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First Bike

There must have been half a dozen bikes on the streets of Kell. One kid had a wire basket on his handlebars, and he delivered groceries with it and got paid for the job.



THERE WERE NO bicycles in Dix. I had seen kids riding bikes up in Kell when I visited cousin Bob, but there were no bikes in Dix, not one bicycle in the whole village.

In Kell, a boy on a bike could travel ten times faster than I could run. One kid had a wire basket on his handlebars, and he delivered groceries with it and got paid for the job. Lots of boys traveled two on a bike, sometimes the extra on the handlebars, sometimes with the driver standing up and the passenger on the seat.

There must have been half a dozen bikes on the streets of Kell. Once I watched four boys do a kind of fancy parade down the wide spot by Purdue’s lumberyard; they would make a kind of figure eight and weave in and out. I thought it was really neat.

Lots of boys traveled two on a bike, sometimes the extra on the handlebars, sometimes with the driver standing up and the passenger on the seat.

My cousin Bob, who lived in Kell, got a new red bike for Christmas. When he came down to Dix to visit, Bob brought his new red bike. He could ride it really well, too. I wondered whether he had learned to ride on some other boy’s bike over in Kell, or whether he had learned real quickly on his new red Christmas bike.

Bob let me try his new red bike. I just couldn’t get the hang of it at first; starting off on the flat and having to get up speed and stay upright was just too much. I would lose my balance before I could get the bike moving fast enough. Finally Bob got the bright idea of starting me out on the little slope behind our house. That went pretty well because I could concentrate on my balance and not worry about pedaling to keep up speed. My third trial, though, I lost it — steered right into the sweet pea trellis and pitched head over heels. Bob had to go to lunch then and back to Kell.

Once I watched four boys do a kind of fancy parade down by Purdue’s lumberyard; they would make a kind of figure eight and weave in and out.

I must have been about eleven then, and there were still no bicycles in Dix.

My first bike? When I was seventeen and a freshman at the University, Mom and Dad drive up to visit and brought me a very used five-dollar special. How great that was, to be able to speed around the campus, especially out to my job at the Hort Field Lab.

My very first bike.






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