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Looking Back to the '60s-My First Bicycle

Couldn't wait to get rid of those training wheels!

Ah, the bicycle! What kid didn’t have one? Back when children actually participated in exercise (you know, that activity where your body parts actually went outside to do a multitude of sports?) most of us in the neighborhood had bikes.

As a toddler, I first had a tricycle, but my mom eventually donated it to the Goodwill. I remember being devastated like Orson Wells in “Citizen Kane” when his beloved Rosebud went missing. Without wheels, I remember feeling very betrayed that my red tricycle was gone.

But a few years later, I got my first bicycle. Mine arrived on Christmas. I think it was an emerald green Schwinn with training wheels propped on the side of it. Both Teresa and I received one and I’m sure they were a major expense for a mother strapped with six children.

We used to ride up and down Pacoima Court for hours, and along the sidewalks on Laurel Canyon and onto Laurel Lane.  Gradually, the training wheels would be raised, until we were soon riding on two wheels, with the training wheels simply there for moral support. 

There were so many popular bicycles during those times. Stingrays were one make I remember vividly.  With their banana shaped seats, they evoked a sense of coolness to any bicycle owner. One of my neighbors had one, and I remember being very jealous.

When Teresa and I got into high school, we managed to convince my mom that bicycles for the two of us would be a good investment. I’m sure she thought we were nuts. What kid wants to ride a bike? Wasn’t the pressure from us to get a car enough?

But we were ecology advocates, and soon we were cycling our three-speed bikes along Ventura Blvd. to Colfax and up the street to North Hollywood High.

In college, I had a multitude of 10-speeds, riding through Isla Vista to UCSB. But these were more modern inventions, not like those vintage wheels from my youth.

Nothing compares to that first bicycle and the scrapes you endure while learning how to ride.

Jack McGrath March 13, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Yes in the 50's and 60's everyone had a bicycle, boys and girls. Most kids I saw were in good shape, with muscle tone and a strong frame. Maybe this piece about being healthy will push the parents in the SF Valley to dump the twitters and all the other devices which waste everyone's on mindless chatter. Our kids today need to get on a bicycle, skateboard, and just a walk around the block. Youth obesity is killing our young people, and will in future years bankrupt our national health system. It is time for parents to wake up.
Mary McGrath March 13, 2012 at 11:42 PM
So true Jack. We were always playing in the streets, at the playground, always in motion. I rarely see kids that are in very good shape these days. Many are already plagued with health problems. It's very sad.
teresa mcgrath March 14, 2012 at 02:13 PM
yes jack, wise words....it would stem early diabetes, let alone the sheer endorphin high achieved, and joy....some people brought up putting playing cards in the spokes....hahahha, forgot about it
teresa mcgrath March 14, 2012 at 02:15 PM
p.s. http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=46103 this is a monthly family event promoting family biking with cars excluded from the streets...lots of fun
Mary McGrath March 14, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Portland is the cycling capital of the world! So many interesting bikes we saw when I visited a few years ago.

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