Since I was a kid, I’ve had friends who are into vintage stuff (PC for “old crap”): motorcycles, bicycles, cars, guitars, audio equipment, tractors, boats, stamps, records, clothes, and probably other crap I’ve ignored or forgotten. A few years ago, I conned myself into thinking a ride to Davenport, Iowa for the Vintage Motorcycle Swapmeet might be entertaining. A friend emailed me that his wife wasn‘t convinced he was competent to ride 300 miles by himself. I’ve been there before and out of some sort of misplaced sympathy I volunteered to ride along.
I, honestly, didn’t have any idea what the event was going to be like. My two experiences with vintage motorcycle events are the Vikings swapmeet in St. Paul and the Steamboat Springs Vintage Motorcycle Week. The Steamboat event was an unrealistic introduction to what are usually fairly dismal events. Mostly, vintage motorcycle meets are an opportunity for way too many guys with way too much time on their hands to get together and trade crap. The Steamboat Springs event was mostly about competition: motocross, observed trials, flat track, and road racing. “Progress” and rich people contaminating Colorado eventually killed the Steamboat event and I suspect I’ll never see anything like that again. Davenport wasn’t even a poor second. The “races” were a dozen or so mile flat track with everything from seriously vintage clunkers to some modern and fast bikes.
The races supplied a couple hours of diversion, and then there was nothing left to do but “camp” for the night. I have never spent a night “camping” among a zillion other guys in an urban setting. It’s hard to imagine a much more ridicules situation than a hoard of tents, campers, and snoring old men within crawling distance from houses, motels, and stores. It’s not like these guys are all broke and can’t afford a decent night’s sleep in a motel or in their homes. It’s something else and I don’t know what. It’s damned silly, whatever it is.
When I was in my twenties, my step-sister got married and had a classic wedding in a church with all the trimmings. At the time, I didn’t own a suit, a tie, or a white shirt that wasn’t a stained tee-shirt. I bought all of that for the wedding because my father promised me, “Everyone has to go through at least one of these things.” He was wrong. I had to go through three more, including both of my daughters’ weddings. It isn’t true that you have to go through one of everything in a life. I could have easily missed out of sleeping in a fairground surrounded by snoring old men. I suggest you learn something from my screw-up and avoid those things like the plague.
Collections of old useless crap seems to be something handed down from my parents’ generation. Even my parents, who weren’t particularly enamored with old junk, had a houseful of “antiques” and memorabilia that mostly got tossed or donated or given away after my father died. The only people I know under 50 who collect old crap fall into two groups: 1) trust fund brats who are trying to appear useful or relevant or something and 2) grown children of hoarders who mistook their parents’ disease for a profession. There are always outliers, but for the most part hoarding “collectors’” junk appears to be a dying hobby. Good riddance.