We have started a new feature in our monthly Senior Selections publication.
We have started a column written from the perspective of a senior that would be of interest to people of the same generation.
It really wasn’t my idea to write it but looking around the Times building, who is more senior than I?
So, I found it to be a delightful experience in reminiscing.
I hope you do, too.
Some of you are very kind in expressing your appreciation for my columns so I have to believe someone reads them.
Here is an example of what we do.
There is a scene at the start of the movie “Spencer’s Mountain” in which Earl Hamner, Jr. (yes, the man behind “The Waltons” TV show), tells us of a grandfather helping his son harvest lumber. In the process, his eye catches a glint of steel. It is a pocket knfe he lost when he was a boy.
He picks it up and is so enthralled with his find he doesn’t hear the warning and is hit by a falling tree.
That’s the way I feel about some of treasures of my youth so we call the series of columns, “Frank’s Attic.” That was also the name of one of my early attempts at making a web site. I don’t think it’s still on the internet but you can look for it if you like.
A photo just popped up on my computer monitor at work. I have no idea who took the picture or where or when but it features bicycles and pedal toys. All are antiques.
Two of my favorite toys were a pedal tractor and my first bicycle.
I have told the story of my pedal tractor.
When I was 6, an older neighbor boy and myself started collecting newspapers to sell to the recycling place down on First Street in my hometown.
Rick Sturgess had a sister named Kay. Kay and I were in kindergarten together. We sat on adjacent lineoleum squares during story time and she liked to pinch my butt.
Teacher had warned us to be quiet so I sat there and took it until I felt the tears run down my cheeks.
That summer she told my mom she was going to marry me. I guess any boy who can hold still under that kind of torture is good husband material in the mind of a 5-year-old girl.
Her brother and I became good friends and that led to our joint venture selling old newsprint.
I was saving for a red bicycle. I watched Jeff and his friends ride all over the country on “Lassie” and I thought that was the coolest thing in the world.
My newspaper collection wasn’t going so great for one reason or another. While Rick filled the shed behind their house, I had three or four cardboard boxes filled.
One night after supper, mom handed me a handful of newspapers (The South Bend Tribune) and suggested I put them in the garage. Then, she and dad followed me, which struck me as odd.
There, in front of the boxes of newspapers I had collected was the most beautiful red and white Raleigh brand bicycle.
That night, I was riding it in the back yard (thanks to training wheels that were supposed to keep me upright.) But, at one point, I turned too sharply and went down on my arm, spraining it in ways that hurt so much more than Kay’s pinches.
What hurt the most was the fact that my arm was put in a sling and the bicycle was “put up” for whole days, maybe a whole week, until the sling came off and I could ride it again.
That led to my first run in with the law.
Mom let me cross the Barrett Street and ride on the sidewalk from the top of Barrett to Grant Street and back on the sidewalk.
While at the top of the street, catching my breath (I only had two speeds, full bore and stop) a police car pulled up next to me.
The officer was nice enough but I had seen enough cop shows on TV to know you didn’t want to be stopped by a police officer.
He asked my name and where I lived and made small talk.
When he drove away, I raced home and told mom what happened.
A few years later I outgrew that little 20-inch bicycle and by then banana seats and high rise handle bars were all the rage.
I was paid a nickle for taking out the trash and for other odd chores and eventually saved enough to buy a banana seat and high handlebars from Elmer. I never knew Elmer’s last name but at one time he had a bicycle shop on Main Street. By this time, he had moved the shop into the basement of his home out by Barron Lake.
I spent many hours with a 9/16 wrrench in my hand customizing that bike, changing tires and trying a modification to give the front tire some extra bounce.
Eventually I graduated to a 26-inch bike that I also customized and even painted but the bigger bike didn’t have any of the thrill of that first one.
I think of that when I see that TV commercial for a car that is supposed to give you the “Zoom Zoom” of your first bicycle. I don’t see how a car can compare with that first Raleigh bicycle.
Now my first typewriter I bought in college was cool, but that’s another story.