About a year ago, a friend from high school contacted me. Willy was a foreign exchange student in high school in the little town of Lyle where i grew up. He lived a few houses down and we hung out quite a bit during his year abroad. Willy asked if we would host his daughter Lia for an exchange and of course we said yes. She was a joy to have and when her year was done, Willy asked that we call come to Germany for a few weeks as their guests.
That was an opportunity we couldn't pass up.
One night while sitting and having a beer, Willy asked if I would help with getting his scooter running. We took a look at it and I managed to diagnose the problem. The main sprocket had fallen off and so power wasn't getting to the back wheel. Willy and I found some spare parts and slapped it back together. As the sun was setting, we got the bike running up and down the hills and roads around his home.
I probably scared the neighbors, laughing like a mad man while riding on the back with Willy driving us down the road.
The scooter was an East German Simson that Willy had picked up when he and his family first moved back to Germany after living in the US for several years.
Simson was founded by a Jewsish family in Germany at the turn of the century. It was seized by the Nazis during World War II and change names and directorship for a few years. In East Germany under communist rule, it made cheap transportation including this KR 51/2 Schwalbe, which actually had quite a bit of style.
After reunification, Schwalbes are cheap to come by and due to their utilitarian nature, rough and ready and a lot of fun.
Willy planned to use the scooter to commute to work in Sankt Blasien, but after just a year they moved a little further away and he started a much longer commute into Switzerland -- too long for a ride on a two-stroke scooter.
So the scooter sat for several years until he and his boys started fixing it up. That had it running for a few days, and then it broke down. He was afraid that the transmission had gone out. I was proud that I'd diagnosed the problem and even got it running.
We let the girls take rides on it around the property, it still needs sorting before it is ready for the road, but already Lia was asking if she could ride it to school.
|Willy showing Grace how to work the clutch.|
|Lia was already asking if she could ride it to school.|