TRA in the News
Wayne Brickey Interview (KSL Radio)
Golden Years on a Gold Wing (Deseret News)
Lives, Everyday Values Interview hosted by Doug Wright
with Wayne Brickey (TRA member), author of Inviting Him In: How the Atonement Can Change Your Family.
Doug: And a warm welcome to the program; it's great to have you along this morning here on Everyday Lives, Everyday Values. We're going to talk about a brand new book called Inviting Him In: How the Atonement Can Change Your Family, and Wayne Brickey is back with us. This, of course, is a Deseret Book publication. And Wayne, it's a great pleasure to have you back with us. It's been a couple of years, but good to see you again.
Wayne: Thank you very much. I'm very glad to be with you.
Doug: I want to introduce our Everyday Lives listeners to you. Wayne Brickey has spent more than thirty years as a teacher and curriculum writer in the Church Educational System, a lecturer at Education Week and Know Your Religion gatherings, and a tour guide to various Church history, Holy Land, and Central American sites. Also the author of Making Sense of Suffering and the co-author of Peace, Be Still. He holds a doctor's degree in educational philosophy from Brigham Young University. And as I mentioned, Wayne has been our guest before to discuss some of his previous endeavors, and it's a great pleasure to have you with us once again. But I've got to ask about the cover to the book. I love that old adage, "You can't judge a book by its cover;" but it certainly can cause you to pick it up and examine it. And I love the cover, and I was noticing there's a similar name in the artistry. What's the connection here?
Wayne: Yeah. My son Joseph, who is a great artist, a premiere artist--I'm told that; I'm not biased, of course, in saying that.
Doug: Well I'm unbiased, and this looks pretty good to me.
Wayne: He does a lot of wonderful work, and he was kind enough to take time out of his other projects to put out a, kind of a classical piece to go with this theme. He and I once did a little thinking about the family settings described especially in the New Testament, and the one that we finally focused on is one that isn't normally thought of in terms of a married couple. But it's two people on the road to Emmaus, and after checking with some scholarly sources to make sure that some of the scholars felt very comfortable with the possibility that that was a man and a woman...
Wayne: ...Joseph and I thought that that would be a good theme for the cover of this book. And he went to work, and it depicts this couple having just been on this little hike for twelve kilometers, about seven miles, probably about two hours with Jesus, not yet having recognized Him as the resurrected Christ. And they arrive at their home in Emmaus, and He makes as if He's going to press on. And they urge Him to come into their home, which is suited to what I wanted to try to say on almost every page of this book, that Christ wishes to be a friend of the family, the closest friend of our individual families. But He can't come barging in.
Wayne: He really needs invitations, and they have to be repeated.
Doug: There is the opening part of the book that is titled, "Build on Eternity." Did your son also do this drawing?
Doug: There is a sketch--well it's more than that, but it's in black and white of Christ--and it is gorgeous. I've got to tell you, it's just beautiful. And in Chapter 1, in this part, "Build on Eternity," what do you deal with?
Wayne: Well, the notion of family. I guess I felt obligated to trace down, "What is this family business? Why is it such a big, big thing?" And maybe we all have an innate answer for that one, we're little kids in the arms of a parent. But as the world beats on us a little bit, maybe that's one our most painful questions, "Why is family such a big deal?" And so I tried to go back using what we know from the right sources to figure out, "Why is family the ultimate format for human happiness?" And of course, it goes back to eternity. And so what we build here in this world is patterned after something that is timeless, that is without beginning, that is without end: it's mom and dad and the kids.
Doug: Yeah. Sometimes during the course of my regular week in doing radio talk shows and discussing so many of the issues of the day, it will strike me that it all piles up before you kind of recognize that almost every assault against our society today, against us personally today, is against our families as a whole designed to weaken it just chip by chip, chink by chink, crack by crack. And when you put it in that eternal concept it makes more sense, frightening sense.
Wayne: Yeah. The word "designed" you just used, whether inadvertently or on purpose, suggests that this opposition may be more well informed than we sometimes think from the rather random scurrying and commotion in the world. Maybe this opposition really knows what's most important. And, of course, we know that Satan's opposition to the Father's plan was vehement, it was passionate, it was livid and offended and accusatory. And he comes away from that casting out hating the family.
Wayne: Hating the very idea.
Doug: As we move on through the book, there is a whole section, "Gathered with Our Fathers," and again, this beautiful depiction of a man and a woman kneeling at an altar where smoke is going up into the heavens.
Doug: You're thoughts on "Gathered with Our Fathers" now.
