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Old 08-31-08, 07:20 AM   #1
mike
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Fixing her late daughter's bicycle

I have an elderly friend - I think she is around 80 years old. She wanted to start bicycling again and asked if I could help fix a flat and tune up a MINT condition Raleigh three-speed she had in the garage.

I went to her house and happily patched the tube and oiled the S/A hub.

I saw an old Schwinn Suburban in the corner of the garage. "Who's bike is that?", I asked. "Oh, that's my daughter Sarah's. She passed away some years ago".

We took the bike out to give it a look-over and we got to talking. She said that the bicycle was a high school graduation present for Sarah. Sarah was so happy and proud of the bike, She rode it everywhere. Of course, we can imagine how special it was indeed to have a new Schwinn Suburban back in the day.

That year they found out Sarah had cancer.

Eventually, Sarah couldn't ride the bike and passed away six years after graduating.

I looked the bike over and asked my friend, "Sarah graduated in 1973, and got too sick to ride in 1976 didn't she?".

She stared at me for a while and tears came to her eyes and she said, "Yes, that's right. How did you know?!" Well, I had looked at the serial number on the Schwinn and quickly figured out the year of manufacture. Sadly and more telling, was the bicycle license plate '1975-1976' which I figured was the last year she rode the bike.

There it was, just as her daughter had left it - with the story of her graduation and illness were on the old Schwinn. It had a generator light for Sarah to ride to work and back, so I knew that Sarah had to work in the evenings sometimes. That guess on my part also surprised her mother. I could see that she took good care of the bike. Even though Sara used the bike a lot (as evidenced by the worn tires), the bike paint and condition was excellent. Sarah was obviously proud of her bicycle.

Of course, by this time, the wheels are all cracked. The gumwalls are flaking off.

My friend asked me if I would take it home and give it an overhaul. Of course, I agree and plan to give it the royal treatment all the way down to new grease for all the bearings (yes, BB and Headset too).

I noticed that the bike was locked with a MasterLock combination lock and cable. "Don't worry, I can cut that off", I told my friend.

"Oh, she replied, "I might have the combination"

"What?!" I exclaimed, "you have a combination from a lock from 1973?!" "I think so", she replied and went inside to have a look.

Sure enough, she comes out of the house with a little cookie jar in her hand and pulls out a piece of paper with the words 'lock cominations' written in faded pencil.

"Well, let's try. Hmm, combination lock... hasn't been tumbled in 32 years..." Click, click click spin spin click spin click...

VOILE' the lock opened right up! Incredible. What an experience.

And now, to rebuild Sarah's bicycle to all it's glory.

Last edited by mike; 08-31-08 at 07:28 AM.
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Old 08-31-08, 07:53 AM   #2
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Wow, great story!!! Please try to get some before and after pics so we can share vicariously in your joy and the joy you bring to Sarah's mother. Thanks for doing this and thanks for posting about it as well.
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Old 08-31-08, 08:00 AM   #3
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Nice Story. Would be great to see a pic of Sarah, and one of her bike.
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Old 08-31-08, 08:27 AM   #4
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wow. so nice! its not often ya get to do something like that for someone! you're a good man, mr Mike!
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Old 08-31-08, 09:06 AM   #5
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Beautiful story, thank you.
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Old 08-31-08, 09:16 AM   #6
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Very cool story. Definitely post some pics if you can.
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Old 08-31-08, 10:09 AM   #7
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In my old age I am becoming very sentimental. That is a great story, thank's for sharing.
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Old 08-31-08, 10:55 AM   #8
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You are definitely adding to your karma account. Beautiful.
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Old 08-31-08, 11:06 AM   #9
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What a great story. It'll be great to see some pictures of the bike.
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Old 08-31-08, 01:36 PM   #10
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Thanks, Folks. It touched me too when I was there with my elderly friend and her late daughter's bicycle. This poor woman lost her husband, her son, and her daughter - all to different kinds of cancer. She is all alone now and she misses them terribly. She goes to church almost every morning.

I tell you what else was special. When I asked her if she had any oil or a wrench, she brough me the tools and even one of those old "Wizard of Oz" clickety-clickety oil cans with the long skinny spout. I asked her if she had ever touched them since her husband died 18 years ago and she said "no". I was the first person to hold those tools since he died. And there I was working on the man's wife's bicycle with his tools in my hands.

I never met the man, but I had a special feeling, like Joe knew I was helping out his widowed wife. His work bench was tidy and well equipped, so he must have made sure everybody's bicycles were well maintained when he was here. I bet none of their faucets dripped and he didn't leave behind greasy finger-prints for his wife to clean-up after him.

You know you are talking about a very special man when a woman comes to tears just by mentioning his name 18 years after he dies.

Ah, ya ya...

