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Tuesday, August 27, 2013
MY FIRST TEN SPEED
While not generally an "ahead of my time" kind of guy, I actually was the first kid on my block to get a ten speed bike. And it was hardly the result of me being a silver spoon child. Here's how I earned the money:
Just like many other teenagers in my era, I had a paper route. The deal went like this: I would deliver 30 some Newsdays six days a week to my neighbors. I'd come home from school...rubber-band the papers up...pile them in a big front basket I had on my bike...and then ride down the street flinging the papers onto the lawns and porches of the subscribers. The gig wasn't that difficult - except for rainy days when I'd have to wear a poncho and get off the bike to place the paper where it wouldn't get wet.
The compensation was minimal as back then the paper cost all of five cents. So every Thursday, I'd have to collect by ringing on all the doorbells. A good tip was ten cents. A lousy one was a nickel...and occasionally a customer would give me fifty cents (a twenty cent gratuity). That was like hitting the lottery! Newsday in turn collected twenty two cents from me for each customer. Thus...with a ten cent tip (which was a little over the average) I'd earn eighteen cents per customer for the week. Times that by 30 and the whole deal netted Dollar Billette five whole bucks.
For four months I persevered saving $65 whereupon I went out and bought a brand new Schwinn Varsity ten speed bike which I intended to ride to school with pride until several of my friends pointed out "the greasers will steal everything off your bike." With that taste of reality, I ended up riding my shitty old bike to school and kept the ten speed for special occasions. What are ya gonna do? Times change but thieves stay the same. They always gotta rain on your parade. But not all was lost. The following summer my mother signed me up for an American Youth Hostels bicycle trip through Nova Scotia...and I got to make full use of all ten gears pedaling up and down the numerous hills on that lush Canadian island.
Anyway...I tell you all this boring stuff because yesterday, I got an e-mail from one of my old boyhood pals who I forgot had purchased that very Schwinn Varsity from me for twenty bucks after we graduated from college. And guess what! He still has it! In the e-mail was a picture of my old ten speed...virtually unchanged from when I owned it! Same decals...same seat...same rims and tires etc.!
Talk about taking me back! Yeah, it's a little rusty now from sitting in his shed for God knows how many years but still...the ride was totally recognizable and just for a second, I was 13 again! Check it out. Here's a picture of my first ten speed. Awesome!