Bikers take over senior center to celebrate Grandparents Day
September 12, 2004
It could have been the opening scene of an ill-advised 1960s biker flick as a gang of free-wheeling tattooed and leather-vested cyclists rumbled into the parking lot of the Carson City Senior Citizens Center on their chrome choppers Sunday.
No hearing aids were needed to appreciate the rumble from the 30 or so riders as they assembled their bikes in a neat row right outside the entrance. The action these wild ones were looking for was to help the members of the senior center celebrate Grandparents Day.
The Ladies of Harley and the Carson-Tahoe Chapter of Harley Owners Group (HOG), brought a free barbecue, bingo and an opportunity for souvenir pictures taken of the seniors aboard the chrome motorcycles.
Gift bags full of donated knick-knacks and tubes of toothpaste were also given to all attendees.
Rather than seeing the elderly as burdens to be cloistered in nursing homes, Ladies of Harley director and event organizer Glenna Salisbury of Sparks sees the holiday as “an important chance to honor our seniors.” So important, she even showed up to the event against her doctor’s advice. Bound to a wheelchair, she sported a leg brace and compound fracture in her right leg thanks to recently being blind-sided by a reckless teen motorist trying to make a pass on a dirt shoulder. Glenna’s 2002 Harley-Davidson Dyna Low Rider may have been wrecked, but not her heart.
Equally spirited, Irene Calibro, 82 years old, herself a volunteer, hopped on a bike for the first time ever. Describing the experience as “beautiful,” the octogenarian, who can normally be seen tooling around town in her Ford Crown Victoria, has no plans to trade in her four wheels for two.
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“Hell-I mean, heck, no!” laughed the grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of six, as she quickly corrected herself. The slip of the tongue possibly a direct result from the jolt and rumble she experienced when the HOGs let her start up the bike.
HOG member, Bill Dixson, a 70-year-old Korean War veteran and security guard from Carson City, is also the grandfather of seven and great-grandfather of seven more. Looking 20 years younger than his license verifies, the tattooed rider with 54 years of road under his leather belt won’t be found milling around at the senior center anytime soon.
“I’ll be riding until I can’t hold up a bike anymore,” promised the retiree.
Among the crowd of about 300 seniors, was 80-year-old former U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reservist, Sulley Busch, clad in aviator glasses and patriotic pins. While some of the seniors on hand have never ridden anything with more low-end torque than a Rascal powerchair, Sulley’s been riding motorcycles “since the Pope was an alter boy,” she said.
Raised in San Diego, but now living in Carson City, Sulley was notorious for setting up “all the beer busts at Camp Pendleton.”
Also on hand, a group of women wearing black motorcycle shirts over conservative clothes calling themselves the “Chopper Grannies.” Though they haven’t decided on an official group charter yet, don’t own bikes, and range in riding experience from “all my life” to “none,” 72-year-old Peoria, Ill., native Mary Ramirez promises if they ever do go for it, the gang will be “good guys,” and not outlaws.
Contact Peter Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1215.