My Grandfather and his first bicycle

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Alan Brase

Finally riding a big boys bike
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.

View attachment 1680548
Do you know the street where the picture was taken? I grew up there 28 years later, Rode my (Dad rebuilt) 1954 Schwinn Traveler all over town and also to job in Cedar Falls. I might recognize the photo background.
 

Mymando

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Your truly blessed sir, it’s a rare thing when an individual makes it to the century make let alone beyond and can still remember the days of their youth. What a blessing to be able to talk with them and get a little more family history for his viewpoint. This is what is lacking with our society at this point. All links from the past are slipping away I believe because of all the fast pace of our technological world. As I read this for a moment I could imagine watching this man in his youth riding his friends on his new bike and in turn have his friends do the same for him. My grandfather was gone before I had a chance to have a conversation like this or others I wished I could have had. What a wonderful story and thank you for sharing. That’s what this hobby is for a lot of us,that link from the past that takes us back to those days as a kid. Thanks for sharing it brightened my day!
 

Schwinny

I live for the CABE
Do you know the street where the picture was taken? I grew up there 28 years later, Rode my (Dad rebuilt) 1954 Schwinn Traveler all over town and also to job in Cedar Falls. I might recognize the photo background.
No, I don't know where exactly. He doesn't either but could go right there if he was in town. He has two nephews that still live there ( in their mid 70s). I was thinking that also and he was wondering about those unusual porch posts in the background.
 

Monarkman

Finally riding a big boys bike
Thank y
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.

View attachment 1680548
Thank you so much for sharing, these are the stories/pics that us collectors and enthusiasts live for.
 

BrandonB

Finally riding a big boys bike
Great story and thanks for sharing. One part of it really stands out and that's your grandfather getting the photo album to show you the picture. The photo album is becoming a lost part of peoples lives with all the digital photos taken with the phone and filed on computers. Computer crashes and all the photos are lost.
 
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