I was in the line at the grocery store today and a little blonde boy was standing in line with his mother. He was chatting away and his mother said, “Lucas what do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas this year?” He smiled from ear to ear and yelled up to his mom, “This year I want a new two wheel bicycle!” Mom said, “That is a great wish Lucas,” she said, “You will have to write Santa a letter at the North Pole.”
Lucas was so sweet and full of excitement and wonder. I immediately had an recollection of my first bike. It was a red banana seat bicycle. Red was his name. Red was outstanding, he transported me all over the city. Red transported me to the park, to the Ben Franklin and around the neighborhood. I would tie my red wagon to the back of the bike and ride around the block to visit my favorite neighbors.
Mr. Slatter lived around the block. He would sit in his garage on Saturday mornings and perfectly tie old newspapers in bundles with twine and save them for me in stacks in the corner. I loved to visit Mr. Slatter his was an 80 year old man with a full head of white hair and pot belly. He always wore Sears navy blue cotton twill pants and a plaid shirt with suspenders. I would always stop at Mr. Slatter’s last because he would love to sit and talk. There was an old nylon webbed lawn chair that he would always motion me to sit across from him. He would ask me many questions that would keep me talking for an hour. The fog of my memory keeps me from remembering what we talked about but I know it always center around my life. He loved to listen and surprise, I loved to talk.
My Saturday ritual was to collect the old newspapers. I would ride my red banana seat bicycle with my red wagon in tow, piled high with bundles of old newspapers to the junk yard. The junk yard was at the end of the block and would recycle old newspapers. The Junk Man, as I called him, would have me drive the wagon on the truck scale and weigh the papers. I would wait in anticipation of the declaration. Weighing in at 2 cents per pound, every Saturday’s earnings was a surprise.
My little red wagon and red banana seat bicycle never failed to pull in 60-75 pounds of newspaper. The Junk Man would open his coin purse and take out 6 quarters. I thought I had hit the jack pot every Saturday! It was the pot of gold perfect to save up for that special kite or to head Uptown Ben Franklin to the penny candy aisle.
My Saturdays were satisfying, mostly because of my independence. This was made possible because of my red bicycle with the banana seat.