I had many skinned elbows and knees those first few summers of riding my gigantic bicycle. Then one day I grew enough to be able to ride it, by sitting on the seat and with no training wheels. By this time I had scratched and dented it a bit, so Dad painted it green. He used whatever paint he found in the garage, and it was a flat Kelly green left over from another project. I didn't care. Green was my favorite color.
During the elementary school years, my green bicycle was my best friend and took me all over the little town of less than 100, and the surrounding countryside. I hauled bread from the little store (twenty-five cents a loaf), I gathered discarded soda bottles from the ditches along the country roads (two cents redemption fee), and I carried my books to school in the wire basket on the front of my bike. As long as it wasn't raining, I would ride my bike to school, gliding across the gravel parking area, hopping off and leaning it against the brick wall of the cafeteria.
During the summer, my bike became my horse named Star, and took me on adventures on country roads far out of town, much farther than I ever allowed my own children to venture on their bicycles. I would go visit friends, and sometimes enough friends would band together and we would have our own little bike parade up and down the street where the most people lived. Back then, it wasn't against the rules to drop in on someone unexpectedly for a visit. If they were home, you were welcomed, fed a snack and a beverage, and sometimes asked to stay for supper. I do remember though, that one time I went too far and was gone too long and my father (notice the serious 'father' is used here) came looking for me, driving his car slowly along the road and blowing the horn. As soon as I heard the horn sounding and saw the light green Chevrolet, I knew I was in trouble. As punishment, I couldn't ride my bike for two weeks.
However, ironically, my dad took those two weeks and freshened up my bicycle for me with a new coat of green paint, a slightly different shade, and put new tires on it. When my punishment was over, I was riding in style. Ever since that first paint job, my bicycle has had so many coats of green paint on it, nobody remembers how many it actually is. I rode that same bicycle through high school and when I started college, I would still ride it occasionally. When I began moving around the country, my sister kept the bike in her garage, and she would ride it with my nieces.
Do I still have the bike? In a way. It is currently in my sister's garage. It may have flat tires, and be covered in dust, but I'll bet it is still one of the best bicycles around. It just needs a little TLC.
My boys are grown now, but every time we bought them a new bicycle (I don't know how many we ended up buying, as theirs was either worn out or out grown) I was always reminded of my one and only bike I had that lasted me from childhood to early adult, and is still around, and made it to 50 years old.