SC PRESS ASSOCIATION AWARD-WINNER
Ride Granny ride
By Jackie R. Broach
Harriet Moore watches wistfully as a biker clad in leather and denim roars past atop a Harley Davidson, a woman in a bikini top and shorts plastered against his back.
The sound of the engine is barely discernible amidst the surrounding drone of dozens more idling and passing motorcycles. They’re taking up a large section of the parking lot on the east side of Inlet Square Mall, where tents have been set up and vendors are selling clothing and accessories for the bikers who flooded into town for Bike Week.
Though technically a Myrtle Beach event, Murrells Inlet also sees a massive influx of bikers, drawn to places like SBB Four Corners and The Beaver Bar.
While many area residents dread the accompanying noise and heavy traffic, Moore, 68, loves it.
“I’d give anything to be out there riding with them, right in the middle of it,” she said. The sun glinting off chrome catches her eye and she turns to watch another bike pass by.
“I love motorcycles,” Moore said. “I love the noise and the riders. I love everything about them.”
Moore was one of nine seniors from the Lakes at Litchfield who hit the bike week scene last Thursday. It’s become an annual outing for the group, with more folks signing on every year.
They put on their best biker gear and head out to get a close up look at the bikes and the folks who ride them.
The fair was their first stop for the day.
“We try to dress the part,” said Edna Geller, 76. “You’d be surprised what we can dig up from our closets.”
Geller was decked out in a black Harley Davidson T-shirt and dark sunglasses with a tie-dyed orange bandanna covering her silver hair.
Most of the ladies are dressed similarly, in jeans and T-shirts, with bandannas tied around their foreheads.
The only man in the group, John Mueller, is wearing a shirt with the arms decorated to make it look as if he has tattoos running the length of his limbs.
Moore was perhaps the most fashionable of the group in a long-sleeved T-shirt and a fur-lined vest. It’s hot in the get-up, she said, “but if it looks good, who cares if it’s hot?”
For most in the group the outing is a good time and a means of appeasing curiosity about the biker culture.
For Moore, its something different. She used to be part of that culture, she said. She used to ride her own motorcycle in the days before it was normal for women to ride, she said. She was a teacher of sixth- and seventh-graders and used to ride her motorcycle to school. Her students loved it.
She got rid of the bike about 20 years ago, and she misses riding desperately. She loves seeing so many women riding their own bikes these days instead of clinging behind husbands and boyfriends on their bikes.
Harriet Gotwals, 87, said she had no desire to be out riding with the bikers, but she was happy to be out and about, watching and talking with them. She found all the goings-on of Bike Week to be quite interesting, she said, and was surprised to see the bikers weren’t at all what she expected.
“They’ve all been so nice,” she said. “They’ve been very receptive to us as senior citizens.”
Geller called the bikers “real gentlemen.” She’s “scared to death” or motorcycles, she said, but loved mingling with the folks who ride them.
The bikers seemed to be equally taken with the seniors. After leaving the fair at the mall and stopping for lunch, the small group made stops at different biker bars along their route. The last was SBB, where they made quite a stir. Bikers turned to watch as they made their way through the bar, many stopping for a friendly exchange.
“Oh, aren’t they cool! That’ll be me and the girls some day,” said Jan Aiello as the group passed her by.
She came down from Rhode Island for Bike Week and called seeing the seniors a highlight of the trip.
A few tough-looking bikers chased the seniors down to ask if they could have their picture taken with the group. The seniors were happy to oblige.
The group also posed for a few photos for their own scrapbooks, including a few with the scantily clad women working in the bar.
Heather Clay was working near the front entrance. Covered in body glitter and dressed in a bikini top and camouflage pants with the seat cut out, she posed for a picture with the group, wrapping her arms around Mueller.
Marty Murtaugh, 85, gaped with seeming distaste at the amount of skin Clay’s outfit exposed, but she said she wasn’t shocked.
“At my age, I’ve been around the block a few times,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot.”
Seeing the inside of SBB was new, however. Murtaugh said she’d seen the bar from the outside many times and wondered what it was like every time she drove by.
“I always really wanted to see what goes on in here,” she said. “It’s not somewhere I could have gone by myself, though.”
Murtaugh was 80 before she ever rode a motorcycle, she said. The bike belonged to one of the staff at Lakes at Litchfield who offered to take her for a spin.
She loved it, she said, and she also loved making the rounds of the biker bars during their busiest week.
“We all like to have fun,” she said of the residents at Lakes at Litchfield.
“We may be retired, but we’re not sitting around doing nothing.”