Riding With The "Hells Angels"
The title to this story could be construed as a bit of an exaggeration, but as young teens my older brother Tom and I did actually ride with the “Hells Angels”. It was the summer of 1964 and we lived in California not far from the ocean. My Dad, a career Air Force man, was stationed at Camarillo Air Force Base and we lived in military base housing.
There were many things for a couple of young adventurous boys to do in Southern California, but our favorite pastime was sneaking off to the beach without our parents’ permission. It wasn’t they objected to us having fun so much as us going by ourselves with no supervision. Bad things could befall a 14 and 15 year old off on their own.
A few of Toms’ older friends had cars and we would tag along with them for a day of fun and sun along the Pacific Coast Highway. There was one spot in particular Tom and I enjoyed going to. It was the only location on the ocean front we knew had a long, very steep, sandy slope along the coastal mountainside. There we would join other thrill seekers sliding down the steep incline on cardboard boxes. We spent hours occupied with this enjoyable pursuit.
White Sandy Beaches
Occasionally we would also swim in the surf or sunbathe on the white sandy beach. Actually we pretended to sun bathe while scoping out bikini clad women. Hey, we were teenage boys and that was our job!
On one such outing, Tom and I spent a little too long at our sliding sport and evening was fast approaching. We were the last people on the slope so Tom decided it would behoove us to hurry and get our butts home or face Mom and Dads’ wrath. Gathering our few belongings we headed to the spot where our “friend” had parked his car. To our dismay it was nowhere to be found…we had been abandoned! Tom swore under his breath and asked nobody in particular, “Now what are we going to do?”
No doubt about it. We were in a real pickle. There we were about 20 miles from home, no ride and darkness coming upon us. Our only option left was to hitchhike. So we put our thumbs to work and began the long trek home. Cars whizzed by with their passengers seemingly oblivious of our presence. We might as well have been invisible. After 20 minutes or so Tom and I had resigned ourselves to the fact our goose was cooked. We would probably be permanently grounded for this stunt.
We trudged on listening to the passing traffic. Then we heard it…a muffled, thundering roar approaching from our rear. Far in the distance we could make out the distinct formation of a large number of motorcycles. When they came into view it was obvious they were a motorcycle gang. My thumb went back to work as they began passing.
However, Tom had spotted the “colors” the group was wearing and struck my hand down. “Don’t you know who they are?” Tom asked. I was immediately informed they were the infamous “Hells Angels”. I had read and heard accounts of this notorious gang. Supposedly, they were the cause of all kinds of trouble and bad news.
The last few bikers were about to pass us when a couple of them pulled over and stopped. Visions of us washing up on the beach somewhere flashed through my thoughts. Of course it would have to be one of the biggest, meanest looking bikers of them all that stopped. Or at least, that’s how he appeared to me at the time.
The bushy red bearded rider got off his “Hog” and slowly turned around. The silver chains and studs adorning his blue denim jacket sparkled in the fading daylight. I feared the worst and began a silent prayer promising God I would never do anything wrong ever again. Removing his helmet the biker asked in a calm, mild mannered and courteous voice, if we needed a ride. Speechless, we nodded in the affirmative we did. “Well, hop on then.” he grinned amiably.
Suddenly, the man didn’t seem as imposing or threatening as we had first imagined. His traveling companion turned out to be a woman cyclist. She patted her motorcycle seat inviting me to climb aboard. “Let’s do it,” Tom said to me. He told them our destination which wasn’t far off their route.
Seconds later we were zooming down Pacific Coast Highway with the cool evening wind blowing through our hair. We were beginning to thoroughly enjoy our ride as we raced down the highway with the rest of the group. Maybe we were going to get out of our predicament after all.
As we neared our home our hosts signaled to the rest of the gang they would catch up in a while. They broke off from their formation and dropped us off about a block from our house. We profusely thanked our benefactors and scurried off home.
Tom and I were able to sneak in the back door, get to our room and change from our beach wear. It was just in the nick of time. Mom hollered supper was ready. We were safe.
Tom and I could now honestly brag to our friends…we rode with the “Hells Angels”!