by Ron Smith
BOY MARATHON BIKE RIDE
One morning in the spring of '39 I was
riding my Montgomery Wards bicycle to school. It was my pride and joy,
took almost four years of delivering papers every morning to re-pay my
Dad for the bike. Man, it had Steer-horn handle bars, white sidewall tires,
lights front and rear, a basket on the front and a rear whatchmacallit,
and a chain guard. Maroon with white stripes.
I also had my usual lunch, a egg salad
sandwitch wrapped in a piece of newspaper with a rubber band around it.
My total cash was 5 cents, one nickle, one twentieth of a dollar.
It was spring and I had the "Spring
Fever" real bad so I decided to skip school. It was about 7:30 and I just
headed south. The farther I rode the more an objective came to mind; to
ride to my grandmothers in Decatur, Illinois, 182 miles away.
I reached Kankakee about noon and ate
my sandwitch. They had water fountains right on the street and I loaded
up on water too. Now remember, all the roads were two lane in those days
and some of those hills were awefully high, but I just kept pumping away
on that bike. On my next stop, I think it was Farmers City, I bought small
box of soda crackers with my nickle and once again watered up at the local
fountain. That will really fill your belly up.
Finally I reached my grandmothers house
at 11:30 that night. Not until I got much older did I realize how lucky
I had been. Anyone of those cars that had honked at me and swerved to avoid
me could have killed or maimed me. I guess God watches out for young dumb
kids too, like drunk sailors and damn fools.
My Dad was crying when my grandma called
him LONG DISTANCE to tell him I was there and O.K. He thought I had run
away from home.
When he came and got me I expected one
REAL BIG whipping but instead he just hugged me and said, "Get in the car
son, we're going home."