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I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Of Bicycles and Carriage Bells

Island Idylls: Stories of growing up in the Virgin Islands.

Tomorrow is my birthday so I thought I'd share a story about a birthday present I got when I was about 9 years old.

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My sister, Erva, had gotten a brand new Reighley bicycle for her birthday or Christmas so of course I wanted one. On the morning of my birthday my father presented me with a bike he proudly declared he had built from the wrecks of three other bikes. It was clean and painted and looked like new. It even had a basket, which Erva's didn't, and handlebar breaks. But I was terribly disappointed, it wasn't NEW, as in bought at a store. Of course now I realize that bike was very special, my father had taken a great deal of time to MAKE it for me. How precious is that?

Anyway... at that time on St. John, 1959, bicycles had to be inspected and licensed at the police station. Once inspection was passed and a small fee paid, you got a real metal license plate (small) that hung off the back of the seat or was attached to a bracket on the rear fender.

source:
http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/118802/128544.html
Dad decided I needed to be responsible for getting it licensed, even though I have a vague recollection of Mom thinking I might not be old enough to handle this important task. He won, and off I went, riding my bike to the police station, which was just a few blocks away from our Mobil gas station/garage in Cruz Bay.

One of requirements - besides good breaks - for passing inspection was that there had to be a bell to warn people to get out of the way or to let vehicles know you were in their near proximity. Dad, being Dad, decided to attach a model T-Ford carriage bell in my basket. I could easily reach over the handlebars press down the plunger and a loud BING-BONG could clearly be heard, even above the noise of a Jeep!

When I got to the police station and proudly presented my bike for inspection, Captain Jergens, a tall slender black man with class and dignity, said, "Dis bell ain't de right kind. It mus' be a bell on the handlebar, one you push wid your tumb."

My bike had failed inspection. I was devastated and rode back to garage in tears. When I explained what had happen Dad became indignant. We loaded me and my bike in the jeep and drove to the police station where Dad explained to Captain Jergens that he wanted his daughter's bell to be heard. A weak bbrring-bbrring was not not his idea of a bell, "But this," he said, pressing down the plunger, BING-BONG, "will be let people know she's there."

Inspection was approved, I got my license, and me and my bike rode happily around Cruz Bay.

BING-BONG

***
Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful that I've had another year on this wonderful planet. 
Here's to being hopeful that I'll have another one!
***
What are you thankful for? Did you ever have a parent make you a present for Christmas or your birthday? How old were you when you learned to ride a bike? Have you ever heard of licensing bicycles?

16 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday, Bish! Hope it's fantastic. Loved your story about your birthday present.

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  2. Happy birthday!
    We don't usually appreciate those special gifts at the time.
    And no, never heard of getting a license for a bike.

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  3. Happy Birthday! I've never heard of licensing bicycles, but I think a little license plate on my bike would have been cool. I didn't learn to ride a bike till I was about ten. I tried when I was younger. It didn't go well. My mom made a stuffed Winnie the Pooh for me when I was little. I slept with Winnie every night. When he wore out, my mom made another.

    Love,
    Janie

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  4. I never thought about bike bells before. I do like the sound of them. I had no idea some places inspected them.

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  5. Oh, I love this story. Happy birthday, Bish.

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  6. Happy Birthday!!!!

    Like Medeia, I had no idea they had to be inspected and approved. Good thing your dad brought you back.

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  7. Happy Birthday and thanks for sharing such a sweet story, Bish.
    I didn't get any home-made presents - but I did get a second-hand guitar on one occasion because my parents knew how much I wanted a guitar, but they couldn't afford to buy me a new one. I didn't care that it was second-hand - I was just utterly thrilled to have my own guitar! :)

    Susan at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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  8. Good for Dad! What a wonderful moment for you and what a wonderful bike and bell. I bet you made a few pedestrians jump when you hit the button.

    Happy Birthday, Bish!

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  9. That's good your dad marched down there and straightened them out. Why settle for a lame little bell?

    We I was a teen, we had a crappy little Honda. But at some point, my mom had an old ooga horn installed. Hooked up to a battery that gave it twice the juice, and the horn sounded like a roar. I loved that thing.

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  10. Ha! Great story. Glad you and Dad stood your ground.

    Happy Birthday, Bish!

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  11. Sweet story. Your dad sounds like he was awesome. Happy birthday, Bish.

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  12. Sometimes we don't appreciate homemade gifts as much when we get them as we do over time. It is so sweet that your dad made your bike for you and that he put the best bell possible on it. It obviously kept you safe! :)

    Happy Birthday!
    ~Jess

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  13. What a treasure story and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

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  14. This was delightful! Definitely one for the 'keepers' box ;-) Having to license a bike makes me think they may have been the most popular mode of transportation, and therefore an easy source of revenue for the police dept. Interesting! I loved your dad's idea about the bell and how he actually won his case. I hope this birthday was one for the Keepers too :-)

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  15. Happy birthday yesterday! Yay! I love that story. What a sweet father, and what a great experience. Thank you for sharing.

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  16. Thanks for sharing. Happy belated birthday!

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