Addie and I were talking the other night about Christmas memories. She doesn’t really remember her earlier Christmas celebrations. One year I was here and made Grinch pancakes. I had Grinch napkins and Grinch plates and she doesn’t even remember.
There are two gifts I remember more than any others. One year, I was probably 6, my uncle gave me a gizmo, and I so wish I had saved it. It was a monkey with batteries. He was holding a small skillet and he flipped little plastic pancakes in the skillet I thought that was the neatest thing I had ever seen. I can still remember sitting in the floor watching that monkey flip those pancakes. He gave my sister something similar and I think hers had a circus clown that did flips or something almost as cool as flipping pancakes.
The other gift I will never forget was a bicycle. I was probably still in elementary school and I think it was the first brand new bike I ever got. It was a Schwinn. My parents never had much extra money and I’m sure that was a big purchase for them. We lived on a little dead end street, just two houses on each side of the road. The road at the end of the deadend was a fairly busy road and we were never allowed to ride our bikes on that road . . not even get close to it.
My new bike had lever things that you squeezed for the brakes on the handlebars and I had always had brakes on the foot pedal. The very first day I got it, I was pedaling as fast as I could, started getting near the end of our road and began to try to use the pedals as brakes and nothing happened. I was fast approaching Goss Road and getting on that road, my parents would not be happy and I didn’t have time to even see if a car was coming. I couldn’t slow down and I certainly couldn’t stop.
In southwest Louisiana, we had very deep ditches with big concrete culverts – lots of water to keep flowing there where everything sits so low and it rains a lot.
It seemed like I was flying as I approached the end of our road and instead of getting on Goss Road, I hit the ditch. The front tire/wheel hit the concrete culvert and bent the wheel up, ruined the tire, busted the headlight, completely tore one of the brakes loose. I flew off the bike, thankfully into the empty lot at the end of our little street and was very lucky I didn’t fly into the busy road and hit my head. I had lot of scrapes and bruises and had to drag that banged up bicycle back to our house, crying all the way home. My parents talked about taking me to the emergency room, which made me cry more. I was so upset already about the bike. They were understanding and didn’t yell at me. Dad took the bike back to the Schwinn dealer as soon as they were open again after Christmas and they replaced the wheel and tire and headlight. I’m sure my dad had to pay for that. I never again forgot how to stop the bicycle and even to this day, I have a recurring nightmare that I’m driving and the brakes in my car stop working. Sometimes I’m on a hill rolling backwards. Sometimes I’m coming up to a big curve. There are all kinds of scenarios. I rarely remember my dreams but about one out of every 5 or 6 dreams that I do remember has something to do with the brakes on my car not working.
May all of your gifts bring you joy and hopefully, no one gets thrown from a bicycle today (or any day!).
Dorothy Matheson says
I remember my first bike. We went to my Aunt’s and I got a bicycle. As I got older I realized that it had rusty spots and was not new. I loved it anyway as my parents had an invalide child and we had no extra money. I now wonder if my grandmother bought the bike for Santa to give to me.
We lived in the country and I could only ride on the driveway and around the circle to turn around. No hand brakes.
With three older sisters, I had a hand-me-down bike, the kind where you back-pedaled to brake. Once when I was biking with my brother, we were going down a very steep hill. I was nervous about it, because I remember him going first and waiting for me. I started down, and a car started backing out of a driveway in front of me. Fortunately, they must have seen me and pulled back in, because I froze and forgot how to brake!
When I was in 2nd grade, my 18-month older sister and I got a new bike for Christmas. We lived on a rather steep street. She was allowed to ride it in town but I could only ride it on Sundays at my grandparents’ farm. Dad worked 2nd shift, Mom was working that night at the senior banquet. It was June and I still couldn’t ride it in town. My aunt and my few years older cousins were at our house watching us. They had their bikes and were riding up and down the street. I was sorta put out at that and decided to give it a try. My boy cousin said he would ride behind me. I got almost to the bottom of the street and he told me to ride into a driveway next to another aunt’s house where there was just a grassy lot. I did but hit the curb. I still remember flying through the air, doing a complete flip. I was not conscious for a while but opened my eyes to see a neighbor standing over me, wringing her hands, sayings over and over “she’s adead, she’s adead.” i went unconscious again and remember opening my eyes with my head on my aunt’s lap in the backseat of their car. I woke up later in the doctor’s office with my mother looking down at me, crying. I sat up, put my arms around her neck saying I’m sorry over and over again. I had fractured my collar bone and remember the doctor breaking a yard stick and wrapping it with cotton strips and then attaching it to me. I also had a little cut under one eye. I remember my Dad coming in through the front door after his shift and him and Mom leaning me over the bathtub to wash my hair and seeing all the rust colored water running into the tub and them telling me it was because my whole head was covered in blood. I missed the last two days of 2nd grade and lost my perfect attendance pencil because of it!
Oh, my! That’s terrible. I did laugh though – you missed your perfect attendendance pencil and I know that was a BIG deal. That must have been really scary for you and for those around you!