I was pretty good buddies with most of the guys on my street. I played stick-ball with some of the kids, softball in the park with others and touch football at the playground with a bunch more. The only group I was left out of were the bikers, these were the kids that had their own bikes. I didn’t have a bike, so I couldn’t be part of this pack. These kids that had bikes though, they weren’t new, most of them were hand-me-downs from friends or relatives.
One day my Aunt May, my mother’s half-sister, was visiting and I mentioned about not having a bike. She told me she had an old bike that belonged to her son and if I wanted it, it was mine. I just had to go to her house and pick it up. Even though it seemed like it took forever before Aunt May finished her visit that day and was ready to go home; it felt like today was one of the luckiest days ever. Soon enough though, we were on our way.
Aunt May only lived a few streets away and when we got to her house; I immediately raced down to the basement to find my treasure. The bike had probably been down there for years and had flat tires but that didn’t phase me at all. I pushed the bike some of the way and carried it the rest to the nearest gas station and put air in the tires. I didn’t even know if the tires would hold air, they seemed a little dry rotted. Lucky for me though; they did and I rode that bike home in victory.
At first, I didn’t realize that all my buddies bikes in racing tires. The thin narrow ones. My bike had balloon tires easily twice the size of my buddies thin racing tires. Still, I didn’t care, I had a bike and was now a part of the pack, the bikers. We went everywhere we could. We went to Prospect Park, went fishing at the lake in Staten Island and even made it to Coney island for a Nathan’s famous hot dog.
I may have had to pedal three times as hard as my buddies what the racing tires but at least I had a bike.On our first trip we went out to Prospect Park and a gang of older boys tried to rob us. We all managed to get away but with my balloon tires I was a straggler of the pack and got pelted with rocks by the would be robbers as I made my escape.
On our next trip we went to Coney island, for a Nathan’s famous hot dog, which at the time was only five cents. It was about an eight mile trip and by the time I got there the drag from the tires had exhausted me. I had a hot dog, but my favorite that day was the chow mien sandwich. Chinese vegetables, onions, celery, crispy noodles on a hamburger bun. Nathan’s was the only place that I ever heard of that offered a Chow mien sandwich. And then also cost a nickel.
I know I really struggled with that bike when I was younger but later on in life when I tried out for the track team all that extra work paid off. I may have not been the fastest kid on the team but the balloon tires definitely helped. They made my legs super strong and gave me great stamina. I guess there’s a reason for everything.
I just realized I did not get around to telling how a kid earned money back in 1946. Stay tuned it is coming.
© Robert A Evans