In 1969, when I was 14, the Hell’s Angels descended on the quiet little mountain village of Big Bear, California, over Labor Day weekend. The San Bernardino-based group had announced their impending visit in advance, and all the townsfolk were in a tizzy over it. After all, 200 of the outlaw bikers, rampaging on Harley-Davidsons, were due to invade a town whose population at that time was only around 2000. And they had a well-deserved nasty reputation.
Heavy metal thunder.
Fear and rumors ran rampant. It was all anyone could talk about. Dire warnings emanated from the local hick radio station on an almost hourly basis, along with pleas for everyone to remain calm, and advice on how to avoid confrontations.
For my friend and I, on the other hand, it was an exciting prospect. Kids, amiright?
My family, who owned a cabin on Sugarloaf Mountain a few miles east of the village, were not daunted. We always spent holidays there, and we weren’t going to stop now. We would just be careful, is all.
Alas, I never got to see any of the gang. My friend did, though. One of them pulled alongside him as he was riding his minibike, grinned down at him and said, “Got your own little chopper, eh?” I was jealous.
As it turned out, nothing untoward happened. The bikers took over the bars and blocked the sidewalks, but basically made no more mark than the regular vacation crowds were wont to do. No one was hurt, nothing was damaged, nothing was stolen. A couple of unoccupied cabins were broken into, but only for food and a place to spend the night. By Monday afternoon, the outlaws were gone, nothing amiss.
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and the tranquil mountain life went on.
As Chuck Berry noted, it goes to show you never can tell.