Wayne: Well, ultimately, of course, or at least initially, we have the Father, the perfect Father himself from whom we came. We are trying to get gathered back with Him, but we got, we sort of were sent away with an assignment, "Don't come back the way you are right now. Come back organized in families."
Wayne: And so a gathering point in each home is this parent idea. And ultimately in the book it becomes necessary to explore--you know, that's an Old Testament phrase where Jacob and Joseph and others of the patriarchs in their last requests were saying to their families, "I'm now going to be gathered with my fathers."
Wayne: So you have this image of people on the other side that are organized in families, and you're finally going to be absorbed into a much more friendly atmosphere now when you leave this world. And it's going to be a family atmosphere.
Doug: Another beautiful depiction in the book under the title, "Welded by Fire," a man and a woman standing, facing one another. Looks like a classic wedding scene to me.
Wayne: The fire--I talk about that fire, the fire that we sometimes think of maybe when we think of hormones. But, the hormones just fit in with a much larger plan, that we've been provided with this physical capacity to respond to holy and sacred instincts, and it is a fire. And so in the symbolism in the scriptures and the offerings that are made, the thing that always makes the offering, moved from this plain of existence up into the heavens, is fire.
Wayne: And so it becomes necessary in this book to talk about the warmth between husband and wife, which is sort of the central fire, and then the warm feelings between other kinds of family relationships.
Doug: As we move into this phase of our lives where we are, you know, joined together, and we are "Joined by Our Children'--which happens to be the next section of the book--how does Christ's atonement come into play there? How can we, as mere mortals who sometimes are worrying about the diapers and paying the mortgage, really make sure that we are in a welcoming environment for Christ?
Wayne: Well, we sometimes don't think of His atonement or His saving mission as being anything more than individualized.
Wayne: But, of course, we know better than that. It can't be just individuals. For example, in the famous allegory of the olive tree that is so long and full of symbolism in the Book of Mormon--Jacob Chapter 5--the Lord of the vineyard is the one who does the grafting. He delegates the rest of the stuff--the nurturing of the roots and even the pruning--but he doesn't let anybody else do the grafting. And it just occurs to me that, remembering that phrase in the New Testament from Jesus himself, "What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." God does the, He's into putting people together as couples and as families. He's also good at keeping them together, and so later in the book, for example, we talk about grace. He sets this example, but He also puts into us these emotions and sensations to cut each other some slack. And one of the phrases that occurred to me was "a Christless marriage." It's a bit, maybe, indelicate, but the point is that sometimes a spouse, or maybe both spouses in a partnership, start thinking there's no hope for the other.
Wayne: And, of course, the Savior, if we could invite Him in, would immediately start softening us and helping us to be graceful with each other, to be forgiving, and to listen to each other. In other words to do the kinds of things that He does around the clock.
Doug: Yeah. It's an interesting term, "softening," and we also often hear "a hardness of heart" or "a hardening of our hearts." And isn't it amazing how you do see that when you invite Christ in or when you are in an environment in which He is obviously present, it is so hard to be hard.
Doug: I mean, you have to work overtime to be hard.
Wayne: Even his voice is described that way.
Wayne: And our voices probably start resembling His when He's around.
Doug: We will take a brief break; we'll come right back; we'll talk about Inviting Him In: How the Atonement Can Change Your Family. Wayne Brickey is our guest today on Everyday Lives, Everyday Values.
Doug: I always love the conversations that occur off the air, and sometimes that's the best part of the conversation. I don't want that to happen now. I was mentioning how that softness and hardness, how quickly it can change in my life. I'll find myself in an environment where I just feel like, you know, my heart's going to melt or break, and then just moments later I'll be snap back into the world with a whiplash. And I marvel at that. And you were saying that President Packer has addressed that.
Wayne: Well there's a great talk he gave called "The Candle of the Lord." It's a talk primarily about revelation. But, of course, here's this great revelator who is the president of the Twelve who's telling us a few trade secrets about how it works. And he describes that quiet influence not as a stadium light bulb or a bonfire...
Wayne: ...but as a candle. And even the sound--you know, if you listen closely, if you get close up to the candle you can hear the wick burning.
Wayne: But it's such a whispery and delicate sound, which is of course the way the voice of the Lord has been described many times. And so "a soft answer turneth away wrath." We have this wealth of inspired literature reminding us about noise and hardness of speech. It's one of the trade skills not just of prophets, but I think of moms and dads and spouses.
Doug: There's a part in the book, it's called, "Surrounded by Home." Let's go into that home, being surrounded by our home. How do we create that environment?
