“As long as I am healthy enough to play with toys and can afford them, I will play with toys till the day I die,” said the 84-year-old, a retired mechanic for the city of Lewiston.

“I am buried in the one I have now, and I mean buried,” Theriault said, emphasizing how the chrome-covered Harley-Davidson in his garage has cost him an arm and a leg. 

“I dressed it up,” he said of his 2004 Ultra Classic. “I have that bike the way I like it. I like them dressed up, so I pay. Everything you touch on those … damn things — you pay, pay, pay,” he said.

Theriault’s passion for Harleys started as World War II ended. He landed on Omaha Beach as an 18-year-old private and his “tough boy” attitude was quickly kicked down as the reality of fighting on the front lines set in. “It was just a matter of how lucky you were,” Theriault said of making it back alive. He and the 83rd Infantry Division fought their way across Europe and into Germany as the war ended.

Theriault proudly displays his Bronze Star and Purple Heart in a living room showcase. “The only other medal that means anything is this Combat Infantry Badge because it gave me $10 more per month.”  

That extra money in his paycheck helped Theriault save for a motorcycle. He came back from the war in December 1945 and started looking for a bike. “You could not buy a bike because they stopped making them during the war,” said Theriault. He settled for a used 1941 Harley-Davidson for $600. He was 21 years old and his father “was not too keen because I was pretty wild,” Theriault said.

Theriault joined the motorcycle club, Royal River Riders, and ran the streets with Bill Jacques, who went on to serve as Lewiston mayor and as a Maine state senator.

You had to be pretty handy to ride an older Harley, Theriault said. The bikes back then had a “suicide shifter” that required riders to remove one hand from the handlebars to shift gears.

Theriault is now on his sixth bike. “Two bikes ago, I said at my age this would be my last.” Then a buddy spotted a kit that would add two more wheels to the back of Theriault’s beloved Harley, giving him that much more stability. “So I put a trike kit on it and chromed it all up,” Theriault said.

“It’s an old man’s toy, but not a poor man’s toy.”

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