My grandfather had a furniture repair store on Garibaldi Place in Chicago. We lived behind it.

I had a tricycle that had a chain drive. I used to put a rope on the handlebars and imagined I was riding a horse. A bigger kid on the block wanted to ride my bike and broke one of the pedals. My father was able to fix it.

One year, the last year at that home, my brother and I got identical 24-inch two-wheel bikes. I didn’t learn how to ride the bike until we moved to 51st Place in Chicago.

I used to ride to the library at Sherman Park all the time. One day I rode to a play area, left my bike down the hill and started reading up the hill. At some point I looked up and my bike was gone. I was devastated, especially since my saddlebags had books in them. I stopped a policeman on a motorcycle and cried my eyes out as I told him what happened. I walked and cried all the way home carrying one book.

A woman called us later and said she had found the saddlebags with the books in them in the alley behind her house. We never found the bike.

I worked selling subscriptions to a Chicago newspaper. The prize was a bike, a 26-inch Tiger Racer. I got the bike, and was very proud of that accomplishment.


One day a bunch of us took a bike ride to a park in another part of the city. There was a toboggan slide there and it was summer. I decided to ride the bike down the slide. As I picked up speed, the bike started to shake. Then I lost it and fell. I slid a long way. My friends thought I’d killed myself. I just had a bad skid mark on my arm. One of my friends had an aunt a couple blocks away; there, she cleaned me up. I had a scar a long time.

My bike got bent up somewhere and lost its balance. I was never able to ride that bike without holding on to the handlebars after that. The thing was bent too much.

When I finally got a paper route, it was the biggest in the branch; I think it was 80 or so papers. I used to ride around on my bike, four blocks, with the canvas bag for the papers wrapped around the handlebars. It’s hard to ride with a lot of weight like that, but as the papers were delivered, the riding got easier.

I rode that bike all through high school. When I joined the Army, I sold the bike to my brother for $20.

Since then, I’ve made an electric bike and got one free from Maine Medical Center, and one from my son, which I still ride at 89.

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