.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Sometimes, a bicycle will whizzer right on by

-A A +A
By W.B. Evans

One hot summer afternoon, our mailman showed up on the porch with the Fall and Winter catalog from Sears, Roebuck and Co.The best part of its arrival was that the honor of tearing off the brown wrapping belonged to me.I ripped the covering off, opened it and held it close to my face to smell the pages that were crammed full of all kinds of good stuff.Then, a sign straight from heaven gates descended down to our kitchen table.Bless Pete, it was a bona fide miracle; the pages fell open to the bicycle section.There in color – was a J.C. Higgins Deluxe Ridemaster complete with luggage carrier, western-style curved handlebars, chain guard and a horn mounted in the canister on the frame. It had so many bells and whistles on it that I couldn’t think of anything else to add.I borrowed Aunt Bess’ handy scissors and neatly cut out the page with the deftness of a world-class surgeon. In no time at all, I had worn that page out by drooling on it at least a million times, or so I thought.Being July 1941, nobody had any spare money to spend on a bicycle of all things.My dear Aunt Bess, as usual, came to my rescue. She and Uncle Harry had no children so I became their honorary favorite grandchild.We started holding rummage sales each Saturday mornings on a regular basis to pay for the Ridemaster and set Thanksgiving as our target date to raise the funds.Between begging at the supper table and the income from selling stuff we no longer needed or used, we made it, too.I filled out the order form for the Sears warehouse in Greensboro, Aunt Bess provided the check and I hightailed it to the post office. The order and the check were in the mail.Time was dragging and I had alerted Mr. Hagins down at the Railway Express Agency to be on the lookout for my bicycle.The following Sunday, December 7, 1941, wasn’t an unusual morning.We walked to Sunday school and big church and then walked home for a dinner of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.I was outside minding my business that afternoon when Mama yelled out that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands.I wasn’t old enough to comprehend what was happening, but a few days later, I came home from school to find a letter from Sears.My bicycle order was frozen. Everything was being directed to the war effort.After those months of wishing and lugging stuff up to that vacant lot and spending my good Saturdays trying to earn a little money, I was out of luck.I had done all those extra household chores, too, only to have those Japanese mess up my Ridemaster.I tell you, life just ain’t fair.The war was almost over before I became the proud owner of a used bicycle. Daddy, to his credit, did his level best to paint that old bicycle up, but it sure wasn’t a J.C. Higgins Ridemaster loaded down with what’s today called bling-bling.Well sir, I survived through the war and got over my initial disappointment. That was until it happened to me again.The Goodyear tire store on the corner of Main and Gay Streets – now home of the Alpine Agency and the Purple Rooster – got in a mess of Whizzer motors.The motors were selling for about $75 apiece, which was more than I could beg, borrow or rummage for.Boy, these were really nifty gadgets.The small gasoline engine bolted onto a 26-inch men’s bicycle frame just above the pedal sprocket with a fan belt attached to a special back wheel rim to provide the “go.”Not to be outdone, I went to bat and stated my case (begged) for a Whizzer at the supper table.After three strikes, it was strongly suggested by those who paid the bills that “you get that Whizzer out of your system.”Plus, Mama needed a new stove now and they were finally making them again.Fate sure can deal a bad hand, especially given my circumstances.Across the street and down on the corner lived two brothers and both of them were sporting brand new Whizzers on their bicycles.Up and down the sidewalk they roared. It didn’t take very long for word of their good fortune to leak out.All the neighborhood fellas and even some from across town were showing up and watch those brothers do their stuff. Some of the guys said the two brothers were rubbing it in, but I never did. I give them credit, because they offered to let me ride one.Putting on my best face, I said no thanks.But deep down, I yearned to give one of those Whizzers a run for the money.Talk about a bitter pill to swallow, I took a full dose and did my best to get past my heartache and disappointment.No sir, life just ain’t fair.I learned that some folks have Whizzers and some folks have new stoves to bake fruitcakes.Given that, I got over it.