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Pedal Pushers

Nope, this one’s not about those cute pants that the current crowd called Capris and we called Pedal Pushers. This is about my childhood ticket to freedom: my bike, serving multiple purposes in my life.

I rode it every day to school, come rain, shine and even snow sometimes. (Like the mailman, right?) I remember, on more than one cold morning, tearfully begging my mom to provide taxi service, but no soap. Her no-nonsense reply: “You’re breathing, you pedal,” or something to that effect. So, I’d reluctantly climb aboard, wearing a skirt, of course—plenty of ventilation there—and pedal away, feeling very put upon. My bike basket up front held my books and homework during the long trip from the edge of the elementary school border.

The picture shows my next-door neighbor pal Bonnie and me, as ten-year-olds, ready to head out in December. Since we all went home for lunch in those days, I’d make four, half-mile trips each day. OK, so it’s not exactly, “I trudged 20 miles through the snow to get to school—shoeless.” But it felt like that on some of those cold winter days. My bike and I were bonded—joined at the seat.

Come summer, that same instrument of torture gave me a passport to all kinds of fun. Some days, I’d pack my swimsuit and ride across town to spend the afternoon at Rainbow Beach—the subject of a future post.

Other days my pal, Susie, and I would pack a picnic lunch and ride to Indian Mound. We’d park our bikes at the bottom of the huge hill, hike up and eat our lunch as we surveyed the surrounds. After lunch, we’d dig for Indian Beads and bring them home to save as treasurers.

When I had money left from my 25-cent weekly allowance, I’d buzz over to McCool’s Grocery to buy candy or ice cream. I’d chat with Mrs. McCool while making my purchase and eat the ice cream before I got back on my bike, since the wind melted it faster.

Because some of my school friends lived farther away, sometimes I’d pedal over to one of their houses to visit or we’d meet at some agreed-upon place to explore, like the creek at the end of my block or the stables just past the creek.

Congested traffic these days limits bike-riding for kids now and what a shame! They’re missing our long-ago Old School freedom and adventures.


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