Friday, August 10, 2012

Sepia Saturday: My One and Only


Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




The obvious focus of this week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt is the bicycle.  Next to that first automobile, a first bike generates the most vivid memories. 

I was rather old for a first bike, probably 8 or 9.  No training wheels for me – too big for that.  Helmet?  Oh pish posh – the concern for children’s safety was many years away.  There weren’t enough head injuries and lawsuits yet to warrant such a thing. 

My bike might have been a gift from my Grandma and Granddaddy Davis, but I don’t really remember.  I can remember bike shopping with them though.  We went to a hardware store where there were rows and rows of colorful bikes.  Schwinn was the only name I had heard of.  Yes, I should have a Schwinn. 

But that’s not what I got. 

Me with my patient Granddaddy Davis
My first bike was a 20” Rollfast, green fenders with white pinstripes.  My granddaddy must have drawn the short straw because he is the one who put in the effort to help me learn to ride.  My grandparents’ large grassy yard made a good practice field.  Day after day, Granddaddy held onto that seat and ran alongside as I pedaled and pedaled and struggled to stay balanced.  If he let go, I panicked and promptly toppled over. 

Remnants of the ball field -- the backstop is there
but the snack bar and dugouts are gone.
from Google Maps
Sometimes we went across the street to the Little League ball field where I “rode the bases.”  





My parents and grandparents, 
who all were worn out trying to teach me to ride a bike, thought maybe flat dry dirt would be easier to ride on than on grass.  But no.  It was just harder when I fell, which I did a lot. 

But I remember the moment when I finally “got it.”  Granddaddy was holding the back of the seat, like always, running alongside.  As I made the turn at the corner of the yard and headed back, there was Granddaddy IN FRONT of me back at the starting point.  Look at me go!  I was riding a bike!


Ahhh -- I can still see that little green bike. 


Because it’s in my garage!!  


I can’t part with it.  It’s my first bike.  It’s my only bike.  (By the time I was big enough for a bigger bike, I had lost interest.)  The handle bars are rusted.  The tires are dry-rotted.  The leather seat is chipped. 

I know -- it's silly.  







from Google Images
I had thought about hanging it on a wall as art.  But even I can see that my precious little Rollfast has no artistic merit.  It’s not like it carried me into the medals ceremony at the Olympics. 








from Google Images




I’ve also considered using it as garden art.  My Rollfast might make a pretty good trellis for Morning Glory or Clematis. 

In the meantime it's a home to spiders and memories of my granddaddy running.










For more stories about bikes, pedal over to Sepia Saturday.




©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

45 comments:

  1. Great story! I completely understand your not wanting to part with it. It's a great home to memories!

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Lisa. I appreciate it.

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  2. Wonderful story Wendy! My bike was really important to me too. I should have saved it but didn't.

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    1. And yet you have the sleigh bells from 1836.

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    2. You are very right. We keep everything as long as it fits in a shoe box but gr grandma's chair never survives... Pity.

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  3. Great story—and memories! I have to say that I absolutely love that picture of you with your Grandpa!

    My first "big kid" bike was pink and white. It had a white wicker basket in the front and a banana seat. I think it's great that you kept yours. Mine is still in my parents' garage, but I would love to have it with me here. :)

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    1. Ah - the banana seat! That defines the time period for sure. I bet you carried all kinds of fun things in that basket.

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  4. It is beautiful! Loved your story, Wendy. I got my first bike when I was 5, for my birthday, in Sweet Home, Oregon. It is long gone.

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    1. Thanks! I guess a bike for a 5-yr old didn't have much shelf-life.

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  5. The first photo is very nice. So you've never used a bike during your adult life? Where I live everybody has a bike (I admit having a car makes me lazy, I should use my bike more).

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    1. Oh yes, I've ridden a bike as an adult - just don't own one. I've ridden my husband's or daughters' bikes. Where I live, you can bike around the neighborhood, but it's too dangerous to be on the main roads although people do it. I just don't trust the drivers!

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  6. Amazing, I can't believe you still have your first bike! You really should memorialize it somehow, I kind of like the idea of garden art.

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  7. I am just amazed that you still have your first bike. You probably enjoy looking at and remembering just as much as you enjoyed riding it. Now it's given all your readers yet more entertainment! I like the idea of hanging it on a wall and I love the color!

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  8. It is a sweet little bike. You must keep it forever!

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    1. Yeah, because I have such a roomy garage.

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    2. You have more room than I!

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  9. I learned to ride a bike at 8. It was a big bike though. I don't know where it went but I enjoyed it for many years and other bikes afterwards. I think it would look good on the wall ;-)

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    1. I think you're getting outvoted re: the wall.

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  10. Wendy, how beautiful your memories of learning how to ride a bike. Wasn't it elating when you achieved to ride your bike? So sweet that you still got your first bike.

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    1. It was indeed a good feeling to finally be able to ride a bike. My mother was probably elated too. She said she thought I'd never learn to skate OR ride a bike. My balancing genes must be very poor.

