Oct 10, 2008

my green bicycle

I have been waiting for this moment, to write about my green bicycle, for half a century. In the day of disposable everything, even bicycles, it seems, my bicycle has lasted a lifetime. Literally. I found my bicycle next to a real pine Christmas tree in 1959, when I was six years old and in the first grade. Of course, it was too big for me. And it wasn't green; it was a bright shiny blue. (I've always wondered if pink was for girls (traditionally) and blue for boys, then why did boys get red bicycles and girls get blue.). This bicycle was a gigantic 24" height, much too big for me at six years old. My dad put some training wheels on it, the little set of wheels on either side of the rear tire. At first, the training wheels were even with the rear wheel, meaning I could ride along and just stop and the bike would stand by itself. Of course, I could not sit on the seat, as my legs wouldn't reach the pedals, so I stood up, riding my bike around and around the block. When I got more comfortable with the training wheels, Daddy adjusted them so that I could ride without using them, but they were still there just in case.

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.

Green Bicycle image copyright darkscott at iStockPhoto.

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