Hey. It’s almost Christmas. I am lured back to Christmas 1961, I was 10 years old. My brother and I knew for a fact that there was no Santa, but didn’t slow the anticipation in the slightest. In fact, may have revved it up, we had specific available targets to present our wants and needs to.
10 is a funny age. Starting to grow up and understand the way of the world, but still so damn clueless as to be comical. Still a kid, but you could see past that at times…
I knew at some level that my father’s farm hadn’t done too well that summer. We’d lost our winter wheat crop and the spring wheat substitute never does well. I was to learn first hand that losing a winter wheat crop guaranteed losing money for that year….
But it did’t stop me from wishing for a 26′ inch bike. I was big enough (maybe) and I KNEW that it represented freedom. I had a 24″ that my Dad had bought from somebody at a cattle auction, and I lusted for the freedom of a big bike.
I knew the chances were slim, Mother had already prepped the two of us for underwear and socks for Christmas. Didn’t matter in the wish department. It’s funny, but I don’t remember what my brother was lusting for that year. I do know that the Sears Christmas Catalog was battered completely into submission by Christmas Morning.
So. 0500 December 25th, 1961. We were well warned to stay upstairs until 0500 under penalty of death. We probably woke up around 0400, and quivered with anticipation of the day. Down the stairs and there is stood on it’s side stand. The most beautiful bicycle that Schwinn has built before or since. And it had TWO speeds. Of course it was red (If you knew how red motorcycles I have owned in my life it would frighten you).
Then I looked outside, I wanted nothing but to get on that bike and ride. It had snowed over a foot.
Logic and good sense said that I wait to ride. It only made sense. No way to ride that day, it was supposed to warm enough to melt the roads down in a day or two…
So. After we all had opened our gifts, (My oldest sister got the doll she wanted, I remember THAT). It was time to milk. We only had one cow fresh at the time so it was all up to me to get that task done. I put on my winter clothes and went out to do my chores.
While I was milking, my dad went out with a SHOVEL and cleared a track maybe 100 yards long for me to ride around. I know today that my father funded that whole Christmas with borrowed money, but it took maybe 20 years until I understood the REAL gift that morning.
I’m just sayin’