2018 Speedway New and Views
Jerry Hickson has been in the fight of his life
by Howie Zechner
February 23, 2018
Jerry Hickson has been in the fight of his life. Hospitalized with a heart condition and a multitude of illnesses the former Speedway and Isle of Man racer spent
months in Pasadena Huntington. Weak, unable to speak for over a month this was a struggle the 92 year old almost lost. Finally discharged to a rehabilitation facility and then a nursing home Jerry life has changed forever.
Only a few of us were aware of his grave condition and we were sworn to secrecy. Jerry did not want anyone to know but his eyes would light up whenever anyone visited him. Wore out, weak, unable to walk, Jerry's mind is still sharp and talking about racing for Belle Vue in Manchester England from 1949 to 1952 or his five years in South Africa with the Durban Hornets Speedway Team brought a smile to his face and was therapy no drug can provide.
Grandson Galvin Bellars and his wife Ellie closed their business in New Zealand and flew in to handle Jerry affairs. His house in disorder, motorcycles and parts were everywhere. Galvin took inventory, Ellie handled the paperwork and housecleaning. Visiting Jerry and speaking with his doctors it was evident that Jerry needed full time care and supervision.
Grandson Galvin Bellars and his wife Ellie
A decision was made to liquidate. A few of his bikes were sold to friends and the remainder was shipped back to New Zealand. Not an easy task, the vast amount of machines and parts filled a good portion of a 40-foot container.
Like all of us Jerry would like to live at home but his failing health made that impossible. A decision to move him into a retirement facility was made. Before being transferred Jerry pleaded to see the house he had lived in for more than 40 years so doctors gave the OK for him to attend a small party in his honor there. But only for six hours. Then he would have to return to the facility.
Jerry was excited. Seeing his dog for the first time in months, being in the home where his wife Alice died in 1993. Emotional? Tears? Heartache? You don't know the half of it.
Galvin and Ellie had worked hard on the place and it showed. The house and yard area were the cleanest I have ever seen it. But the vintage competition motorcycles that lined his living room and den were gone and the back patio area that housed a dozen more was empty. "Its like my heart has been ripped out of my body" Jerry told me. "Owning those bikes and seeing them every day gave me much joy and strength. But it had to be done". As Bette Davis said: "Getting Old is Not for Sissies"
The gathering was good. Ellie had polished his golf and racing trophies and pictures of Jerry were everywhere. Neighbors brought over food and friends talked yesterday fluently. Jerry spoke about his lifelong friend the 1937 World Speedway Champion Jack Milne and how they played golf and were regulars on the So Cal Speedway scene. Pain left Jerry's body and for one afternoon he relived the past and forgot the future.
The next day Jerry was brought to the Arcadia Retirement Village. His own room overlooking a courtyard, the staff and doctors seem capable. This will be Jerry's new permanent residence unless he starts walking again and his medical situation improves Significantly.
"They ought to start a Lonely Old Mans Club" Jerry told me. He's right cause isolation and limited visitation is a hell worse than sickness and body failure.
With Galvin and Ellie now back in New Zealand we in the motorcycle/race community need to step up and show we care about our own. Cards and letters may be sent to Jerry Hickson, Room 108, 607 W. Duarte Road in Arcadia Ca. Jerry is currently not able to use his computer but messages left on his Facebook page will be relayed.
See more pictures at Facebook jerry.hickson.716