Fun and Entertainment
I was about seven when I received my first bike. I think it was a Monarch or something similar with a tank, light (that never worked), luggage carrier, balloon tires, one speed, and twenty-six-inch wheels. It was used of course; my dad rarely bought anything new, except cars and tractors. But I loved that bike. I can still feel the excitement of riding that bike. The freedom was indescribable at the time. Sometimes the pedal hit the chain guard, which sort of bothered me, but I just fixed it by bending the guard a little.
My brother and me with our first used bikes
Riding down Turtinen Road was a challenge but fun. My nemesis was the Big Hill. With one-speed and seven-year-old legs, it was almost impossible to reach the top of the hill without pushing it. Phil who was three years older than me and had a Schwinn three-speed with skinny tires and a light on the front and the rear. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It also had a saddle bag on the back and was so clean. I dreamed every night about having a three-speed bike like that. Flash back to 1963Schwinn had just introduced the ten-speed bike, Varsity model, and was the cheapest at about $70. I begged my dad for one. But it cant be said I didnt work for it. My brother and I worked very hard on the farm, and in June 1963, I became the proud owner and the first one in the neighborhood to own a new ten-speed racing bike with down-curved handle bars, hand brakes front and rear, racing saddle, ultra-skinny tires, and shifters for ten speeds. I rode down to the ball field to show everyone, hit the front hand brake, and flipped right over the handlebars.
The Big Hill was a focal point of my childhood. It had been the nemesis for my bike to conquer its height, but going down it provided thrills in winter that only pure sledders would appreciate. The long, cold winters of northern Minnesota provided ample snow and freezing temperatures to compact its surface into an ice sheet or hard-packed snow perfect for our flexible flyer sled with its turnable steel runners. The Big Hill had been shaped and engineered by the county years ago by taking off part of the glacial moraine and reducing the slope and height of the hill while leaving sides that dropped off to the valley below. Starting at the top of the hill, we pushed the sled as fast we could and jumped on, and within seconds we would be accelerating toward the bott