Wayne: As I've thought about it I've adopted this little notion of, just like a law. There's a, it's sort of like the relationship between your spirit and your body, your family and your home. The spirit inhabits the physical tabernacle and your family inhabits this house. And, you know, we have so many cautions about the maintenance of our spirit through physical care. How dependent our spiritual health is on things that we can actually do physically. And likewise, the home is something to be reckoned with. The house itself, the order of it and the sounds and the schedules and the activities that go on there.
Wayne: There are ways of dis-inviting Him.
Wayne: There are some things that we hear of all the time that we might call spiritual hygiene: our maintenance of our health, spiritually, with the scriptures and with prayer. I'm afraid that a lot of couples stewing a lot about their family have short-changed their service in the Church, for example. I'm thinking of a statement that the Savior himself made when He spoke to the Nephites. It's in Chapter 20 of Third Nephi, and of course He's quoting words from the old prophets but of course they're His words. So He's not really quoting anybody but Himself. He says, "The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." And then He says this, "And this because ye are children of the covenant." He goes on a little bit later to talk about saving our children and the promise that if we will be faithful He's going to reach out to our children. And so, you know, that statement, "I've been sent to you to turn you away from your iniquities because you're children of the covenant." I can't help but think He's not just talking to me, he's talking to my kids. Maybe some of them are imperfect and He's saying to them--they may not be listening--but He's saying to my imperfect children, "I'm going to eventually turn you away from your iniquities."
Wayne: "And I'm going to do that because you're children of the covenant." Brigham Young's statement that we use in this book--and others of our prophets have said this--is so piercing to many of us. He says, "I don't care what happens to your children, they are going to be pulled back by the Lord if you as a couple are faithful to your covenants." That's a startling doctrine.
Doug: Boy, isn't that comforting when you think of that?
Wayne: Yeah. To some people it's unsettling because they think about it in terms of logic and justice, but if they would think about it in terms of mercy and the affection they have for their children, it makes me, well, I guess it makes me want to go do my home teaching.
Doug: Yeah. It does. It makes you want to be better and create this environment that we've talked about in a home and so on to invite the spirit in and then hope, maybe, that there will be a little mercy that comes into play and brings it all together.
Wayne: I just used that word "turn" because that's what He said, "I'm going to turn you away." And, you know, there's another place where he says that when Elijah comes he's going to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.
Wayne: He's going to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers. Getting that person turned toward their fathers and toward the Lord may take a tremendous loop out through the mountains.
Wayne: And they may disappear for a while. But if we're doing what we can and being gracious instead of cranky about this when they surprise us, then the promise is that the Lord will get their railroad track pointed back in our direction.
Wayne: You see that with older people. I had the privilege for a while of being in a ward where we had a lot of elderly people, almost all of them temple workers and so on. I thought they were all like angels. And then as I got acquainted with them closely I found that many of them had had rather unseemly lives for a period in their lives. And you ask them, "Well then what brings you to this white-haired and white-robed and beautiful countenance and lifestyle?"
Wayne: And over and over again they would say, "Well my parents have been dead for fifty years. I've never forgotten them; I think they keep pulling for me from the other side."
Doug: That is such a wonderful thought to leave our listeners with this morning. And Wayne, this has been so much fun to talk with you about this new book. Obviously, there is so much more contained within the pages awaiting our listeners, Inviting Him In: How the Atonement Can Change Your Family. And you've got to pass along to Joseph how much I have appreciated his beautiful, beautiful pictures in here.
Wayne: I will.
Doug: They are just gorgeous. Wayne, thank you so much for joining us today.
Wayne: Thank you, Doug.
Doug: On Everyday Lives, Everyday Values.
to the Temple on Two Wheels" - Inside the T.R.A.
by Wayne Brickey
Big Motors and Good Motives
Who hasn’t experienced some of the symptoms of road-fascination? You know, things like a strong desire see the map and visualize your journey, the urgent craving to move forward again, the enjoyment of slightly varying directions and speed, or the hypnosis of ever-changing scenery. Perhaps this fascination is rooted in the spirit. It very likely has symbolic meaning. But it certainly induces in many people the hunger to travel. We might call it the drive to go driving.
A motorcycle answers that hunger in a distinct way. Travel on an outdoor seat doesn’t just give you a subtle sense of motion. The rush of air isn’t only a faint whirr somewhere outside an insulated, house-like vehicle. You don’t merely admire the landscape through glass walls and steel door posts.
