MTPR

Me & The '53 By Cyrus Lee

Apr 24, 2018

"I met Scorchy in the summer of 1965 when I was 12 years old.  I was the new kid in a small town in south central Montana.  I was also pretty much a wimp and socially awkward.  Try as I might to fit in with the other boys, I lacked two of the most important attributes necessary for success in rural life, the first being that I wasn’t-as I was constantly reminded by the locals-“from around here,” and second, I wasn’t any good at sports.  Up to that time I had lived a very sheltered life as the son of a naval officer.  While that led to seeing a lot of the world in a few short years, it hadn’t helped me develop much in the way of social skills or athletic prowess.  Like Scorchy later said to me, “You’ve lived around, but you haven’t lived.” -- Cyrus Lee

Me & The '53

About the Book:

The Kid, a new boy in a small south central Montana town learns about life as he is befriended by another new arrival in town, Scorchy Black.  Scorchy sets the small town into a spin when he rides into town on a Harley chopper to take possession of the local blacksmith shop willed to him by his dad’s old time Navy Seabee war buddy.  The summer of ‘65 becomes one of learning for the Kid, about himself and others, as he takes away from “workin” with Scorchy bits of life knowledge.

Set in the mid-1960s, Me & the ’53 is a young adult novel about a boy finding his path during a tough time of transition in life.  In parallel stories Scorchy and Wanda’s, owner and waitress at the town’s greasy spoon, tell immigrant tales of the struggle of leaving home and a place of hardship for a new place and the struggle making a better life.  Me & the ’53 is a fast flowing mix of small Montana town running headlong into the upheaval of the ‘60’s with school boy crushes & fights, a mystery girl on a Greyhound bus, bike gang revenge & stand-up town folk, a fast motorcycle, and even Elvis thrown in.

Scroll to read an excerpt below.

About the Author: 

Cyrus Lee
Credit Cyrus Lee

Cyrus Lee lives and writes in Northwest Montana where he has lived for the last 19 years. Lee lived his the first half of his young life as a Navy kid living where the service took his dad. Moving to South-Central Montana in the mid 60's he grew up, made some good and bad choices and ended up as a GI in Germany. Getting out of the Army in Germany Lee and his wife, Kim, worked and traveled in Europe for over 13 years. Returning home to Montana in '94 Lee continued to publish his Soldat book series and start his on-line business Soldat FHQ. "Me & the'53" is Lee's first completed work at fiction and provides many new trails for the characters to follow.

Book Excerpt:

I met Scorchy Black in the summer of ‘65.  I was 12 years old, the new kid in a small Montana town.  The square peg trying to fit in the round hole of rural town boy society, I lacked two of the most important attributes necessary for success, the first being I wasn’t –“from around here,” and second, I wasn’t any good at sports.  I’d lived a very sheltered life, son of a US Navy officer, seeing a lot of the world counted for little; here it was about family spread and jock size.  Like Scorchy told me later, “You’ve lived around, but you haven’t lived.” 

Like any preteen boy, I had a constant itch to keep busy, I was always dying to find something interesting to do.  It was shaping up to be one long, boring summer…

And then Scorchy rolled off the highway and into town with nothing more that the clothes on his back and a few belongings in the saddle bags tossed over the fender of his stripped down 1953 Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  He’d inherited the town’s blacksmith shop but rumors ran like a wild fire; Scorchy went from the new stranger to a Hells Angel on the run from California law.  Everybody in town wanted to get a look at him – and his chopper.

I mowed lawns for spending money and made quite a sight pulling my mower down the road with gas can, rake and other tools stacked or strapped on.  Heading for the day’s job I took a shortcut through the alley behind the blacksmith’s shop. I’d heard about the Hell’s Angel and figured I’d roll by and sneak a peek.  

Scorchy was carrying armloads of stuff out the back door, sorting into piles. The air rang with clangs and bangs as he tossed metal.  I reckon I’d never seen anyone working at something so hard. I also reckon I was quite a sight…standing there in a striped surfer shirt, leaning on my old mower. Thick black glasses on my face, like the Army issued me years later, topped off with a flattop haircut. I probably had my mouth hanging open as I gawked.

Scorchy tossed a jagged metal piece onto its appropriate pile, turned towards me, “Hey, Kid! You mowin’ lawns?”  He was huge. Weather beaten face, rough hands…I kinda quivered.  “…I need this lot cut so it looks decent. I’ve already picked up the scrap metal. I see your mower is fancy and you can adjust how high it cuts. If you don’t have wrenches there are some in the shop. When you’re done you can pull your blade and I’ll grind, balance and sharpen it in trade.”

I don’t know why I said yes.  Probably it was because I didn’t think I had a choice. Next thing I knew I was trying to figure out how to adjust the mower’s height.  I never did do mechanical stuff with my dad. He hired it done.  My mowing career was pretty much “hope and pray” when it came to fixing or maintaining the lawn mower. A little oil now and then, and some gas…

Scorchy tossed me a couple of combination wrenches. After ten minutes of knuckle whacking and uttering words I didn’t use in the presence of adults, Scorchy came over, flipped the mower on its side, put one wrench on the inside bolt and the other on the outside nut, and uttered the first words of wisdom I would learn from him:

“Righty tighty, lefty loosey.”

Like magic, the bolt was loose.

The door to a life changing summer cracked open.