September 8, 2005

        By the time you read this I will probably be at home. I am spending the next couple of days there due to an emergency. I have left my motorcycle in Washington D.C. and flown back home. I will return Monday and pick up the trip from there.

There were a couple of reasons that could have forced me to come home. I had a couple of people in my life that were battling illness and my return might have been necessary.

        Fortunately before I left they were both in much better health than they had been in and it made leaving for the trip much easier.

        The reason I am home I was much less prepared for and it was totally unexpected. It is news I have known about for two weeks and is the reason the writing had been so sparse.

        My friend, George Reiter was in a motorcycle accident, August 25, a day before his 63rd birthday and died four days later.
                                          
                                            Crazy George Reiter. A great husband, father, grandfather and friend.
                                            You made the world a better place while you were here. RIP 8-29-05

        Crazy George, as those who knew him well called him, was a great man. When I moved into a new house, with a new wife, he and his wife, Marti, welcomed me to the neighborhood.

        Truth be told, he was the only neighbor I really cared for, the others were too obsessed with petty things, like why I was painting my fence or was my address going to be painted on the curb like there’s was.

        George hadn’t better things to worry about, like was I coming over to his house for happy hour. I usually did and we would sit in the driveway, drinking Jack Daniels and talking about motorcycles, while he waited for his wife, Marti to come home.

        We shared a birthday and one year I came home one August 26 there was a bottle of vodka on my door step. I didn’t have think about who left it. I knew it was Crazy.

        His nickname was well earned. When he met my girlfriend two months ago, he grabbed her breasts. She and I had only known each other then for two weeks and I was like, “Hey, you got to feel them before I did.”

        I wrote about Harley’s 100th Anniversary and talked about how Crazy and his good friend, Chooch, were riding back together.

        Here is an excerpt of what I wrote.

Harley-Davidson has entitled the trip “The Ride Home” and for one man the slogan has an extra ring of truth to it.

          David “Chooch” Jewell grew up in Germantown, about 20 miles from Milwaukee and is one of several Orange County residents planning to make the trip.

Jewell will be riding with friend and Costa Mesa neighbor, George Reiter. The two have known each other for more than 10 years and this is not the first time they have made the trip back to Jewell’s hometown.

The duo rode back five years ago for the company’s 95th celebration. Reiter made it back for the 90th, but Jewell’s bike broke down in Illinois and he didn’t get there.

They have logged more than 20,000 miles together, Jewell estimates.

“I know what he’s going to do and he knows what I am going to do,” Jewell said. “We like to ride about the same speed. We have a good time.”

“Anytime, anywhere any place, I’ll ride with him,” Reiter said. “All he has to do is ask.”

For Jewell, the anniversary is almost an afterthought.

“It is really just an excuse to ride back there,” said Jewell, 52. “My mom is there, and I have two brothers, a sister and an aunt and uncle.”

Jewell will also be going to a reunion of guys he started riding with when he was a teenager, some of whom he has known since the first grade.

Reiter, whose nickname is Crazy George, for obvious reasons if any time is spent with the 60-year-old, will be enjoying the festivities while Jewell is catching up with friends and family.

“I remember at the 90th (Anniversary) a guy came up to me and said, ‘Come on, we got a party to go to,” Reiter said. “Three days later I came back to where I was staying. Friends were calling hospitals and the police. They asked me where I was. I said, ‘I don’t know, but as I recall I had a Hell of a time.’”

        Crazy and Chooch, who lived down the street, was a member of a motorcycle group called the Orange County Assholes and I knew the minute I met them I wanted to be a member.

        The guys in that group drank together and rode together and hung out together. If someone in the group needed help, all they had to do was make a phone call and 10 guys would be there to assist.

                                                                  
                                                                    Crazy George and fan. He always seemed to be
                                                                    where the pretty girls were. 

        When George was lying in the hospital after the accident, nearly 100 people came to visit him, that’s how well liked he was.

        Most who didn’t know George thought he was a kook. If they had known him, they would have realized he was someone who just loved life and didn’t really care what others thought about him. It was one of the reasons I enjoyed being his friend. The other reason was he had a great heart.

        During Christmas time he and his wife would adopt a family and all the money they were going to spend on themselves, they spent on this family that couldn’t afford a Christmas.

He volunteered once to make phone calls to mentally retarded children, posing as Santa Claus. He made one phone call to a teenager who was so excited, it made his day. George had other calls to make, but came out to the living room. When Marti asked him if he had finished he said, “No, I can’t right now, I’m crying.”

        Not only did Crazy fuel my love of motorcycles, he also gave me the guidance to help others. I adopt a family now at Christmas and one of the best days of my year is when I, along with the other Assholes, take a bunch of toys up to Skid Row in Los Angeles and drop them off to the Fred Jordan Mission.

        Every year when you turn the corner and there are 200 kids lined up against a wall, who slept there overnight because this is the only toy they are getting and they want to make sure it is a good one, it gets you every time.

        I have George to thank for that experience. I have a lot to thank George for. He is one man who had a lot of fun while he was here, but also taught me and others a great deal as well. I am going to miss him.