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  11. Aw - you still have your bike! I like the garden art idea... although it will rust a lot more. Makes me want to go look through pictures to see if there is one of me on my first bike. (kathy at abbieandeveline.com)

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    1. The rust thing is holding me back.

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  12. A super story! My first bike was similar but used and never survived. In our neighborhood there is a front garden which I call the house of dead Barbies and bicycles, as the planting beds are decorated with rusty old bikes and mutilated dolls.

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    1. Ha -- the house of dead Barbies must be quite the sight.

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  13. What a great story Wendy! I can't believe you actually still have your first bike! That's awesome! I don't even remember what color my first bike was...I know, pretty lame. I do remember having a bike, whether my first or not, with a little basket in the front. I'd put my little terrier dog in it and take her for a ride. Do you remember clothes-pinning cards to your spokes to make that "oh-so-cool" sound as you rode around the neighborhood?

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    1. Yes, I remember the clothes pins and cards but I don't remember ever doing that. I also liked the streamers coming off the ends of the handle-bars, but I never had those either.

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  14. My first bike did not survive for very long - it's fixed wheel contributed to my many crashes. My last but one bike gaot run over by a coalman's wagon; he replaced with an old upright 'sit up and beg' style ladies cycle with a wicker basket on the handlebars. I wasn't very keen on being seen riding it.
    Great story Wendy. I'm not at all surprised that you still have your bike especially as it has it's own stand.

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    1. Now giving a boy a girl's bike is just cheap. Shame on the coalman!

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  15. I bet you could roll fast with it too! It looks much like my first bike as well (which I don't have) and it was deep blue, but I don't think I've ever heard of a rollfast. It certainly has held up well...it's a treasure!

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    1. Thanks. I had never heard of Rollfast either until I took a good look at my bike for this week's entry. I Googled it, and there's quite a bit of history on it, just nothing remarkable.

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  16. I like this idea for a post. I used to love my bike. Like you I got my first bike when I was probably about 9. My sister and I each got similar models on the same Christmas. Favorite pastimes were to go on bike tours or take bike hikes. In the early sixties my parents weren't particularly worried when we'd be gone for hours. A favorite game with some of the neighborhood kids was "Pony Express" which was sort of a relay race with our bikes, except there were really no winners--we'd just ride until we were too tired to ride anymore.


    Lee
    Wrote By Rote

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    1. I've never heard of Pony Express, but it sounds creative and apropos. We didn't play bike games. My friends just rode from here to there.

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  17. Loved your story Wendy. I never owned a bike. I did learn to ride on the boy next door's bike. It made it pretty hard for a girl to learn on a boy's bike but I did. Well I did own one as an adult but that is nothing like have one at 8 or 9.
    QMM

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    1. I always found it difficult to get on and off a boy's bike.

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  18. A wonderful story and so cleverly told Wendy. For some reason I was never allowed a bike as a child and had to borrow from friends, but the story of running alongside a child who is learning to ride is very familiar (though it wasn't me doing the running).

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    1. Now I'm trying to remember my own children learning to ride and nothing comes to mind. We must have gone the training wheels route.

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  19. Lovely story. I'm so glad you still have that bike, a little piece of history.

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    1. There's a bit of a sting when you realize the things of your past are now "vintage" or worse - antique!

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  20. What sweet memories to have of your patient grandfather teaching you to ride a bike. Think it's great that you still have it. If you have an outside porch and a place to hang it on the wall, I'd do it. Now that I'm almost antique myself(50's not far away), I find comfort in displaying special items of mine or older family members that bring to mind happy memories of long ago.

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    1. I'd love to have a screened back porch. I'll keep your idea in mind -- just in case we ever build one. That would be the perfect place for my bike.

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  21. Love your story!! As a young child, I first had the typical red and white tricycle, than quickly graduated to a sturdy one, deep turquoise I seem to recall, where neighbor kids could climb behind and off we went!! My first bike was around 8 or 9 too!! My mom gave it to me, told me not to cross the street and that was that... But when those tiny wheels came off, she hang around to see how I was doing and was satisfied, but she was loathed to let me cross the streets to go to the park. A kid can only go around the block for so long... It's as an adult that I had my worst falls. Once, there was that street where a train track crossed it at an angle. My bike decided to follow the track while I flew over, following the street instead. I split my chin open and bled profusely. Cops saw this, but offered absolutely no help at all. Typical!!! I later sold my bike, unhappy with the conditions in the city for cyclists. Nowadays, things have changed as we have now many bike paths, but I don't wish to bike again. I have enough mileage to last me a lifetime!!
    ;)~
    HUGZ

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    1. Oh yes, I remember those bigger trikes -- always fun to stand behind and hang on. I'm surprised you're not more of a bike enthusiast because your city looks like a great place to enjoy at a slower pace. Then again, if I had a terrible fall that involved blood, I wouldn't ride again either.

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    2. My spine is of some concern to me and biking doesn't sit well with it...
      :/~
      HUGZ

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