Riding my bike is something I have always loved from the times my childhood friend Sandy Finn and I would get up at the crack of dawn to travel the quiet city streets. She taught me that every moment of sleeping in the morning could add up to significant wasted time…and she is probably the reason I am still a morning person. In fact, these days, morning can come as early as 2:30 am. When I think of my childhood bicycle — a turquoise and white Sears bike with working lights — I picture it thrown down in front of someone’s house. In fact there were several bikes on the lawns of our favorite houses.
We would stop for a game of tether ball or to wake up a sleeping friend here and there. Most of our school friends lived within a 10 block area right in the center of town.
We were fearless too. Even though there were crimes at the time we were oblivious and of course we had to be home for meals and before the street lights came on. I still think fondly of those times when the lights come on.
My friends came from middle class families like mine — now a dwindling segment of our communities. In fact the entire heart of our community included relatively small homes by today’s standards. I think ours was the largest with its 5 bedrooms but all six of us shared one upstairs bathroom. Another product from Sears.
Others lived in the post-war ranch homes that seemed to appear everywhere at the time…and of course there was a small neighborhood up on the hill where the “real rich” families lived. Our elementary, junior high and high schools were all within walking or biking distance, so it was rare that our parents would drive us to school. We usually chose to walk in groups and we came home for lunch. So basically we all walked at least two miles a day in elementary school, amazing by today’s standards.
I was a member of the Service Squad in 5th and 6th grade. Girls could not be on the Safety Squad (the watchers of the street crossings) but instead it was our duty to make hot chocolate milk for the Safeties whenever the temperature was below 20 degrees.
It seemed like such a privilege to wear the Service Club Shield on my arm and to have access to the little kitchenette. I used to stash glass bottles of coke in the freezer so I could have an icy drink…until one time when I forgot and the bottle exploded. That was the end of that little pleasure.
If kids walked to school we would likely not have the obesity issues we are seeing today. Of course we didn’t have fast food restaurants either. My lunch was usually a bologna or tuna salad sandwich on white bread (I have always detested peanut butter), some carrot sticks and a piece of fruit or canned fruit cocktail (loaded with sugar) and milk four times each day. The American Dairy Association actually created the four food groups and everyone took them as gospel.
On the way home from junior high and high school the kids would always stop at Henry’s Ice Cream shop. I would instead sneak into the little diner for a burger. I have never had much of a sweet tooth.My mom would often send me to the little butcher shop on the same street to pick up City Chicken, which of course wasn’t chicken at all. It’s breaded chunks of pork on a skewer that she would bake. All of us loved it.
So, how did my bike — or the election cycle — conjure up all of these memories. Not sure…but it was fun looking back. And getting away from all of the politics provided an enjoyable respite.