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Monday, April 29, 2013


This is a true story and is shared at "Tell Me a True Story."  Return soon for my continued Fictional Stories. 

Old Bike

It had to be somewhere around 1939 as best I can recollect.

School was out and we boys had been planning for weeks what we were going to do this summer.

It took three days to accomplish all of our big plans, and we were at a loss to come up with something new for the rest of the summer.

Of course it was the beginning of summer, and the weather was heating up and by eleven o'clock we had to find some shade.

A few miles away was a swimming pool where you could swim for a price but by the time we paid bus fare and paid for swimming it was more than we could afford so we scratched that off our list of things to do.

There was one other issue that caused us not to go to the pool and that was there were so many people who were in the pool side by side that it ran over.  

When everyone got out at closing time it was only a little over half full and they had to refill it. It was like taking a bath with half of the town.

Among our gang there was only one of us who owned a bicycle. It didn't have hand brakes, and I found out later that reversing the pedals didn't work the brakes either.

While he didn't like to let anyone ride it (actually his folks forbid it) he would relent and let a couple of us use it. He seemed to get around on it pretty good and I finally got him to let me try it out.

I had just started to move at a slow pace, when I back pedaled to put the brakes on, and it didn't stop. I wasn't moving very fast so I just slid my feet on the ground to get it stopped.

I asked my friend, “Where are the brakes?” and he replied, “They don't work!”

“How do you stop it?” I asked.
With great aplomb he said, “If you put your foot between the frame and the front wheel it will rub the tire and stop it.”

I looked and saw that he had removed the front fender and exposed the tire.

I climbed a nearby hill and down I came.  When I approached an intersection where a lot of cross traffic was going by, I did as instructed and it worked beautifully.  The bike came to a slow, smooth stop just as if it had regular brakes.

I rode it that day all over town, using the method prescribed by my friend.

After I finished my riding all day, I returned the bike and I noticed the bottom of my right shoe had a hole in it. If I had continued riding I would have been stopping the bike with the bottom of my foot.

Being very resourceful I immediately cut some cardboard and put it in my shoe for my sox was about worn out.

Here it was June and I wouldn't get new shoes until school started in September.  
I must say I wore out a lot of card board that summer of '39.

Had I been out on the farm I would have gone barefooted but in the city where I was living they were more civilized or so they thought.

I didn't ride the bicycle much after that for it was harder to use my left foot to stop it and my cardboard in the right shoe didn't work very well.

There were some other boys who rode the bike that summer, for I can still remember their screams when they went through the stop sign on the boulevard and missed the on-coming cars.

I guess they didn't master the foot braking technique, but at least they didn't have a hole in their shoe.

This post is shared at: Tell Me a Story


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