Elgin Skewes, a former Boeing worker, is 104 years old, but this spunky senior is quick to tell you that she is 104 and a half. And she was most recently named matriarch of a Harley-Davidson club called the Hooligans in the Port Angeles area. Here’s how that happened:
Talk about a business going the extra mile. Skewes, who recently rode in a hot air balloon with her caretaker, Diana Crawford, through a “bucket list” program at the Village Concepts of Port Angeles where she lives, was asked what else she might want to do after that airborne trip.
Skewes immediately said she had always wanted to ride with a motorcycle gang and hear and feel the thunder of the engines and the speed on the road.
As a child, Skewes rode in the sidecar of a Henderson motorcycle in the 1920s. It was her family’s main mode of transportation, as her father wrote motorcycle reviews at the time.
Crawford, a member of the Harley Hooligans, got the thumbs up from other club members to grant Skewes’ wish.
Seven of them visited Skewes early in June, giving her a special patch and T-shirt, and scheduling June 30 for the gang ride.
Meanwhile, Village Concepts bought her a Harley jacket and helmet, and someone from the club loaned her leather chaps.
At 2:30 p.m. on the appointed day, some 17 Harleys with about 25 riders roared into the turn-around at the building where Skewes lives.
“They pulled up in formation,” said Village Concepts of Port Angeles Communications Director Elizabeth Pratt, “circling around her. Before they put their kickstands down, they revved their engines so hard the building shook. Everyone came out: cooks, residents, staff.”
Five club members surrounded the petite Skewes, carefully lifting her into position on the seat of the bike, behind Crawford’s boyfriend, Wayne Brokaw, who would be her driver.
With Skewes’ daughter’s blessing, they all roared off. Chase cars led the way and rounded up the rear to clear intersections and keep the pack of riders together.
The gang drove all the way out to Ediz Hook and up and down the road that extends through the middle of that well-known 3.5-mile-long sand spit.
They did not go the 15 mph speed limit, as Skewes kept urging her driver to go faster in the pack.
“I want to go my age,” she yelled to him. The gang never admitted to her that they only got up to about 95 mph, according to Pratt.
And at the end of the exhilarating adventure after going the long way home with people waving along the way, Skewes did not want to get off the bike.
Now she sports a brand new club patch on her wheelchair, and a new nickname — “Hooligan Mama” — as the new matriarch of the Harley Hooligans.
What’s next for Skewes?
“She’s heard of hang-gliders that you can attach to a wheelchair, (that enable the wheelchair) to land smoothly on its wheels after the flight,” said Pratt. “It looks like she wants to fly. We don’t know anyone with a hang-glider … yet.”
The moral of the story applies as much to business as it does to personal life: “There isn’t enough time. You have to do everything you can and keep doing it,” said Skewes.
Village Concepts, a three-generation senior care company based in Auburn, has facilities in Bellevue, Renton, Issaquah, Bothell, Burien, Gig Harbor, Chehalis, Moses Lake, Enumclaw, Oak Harbor, Sedro Wooley, Hoquiam, Milton, Auburn, Marysville, Covington and Des Moines as well as the one in Port Angeles, where Skewes is one of the facility’s most adventurous residents.