The 60s Official Site



By Eva Pasco 

sixties bicycleGet ready to Raleigh—rolling on asphalt, shaking a tail feather, saddling a blue English 3-speed bicycle. As the Sixties and Seventies brewed concern over air pollution from automobile exhaust and the energy crisis worsened, the bicycle increased in popularity. The formation of bike lanes and bike paths ensued. Naturally, this was no concern of mine when I turned ten in 1961. I just wanted to learn how to ride a two-wheeler. The girl across the street taught me how to get a running start, jump on the saddle, and ride her Raleigh cold turkey with no training wheels on a driveway the size of a parking lot. Commiserate with my proficiency, I bugged and begged my dad for a Raleigh. No pun intended, he tired of denying my request, citing the danger of flipping over the handlebars when applying the handbrakes.

Much to my lament, the Sixties high-rise bicycle, a 20-inch wheelie for children became the success story of the decade—the Schwinn Sting-Ray followed by the classic cruiser, Schwinn Phantom. Phooey! Wider tires and wheels were not my speed. I didn’t aspire to become one out of the one million cyclists sitting on a Schwinn by the end of the decade.

My dad who braved snowstorms to get his girls what they wanted for Christmas while we gave Santa all the credit, pulled through again like a reindeer flying through the midnight clear. That Christmas a black Royce Union balanced on its kickstand in the living room. Okay, the tires weren’t skinny minis as those on the coveted Raleigh, but they weren’t balloon tires either. Foot brakes rather than handbrakes would pull all the stops, but its appearance passed muster with me.

That winter I contented myself bike riding down the basement until Spring. By then my bike was road ready-- pimped with colorful streamers on the hand grips, a wire basket suspended from the handlebars, and a foxtail dangled from the rear fender. I thought I was a big wheel taking to Angell Road and the cul de sac on Linfield Circle. You might say my own tires deflated the day I rode too close to the edge of the embankment in my backyard and tumbled off of it into the woods, my bike landing on top of me. As usual, my sister had my back and screamed for my mother to save me.

By the time Mother scrambled down the hillside I’d gotten my wind back after the handlebar thrust itself into my abdomen during the plunge. Seeing I wasn’t the worst for wear, my mother picked up the Royce Union and flung it aside. After checking me for major wounds and finding only scrapes and scratches, she gave my hind quarters a good whack as a reaction to my foolhardiness. Though a liberal when applying lethal Mercurochrome, she was a right wing conservative when it came to doling out sympathy. If there were more mothers like mine there’d be a few less wusses in the world.

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Underlying Notes by Eva Pasco  An E. Quiche by Eva Pasco



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