HARRINGTON, Maine — When Jim Meehan was discharged from the U.S. Army in 1948, the first thing he did was buy a motorcycle. For 62 years — through a dozen presidents and the turn of a century — Meehan rode a Harley-Davidson.
For 30 years as a commercial fisherman in Cape May, N.J., Meehan rode a Harley.
As a senior companion to five shut-ins in the Harrington area, he rode a Harley, and often gave his elderly clients rides in its sidecar.
Meehan bought his last Harley in 1976, and he has been a familiar sight around town on the royal blue bike with orange flames and a bright blue sidecar.
But last Monday morning, Meehan, now 82, woke up and found the Harley had been stolen.
Thieves had quietly unhooked the sidecar in the night and pushed the Harley to the Sunrise Trail where they made their getaway.
Wardens and deputies are investigating the theft, but Meehan said they have few clues to go on.
Meehan said he is devastated.
“It’s like losing a child,” he said, his blue Irish eyes filling.
He admitted that if he doesn’t get this antique bike back, he may never ride again.
“It was such a part of who I am,” he said.
Even into his 80s, even with arthritis, Meehan loved to ride.
“It’s so wonderful. You are free. The wind is blowing in your face,” he said. “The doctor told me I was too old for motorcycles, but I don’t think much of that advice.”
Meehan said he can’t imagine life without his Harley. His greatest fear is that the thief or thieves will sell the bike out of state or, the worst fate, chop it up for parts.
“It was immaculate,” he said.
“This is a case of senior abuse,” his daughter Marie Emerson said this week. “This man has given thousands of volunteer hours back to his community. He has several times received the Governor’s Award for Community Service. It’s not the value of the bike but what it meant to him that is so important. It meant everything to him.”
Meehan is posting a small reward for the return of his bike and is asking anyone with information to contact the Washington County Sheriff’s Department at 255-4422.