Birmingham, Ala — I had the privilege of visiting the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum during their annual festival this past weekend. If you’ve never been to this museum and toured this facility, you owe it to yourself to do so. The annual festival draws thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the world to gather and swap stories, watch the races, and enjoy all of the activities.
One of the most popular features to this festival is the Swap Meet. It brings hundreds of vendors who are buying and selling all things motorcycle. You can find parts, gear, accessories and motorcycles for sale during the weekend. It was at this Swap Meet that I enjoyed a reunion of sorts, with brothers I hadn’t seen for over 40 years.
Glenn Thompson lives in California, and through the power of social media, he and I reconnected through our love of motorcycles. When I started blogging about my journey, he was one of the first to support what I was doing. Although we were in school at different times, we were brought together through the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
Billy Gray has been coming to the Barber’s Festival since the beginning. He’s one of the first to buy space at the swap meet. He’s been dealing in motorcycle parts and accessories since he retired. He’s also a vintage motorcycle collector, having gathered an impressive collection of vintage motorcycles.
Billy’s two brothers, Clarence and Robert, join him at this festival each year. They set up camp and spend most of the week there. All of us are joined together through college, and our fraternity. All of them have been avid festival attendees and know FAR more about motorcycles than I will ever know.
So when I arrived to cover the weekend for my digital network, it also turned out to be quite a reunion of sorts for fraternity brothers who hadn’t seen each other since the seventies.
We talked and shared stories about our families, bragging on our kids, and trying to “out do” each other with our tales of life since college. We talked motorcycles and how we started riding and the ups and downs of life on the open road.
We shared old college stories while asking about those who were no longer with us. We talked MORE motorcycles. We sat under the tent in the hot sun and just visited. We were amazed to realize that we had all lived to see the day where we would magically be joined together to share such a moment.
This experience was an amazing trip for me. I’m still trying to soak up all the knowledge about the origins of the motorcycle and this was the perfect place to do it. The reunion of bikes and brothers was just a bonus and a real blessing.
I love the people I meet on this bike!