On a motorcycle you are “up close and personal” with the scenery. Air - the only thing intervening - is a connector, rather than a separator, between you and the landscape. The breeze on the hills is the very same that brushes your face. You feel it pulse upon your arms and pant cuffs. You know the change in temperature as you pass from sunlight into the shadow of an overhead cloud. You smell the dry sage as soon as you see it, you savor the pines as you cruise by. You notice a change in humidity when entering a canyon or valley.
Motoring along, the purring engine blends with variations in direction and speed to create both esthetics and kinesthetics. It’s a flowing adventure. The motorcycle doesn’t just take you near; it takes you through; not just past, but into. You are in the scenery, and the scenery is somehow in you.
You might think T.R.A. stood for “Touching Raw Atmosphere,” or if you prefer, “Tasting Real Ambiance.”
For some, all this contact with nature is a bit much. For others, traveling isn’t quite right unless it’s on an atmosphere-touching, ambiance-tasting vehicle.
In 1987, Frank and Catherine Reese combined the two-wheeled lure of the road with other lures: the love of good associates and the longing for spiritual experience. “Sister Reese and I enjoyed riding our motorcycle,” Frank remembers. “But it was even better when we could share the travel with people of similar standards who loved the Gospel. So, a motorcycle trip with another couple to do temple work seemed like the answer. It was great, and from that point on, others just kept joining with us. It grew naturally.”
In 1988, the Temple Riders Association - the T.R.A. - was formed in hopes of including as many as possible. Since then, hundreds of households in many states have joined the organization, which is now divided into local chapters. (See www.templeriders.com.) They’ve ridden to most of the states and visited most U.S. temples. Perhaps you’ve noticed members of the T.R.A. riding together. If so, you might have thought that T.R.A. stood for “Togetherness, Religion and Adventure.”
Organized and Nice
When you encounter these people in a temple parking lot, at a campground or a restaurant, they probably have your attention. You’re not frightened of course - they don’t look at all like “Temperamental Road Animals.” But you might be intrigued by the brawny machines and the gentle folk who ride them.
My first encounter was in the Fall of 2001. I was visiting Aspen Grove - BYU’s mountain getaway - with my wife Joanne. We could not quite ignore the thirty or forty big gleaming machines of all colors lined up in the parking area. And then all these people came out of the conference hall after a morning meeting of some kind, about to begin a day of wending through the high Wasatch valleys. We readily noticed that the T.R.A. people were genuinely warm with each other and with the several bystanders staring at them. They acted for all the world as if they were the best of friends.
It was soon clear that these nice people were also organized. We eavesdropped on a parking lot meeting for the group leaders. Next came a gathering for everyone, in which they had a prayer for safe travel and a review of itinerary, group organization and the rules of motorcade travel.
Overseeing all this was Jim Dalton of Provo, general director of the T.R.A. at that time, the fatherly fellow you couldn’t miss, the one with the ready, reassuring smile. I said to Joanne, “They’re fortunate to have him in charge.” But she had been observing the others. Her reply was, “It looks like good leaders are pretty easy to find in this organization.” I looked around. She was right.
Then we watched the “staging” process: lining up the bikes into groups, last minute polishing of fenders and windshields, warming up the engines. Even among the onlookers, you could feel the excitement. Group by group, with a few minutes between each group, the motorcycling Mormons finally moved out. A “Tightly Regimented Armada” had left in waves of color and chrome. All that remained were lackluster Suburbans and Buicks.
Since that first impression, I’ve traveled thousands of miles with the T.R.A., attending three-hour meeting blocks in distant wards and doing temple work for some of their ancestors. I’ve driven along in staggered formation on freeways, wound through country landscapes, and crossed rolling hills with them. That first impression - about caring for people and loving the adventure - was a fair one. The organization is now directed by Dave Farmer of American Fork, another warm and wise leader. The T.R.A. has more momentum than ever. Just what you’d expect from big “Two-wheelers Rolling Along.”
In this group there are numerous temple workers and couples between missions, one former mission president that I know of, all sorts of men previously or presently serving as bishops, others in stake presidencies and bishoprics, a prodigious amount of scouting experience, and more former and present relief society presidents than you could count. There seem to be representatives of most of the trades and professions, most of the age groups and backgrounds.
As I drove along one afternoon in my assigned group of five motorcycles, I suddenly realized that four of the T.R.A. members in that group held doctors degrees. The striking thing was that this was an unimportant matter. You leave position behind. You have an uncomplicated comradery based on human courtesy, gospel perspective, and a love of the natural world close at hand in the passing scene. The T.R.A. experience “Takes Rank Away,” you might say.
