“An Honest-To-Goodness Bicycle”

Christmas, 1943. There’s a war going on. Steel and rubber are rationed; manufacturing plants are working twenty-four-hour days pumping out war materials, and Santa has brought me, a fourteen-year-old Iowa farm boy, an honest-to-goodness bicycle.

Upon close inspection, I realize I’ve seen this bike before: behind the hay bin in Jacob Gerstner’s barn. However, it’s been all spiffed up.  The frame’s been sanded and freshly painted; the spokes and chain, steel-wooled to a fare-thee-well; the seat, covered with scrap black wool.  Makes no never-mind to me, that relic represents freedom and adventure. And I can’t hardly wait to get started.

(Written for Friday Fictioneers, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. July 19, 2013.)

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28 Responses to “An Honest-To-Goodness Bicycle”

  1. Gardner's World says:

    Can’t think of a better present than independence! Good story

  2. Eric Alagan says:

    A gift fashioned with caring hands, a thoughtful mind and a loving heart – a treasure beyond any from a store. Lucky boy – fortunate father 🙂

  3. Sandra says:

    Lovely; such touching sentiments. I hope he enjoys his first bike.

  4. children have such wonderful tales (even if they are fiction)
    My first bike was an old bike that my dad stripped and lovingly painted with my favorite color (Blue) . With new tires and seat you wouldn’t know it had been in the family for quite awhile
    Thanks for reminding me -I had forgotten

  5. rckjones says:

    What a moving period piece. I love how the person who fixed the bike is a lingering presence but remains unnamed. Children are loved more than they know.

  6. Linda Vernon says:

    I like the energy in this. A bike really does represent freedom to anyone of any age. Great take! 😀

  7. paulmclem says:

    I take my hat off to your use of punctuation. Will need to bookmark this piece for future reference!

  8. Joe Owens says:

    My son took the same thoughts as he inherited the car from me I inherited when my mom died three years ago. Sure, he would rather have a black smoke belching huge diesel truck, but he understands what the vehicle offers: independence. I know many children have been thrilled to receive a bicycle for various reasons, but the ones craving freedom will get the most from such a gift.

  9. I remember the joy of freedom my bike gave me as a kid. The fact that this was a scarce commodity only heightened the feeling. Thank you.

  10. I love the sense of appreciation and the realization that love was behind this gift that was more than a bike. Loved this, vb.

    janet

  11. HI V.B.,
    Who can ever forget their first bike? Great piece of nostalgia. Ron

  12. Gabriella says:

    I like the gift of freedom too and hope Jacob does not recognise his former bike! Very good story.

  13. Dear VB,

    My favorite line was “steel-wooled to a fare-thee-well” A nice folksy feel to this one. I loved the boy’s appreciation of the gift even though he knew it was second-hand.

    Nice one.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

  14. Penny L Howe says:

    This is such a great written piece, evoking those feelings reminiscent of the time period. A gem here!

  15. ronwatson says:

    Nice post. I have collected some of rare photos about women’s life during world war 2. See, how america government used to motivate their women to join the war with them. Check out the video and much more information about how women in america contributed their part during world war 2. I invite you to visit my blog at http://ronwatson.wordpress.com/

  16. Such a well written and sentimental tale, darling — can’t help but be a little touched.

  17. neenslewy says:

    I enjoyed the description of old turning to new!

  18. zookyworld says:

    This made me smile, of remembering as a kid and a bike represented freedom and adventure. Great writing in your story, and a great idea that the bike was spiffed up to be renewed.

  19. Kent says:

    Nice job, VB. Captured some flavor there of way back then. Teeeeerific!

  20. Jan Brown says:

    Loved this sweet tale. Loved your use of the idiom, especially “steel-wooled to a fare-thee-well.”

    What a loving father, and what a lucky young man.

    Well done!

  21. a very sweet memory so well written, thank you for sharing it. it was very reminiscent of my first bike, i was a little younger, but yes, absolutely it was all about adventure and freedom. with it, i was allowed off ‘my block’, until then i was only allowed to play within eyesight of my mom.

    just thought i’d visit a bit to thank you for liking my ‘cloud’ poem at d’verse the other day. encouragement is always appreciated.

  22. denmother says:

    What a wonderful gift, especially in war time. Nicely done.

  23. unspywriter says:

    Very nice. I think we can all relate to our first real bike and recall the adventures it took us on. You’ve captured that feeling so well I’m peddling down a few country roads in my head. 😉

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/band-of-brothers/

  24. You bring back poignant memories for us all. Often, the best gifts are those refurbished relics that were done with love. Those were the hand down, wear out, make do, do without days and you captured it beautifully. My mother painted a portrait of a neighbor’s child in exchange for her bicycle, my first one. The girl didn’t like to ride a bicycle. Imagine that.

  25. O those first bicycles what freedom it gave… extending your circle. Great tale

  26. My bicycle was freedom and expanded my whole life.

  27. elappleby says:

    Wonderful. Lovely voice. You’re almost on the bike with him at the end, pushing off and flying down the road.

  28. Dee says:

    A lovely story, bringing back memories of Christmas gifts given with love, not a huge price tag!
    Well done
    Dee

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