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“History” in the recesses of my mind

October 5, 2009

Here is an example of  how “history” (if one defines that as daily living from another time) goes on as just a part of regular life…

I clicked over to Elements of Style to see what her “The wind in my hair” post was about and I saw this:

And that old school bike got me thinking about sitting at the dining room table at my grandparent’s house when I was trying to wring as much info as possible from my grandfather about the mill where he grew up.  He talked about how he and his little sister used to ride one of their horses up the road to the one-room school (and swat it on the flank to send it on its way back to the barn once they were delivered).  But when it was time to go to high school in nearby Sellersville, his dad ordered a bicycle for him from the Sears catalogue.  And he rode that bicycle the first day and was mortified because it had no mud fender on the back and there was a stripe of dirt up the back of his jacket.

I can imagine he felt like the country kid, coming in to town to the “big” school and the last thing he wanted was to look like a hick.  That stripe of mud was a blaze of social suicide.  He described using the phone at the livery stable where he parked his bike to call his father.  He asked permission to order a mud fender for the bike.  And even telling the story decades later, you could sense his worry if his dad said no.

But his dad said yes.

Seventy years later and he still seemed relieved by the answer.

And I thought of that story when I looked at this bike, and I noticed it already has a rear fender and I knew Erin would be safe from mud stripes up her back, no matter what charming outfit she was wearing while travelling around Boston.

Travelling around?

That reminds me of my grandfather’s story about steep hills he encountered while making deliveries with the horse and wagon and the “thank you, ma’am” plateaus on the hill to give the horse a rest….

See how history can sneak up on you?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2009 4:14 pm

    Sabra, I really enjoy your blog. I love when history, especially family history, comes out of nowhere and makes you think. And oh man, riding my bike to school most days – now I wish I had a bike like that picture so my pants wouldn’t get soaked! Thanks for sharing.

    • Sabra Smith permalink*
      October 6, 2009 7:47 pm

      Kaitlin: Thanks for visiting and for your comments. If I had a magic wand, I’d wave it and give you a bubble to protect you from rain and keep your pants dry. Nothing worse than wet pants all day! Keep up the good work over there at Preservation in Pink!

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