Monday, January 08, 2007

A Christmas To Remember

When you look at old photos, the date on them refers to the time of development. Many of my 35mm slides have dates on the mounts, but they have nothing to do when the pictures were actually taken.

When I scanned a bunch of prints while we were in Louisiana, I noticed that several years of Christmas pictures had the same "DEC 71" date on the edge of the photos.


My memories of that time aren't clear enough to remember in what order we got certain things on whichever Christmas.

I think it was due to either the film sitting unfinished in the camera and taking two years to finish, or that the finished film sat in a drawer somewhere and built up until several rolls were finally developed. Probably the latter, I've done that myself many times over the years.

On to the story

Of course, I'm not sure exactly which year this was, we'll call it 1971, since that's what the photo has printed on the edge.

I distinctly remember the family going into Natchez, Mississippi to Sears. This was a HUGE deal to me. Vidalia, Louisiana, where we were living at the time, was a small town with just local stores for the most part. We had to go across the Mississippi River to Natchez to go to big stores like Sears, Woolworth, and so forth.

On this particular visit to Sears, I remember Don C. asking questions about which bicycle I liked.

Jeesh. So many to choose from!

I remember then looking up and seeing a bicycle that had been hung from the ceiling of the store to display it especially. It was a stingray style bicycle in metal flake green.

The bike had "high rise" handlebars and a half "sissy bar."

I fell in love instantly.

The bike was so cool, it had a name: Gremlin.

THAT'S what I want for Christmas. I remember going and looking at other things in the store with the family, but also my Dad asking casually to make sure of my views on the bicycles they had.

So, Christmas morning, weeks later, Big Brother and I get up and...

Side note, I just realized that this had to have been Christmas of 1970. Younger Brother was born in 1970 and he's in one of the Christmas pictures, looking at my bicycle, and he's obviously in that "just learned to pull up, and about to walk stage." So this HAD to have been Christmas of 1970. I was 8.

Anyhoo, Big Brother and I are jazzed with our bikes. His had a three speed shifter mounted on the main top bar of his bike, and it was purple. It hits me as I write this, that the shifter is probably a big reason he chose that bicycle. Even later when he drove a car with automatic transmission, he would shift the gears himself as if it were a standard transmission. He loved doing that kind of stuff.

So there we were with our new bikes. And "Santa" had even added a rear view mirror to each side of each handlebar on both bikes. Cool stuff for 1970.

Later, after all of the gifts were opened, we got dressed and our friends, Guy and Johnny, from the next street came and wanted to show us their new bicycles. Spiffy.

So we finally were all ready, and headed out from our house, went around the corner, and onto Guy and Johnny's street.

Uh Oh. Here comes a car. I panic and move to my left, right into Big Brother and his bicycle. I wreck, right there on the edge of the street, not even a half mile from home. After my running into Big Brother, he runs off the street into a ditch and wrecks in the grass. No harm done to either Big Brother or his bicycle.

But me? I tore a hole in my jacket where my left elbow scraped the pavement. And BOTH mirrors on my bicycle are broken. Oh the humanity!

That was a hard thing to do, when we went home, to show Don C. that I had already broken both of the mirrors on my brand new bicycle.

But other than a couple of scrapes and bruises, I was unhurt, and we probably put a zillion miles on those bicycles that Christmas day. I also remember that I enjoyed looking at my bicycle. It just liked to look at it, I couldn't believe it was really mine.

The rear tire was a Cheater Slick that, when you used the coaster brake and skidded the rear tire, would squeal loud and sharp. I loved that, and quickly developed a dramatic arrival whenever I met a friend on the street, complete with the back end of the bike skidding around and accompanied by my trademark tire screech.

I rode that bicycle for years, and of course had others as I grew larger, but that green Sears Gremlin was the bicycle of a little boy's dreams.

Despite the wreck, I remember being so happy that Christmas.


Misty said...


Norma said...

Great memories!

Hammer said...

Awesome bike. That brings back memories for me as well.

Emily said...

Aw! I remember riding bikes as a this makes me want to scan some old bike photos I have.

It was purple, with streamers coming from the handles and colored beads on the spokes that mades a clinkity-clink sound when you rode it. It got stolen once for a couple days too! Me and my friends banded together to solve this "mystery," and we actually found this other kid who was riding it around. He was a boy too! So we made him give it back, lol.

isabella said...

I know most guys are color blind, but isn't this bike mustard yellow?

No does look mighty cool! And you are cute!

Isn't it funny, we all remember our first kiss...and our first bike ;-)

studebaker said...

How do I remember that bike!!! My Gremlin is still in my garage and the speedometer shows 3000+ miles on it! I never got rid of it. So nice to walk by it everyday and recall all the memories of having the coolest bike in town! Eric T.

Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff said...

Had the Same Gremlin bicycle when in 1972. see my facebook page "my first bicycle" Thanks for the great story.

Anonymous said...

I got that SAME EXACT bike on that SAME Christmas morning! Alas, all my photos of it were destroyed in hurricane Katrina.

JAM said...

Bo, I'm sorry you lost so much because of Katrina. We keep our photos in one place to where they are items we can throw in a car to leave if a big hurricane came. I know that you don't always have time to grab stuff like that though. We lived through Frances and Jeanne in 2004 and although we had a fair amount of damage, we didn't lose much compared to others. I'm slowly scanning decades of family pictures and slides and have joined Carboninte to have what pics I get scanned backed up to an alternate site.