I remember it like it was yesterday. I was probably twelve when Mr Kimball, who lived across the street, asked me if I had a bike. I said “no”, and he asked if I would like one. The answer was obvious. I followed him to the cellar where, leaning against a wall stood an old Iver Johnson bike frame with two flat tires and no fenders. It was beautiful. Mr. Kimball said if I wanted to fix it up, I could have it.
I wheeled it home, washed it, and painted it black. My dad and I removed the tires to reveal two rotted inner tubes. My dad said I would have to buy new ones and he would help me put them in. It took me two months, working two paper routes to earn the money necessary, but I finally had them. Good to his word, my dad and I put them in and used the old bicycle pump in the basement to inflate them. I cannot tell you the ecstasy and exhilaration I experienced the first time I rode that bike. It had multiple speeds, depending on how fast I could pedal.
I went everywhere on that bike. You seldom saw one without the other. I remember saving enough money to finally buy fenders. The were shiny chrome and I thought they were beautiful. But as is the way with young boys, after having them awhile, I decided to customize them by cutting them down to half size. In my infinite wisdom, it never occurred to me that if I rode it in the rain, when I got where I was going, I would have a streak of mud down the middle of my back. A minor detail.
From time to time, I would fasten a stiff card to the frame so that it would contact the spokes, making a sound not unlike a small motor. Or at least I thought so.
That was so many years ago. Since then I have graduated to cars and have owned many. But I can't think of one that I liked better or that meant more to me then that old second hand bike.