Old Red

Posted: March 11, 2013 in Humour



Alexander Pope said it best when he wrote ‘Hope springs eternal in the human breast’. If there’s a season which inspires us to change, renew, and improve, spring is definitely the one. It is the time of year when one gets a spring in their step, when the days are longer, when we breathe in the air of rebirth, the winds of change.

This week’s story is one of first love, spring, and discovery. It is not for the faint of heart. If you are not a romantic, you need not read further!

Spring and love go together like spaghetti and meatballs (ironically, my ‘pay’ for doing this is supposed to be spaghetti and meatballs, which has yet to manifest itself). It was a spring day, 1969, when this boy, at the tender age of 5, fell in love for the very first time. It was a love affair which would last four wonderful years, experience many ups and downs, and ultimately would end for the love of another.

My father is the person who introduced us, and it was love at first sight. She was sleek, red, had two wheels, mismatched pedals, and rode like the wind. She was my very first bike.

Oh, I had ridden other bikes. My sister’s bike, my brother’s bike, and even my mother’s. But that fateful day, when my dad opened the door of our station wagon, and pulled her out, everything else in my universe ceased to exist.

She was scratched up, had, as aforementioned, mismatched pedals, and more than a little rust. The tires showed the signs of many a ride already. I guess today we would say she had been ‘previously enjoyed’, but back then, we just said ‘used’. To me, however, it looked like she had been forged in the fires of Mt. Vesuvius, lovingly hand-made by armless Peruvian Gypsies, complete with my DNA intertwined within her slim frame and glistening paint.

Few things in life can match a boy’s first love, and for sure, Cupid had shot me through the heart this time. She was my very own, and within her outline, I saw the beginnings of a beautiful relationship. ‘You should name her!’ my father exclaimed, clearly pleased by my reaction. Of course I would name her….but first I would ride her!!

After sitting on her seat, and giving her a little spin on the driveway, it was clear that we were made to be together. In a flash, we were off, riding like the wind down the highway in Quebec where we were stationed in Bagotville, before ultimately moving to Sturgeon Falls, where most of our adventures would take place. Since I wasn’t in school yet, the remainder of the spring seemed to fly by. Before long, everything was packed up, and we finally made it to Sturgeon.

‘Old Red’, and she came to be known, was the first item I looked for when we unpacked the big truck, and for the next four years, we went everywhere together. Except, of course, in the winter, when she would rest inside the shed, seemingly asleep, hibernating in wait for her boy to take her on more adventures.

If Old Red could talk, then I’m sure I’d have been in trouble with folks. We went places we sure weren’t meant to go. This was back in the day that a bike equaled freedom. I had my first job with her, delivering the Tribune. I ate breakfast, lunch, and sometimes supper on her in the summer, going downtown and getting bottles from my uncle John at the welding shop, turning them in for money to buy stuff. I picked up snacks at the store for my siblings with her, riding like a pro with one hand, holding the paper bag with the other.

Of course, like all such things in life, there comes a time when our bodies outgrow our bikes, and we have to move on. IN 1973, my parents surprised my sister and I with brand new banana bikes. Slick, fast, cool they were, with nice big tires, and faster than anything I had ever ridden. Reluctantly, I had to let my first love go. All the other bikes I had in life were pretty good….but nothing will ever compare to ‘Ol’ Red’.

  1. macintosh98 says:


  2. Nostalgia…I remember sharing a bicycle with my brother…but the little red wagon…that was mine. I am not sure where it came from, but I remember loving it. Great story.

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