April 26, 1999, Article by Rita and Dallas Johnson
which appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat
Rita Johnson blends Harley-Davidson and homespun needlework
Benevolent bikers offer fun and games Sunday
"You don't expect to find needlework in the saddlebags of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. But then, Rita Johnson never thought she'd find herself in the passenger seat of a Harley Big Twin. the bike, painted mystic green with an eagle insignia, is the pride and joy of her husband, Dallas, an inspector with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
"Some of us country girls, we have this image that motorcycles are for gangs," said Rita, 48, office manager for a chiropractor. "It took awhile, after Dallas got it, for me to be involved with it. But you meet some of the nicest people ... We have our cross-stitch, we have our domesticated lives - and then, to get on a motorcycle? But there are a lot more women out there."
She and her husband hit the road for many reasons - a spring spin, a cross-country trek, the Toys for Tots ride for need kids.
The Johnson's plan to be there Sunday when HOG, the Harley Owners Group, sponsors a local poker run to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Later they'll head for Dothan, Ala., to help fellow bikers make the Guiness Book of World Records. On May 14-15, Alabama enthusiasts hope to stage the world's biggest circle of fender-to-fender thunder.
"They're shooting for 2,600 motorcycles," said Dallas, 51, a past director of HOG. "It will be one continuous parade around the circle that goes around the city."
He got hooked on bikes as a teen-ager delivering newspapers.
"It's the openness - being on a shady country road, smelling the trees and the fields," he said. "You can smell it if they've recently harvested a crop of peanuts or hay."
On weekends, HOG members head to the coast or the country for dinner or brunch. The Johnsons favor the Homecoming restaurant north of Thomasville, Ga.
"All the people are sitting on the front porch waiting to have dinner," Dallas said. "When this motorcycle group rumbles in, you can just see the look on their faces. But after we park and take our jackets off and walk up, they see that we're just normal people ... We sit down and eat. We tip the waitress, and we don't steal the silverware."
The group includes lawyers, architects, business executives and the Ladies of Harley.
For a long trip, Rita may pack a craft project - an afghan featuring Old World Santas or a cross-stitch of the Harley shield.
But she'll have plenty to do at Sunday's poker run, which begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Cycle Shop. Music and games start at 1 p.m. at the Buckhead Brewery & Grill.
About 500 participants will roar across town, picking up cards in search of a winning poker hand.
Last year's benefit grossed $3,000, netting $2,700 after expenses.
Details: 847-1663 or 576-6326."