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#303 Some actual good gift ideas

On Father’s Day, one son makes a gift of an ultra-rare radio, while another hands his dad a rock. Hmm.

With Father’s Day either looming or just past as you read this July edition of Canadian Biker, you’re very likely thankful for the great kids in your life. I know I am. My son Aaron is a pilot, so radios loom large in his life, as they have in mine. Knowing that I’ve had an obsession with vintage radios since I was a kid, Aaron recently surprised me with an ultra-rare Magnavox AW-100 that he found through some obscure source. As the world’s first multi-band portable transistorized radio, the AW-100 is a beautiful gift for a radiophile.
Built in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1957, this hard-to-find radio weighs about 10 pounds, and is contained in a saddle leather-covered wood cabinet with a tall telescoping mast. There’s a dial lamp, three shortwave bands, and two audio output transistors located next to the transformers. This is truly one of THE iconic early transistor radios.
The internals were badly corroded, but I simply cleaned up the mess, restrung some wire, and hooked in a 9V battery. Presto! It runs like new—though some of the original 1.7-MHz frequencies from the 1950s are definitely gone now. But it picks up local stations like a champ, and it has great sound.
As a personal favourite, it rivals my old vacuum tube RCA Victor from which I used to pull the cowling to expose the tubes, wires, rectifier, amplifier, and oscillator. I’d lie in the dark watching the tubes glow beside my bed, mesmerized that voices could magically arrive through them from unknown points in the ether.
All of which has nothing to do with motorcycles of course except that, close to Father’s Day, Harley-Davidson commissioned a survey in which 1,200 U.S. dads (acting as surrogates for dads everywhere) were asked about their Father’s Day gifts and experiences. The Harley-Davidson survey revealed some startling facts that made me appreciate my son all the more.
1. Nearly a third of American dads (32 per cent) confess they’ve had family members who have completely forgotten about them on Father’s Day.
2. More than half (57 per cent of fathers) confessed to receiving a Father’s Day gift they did not like.
3. More than half of dads surveyed (53 per cent) said they’d received gifts they wanted to return.

When asked about the worst gift they’d ever received, dads had this to say:
1. “A painted rock.”
2. “A tie with Santa Clauses on it!”
3. “My 45-year-old unemployed daughter moving in.”

Obviously Harley-Davison does not study social trends simply to make a better world—though if you asked I suppose they’d try to make the case that a well-tuned Fat Boy does indeed make the world a better place. Come to think of it, that actually would be hard to argue against. The true object of the survey is, of course, to find new ways to move merchandise. There’s nothing wrong with that—money is not a dirty word. Besides, if a company that’s so closely connected to the male world asks the tough question—“what does Dad REALLY want”—then perhaps there’s something we could all learn about the act of gift giving. We might even pick up a creative idea or two.
“We love our dads, but oftentimes we hit a roadblock when it comes to ideas for Father’s Day gifts,”says Karen Davidson, Creative Director, General Merchandise, Harley-Davidson Motor Company, as she reveals the “hook” behind the survey. “That’s why we’re amping-up Father’s Day with some great gift ideas so families can get out of the dad’s day gifting rut and give him what he really wants.”
So, what does Karen have for Dad?
How about retro H-D bar signs?
(“The perfect addition to any man cave.”)
Maybe a new leather jacket?
(“To up Dad’s ‘cool factor.’”)
Granted, not many kids see the obvious “cool” in the father that the father often sees in himself, but we all have our moments. Tony Cording is a long-time friend and mentor of Canadian Biker magazine, as well as the now retired but still legendary west coast regional sales manager for Yamaha Canada. He touched base with us the other day, just to say hi and to share a memory of how he got to be cool (for a day) in the eyes of his children. (He credits Arnie and the Fat Boy seen in Terminator 2.)
Tony writes:
It is not often that a father gets to be hero-for-a-day, but that was my good fortune when our family visited Universal Studios many years ago with my wife and young children. The Universal Cinema was a major attraction, and T2 was playing. The lineups to get in were very long and we settled in to wait.
While we were in the lineup an usher asked if anyone in the crowd knew what kind of bike Arnie was riding in the movie, and anyone answering correctly would go to the front of the line.
I put my hand up and asked “T1 or T2?” The usher was confused, so I replied “In T1 when Arnie was Bad Terminator he rode a Honda CB750, in T2 when Arnie was Good Terminator he rode a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy.” It goes without saying we were taken to the front of the line, and the usher learned a little bit of film history.
My children were very impressed, and asked: “How did you know that?” How could I not? But on the following day I was back to just regular old Dad.

In truth, being “just regular old Dad” isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, it’s just fine. But that doesn’t mean you have to be happy with a rock on your day.

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