At the time my mother and her friend Bea Gay had never heard of it. For the next few weeks, this mysterious man would enter the bookstore and ask for the book “Free Wheeling Frank” and my mother had to tell him they didn’t have it. My mother would ask the many NEC students about the book. Many of them had heard of it, and referred to the book as “Free Wheeling Frank” and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance. My mother found the book in print and waited for this mysterious biker chap to come into the store again. When he did, she was so proud. She presented the book to this biker chap and for a moment his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. It was indeed his holy grail and then after starting down at the book, sudden despair. No it was “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” He reassure my mom, that it was okay. My mother ever eager to please asked, “Who’s it by?” The biker thought for a moment and he came up blank.
When mid semester break came, the biker had mysteriously vanished, never to return on the NEC Arundel campus, leaving my mother with an interesting story to tell. From that day forward my mother would tell this story over and over again. The story was told at Barnstormer parties in Tamworth New Hampshire or any time she ran into someone from Arundel or Henniker. My mother was the type of person that would be fascinated by someone this interesting and she truly was. If my mom, took a liking to some rogue person, that person became a project to my mother. When I say project, I mean that she wanted to know all about them and see what made them tick. If she really liked you as in the case of a college buddy of mine, she wanted to guide you and help you improve yourself. In other words a project. I sensed this biker guy was one of those projects.
Free Wheeling Frank was a Robert Stack Unsolved Mystery. She never found out this fellow’s name. So when she told the story he was known as Frank or Free Wheeling Frank.
Upon my mom’s death I took up the mantle of this strange story, which is really just one part of my mom’s life and one part of a day in her life. For years people mistook this book as Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. One person knew the book, but did not know the title. He gave me a brief synopsis of a wild Hell’s Angel and his story about being a member of the California gang. Whenever I would go into a bookstore, I found myself looking for this book. I always came up with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I began to wonder if the actual book, “Free Wheeling Frank”, actually existed, or if my mom made up the story. I knew my mother well enough that she would never make up a story such as this. This year, I did a google search and low and behold there was a book called “Free Wheeling Frank.” I ordered it ands started reading a few chapters. The book was ghost written and I found it hard to follow because the lead character sort of seemed to be speaking in a code I couldn’t understand.
As my mother learned how to run the NEC bookstore she became a total wizard when ordering books. If it was out of print, this was a challenge and she was more than up to the task. You see there was always a bit of a detective in my mom. She liked a good mystery as much as the next person. After all this was a woman who consumed Ruth Rendell mysteries like they were candy. She never did find that book, but continued to tell the NEC Arundel story. The Legend of Free Wheeling Frank.
Throughout my own life I have often wondered what happened to this mysterious biker named Free Wheeling Frank. I often wanted to create a character around this enigmatic fellow. Letters From England allowed me the chance. This is why I went in search of the book called “Free Wheeling Frank.” Like I did in Episode six with my sister Nancy, I wanted to give my mother the spotlight here. Another story is in the wings. We’ll talk about that at a later time. This was a story that truly starred my mom and this is the first episode that directly revolves around her.
When I came up with the idea for “Free Wheeling Frank,” I wasn’t really sure how I was going to write this small chapter. I felt like I should honor this guy. So I blew the encounter my mom had and created my own story. The best way was to create the history of Free Wheeling Frank. I don’t know if the story I conjured does Mr. Frank justice, here is what I came up with.
Free Wheeling Frank is as a member of a Hells Angel gang. Late one night in some bar, in a small college town in Juniper New Hampshire he meets a cultured wealthy college Senior named Mary. Frank is a quiet type, not your typical Hells Angel and he is an intellectual. He reads Kerouac and other beatnik writers of the day.
Mary and Frank fall in love. When she takes Frank to meet her well to do, snobby parents they have horrible visions of her future. They forbid their daughter ever to see Frank again. The wealthy daughter is devastated until she hits upon an idea where she and Frank can be together. When Hopkins College opens up a branch in England, Mary decides to spend a semester abroad, where she will take a complete course of independent studies, on Art, History and languages. The two will spend one month on Campus. Mary takes classes before going off on her wild ride through Europe with Frank. While on campus, Frank will be in constant search of his elusive holy grail, the book Free Wheeling Frank.
My first idea was to create a spaghetti western movie, with the Harley being the horse. Frank and Mary(Who Frank nicknames Chilli) ride off into the sunset on this Harley all over England, and the rest of Europe. The idea changed about four days ago. I thought, hey wait a minute let’s try a film noir style. I am a huge film noir fan. My mother is the gumshoe and My Dad would be the client coming in to find out the legend of Free Wheeling Frank.
I started this episode two nights ago. I started the teaser and I have written three pages. The teaser opens on a cold drizzly night, while Eileen Livingston (My Mom) is working late at her Private Investigations office. A strange tall man named Blake (My Dad) enters the office just as she is about to leave. He has a case for her. The case is the legend of Free Wheeling Frank. He will pay her handsomely to find out the story of this legendary Hells Angel Biker. The film noir is the Walter Mitty Fantasy world inside Eileen’s head, while she does go in search of this strange character. Kitty Grainger will be her detective partner.
Free Wheeling Frank is coming in film noir. If you check out my blog I hope you will read the Legend of Free Wheeling Frank.