At fuel stops and meals and on the CB, the vehicles aren’t discussed very often, even among the males. Talk focuses on family, remembrances of past trips, anticipations of what the road holds just ahead, and appreciation for blessings. Technology takes a backseat.
The social moments come often. There are the monthly chapter meetings (over a meal, of course). On rides, there are frequent stops to stretch, refuel, or take in a meal or ice cream cone. And each morning during a longer trip, there is a pretty predictable social routine: once-again packing belongings in strategic ways; hooking up the trailer if you have one; cleaning up the shiny surfaces lest someone think you indolent. A lot of conversation and kidding accompanies this motorcycle hygiene.
The Touring Bike
The touring bike weighs hundreds of pounds. But with a little momentum, and with years of design on your side, physics makes all that weight into an advantage. The machine handles smoothly when under way. In turns and among traffic, it is an adroit and obedient steed, a gentle giant. And the bigger bikes are the ones most visible to other drivers. For the most part, big means safe.
Even more important to safety is experience. So how can an inexperienced rider safely become an experienced one? One answer is to ride with experienced riders, in a group. You imitate their careful habits, you talk with them at the stops, you travel under the umbrella of their numbers.
Mind you, even visibility and experience don’t keep the motorcycle upright if you forget to put your kickstand down! My turn with this blunder came a few years ago with several co-workers looking on. We had all arrived for work at about the same time, they in their sensible cars, me on my big senseless bike. You get some good-natured kidding from colleagues at times like this. I was enjoying the moment, sauntering away from my machine with a cool smile. Too bad I had forgotten to put that confounded kickstand down. I’ll always remember the shocked silence of my friends that came just after I heard that dull thud on the asphalt behind me, nor can I erase the image of that poor steel monster laying unathletically to the side while my friends tried not to die with laughter.
The touring bike doesn’t fall down flat if you happen to drop it. It will go part way and then stop at a 45 degree angle. When this happens - not if but when - the problem likely won’t be an injury, but rather getting the darned thing tipped back up again. There are tricks to doing this even when you’re alone, and with the help of your passenger or bystander it’s not too hard. Most have righted their bike a time or two, and this usually makes a good story later on.
For example, on one of the T.R.A. rides, one of couples missed a turn in a residential area and intended to get back with the group by taking a sidewalk shortcut. However, the sidewalk proved a little too tricky and the bike wound up in someone’s flowerbed instead. As the super-embarrassed driver and his bemused wife tried to get that thing out of the tulips - and with the startled residents peering through their living room curtain - the rest of the group came back looking for their lost members. Twenty or so motorcycles suddenly filled the street, with forty or so nice people gingerly retrieving the foundered machine, replanting the injured plants, and grooming other flowerbeds in the yard for no extra charge. As far as any of us knows, the home owners and their children are still speechlessly gaping out that front window.
But what about T.R.A.-related injuries? I’ve heard that there have been a few over the years, though none have been serious. On a recent trip, a spot of sand on a turn meant a scraped leg and bruised knee for one couple. A few years ago, a precariously parked bike resulted in a broken foot. But considering the hundreds of riders and bikes, the number of years, and the literally millions of cumulative miles these T.R.A. people have traveled over the years – there were easily a quarter of a million combined miles just this summer alone – it turns out that this sort of travel is not as dangerous as others we can imagine.
Safe motorcycling is about reducing risk, which is where T.R.A. riding makes a great contribution to its members: the organization prepares well and constantly draws on its combined expertise. Plus, a group like this is as hard to see as a chrome-plated rainbow coming down the highway.
Making a Difference
The T.R.A. has several goals listed on the website. In sum, the aim isn’t just for the members to have a regular change of pace, but to make a difference while at it. To this end, each chapter schedules two or three events per month. In addition, the overall organization sponsors a major activity each year. For 2002, it was “Our Roots” - a July tour starting from Boston and working westward through major Church history sites.
For any trip, especially one of this length, T.R.A. seems to stand for “Thorough and Rigorous Arrangements.” Consider the preparation: Planning just about every mile; training group leaders; foreseeing logistics for possible emergencies; assigning the daily devotionals held each morning at 7:45; arranging for information at key sites; ensuring good CB communication; designing group assignments so that each bike would be with a different combination of other bikes every day; printing day-by-day directions for each driver; reserving motels for those moteling and campgrounds for those camping; getting equipped for possible mechanical problems; appointments with temples; knowing exactly when and where to attend church meetings on Sundays; planning the Monday night home evenings; adjusting the plan for those leaving the route for a while or going home early; and the massive coordination of some fifty motorcycles being shipped from western locations to Boston. All this took fifteen months. We could call it “Teamwork Across America.”
