My friend and mentor Judge Daniel Lalor told me once “Home is where you buy a burial plot.” A thousand variations of the “Home is…” proverb exist and I’ve even heard it said “Home is where your HOG chapter is”! I guess it depends on which chapter you belong to? Mine is Killer Creek Chapter, Roswell, Georgia, United States of America. I have belonged to several different chapters in my life in different parts of the U.S. and have always felt ‘at home’ with my HOG brothers and sisters. Harley Owners Group (HOG) was founded in 1983. With 1,400 chapters and over 1,000,000 members it is a brilliant social tie to an already rich and storied American Company. Wikipedia characterizes HOG as “the Granddaddy of all community-building efforts.” From a macro sense it really is a network of social integration strung across the entire world. An original ‘social network’.
I spent 10 years riding before HOG even existed. I recall my first HOG meeting in upstate New York (Albany Chapter). I went there on a Honda! I bonded with those folks nonetheless. Within 6 months I had an old Iron head Sporty. Bought in milk crates from a fellow HOG member and cobbled together with the help of yet more HOG members. I recall making the decision to become a life member (#US3939801) and suspect if they had one I’d be a death member too! All good HOG members MUST go to heaven?
There were years where I let local membership lapse. Life moves forward and spouses, houses, kids, and jobs complicate riding plans. I held my life membership but meetings waxed and waned. The snow killed riding 5 or 6 months a year in NY so we met in cars at a snow covered local pub. Eventually Yvonne and I moved South to escape the white stuff making us ‘Damn Yankees’. The kind who stays! Atlanta became HOME in ‘97 and we relocated without so much as a job or a friend. I recall thinking the world was a really big place as I rode jobless and friendless solo on my soft tail around my new town. I second guessed our logic on moving and had some trepidation in those first few weeks, warm as they were. It occurred to me that there must be other bikers around here somewhere and eventually joined Stone Mountain HOG which started a chapter in 1998 (#3184). Warmth exuded from those people on my first visit and the world got just a little smaller.
Yvonne and I purchased burial plots last year. Cheapest real estate I ever bought. Can’t say that I’ll be around to enjoy the view but I hope the memories of my HOG membership will come across with me to the other side. It brings me to my point. I flip through my 2013 HOG Atlas kept in my tour pack. There are many, many little orange bar/shield logos on every page strewn across the maps of the world. Tells me I’m sometimes thousands of miles from my house, but I’m never far from home. God Bless and remember, ride strong, ride safe, and in the end, make sure you ride home. Written by Steve Murrin, the ‘Original Biker Lawyer’