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.