Thursday, November 13, 2014

Remembering Things

I guess it's the nature of memoir. A few weeks ago I put the finishing touches on a memoir of mine entitled "The Adventures of an Arkansawyer." It's only been out a couple of weeks but I've already remembered other funny incidents that I should have included. I guess someday I can do an expanded version, but for now I'll just share the gist of those events with my blog friends. Here's one involving me learning how to ride a bicycle.

We didn't have a working bicycle when I was young but there was an old rusted one out back of the barn. The tires were flat and half rotted and the chain was off the sprockets. I asked Dad to fix it up for me at one point and he promised to do so. But I was impatient. One afternoon I pushed the bike up the hill above our house. There was a dirt road there and I hopped on the bike and started down. I had no idea what to expect. It was a wild careening ride, with pieces of rotted tire flying up in my face and me desperately trying to keep my balance so that I wouldn't fall over into the rock strewn dirt of the road.

As I neared the bottom of the hill I began to really panic because the garden was coming up in front of me and there was a barbed wire fence around it.  The yard fence was to one side of me and the barn to the other. To avoid the fences, I tried to steer for the barn, hoping to hit the doorway and land in the hay. I didn’t quite make it. There was a big bramble bush just outside the barn door and some of our chickens were clucking around there. I hit that bush on the bike and hurled myself deep into the brambles in an explosion of panic stricken chickens. 

After that adventure, Dad got the bike fixed up and taught me how to ride it. On a flat road and not a hill.


Cloudia said...

Great image of the flying squawking chickens!

ALOHA from Honolulu
=^..^= . <3 . >< } } (°>

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Explosion of panic stricken chickens - that line makes the story!

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Well told, Charles. I'm with Cloudia and Alex on the chickens. I learnt cycling on a ladies bicycle with a group of friends following close behind, two of them holding the seat from either side. I felt like a circus animal. I think most people have a bicycle memory.

Snowbrush said...

I wondered if your Dad would feel so badly about his boy riding a bike with no tires that he would fix it, and I'm glad he did. My parents were poor, but I had a wide assortment of (rideable) toy cars, tractors, and trikes when I was little, and then my came my first new bike. I give a lot of credit to my parents for buying things for me that they could ill afford.

Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, lots of squawking chickens in my past.

Alex, thankee!

Prashant, I don't know what I was thinking about starting on a hill!

Snowbrush, we never had a lot of disposable income because of being farmers, but I never wanted for what was important.

Ron Scheer said...

My farm boy experience included bike riding on flat gravel roads, which despite the lack of hills was no easy task. Envied town kids with paved streets to ride around on.

Angie said...

LOL! Sorry, but that was a great story. [grin/duck] I and my husband, to whom I read this out loud, are just impressed that you managed to stay upright on the bike as it zoomed down the hill, on a first try. Much better than I did when trying to ride a bike for the first time -- that whole "balance" thing was always the sticky part.


Erik Donald France said...

Haha good one. A future in motorcycling down the road apiece . .

pattinase (abbott) said...

I remember riding my bike down a hill and into a pond that my cousin thought it funny not to warn me about. Also a bike that was pieced together more than whole.

sage said...

Funny... Good story and hopefully we will never complete be done with discovering our stories. I have been reading a short memoir by Robert Laxalt and it's just a collection of short stories giving only glimpse of his
'writing life"

X. Dell said...

Well, that's one way to get your parents off their duff.

Randy Johnson said...

My learning bike riding kind of sneaked up on me. I had problems keeping balance on a full size bike and wondered if I would ever get it. I was riding a small one, not a lot bigger than a tricycle, down a hill in front of the house quite regularly and learned my balance that way.

It didn't take me long to realize I should go back to full size bikes. What I had was a very old model mu uncles had ridden when they were kids. Treasued that thing.

Ty said...

I can't top that, but I had my own bike adventure, though it was when I was a bit older at 14.

The house I grew up in had no fence around the back yard, and at the far end of the yard was a line of willow trees beyond which was a drop-off and a stream. The back yard sat lower than the front, so there were slight descents on either side of the house.

At 14 I got a new 10-speed bike for my birthday. This was my first bike with actual gears, and this was years before the popularity of mountain bikes and the like. There were regular bikes, then there were 10-speeds, and that was pretty much it (at least where I lived).

I'd been cruising around on my bike for about a week when I decided to head home one day. Usually when done biking I just rode down one of the hills on the side of the house then circled into the back yard and then around to the back of the house where we had a basement door because the basement was where I stored the bike.

Well, that particular day I hit the hill like normal, coasted down to the back yard, and then realized the water sprinkler was going in the yard. Which never happened. Never. But it did that day. And when my tires hit the wet grass, it was as if I had no brakes whatsoever. Oh, I pulled up on the brake levers, but the bike kept right on sliding across the wet grass and the spraying water. Into one of those willow trees. I was thrown through the tree (don't know how that happened) and landed in the middle of the stream. Fortunately I was not hurt too bad. When I climbed out of the stream, I found my new 10-speed pretty much bent in half, both tires now facing the same direction, away from me.

Worse, when I climbed up to the bike and cleared the willows, I saw my step dad and a friend standing in the back yard up next to the house where I had not seen them. Both their eyes were huge. My step dad had a can of Stroh's in his hand. Which he promptly dropped, and asked his pal, "Want a bike?"

Aimlesswriter said...

OMG! As a mom all I can think is you're lucky you didn't break your neck!
What a ride!

Charles Gramlich said...

Ron, our roads were mostly dirt, which was better than gravel for sure. But we had plenty of ruts to contend with.

Angie, I think my terrible fear of crashing led to some heroic balancing ability. At least temporarily.

Erik, yes, if only I'd crashed my motorcycle into a bramble bush. :)

Patti, my son was riding a friend's bike one day when the front wheel fell off.

Sage, the funniest stuff in memoir writing seems to be anecdotal to me.

X. Dell, indeed so.

Randy, I can't remember how long I rode that bicycle but I never actually got another one until I bought my son one and then got myself one to ride with him.

Ty, youch. Good thing we were all flexible and healed quickly when we were kids.

Aimless writer, what mothers don't know can't give them heart attacks. :)

Riot Kitty said...

I will check it out! Ouch...but I can't help laughing about the chickens.

BernardL said...

Great story. A dangerous way to get a repair job done though. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Riot Kitty, it is funny, in retrospect.

Bernard, good thing kids don't break easily.

L.A. Mitchell said...

I thought you might say that the chickens began pecking your eyes out and that's why you write dark. :)

I hope your year is going well. I'm about to close down my Blogger blog and wanted to make sure you could find me again (just in case you wanna) :)

All best,

Oscar Case said...

There's a couple of bike stories in my autobiography which I think were pretty darn funny. Maybe I'll publish it some day. Bikes, chickens and bramble bush doesn't sound like fun, Charles, but I don't think you had any trouble learning to ride.

Charles Gramlich said...

L.A. I'll check out your new site!

Oscar, My days of beer memoir sold quite a few copies. I don't know how much the other one will sell.

G. B. Miller said...

Chicken ala king made the old fashioned way, eh?

Reminds me of a few wipeouts I've had while sledding as a young'un.

Father Nature's Corner

Charles Gramlich said...

G.B. I'm glad the sticker bush was there. Softer than the rocks.