Saanich, B.C., senior rides around on scooter playing harmonica to spread joy

When John Ryzebol started riding his scooter, it was the colour of wet asphalt at night.

“I heard a big truck coming,” he says, before imitating the roaring sound that was driving towards him. “But he never seen me.”

So — to avoid being almost smacked by a semi again — John painted his scooter a far-from-mellow yellow.

“This scooter is my Ferrari!” John laughs, before pointing to a sticker of the car logo on his dash.

John also painted a mural on the wall beside his driveway, depicting his past on the prairies.

“I was born in that little old house there,” his says, adding that his dad delivered him because there was no doctor nearby.

John was one of nine kids enduring the Great Depression.

“Lost everything, but it did us good,” he says before bursting into infectious laughter. “It humbled us to the dust!”

John holds up a black-and-white picture of himself from when he was seven, before imitating his younger voice: “We got to write Santa Claus a letter!”

That Christmas, he requested and received a harmonica. John says he couldn’t have been more grateful, learned how to play “Jingle Bells,” and realized “the power of music is joy.”

Now, he shares his joy with his wife of 65 years, Rita.

“It makes him happy that he can play,” she smiles.

John plays for more than just his ever-expanding family (two children, seven grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren). Since the start of the pandemic, John’s been taking musical rides around the neighbourhood, playing harmonica from his scooter every day.

“He enjoys entertaining people,” Rita laughs.

John pulls out a piece of paper filled with typed titles. He says his playlist — which ranges from country to classical — is 1,000 songs long.

His goal is to perform a sunny soundtrack no matter the weather, to make the people he passes feel better.

If there’s one thing John’s learned after travelling so many miles on the road of life (he says he’s “close to 100” years old), if you live like you’re on a joy ride, you’ll always feel powered by positivity.

“Enjoy life to the fullest,” John says before returning to his harmonica and racing off in his “Ferrari.”