Everyone has a story to tell, whether it is a personal story or a story about someone else. The great thing about stories is the history behind them. Never too old to share or too recent not to, none-the-less, these are our stories which we own!
Stories rich in history carry emotions that can penetrate the soul, heal the pain, open up wounds but more importantly, bring peace. We all experience these emotions in some way. You can almost envision yourself in a good story. That’s when you know it has touched your soul in some way. This is a story that highlights a few of these emotions told by a son who is honoring and paying tribute to his mother and both have a rich history and legacy here in Peoria.
Through the Eyes of a Son – Rodregas Cockfield
Where do I begin? My most memorable recollection of my mother, Antinobe Jackson (born Antinobe Head, December 18, 1932 – June 23, 1995) was during my younger years when she and I would ride our bikes around Peoria together. My mother rode a BS Triumph Motorcycle and me on my dirt bike. Those memories will forever live in me.
During those days back in the early to mid-1960s, women were not seen riding their own motorcycles in Peoria, not that it was illegal, but bikers back in that era were predominantly men. You would think a passion for riding starts at a young age for boys who probably had ridden with their fathers or grandfathers or a male figure in their life while growing up. Typically, that was part of male bonding for most boys and men. However, I inherited my passion for riding through my mother. She and I would ride all over Peoria at times, visiting her friends or riding with others.
I can recall the challenges my mother experienced as a single mother trying to raise four children. As the oldest child with a bit more right-of-way, a lot of responsibilities fell on me. Of course, I could do things my other siblings couldn’t, but I was also raised to know that taking care of your family is not an option; it is an obligation. My mother proved that day in and day out. Not only did my mother raise her four children, but she also ended up raising seven children altogether. She was also a foster parent to a number of other children who lived in the neighborhood.
We lived in the Warner Homes, one of the projects in Peoria. We were on public assistance back then, but my mother would work odd jobs to bring extra money. Warner Homes was a temporary living spot in my mother’s eyes; she always said that we were going to have our own house, and if God saw fit, we would have more than one. Through all those struggles and hustles and making decisions she may not have wanted to for our family’s sake, we eventually moved out of the projects into our own home. We moved on Sixth Street, and that is where our lives began to change for the better. My mother still struggled to raise four children, but this was a definite step in the right direction in my eyes. She was not one who took kindly to being told what to do or not do, but one thing she mastered was how to provide and not give up! Today those struggles and determination dwell within me and help me be a better man each and every day. She is and will always be a true motivating factor in my life till the day I die.
One of my mother’s hustles was doing hair, but she was also a singer, model, and dancer. There was a lot of competition in the black community for doing hair, so she picked up extra money singing at different functions. The legit hustle for a woman back then was doing hair (stylist), which was very competitive, but my mother didn’t worry about it, she had loyal customers, and she also had other talents to fall back on. My mother’s intelligence, street smarts, and determination made things happen, and although we didn’t have the finest things in life, you would have never known it. My mother’s class and sophistication are how she always carried herself.
We eventually ended up owning three homes, renting out two of them, and money in the bank. During the first year or two of living in our new house, my mother met a man known by the name of “Jazz.” At first, it took a minute to get used to the idea of this man being around all the time, but he made my mother happy from what I could tell. He ended up being a pretty cool man, plus since he was always around, he just kind of grew on us. Eventually, he and my mother decided to get married a few years later. There was a new type of family atmosphere in our home now. Things I would normally do, Jazz would do, or we would do together. We all managed to just get along and work together as a family.
Soon after their marriage, my mother’s life took a totally different route. She became a fan of the motorcycle. Jazz had his own dreams, and I suppose one of them was to own a motorcycle. So he and my mother saved to get his bike. They rode all the time and eventually joined the “Flying Hawks,” a motorcycle club here in Peoria back in that era.
Back then, club riders rode in a large group and traveled all over, but only in areas they were familiar with. Naturally, you had to have a bike to be in the club, and the women were typically the girlfriends or wives of the club members and were considered club members as well.
After a couple of summers of riding on the back of Jazz’s bike, my mother told him one day that she wanted her own bike! Little did Jazz know, she had already been saving to get it. Her desire was to have her bike dressed and tailored for a woman and trimmed in her favorite colors. Not too long after she made that comment to Jazz, she purchased her first bike, a BS Triumph. I remember how pretty it was and how cool and pretty she looked on it. Although purple was one of the colors she wanted, she settled for chrome trimmed in white.
She was the first woman in Peoria, Illinois, to own a bike. She was proud, and the attention she received for having a bike and being the first woman rider in the motorcycle club was the coolest thing I ever saw back then! Other bike clubs around Peoria heard of Mrs. Antinobe Jackson being a rider and was eager to have her and Jazz join their club, to encourage other women to get their own bike. What is most memorable and special is my mother set the precedent of being the first! She was given the nickname of “Queen-B,” and the name fit her perfectly, being the first female rider in Peoria and the first female rider in their club.
She gathered attention from the community and other riders in Peoria and led a number of parades here as well. She was the lead rider for the Motorcycle Rodeo, still held annually here in Peoria. She and other club members would travel to various locations attending other events and was often the lead rider for those events as well. “Queen-B” had a style for fashion in tailor-made clothes to match the color of her bike and incorporated purple to her attire as it was her favorite color. As the lead rider at many of these events, she was also known to wear a rhinestone-studded tiara on her head to represent her status. Everyone in the motorcycle club circuit knew Queen–B!
Eventually, as the years went by, other women began to purchase bikes, and the trend was set. She eventually upgraded to a 350 Honda and she retired riding that bike. She and Jazz rode for years and were affiliates of other clubs in Peoria and surrounding areas such as the Atomic Jets and the Bounty Hunters. Many people see me today and still share stories about my mother from back in the day. I enjoy listening to all the stories and details of the type of woman she was.
While taking care of our family, riding through many sunsets, and being a staple in so many lives, it is wonderful to know how much she was respected and loved. This wonderful person was a great mother, wife, and friend to all of us.
Her legacy as a mother, wife, and friend will forever be remembered in many of our hearts and lives to be shared through time. This is her history.
I love you, momma.
An earlier version of this article was published in 2010.