Between about 1955 and 1959 my father was the head of maintenance at Caneel Bay, which was at that time Laurence Rockefeller's private resort hotel. For about two of those years we lived at Caneel as housing was provided for many of the employees.
Somehow we got the best house on the place. It was the farthest away from everything and perched on the side of a hill, thus giving us the grandest view of the resort and the ocean. But it was small, with three closet bedrooms, a microscopic bath, a tiny kitchen, and a living room about 12 by 15 feet. We called it the Beehive.
On my eighth birthday Dad presented me with a bicycle, a real one with handle-bar brakes and everything. He proudly explained that he had built it from the salvaged parts of three wrecks. It looked perfect, all shiny and freshly painted blue. I should have been thrilled because a bike was what I wanted. But inside (I kept my disappointment to myself) I was not happy. I wanted a "new" bike, like the Raleigh my sister had been given. Of course the memory of that bike now has a great deal more meaning for me. My dad made it. Nothing could be more precious than that. But at the time, well, I was eight, I couldn't appreciate the significance of the gift.
My disappointment was momentary. Below is a picture of a kapok tree that I took with my red brownie camera. Behind the tree you can see a road going right to left (it disappears to the left of the tree) with another one joining it coming down from the right. It was on the long lower road that Erva taught me how to to ride.
You can see in the picture, the slight rise and fall of the road. I remember the dips and rises as being huge. Of course I fell the first time I got on the bike, but the second time... I coasted down the first little hill, down into the dip. It was a terrifying thrill. Oh the speed! The wind in my face! And then Erva was yelling at me to peddle as I went up the rise. So I peddled furiously, up and up until I came to the crest then, down the second dip, flying, flying.
I was hooked. And I was an immediate expert bicyclist.
Come back next Monday to learn the truth.
Do you remember your first bike and learning how to ride it?