Here are some random journal entries from that trip:
- July 10. Today our open-air trek went through the verdant byways of upper Massachusetts into the even more verdant Vermont, a place whose beauty is nearly unearthly. Come afternoon the hints of translucent gray here and there, in a thousand valley floors, grow into rivers of mist until the green hills are draped in solemn curtains. Amid all this, we are having a magical motorcycle fly-through. These heavy forests and veiled passes are the images upon which we must picture the early life of Joseph the Prophet. As we try to measure his vast mission as the head of a whole dispensation, we find ourselves transfixed by the context - as beautiful and enchanting as anything on earth.
- July 12.
We had a good meeting just outside the Sacred Grove, followed by a lot of gentle
and even emotional conversations. It is really something to travel a long way
with people who esteem the restored gospel so highly, and then to find yourselves
walking silently together through the Sacred Grove - the birthplace of all you
hold dear. . . . Later in the day, we skirted along the coast of Lake Ontario
en route to Niagara. After hour on hour of this beauty, you still are not weary
- July 13. Our ride through western New York turned out to be a longer but more charming ride than expected. Off the interstate, we went through small and somewhat timeless-looking towns, and wound our way around lakes, across bridges and alongside endless wooded hills.
- July 17. We went to Carthage - solemn, enormously important, unforgettable. . . . Back in Nauvoo, we met some of our group to walk along the Trail of Hope, as suggested by our prophet. . . . We moved reverently from one plague to the next, each of us taking a reading the journal excerpts. Awe and gratitude ran deep. . . . Our evening social was in a park shaded from the setting sun by the Nauvoo temple standing just west of us. There was a lot of humor, a bit of roasting, some more historical information, and thanks offered to each other and to God. The evening finished with a testimony meeting.
- July 19. I saw some of our T.R.A. people making a difference today in a little Missouri town. An onlooker at the gas station found himself at first just entranced with the arrival of the machines, then greeted with the neighborly people who dismounted. The genuine smiles seemed somehoe to mean a lot to him. Some just said “Hi,” others introduced themselves. He was taken my storm, first at eye-level, then at heart-level. Soon he was telling us a little about his work (he had the only auto body shop in town), the community, and his wife and children. As we rolled out of there, he was waving good-bye with a new copy of the Book of Mormon in his hand.
Enjoying the Ride
The T.R.A. is one small evidence that people of faith can be at home in a variety of settings. Whether in “Totally Relaxing Activities” on a lonely secondary highway or “Traveling with Reverent Associates” into a temple parking lot, the members of the Temple Riders Association have found a way to seek after the wholesome in their recreation.
It is just
one reminder among the Latter-day Saints that gospel living allows a wide berth.
Our religion doesn’t crowd us in to one dimension. Instead, the gospel
invites a wholesome and whole participation in mortal life. We’re here
to be faithful. But while at it, we’re allowed to explore. As President
Hinckley once suggested, “The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you
have the ride.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, in “A Conversation with Single
Adults,” Ensign, Mar. 1997, p. 58.)
Business of the Year Award Honors ATV Dealer's Generosity
by Jill Homer, Community News Editor
In a time of rampant corporate greed and deception, at least one Tooele company proves that the best strategy for success in business is still simple kindness. Steadman's, an all-terrain vehicle dealer in Tooele, was honored with the Business of the Year Award from the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce at their Jan. 10 banquet. The Chamber will also recognize the business at a state banquet next month.
At first glance, it would seem the Chamber awarded Steadman's for financial and business success.
After all, the family-owned business grew from an unlicensed motorcycle dealer on the outskirts of Tooele to the top Honda ATV dealer in the state, and one of the top 20 dealers in the country.
However, it was Steadman's service to customers and the community that really clenched the award, according to Jack Howard, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce.
Besides providing two high school scholarships, various donations to ATV and trail advocacy groups and time serving on community boards, Howard said, Steadman's goes beyond business duty to help a customer in need. Office manager Tobie Warner relayed the touching story of a six-year-old boy named Nickolas Kerlin, who received his first ATV from Steadman's last spring.
"Toward the end of February we were contacted by a customer from Magna who was going to buy a youth model ATV for his oldest son, Nickolas," Warner said. "It took them a while to finally make it out around the point of the mountain to pick up the machine, because Nick had been feeling a little under the weather the week before."
