When I was a kid, I had a bike, and I liked my bikes’ looped, u turn handle bar that could be set up or down.
I liked the bike’s thin tires and wire spokes. I also liked getting two playing cards and two clothes pins, then attaching the cards--- one to each tire. The spokes would slap the cards and my bike would sound like it had an engine!
I liked the shifter--- how I could shift the gears to select between ten speeds--- to pedal easier up a hill or go faster on flat ground. Actually---Sacramento just had flat ground; and I loved riding my bike.
Rolling over the streets, I felt kind of like I was a cowboy; riding my bike elevated me. It extended my range. I rode it to a grassy field one summer day where girls from school played baseball with us. I rode it to William Land Park to fish in the pond; but the pond was closed. I stood blocked by a chain link fence on a sky blue day---so decided to climb over. I poked my fishing pole through the fence and pitched, but as it went through the hook penetrated my index finger so instead of climbing the fence I went to a doctor.
|Friends from Sacramento circa 1960 celebrating my 10th birthday. I'm second from right.|
I liked to ride with friends on my bike. Once, a group of us were pedaling fast, parallel to Curtis Park going north, our destination the Cigar Tree. Tottering tombstones visible by the Cigar Tree emanated foreboding in that place. We zoomed in, dropped our bikes and scrambled up the tree. We were grabbing cigars as fast as we could. These cigars grew about six inches and were a little thicker than cigarettes. They were a bit withered and dry, and a lot dangled from the tree. We knew the Cigar Tree was in “other” kids’ territory---we didn’t know them, but raiding their tree was taking a risk, and that challenged us to overcome fear. Suddenly a band of yelling kids on foot attacked and we fled on our bikes super-fast--- furiously! We rode about ten blocks, past the tennis courts in Curtis Park, gradually feeling more calm---and stopped in a grove of tall redwood trees.
Then we climbed. Up thick, low branches which gradually thinned the higher we climbed. Careful to have feet planted firm, we grabbed branches after branches and pulled ourselves aloft like that higher and higher---until we found our perches--- until we were so high up we could see the distant white dome of the Capitol.
Hidden in the Redwoods ---we lit our cigars and smoked and watched the smoke billow and ascend. We gazed at the Capitol and felt like kings.