Monday, August 28, 2006

1971~ Big Wheels, Bicycles & Madame Alexander


My determined & experimental brother, two years my senior, was always an early riser. Being a defiant & independant thing myself, I always wanted to be the last one down & I never cared about being the first one up. I just knew all the excitement happened in the wee hours of the night, especially at Christmas-time.
Christmas morning, 1971, saw my brother awakening before the peacocks & the roosters. This was normal on any day, but especially on Christmas day. Usually, my sweet & thoughtful sister & myself, were the last to rise and actually we really didn't rise, as much as we were tugged, pulled, bullied & bribed out of bed. In our world, the opening of the gifts under the tree could not... would not, happen until we were all up and at 'em.
So, with promises of stockings overflowing, bribes of 'breakfast is ready' and threats of 'everyone is up but you,' I finally arose this Christmas morning.
Groggy-eyed, I followed my brother to the living room, he was chirping 'Look what Santa left me...a bike! And look, a Big Wheel too!' I was rubbing my eyes, disoriented, I said 'What did I get?' He said 'Well, Look in your stocking and see!'
There was a doll, along with some apples and oranges. I wasn't discouraged...but I wasn't impressed. I asked him 'Why didn't I get a Big Wheel or a bike?' Wisely, he replied 'You're a GIRL! Girls get dolls!' Hmmm...I wandered onto the kitchen to get a plate full of scrambled eggs & grits, so we could all begin our gift opening ritual.
Later in the day, as my brother raced around the neighborhood, splitting his time between Big Wheels & bicycles, I ventured out back. I sat on the dock and fixed my doll. It had a head full of hair. I painstakingly & purposelly pulled all of the hair out of it's crown...newborn babies rarely had a head full of perfect hair, in my world. I left the hair just over the ears and around the backside, making it even more life-like, for my world.
When I tracked my way back in the house, my Mother liked to have had a stroke. Apparently this was a very special doll... a Madame Alexander. She was apalled that I had spent the afternoon pulling its' hair out & wanted to know why I hadn't been outside riding with the boys. I told her that I didn't have anything to ride. She looked bewildered & told me to go look again in the living room, Santa had brought me something. I thought there must be a scooter or something that we all over-looked, so I searched, high & low. I searched behind the tree and under the tree, behind and under the sofa...everywhere.
No scooter, nothing to ride...just wads of spent paper, piles of crumpled boxes and stretched out nylon socks.
Not long before dark, Mom turned into the Repossessor. She clarified for my brother that the bike was his & the Big Wheel was mine. He didn't really beleive her...I was a girl & got a doll. Finally she had to call on the Re-enforcer, Dad, who resolved the issue once & for all. He was a big boy & got a bike, I was a little girl and got a Big Wheel.
Winter turned to Spring & I had already worn a hole in my back right wheel. You know, from yanking on the brake and sliding sideways. The hole startied as a slit but quickly became shaped just like the number 4.
Meanwhile, my sweet & patient older sister had her bike, first stolen by neighborhood boys, then finally destroyed by leaving it in the driveway behind Dad's car.
Dad lectured us all on leaving our toys out...they'd get stolen or destroyed.
My determined older brother took good care of his bike though. He always put it up. He never let me ride it & he refused to try to teach me how to ride it, despite my pleas.
One day, he ventured in asking me where my Big Wheel was. I told him it was outside & he lit into me very much like Dad had lit into my sister....'It'll get stolen, it'll get run over! Ewww, Dad is gonna creme you' So, finally fatigued by his words I went out to fetch it.
But it was gone.
That week, my brother started riding his bike a little bit further than normal. He was now allowed to ride it 4 blocks away to his friend Warren's house to help him & his family paint the exterior of their home a stylish 70's color of mustard yellow, accented by doo-doo brown.
In just a matter of days, my brother returned home with a story of a great venture that he & Warren had gone on. They'd ridden their bikes around the lake. It was garbage day & they'd found the coolest stuff put out by the neighbors on the other side. They found some carpeting to go into another boys treehouse and amongst everything else, they had also found 'the Coolest Big Wheel Ever!' It was just like mine, but even cooler, it's in BOY colors!'
You got it...mustard yellow & doo-doo brown!
But the hole... the hole in the right wheel, the hole shaped like the number 4, was there & I knew that this Big Wheel had once been mine.
Lesson learned...if you leave your toys outside, they'll get stolen or destroyed. Maybe by the boys down the street or maybe just by the boys down the hall.
I was mad, but defiant and ready to move on.
I really didn't ride the Big Wheel again. Instead, while my dear, crafty, determined & ingenuitive brother was busy at school, I defiantly taught myself how to ride a bike...not just any bike, but his bike.
This little life lesson makes us all laugh today.
It taught my brother not to steal, as he learned it'll come back to get you double-fold & it taught me that what can seem like a set-back can really just be push ahead.

8 comments:

Orhan Kahn said...

Lovely, colourful tale!

Beerspitnight said...

A childhood friend, Jerry, who lived on the same street as my grandmother, the reason for our friendship, had an awesome Big Wheels, black and red with a handbrake on it. The driveway of his house had a pretty good-sized downward slope that started at the street and ended on level ground, which led into the garage. We would ride down that driveway as fast as possible and once we reached level ground the handbrake was engaged and our body weight would shift to the right (the handbrake was on the right hand wheel.) If you were able to induce two complete spins without hitting the garage door, well, you were one cool 6 year old. (But not nearly as cool as the curious little boy who stuck his head up and inside the $4000 (1982 dollars) pool table that belonged to Jerry's father, in order to find out how the balls got from the bottom of a pocket to the rectangular opening on the bottom of the pool table. Now that kid was super cool.)

-My mom asked me, after an hour of trying numerous body contorting angle-of-exit poses, ear reddening squeezes, about to call the fire department so they could cut the head out of pool table, and one simple movement of the cranium, which freed the boy from the "Hole Where Balls Come From", that next time I had a question to ask her before attempting full-body research-
(For an English teacher I write one hell of a run-on sentence!)

skinnylittleblonde said...

Aha, BeerSpitNight ~
Now I see that if you & I were playing hide & go seek, I would lose. I would be chasing you down, not knowing where you were, looking behind every shrub, every tree, just hoping to catch you and you my dear would probably be sitting on my front porch, sipping a cold beer, watching me run in circles!

Beerspitnight said...

Fair enough! I always did love playing hide-and-seek. But you worry not, the amount of time that you spent running around in circles would be minimal. You would certainly hear my bouts of laughter from the front porch, finding me easily.

skinnylittleblonde said...

LOL ... I Love It!

lotusblossoms51 said...

What a great story! You tell it so well~ I feel like I was there~ I always wanted a Madame Alexander Doll for Christmas when I was a young girl. Found one in 1982 looking for a house to buy in upstate N.Y. underneath the bathroom sink stuck in a hole waiting for me to free her~ still have her...:)

skinnylittleblonde said...

I love it. I still have a pooh bear from the dump, same year...1982.
I had no idea about the'status' of madame Alexanders!

John-Michael said...

I am SO very glad that I had this "wild hair" to come back to your beginnings in blogging!! I love this insight into you and the gift of knowing far more of your Spirit (which I happen to simply adore!)

I enjoy knowing and Loving You!