A few weeks ago, my brother Jeff and our childhood buddy, Scott flew down for an extended weekend. Though I regularly see my brother and occasionally visit Scott, it was our first extended get-together since we were teenagers. We took in a Baltimore Orioles spring training game, went fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, and ate a lot of good food.
While at dinner the first night, we were talking about stuff we did as kids, when out of the blue, Jeff asked Scott if he remembered his childhood bicycle. Scott did. I did too. I remembered because Scott’s bike was very cool. It was bright green and had “French Handlebars.” We reminisced for a bit before Scott thought to ask why Jeff was interested in his bike.
“Because I found it in the woods.”
Sure enough, Jeff had found the old bike in the woods behind what was once Scott’s family farm. He even had photo evidence, the picture on the right. See those French Handlebars?
For some reason, that photo stuck with me. Imagine finding your old bike, beaten and weathered, but still intact, after forty years. An important piece of your childhood still in existence. I’ve found myself looking at that picture and remembering the three of us as kids. I don’t know if it’s still the same today, but in the 1970’s your bike identified you. There was no Walmart, so you either ordered from the Sears’ catalog or bought from the local hardware store. Mine, a Western Flyer Buzz Bike, was navy blue with a bright red seat with imitation silver flakes that reflected the sun. The bike pictured above, on the left, is similar but without the red seat.
Boy, did I take care of that bike. I never left it outside in the snow or rain. I regularly washed and even waxed it. Then, around age fourteen, I’d outgrown it. It was shoved into the corner of the barn, replaced by a red Huffy ten-speed. The Huffy gave way to a used Schwinn when I got out of college. In my forties, I swapped the Schwinn for the Raleigh hybrid that I still have. That’s four bikes, not counting tricycles or the cheap cruiser I keep here in Florida.
And none of the others mean as much as that blue Western Flyer. In fact, I’ve even gone online to see if I can find one for sale. Just for old time’s sake. There was one for $325, but that was three years ago. There was a more recent one being offered for $900. I can’t imagine telling Robin that I want to spend $900, or even $325, on a kid’s bike, so I guess I’m stuck with my memories.
But next time I visit my brother, I just might make a trip to the woods to visit that bike.
How about you? Do you remember your first bike? Is that a guy thing or an every kid thing? If you do, please share your memories below or on my Facebook page.
Thanks for reading!