“Yer gonna get yerself killed wonna dese days, Filbert,” his mother used to say.
“From dat name first, Ma. I tol you to call me ‘Grit’! Jus like I’mma put right here on my chest.” Filbert thumped himself with his right hand over his heart. “A flamin’ wheel and the year, 1957.”
Filbert hadn’t even been born yet but Esther Jennison wasn’t going to fight with her son…again. She knew he had a fascination with that year because of all the stories. His grandfather, Jacob ‘The Demon’ Demarco was a daredevil cyclist. A member of the traveling thrill shows, he would jump over animals and through hoops or drive with 15 people balanced on his seat. His most famous trick involved riding around in a circle on his rear wheel for nearly half and hour. It was in 1957, however, that The Demon’s legend would be firmly established for his grandson to marvel.
In front of thousands of spectators, a full ten years before Knievel botched the same trick, Filbert’s grandfather hit a ramp at nearly 66 miles per hour and launched his customized streamlined motorcycle over another one speeding in the opposite direction. Filbert tells the story of how the crowd roared with applause, always denying his grandfather’s absence from any history of these events.
Esther loved her son. She knew he was going to keep driving around in that beat up old Dodge that he still believes belonged to The Demon. She knew he was going to impress his idiot friends with reckless driving. She only prayed that some day her great grandchild wouldn’t have to hear – like she did, when she received her first license – about how The Demon really landed.