t sure where that was.
Coming down the quiet two-lane highways at high speed,
we were a forbidding sight, especially with Naren at the
helm. He wore a surplus aircraft-carrier flagman’s cap,
which resembled an executioner’s hood. His fierce beard
merged with huge, bug-like goggles. I wore a leather
flying helmet and a pair of cheap goggles.
Photo by Frederick Knoop