My Grandfather and his first bicycle

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Schwinny

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Last March I moved back to Des Moines, Iowa to be here for my Grandfather. Most of the family is gone from Iowa now and he has outlived all of his family and nearly everyone he has ever known.
He still doesn't need looked after so I'm merely on call to help if he needs it.
I've been retired for 14 years now and need something to keep me busy, so I volunteer down at the Des Moines Bike Collective. That interests him a little and we were talking about it yesterday, and I mentioned the story of the Elgin that I took pictures of here in town and posted. Many of you remember that, it was just a few weeks ago. So I'm telling him the story and that I was also contacted by Robert Wolfe about the contact info, etc. He doesn't know anything about American Pickers show, but he was amazed at the old bike interest and prices, then lit up all of a sudden and blurted out, "Oh, I had such a great bike when I was a kid."

I'm always interested in his stories, he has many, so here is what he remembers about his bike...

My Grandpa was born in Iowa in 1919, and when he was 10/11 years old the family was living in Waterloo, Iowa. For his Eleventh birthday he was given a choice for a birthday present. He doesn't remember what the other choice was for, but one was a bicycle and he picked that one. He says they knew he pined for a bike and the other choices were probably something like a bar of soap or socks...
He's kinda funny too....

So he of-course chose the bike and they dug out the catalog. He cant remember if it was the Sears or the Monkey Wards, but the bike was chosen, it was ordered, and starting a couple days later, he ran home from school and then his chores at his Grandfathers house to see if the bike had arrived. He says they must have saved up for at least 6 months to buy him that bike. He remembers it was a painful wait of several weeks, then one day he got home and there was a big crate on the porch with a note on it, "Fahrrad fur George."
He had to wait a day or two for the weekend, and then for his Dad, Uncle and Grandfather to uncrate the parts and assemble it. It was assembled on a Saturday, and on Sunday his Mother made him put on his best clothes to have his picture taken with his new bike.

Telling me the story , he stopped and then jumped (slowly) up and muttered, "I've got that picture."
He went into his bedroom, dug out a picture album from somewhere and was back in a few minutes with the picture I've put below.
He thinks it might have been a Hawthorne but he recognizes the name Elgin also. It was red and white and was his pride for several years. not many of his friends had a bike and he would give rides on the handlebars and they would ride him the same way.
He had a paper route on it for a while and then when the family moved 15 miles away to a farm when he was 15, he would ride it back into Waterloo to play with his old friends occasionally.
He remembers fixing flats with a rubber band gun (?)
He can't remember what became of the bike but the last time he remembers it, was riding it to work as a busboy /server in Cedar Falls, IA when he was 17. After that he doesn't know where it went.
But.... he says let him sleep on it and he may remember more....

There is no chance of it being around now but the story is golden, especially when he produced the picture of him at eleven in knickers. The picture isn't marked, but this is going to be in late June or early July of 1930.
Good Stuff.

1680548
 
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volksboy57

I live for the CABE
That is wonderful! Thanks for sharing such a nice family story and photo. It is really great to see that connection with history. It is so easy to say, meh the bike is a 19teens bike blah blah, and pass it off and putting a price tag on it. This just reminds me to value the history of these machines even more than I do already.
 

Schwinny

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Sprocket looks like Rollfast
Considering the catalogs he mentioned, I supplied the bike names for him to choose from. He could just be remembering common bike names from his childhood. All he remembers is that it was mail order, maybe it is a Rollfast... dunno.
I can empathize with that actually. I can see my childhood bike in my minds eye but Im not sure what kind it was either. Red, cantilever... that's it. My parents don't remember either, or where they got it.

@GTs58
at 101, when renewing his drivers license, he passed the tests and on the way home bought a new car. Still as sharp as I ever remember him being. Still drives fairly well. Only got about 4 good hours in him per day though.
He's quite a celebrity everywhere he goes, I've been riding his coat tails... not too many people my age are still able to be called grandson. He has great, great grandchildren via my brother.
I guess all the midwesterners in my family on both sides have been long lived. I can remember most all of my great grandparents, most lived into their 90's.
 

The Carolina Rambler

Finally riding a big boys bike
That is an awesome story and photo! We have a few similar photos from my grandmother's albums, and both of my grandmothers were born around that time, and it would be awesome if they were still with us today. Wouldn't it be something if, unknown to your grandfather, that old bike is still floating around somewhere in the area. You never know, it could be up in a barn loft somewhere, or in an attic. Of course, there would be no way to prove that it is that particular bicycle, but who knows!
 

MEKANIXFIX

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Hola to the cabers*!* @Schwinny ! Very nice story, and better yet you enjoy and shares time whit your grandpa* you're lucky to live this experience, I never met mine* but I do shared good times, whit my 2 grandma's! Today I'm the care taker of my Mima, she's 91* and still remember her stories* I wish more people, shares and enjoy their live and stories*!* Nice pic of him in his bike*!*
 
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