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The Monarch

By Mary Ann Gawlas

And that bicycle was a MONARCH.  No, not the butterfly, but the Cadillac of bicycles.  Even better than a Schwinn.  Beautiful color—aqua blue with white pin striping.  What a beauty she was.

There was a headlight for dusk, night-time.  A horn that was built into  the front frame.  You just had to push the button in.  It was like a buzzer, not a bell.  The backwheel had a special “fender” on top.  In case you had to transport a friend, they had a place to sit.  There were also REAL CHROME HANDLEBARS.  Boy, did they shine.    

I was ready to cruise—or was I ?  I had no clue as to how to ride this thing.  I tried it on my own.  That was a disaster.  Then my dad was running with me, holding onto the seat.  Could I take off on my own?  NOPE!  Not that time.  Try, try again and again and again.

Hold on!  (That’s what I’ve been trying to do.)   But wait,  I’m doing it.    I’m in control.  I’m balanced. What a thrill!  I’m doing it on my own.  Finally!  My mom and dad are watching me.  I head down the sidewalk.  “Watch out people, here I come.”    

I went to the end of  the  block, turned around, and came back.  That was enough excitement for me for the day.

The next day I ventured further.  I was able to ride all the way around the block on the sidewalk. We lived next door to an elementary school, named “Smart School.”  There was  a playground and the school.  That covered half the block.  The rest of the block was covered by houses, a hardware store, an ice cream store, a 5  & 10 store and a  church.

The hardware store usually displayed items on the outside of the store, in the front and the side of their building.  They’d have rakes in stand up racks, soil, gardening bags, wagons,wheelbarrows.  The usual hardware store items.

Well, here, I was a beginner, not too good on corners yet, and as I rounded the corner on my way home, the rack of rakes jumped in front of me.

“Oh no!  Brakes, step on them.  Stop!  Jump off!  Too late!”

CRASH!  Crumple!  Down go the  rack of rakes.  Down I go.  I fell off the bike.  Those were the days of no helmets or shin guards.

What’s a skinned knee????  That didn’t bother me.  That can be taken care of  with soap, water, mercurochrome, and a band-aid.

But, my CADILLAC.  I had dented the front fender.  I christened it.  How could I have done that?  It’s first dent.  How could I have been so careless.  Those dumb rakes!

I picked me up.  I picked up the bike, the rakes, my ego, and finished pedaling home.

That bike took me to lots of places in those days.  Around the block, to the store, to the park, to friends houses, to the library.  It even had a basket to put my belongings in.

I’d wash it, wax it, shine it-religiously.  Then as I got older, we sold it.  It was time to graduate to a car.

I saw a close model at the Warrensburg week-end Garage Sale.  I’m sure it was mine. However, I did not check for the dent in the front fender.

E-Bay.  I could buy it for $1300.  Except it’s red.

No, thanks.  I’ll keep my memories of MY bike.  The one with the dent in the front fender

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