My best Christmas present ever.
The year was 1965, and in September we moved from my grandmother's house in Washington DC to my mother's house in Kensington MD. It was hugely downsizing.
The first day after school I went down to the local play lot to see it full of boys my age, playing football. I could not believe my luck!
Wheeling my bike beside me I approached the field, had my initial interview - "Are you any good?" - and began playing.
Something I could not help but notice was the pile of bicycles beside the field. All the guys had really great 10 speed bikes. Mine was a beat up 1 speed with a white kiddie seat and clunky wheel mud guards.
I decided right then I wanted a 10 speed bicycle for Christmas. I had to fit in! I had to be cool like the other guys!
And it was a social necessity! All the kids had bikes for a reason - that's how everyone got around, and you could tell where everyone was by which bikes were in front of which house. We all rode everywhere on our bikes. Usually in packs of 6 or more.
But such a gift would be a huge burden on my mother. My brother wanted a bike also! We didn't know if it was possible for us both to get new bikes.
Still, I hoped. I hoped big!
Coming down and looking at the tree there it was!
There proudly stood the most beautiful Schwinn Varsity 10 speed bike in existence! No mud flaps! Leather seat! And 10 speeds I did not know how to use! I think it had a halo!
I even got the color I wanted!
Santa was good. Santa was always good.
In my pajamas, and still dark outside, even before I started eating my stocking candy, I took it out the front door and rode around the neighborhood!
With my paper route money I bought an odometer to keep track of the mileage.
That bike went everywhere, every day. It was transportation and freedom.
During the fall of 1966 I bet another kid that I could ride that bike 1000 miles during the NFL season. There were 15 games that year, so I had to ride 67 miles a week. No problem!
There was a lot of ice and snow that fall, all through December. But I did it. I won the bet. I don't remember what the prize was, but my pride was satisfied and I won the bet.
I still have that bike! It is hanging in my garage. I maintain it and ride it. Literally that bicycle has gone thousands of miles. It has been through creeks, thrown over fences, jumped off of platforms, used for wheelies (which I was good at) and other tricks. Taking it to college, it was how I got around there too. I rode it to work at various jobs, and even to minor league baseball games in my late teens.
It has all original equipment except brake pads, tires, inner tubes, and handle bar tape. It's oiled and ready to go right now.
The bicycle turns 50 this Christmas! It was my best Christmas present ever!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560