Bikes, Clothespins and Playing Cards

Bikes Clothespins and Cards

BY Jack Boardman

When I was a kid there were no computers, X-Boxes or Playstations. No Pong, Pac Man or any of the other diversions kids of today enjoy—keeping them inside the house. TV was mostly black & white, and although color TV was around almost no one had one.

We had “Old Maid,” “Chinese Checkers,” “Skunk,” “Cootie,” and other quickly-boring games if we had to stay inside. Being outside (out ofsight) was far preferable to us as if we complained of being bored enterprising parents or babysitters would find something for us to do.Room cleaning was one of those “somethings.”

Summer was the best time for outdoor activities and we'd generally remain there with only breaks for lunch, dinner and bedtime.

For summer the bicycle was likely the most important accessory a kid could possess, ranking ahead of baseballs bats and gloves. A bike was more important because it was first and foremost, transportation; we rode our bikes to the school playground for some pick-up baseball or softball; or to nearby Linwood Park and sometimes the corner store for some candy or "Lik-M-Aid." But it also could be our trusty horse when playing cowboys, a car if playing cops and robbers, or a fighter-plane if we were fighting WWII or the Korean War.

Our bikes were nothing like you see today; fat-tired, full-fendered, single speed with coaster brakes, and generally with 20" wheels; some kids had hand-me-down 26" bikes they struggled to ride. Sure, there were a few of the sissy "English" bikes with skinny tires and handbrakes; try laying a patch of black rubber on the sidewalk with one of those!

Occasionally we'd pretend to be motorcycle cops and we'd have to outfit our bikes for the job. A long relatively straight branch from a lilac bush would be attached to the rear with masking tape. To complete the transformation – some clothespins and an old deck of cards. We would attach the cards to front and rear fender supports so the the card would be hit by the spokes making the bike sound like a motorcycle when ridden. The more cards, the better the noise.

Imagine if you will, twenty or more kids circling the block over and over and over on their "motorcycles." Imagine trying to take a nap when twenty or more kids are circling the block on their "motorcycles." Makes me kinda glad that kids today have X-Boxes to annoy their parents…so they're not annoying me with their “motorcycle” bikes.

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