“Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.”

I’m wearing my sweatshirt. The temperature is only 66°, and it won’t get much higher, but the day is still a pretty one. The air is still now. The sun glints through the leaves and branches of the back yard. I can see the blue sky. It’s a hang around the house day.

I was a sloth. Today I am a corkscrew. The frenzied cleaning of the last few days has taken its toll. Yesterday I hauled up from the cellar the back storm door, cleaned it and put it in the door. That is one heavy door which I could barely pick up so I had to move it from corner to corner then step by step up the cellar stairs. I had to replace the back screen door as the nights are getting cold, and the back door stays open so the dogs can come and go. My back is paying the price.

Yesterday I picked up in the hall what I thought was a dead leaf, but it wasn’t. It was a flat, desiccated creature with a tail and two back legs. It was too flat to figure out what creature it was. I remembered way back when one of my cats was playing with a flat, black something. When I picked it up, I realized it had once been a mouse. Anyway, back to yesterday’s flat black something. I picked it up and threw it over the fence. I thought end of black, flat unknown creature, but I was wrong. Today I saw something whitish on the inside door mat. I went to get it. I was grossed out. It was half a tiny jaw bone with teeth.

When I was a kid, I loved these fall days. I remember riding down the hill, my street, on my bicycle. The wind blew up my jacket sleeves and puffed my jacket. I was cold but thrilled by the speed of my bike. I used to zip across the road to the field below my street. It was my short-cut.

I remember walking the tracks. I also remember when trains, Boston and Maine trains, used to run on those tracks. I was pretty young then. I’d jump off the track and watch the train go by. It was only a few cars. It used to cross William Street where my grandparents lived and stop at Farm Hill Station. I remember we used to put a penny on the track for the train to flatten, and we used to jump over railroad ties with OO on them so we wouldn’t break my mother’s back. We were successful. She never had a broken back.

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10 Comments on ““Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.””

  1. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    Today was a sunny warm and muggy day. The high will be 93° but the mornings are cooler with at a pleasant 75°.

    When I was a kid here in Dallas, friends of my parents lived on an acre of land with a railroad track behind their backyard. Their son and I used jump their fence to put pennies on the tracks. When we went back we couldn’t find them after the train went by. Today the Cotton Belt railroad tracks were converted to the Dallas North Tollway. I can’t see where they lived any longer because both sides of the tollway now have large concrete walls designed to deaden the noise of the cars going by. My mother was always worried that we would get hit by the train. She didn’t realize that the train only ran one way north in the morning and oneway south in the early evening. My mother was a major worrier. In her mind all sorts of bad things could befall me unless she kept a constant eye on me and prevented me from doing anything.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      I’m still wearing my sweatshirt. The day stayed chilly, in the low 60’s. I think we won’t get as high as 75° too often.

      Luckily, my mother wasn’t a worrier. There were four of us, and my two sisters were young and still needed tending. We, my brother and I, went wherever, once in a while together but more often apart. We were gone the whole day. My mother used to remind us to be home for supper. We were.

      The tracks in my town have disappeared completely, taken up and more than not covered over. I still think of them when I drive over where they used to be.

      • Bob Says:

        Having more kids tends to reduce the worry on the part of the mother.

      • katry Says:

        I don’t think she worried less but rather had to spread the worry among the four of us. My younger sisters were distracting.

  2. Birgit Says:

    Running and playing on railroad tracks – different times back then. Rail traffic comes to a halt now whenever someone is seen on or near tracks which means massive delays and chaos here. Sometimes just kids or teenagers, sometimes one of too many attempted suicides. I just remember walking on an abandoned track as a student, a shortcut downtown, one of many old colliery tracks we’ve had back then. Most of them are gone by now, this one became a bikeway. Next train ride tomorrow, just a concert next town which was postponed in 2020 due to covid.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Birgit,
      All the tracks which used to be in my hometown have been gone for a long time. They were taken up and covered over, some by buildings. I was sorry to see them go. I did spend a lot of time on those tracks when I was a kid as they were short cuts to so many places. The train station is still there. It has been many things. I think it is a real estate office now. I wish I could travel more by train now.

  3. Beto Says:

    Austin is known for it’s hilly terrain and there are some doozies in my old neighborhood. There is one in particular that drops about 250 feet and at the bottom is a railroad track used by the stone quarries west of town. The track bed created a steep hump in the road so it was used like a ski jump by the locals. Especially by the teenagers and their 1950s jalopies. You can catch serious air on that hump. We jumped it on our bicycles too but never tandem. 1965, challenge accepted. I bought a Schwinn Stingray with my paper route money. The model with a Banana Seat, Sissy Bar, and Ape Hanger Handlebars. Totally unstable design. One of my intrepid friends volunteered for the stunt, onto the back of the seat and off I peddled. Carrying my buddy’s BB Gun no less. We were probably going 40 miles an hour as we reached the bottom of the hill and the epic nature of the jump was already filling our imaginations. We were hooting a Rebel Yell. Just then, the chain came off the sprocket. The fruit of lackadaisical maintenance. The wreck is still recalled by the surviving members of our group and my friend still has a scar on his nose where the BB Gun barrel ripped it.
    So the moral of the story is, Bicycle Chain maintenance is crucial to longevity of the species. And since we didn’t break any bones and our road rash healed only mildly scarred, God pities a fool at times.

    • katry Says:

      Beto,
      That’s a great story. Of course you had to jump that hump. Why else was it here? Who wouldn’t have wanted to have been the first? I give credit to your friend who was willing to take that leap.

      I remember that bike of yours. I think I had some young cousins who each had one. One of them fancied himself a trick rider, and he was always lifting the front with his handle bars.

      I never thought about bike maintenance either. The chain sometimes fell off one bike of mine. I would get my hands greasy trying to get it to catch the sprocket.

      I love that that the crash has endured through time. You poor friend and his nose!!

      Why did you carry the BB gun?


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