Cool Dad

A few days before my '15-1/2 birthday' (in the late Sixties religiously celebrated in California because that was the age for acquiring a learner's permit, with which you could also ride a motorcycle), my Dad took me to a used motorcycle shop in Whittier, CA to look at a few inexpensive bikes.  This came as a total surprise as I don't recall that there had been any prior discussion of having a motorcycle.  At any rate, I had always imagined my parents as too strict to ever entertain the idea. We returned home, me clutching a receipt showing a cash deposit on a Bridgestone 90. The deposit was Dad's contribution to the deal; my mission was to withdraw the balance of $50 from my savings account and, learner's permit in hand, retrieve the bike from the shop on the appointed day, February 24.
I know now that my basic black Bridgestone 90 was a 'Standard.'  It had those overly protective front and rear fenders, and that full chain guard that screamed "old man bike!"  I remember wishing it had a 'real' tube frame like the Hodaka Ace 90 that was quite popular at the time (and whose engine was outwardly similar-looking to the Bridgestone's).  But it was a BIKE!  Transportation!  Go-power!  Freedom!!
A few months later, Dad bought a used Suzuki 80 and that summer we went on several excursions together culminating in a weekend camping trip to the Angeles National Forest near Mount Baldy.  In the meanwhile, the Bridgestone was my daily ride to and from school and my job at a local burger joint.  When the burger job went bad, this newfound freedom made it possible to work at a more distant Sizzler's.  My two best friends also had small-displacement bikes and we had good times riding around town and going to the beach.  One friend eventually traded up to a Honda 305 Scrambler, leaving the rest of us literally and figuratively in the dust.
I had grown up mechanically inclined and the Bridgestone also served as my new 'classroom' in that regard.  Though I never had to do anything to the engine, I partially disassembled the bike a few times to bob the fenders, abbreviate the chain guard, and paint it (candy apple red).  I do remember being irritated by the rotary port design - everyone else had bikes with exposed cylinder-mounted carbs; I had to take off that darned side plate every time I wanted to adjust something.
On the plus side, Bridgestone's innovative rear hub design, allowing rear wheel removal without having to disconnect the chain, was great!  Dad, on the other hand, cussed his Suzuki every time he had to fix a rear flat.  Parts weren't too difficult to come by as there was a Bridgestone dealer in the Santa Ana/Anaheim area.  But it was still a long ride with a broken clutch cable!
A year later, I 'inherited' Mom & Dad's 1963 Dodge station wagon - infinitely uglier among cars than the Bridgestone would ever be among motorcycles - and actually drove it in lieu of the bike (by way of defense, 1969 was a very wet winter in SoCal).  A few months later, the Dodge was traded in on a 1958 Beetle and the Bridgestone more or less passed to my brothers.
Interestingly, when Dad was filling out the registration paperwork, he put my name on the title application instead of his (a simple switching of first and middle names); remarkable oversight considering a minor couldn't legally own a motor vehicle even back then.
-Blaine Bachman
Albuquerque, New Mexico