Warner said they first met the excited six-year-old in March when he came out to be fitted with a helmet, gloves, goggles, pants, jersey and a shiny red ATV. He left the store glowing, and Warner said that "once (the gear) went on his little body we knew he wasn't about to take it off again." Then, the following Monday, Russell Steadman received a call from Nick's dad, Mark, who was barely audible on the other line. The family took Nick to the doctor, he said, and the prognosis wasn't good. Nick had a tumor growing in his brain, he had been given eight months to live, and the and hospital stays and other medical bills would require most of their budget, so the ATV would have to come back.
"It's always hard to hear about children with terminal illnesses, but it's even harder when you have children and grandchildren that same age; it's so much easier to relate to the emotions," Warner said. The store managers had a discussion and decided to let the Kerlin family keep the ATV, free of charge, for as long as they needed it. "It had been decided that the ear-to-ear grin Nickolas had left the shop with the week before was worth more than the cost of the machine," Warner said. "We wanted him to have as much fun and happiness as possible in the little time that he had left with his family."
The employees at Steadman's would hear from the Kerlins occasionally ... a thank you note, trip reports, ride invitations. One afternoon Nick came to visit the shop. He was still recovering from chemotherapy; his face was swollen and round. But he was in good spirits, and the employees offered him a snowmobile replica toy. Again, he left with an ear-to-ear grin.
Then, at the end of November, as employees at Steadman's were still reeling from two recent tragedies, they got their final call from Mark Kerlin. Quietly, he told them that they had lost Nick a week earlier. He was happy, Mark said, and at the side of his family and little brother Joshua. But they would no longer have use for the ATV.
"Mark, Shauna and Joshua brought the little ATV back, and sat and talked, and cried for a little while, to let us know how much Nickolas had enjoyed his four-wheeler while he could and about all the things that he had been able to do before he had to go," Warner said. "As a token of appreciation Mark gave Bruce a book."
As it turned out, Nickolas loved to write and draw illustrations, and especially enjoyed Scooby-Doo. In the last few months of his life, with help from Warner Brothers and the Make A Wish Foundation, he was able to publish his first book, Scooby-Doo Meets Dr. Rico by Nickolas Kerlin.
"This experience was more touching ... than anything I ever could have imagined a business would experience," Warner said.
But the Steadmans are always offering little acts of service and kindness that are just an everyday occurrence to them. This attitude, Warner said, is what has kept Steadman's in business for nearly 40 years. "We tell the truth," Warner said. "A lot (of our success) comes from honesty and reputation."
Steadman's got their start in the 1967 when Albert Steadman opened a small tire shop about a mile outside of town. Because he was so far from central Tooele, loan officers told him his store would fail. He decided to add a small motorcycle dealership, purchasing a dozen or so models before he ever got a license. Because of that, Warner said, Steadman's is the only company she's ever heard of that set up their entire business over the phone. Steadman's eventually became a Honda dealership. Albert's sons, Bruce and Nolan, soon took over operations and grew the company, drawing in customers from as far away as Wyoming and Nevada. And despite heavy competition in Salt Lake, they remain the number one Honda dealer in the state, regularly receiving awards from both Yamaha and Honda. Bruce Steadman is also an avid sportsman and hunter and several of his trophies - elk, marlin and a giant Kodiak Bear - greet visitors to the store.
"People love his stories," Warner said. "We keep a board in the back with customers' hunting pictures, and sometimes people come just to look at those."
The back room is also lined with numerous awards and pictures of some of the most influential people in the Honda company. After his sales representative informed the company that he was a hunter and longtime dealer of ATVs, Bruce Steadman had the chance to entertain top Honda executives at his cabin in Torrey, Utah on several occasions in the 1990s. He took the Japanese representatives on a hunting tour of central Utah trails, showing them how hunters would use new ATV models to hunt and haul out game. He provided lodging and his personal expertise, and never asked for compensation from the company. "It's a neat experience for my family," Steadman said.
"And I've been able to take them on some very serious trails."
And as far as he knows, no other Honda dealer has had that kind of opportunity - to have a firsthand influence on some of the most popular ATV models in the country.
The Steadman brothers have also helped create two very popular county events: the Tooele County Fair Demolition Derby and the Arena Cross at Deseret Peak Recreation Complex. "The make a lot of donations," Warner said. "And they don't even want to be recognized for them - they just do it."
the one who submitted the application for the Business of the Year Award. And
though Bruce and Nolan Steadman are moving toward retirement, she hopes that
Steadman's selfless service and reputation for honesty will push the company
forward for decades to come.
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Golden years on a Gold Wing (click here to see online article at Deseret News)
is Revved up for Long Bike Trips
By Doug Robinson, Deseret News senior writer
Decked out in black leather jackets and black jeans, sitting astride 1,000 pounds of motorcycle, Paul and Alice Smith have rumbled up and down the highways of North America for more than 25 years.
From Baja to Anchorage, from Alberta to Nova Scotia, they've seen it all from the back of a bike, with Paul at the controls and Alice in the back seat. But whatever image that conjures in your mind gets a serious reality check when the Smiths pull into a gas station and yank off their helmets.
Look, Mommy, it's a grandpa and grandma.
Paul — balding, graying, his voice trembling like an old Harley — is going to be 80 years old next month, and Alice will soon be 79. Between them, they've chalked up a heart attack, a hip replacement, five children, 17 grandchildren and about 200,000 miles on a motorcycle.
While their peers are playing gin rummy or going on cruises, they're touring the highways and byways on their gleaming, cherry red Honda Gold Wing, going from dawn to dusk and pulling over wherever and whenever they happen to feel like it.
"It's a freedom thing," says Alice.
They've ridden through every state in the United States except Hawaii and nearly every province in Canada and through parts of Mexico. They've even toured England on a motorcycle. They recently completed a 6,300-mile round trip to Boston — via Canada and the Midwest.
Let's put it this way: The Smiths keep a large map in their home on which they have used colored markers to trace the trails of all their trips — and they don't even bother marking anything less than 1,000 miles. It doesn't rate consideration.
"It's an exhilaration and thrill you don't get in cars," says Paul, standing in his garage proudly eyeing his Gold Wing. Throughout the conversation, he can't resist reaching out and polishing a spot on the bike or rubbing out a microscopic smudge. This is a man in love. When he's on the road, he polishes and cleans the Honda at the end of each day's ride and tucks it in for the night.
"There's something about a cycle that's very special," he says.
The Smiths' age, of course, is an endless source of curiosity to those they meet on the road. In Mexico, a young boy asked Alice in broken English how old she was. She began flashing the numbers with her fingers — 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 . . . — while the boy's eyes got wider and wider.
Alice once told a granddaughter that she was embarrassed to be riding a motorcycle at her age, to which the granddaughter replied, "Don't worry; with your helmet on you just look like a fat teenager."
Paul wonders how much longer he can continue his cross-country trips, but so far nothing has stopped him, with one exception. A few years ago, he was en route to Canada when he began experiencing chest pains. He quickly realized that he was having a heart attack and, after stopping briefly at a convenience store, he climbed back on his cycle and rode 40 minutes to Seattle, where he was admitted into a hospital. The next morning he underwent a quadruple bypass.
"I'm in good health," he says. "Sorry about this crazy voice of mine. About four years ago it began to be shaky. My voice sounds like an old man, which I'm getting to be."
Paul fell hard for motorcycles in his youth when he was hired as a deliveryman and made his rounds on a Harley. Then he was called to World War II, and then there was a family to raise and a podiatry practice to tend. Thirty years passed before he indulged his passion for motorcycles again. He owns three of them now.
How do 80-year-olds tolerate long hours in the saddle? Well, they're not exactly roughing it. They dine in restaurants and sleep in hotels. (Paul says he got enough of camping during the war.) They rent clubs and play golf. They listen to music on their earphones via an on-board CD player or radio. They talk to each other or to others on the road with their CB.
"I can ride all day," says Paul. "These Gold Wings are like riding in a Cadillac."
Fair warning: Don't get him started on the subject of Gold Wings.
Much of the Smiths' travels are in the company of a motorcycle gang, such as it is — the Temple Riders Association, a group of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who ride all over the country to visit LDS Temples and perform temple ordinances. They don't smoke, swear or drink, and they carry copies of the Book of Mormon in their saddlebags. At the end of the day, like any motorcycle gang, they seek a tall cold one.
"We're always looking for an ice cream parlor," says Paul.
The Smiths discovered the club one day when they stopped at a church historical site in Illinois and noticed a group of Utah-licensed motorcycles in the parking lot. They've been riding with them ever since. During a recent cross-country trip, they rode with 53 motorcycles and 93 riders.
That notwithstanding, there are times when the Smiths prefer only their own company, which helps explain their 57 years of marriage. "I know most people think I go along to make him happy, but it's really fun," says Alice. "Women always ask, 'What do you do with your hair?' Well, you give it up. You have helmet hair."
Rubbing the Honda with a pair of wet fingers, Paul ponders the unthinkable a moment. "I don't know how much longer we'll be able to do the long rides," he says. Then he laughs. "Of course, a long ride to me is 5,000 miles."