Anyway, YES, I certainly will show you guys some before and after pics.
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Old 08-31-08, 01:47 PM   #11
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It is such a beautiful story that I had to read it a second time. Had the same results, seemed to get "something" in my eye.
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Old 08-31-08, 01:58 PM   #12
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Great story Mike. I still want to wrap my hands around your neck and throttle you though!

Thats a sad story man. I would love to see Sara's bike in all its Suburban glory (her mother's Raleigh too) just so I can imagine the poor sweet child riding it and loving it.



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Old 08-31-08, 01:59 PM   #13
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Here's to guys like Mike, and to fewer people like Sarah (taken before their time).
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Old 08-31-08, 02:30 PM   #14
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Wonderful Story

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It is such a beautiful story that I had to read it a second time. Had the same results, seemed to get "something" in my eye.
So I was not the only one ..... one of those stories that touches your heart.
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Old 08-31-08, 02:39 PM   #15
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What a truly great thing to do!

Makes ya feel pretty good, doesn't it!
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Old 08-31-08, 03:03 PM   #16
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I have an elderly friend - I think she is around 80 years old. She wanted to start bicycling again and asked if I could help fix a flat and tune up a MINT condition Raleigh three-speed she had in the garage.

I went to her house and happily patched the tube and oiled the S/A hub.

I saw an old Schwinn Suburban in the corner of the garage. "Who's bike is that?", I asked. "Oh, that's my daughter Sarah's. She passed away some years ago".

We took the bike out to give it a look-over and we got to talking. She said that the bicycle was a high school graduation present for Sarah. Sarah was so happy and proud of the bike, She rode it everywhere. Of course, we can imagine how special it was indeed to have a new Schwinn Suburban back in the day.

That year they found out Sarah had cancer.

Eventually, Sarah couldn't ride the bike and passed away six years after graduating.

I looked the bike over and asked my friend, "Sarah graduated in 1973, and got too sick to ride in 1976 didn't she?".

She stared at me for a while and tears came to her eyes and she said, "Yes, that's right. How did you know?!" Well, I had looked at the serial number on the Schwinn and quickly figured out the year of manufacture. Sadly and more telling, was the bicycle license plate '1975-1976' which I figured was the last year she rode the bike.

There it was, just as her daughter had left it - with the story of her graduation and illness were on the old Schwinn. It had a generator light for Sarah to ride to work and back, so I knew that Sarah had to work in the evenings sometimes. That guess on my part also surprised her mother. I could see that she took good care of the bike. Even though Sara used the bike a lot (as evidenced by the worn tires), the bike paint and condition was excellent. Sarah was obviously proud of her bicycle.

Of course, by this time, the wheels are all cracked. The gumwalls are flaking off.

My friend asked me if I would take it home and give it an overhaul. Of course, I agree and plan to give it the royal treatment all the way down to new grease for all the bearings (yes, BB and Headset too).

I noticed that the bike was locked with a MasterLock combination lock and cable. "Don't worry, I can cut that off", I told my friend.

"Oh, she replied, "I might have the combination"

"What?!" I exclaimed, "you have a combination from a lock from 1973?!" "I think so", she replied and went inside to have a look.

Sure enough, she comes out of the house with a little cookie jar in her hand and pulls out a piece of paper with the words 'lock cominations' written in faded pencil.

"Well, let's try. Hmm, combination lock... hasn't been tumbled in 32 years..." Click, click click spin spin click spin click...

VOILE' the lock opened right up! Incredible. What an experience.

And now, to rebuild Sarah's bicycle to all it's glory.
That`s the best story I`ve read in a long, long time. You`re giving her another way to remember her daughter. That`s quite a thing. Great post. Thank you.
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Old 08-31-08, 03:42 PM   #17
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That's a beautiful thing you're doing
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Old 08-31-08, 03:45 PM   #18
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So I was not the only one ..... one of those stories that touches your heart.
Nope, I'm an old softie.

Wonderful, beautiful story.
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Old 08-31-08, 05:18 PM   #19
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Wow, that is a great story. There's something about a vehicle of any type that can preserve memories. Yes, we must have pictures if this bike once you get done. The Raleigh too of course.,,,,,BD
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Old 08-31-08, 07:02 PM   #20
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So I was not the only one ..... one of those stories that touches your heart.
Definetly not...... There seems to be a lot of dust floating around my computer as well.

It's one thing to lose a partner but no one should have to see their children go before them. Especially at such a young age.
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Old 08-31-08, 09:51 PM   #21
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Here's to guys like Mike, and to fewer people like Sarah (taken before their time).
Without the people like Sarah - there would be fewer people like Mike.

May they all be blessed.
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Old 08-31-08, 11:24 PM   #22
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Without the people like Sarah - there would be fewer people like Mike.

May they all be blessed.
True dat on both counts.

But I'd be happy if we never had any threads like this. Not for the lack of Mikes but for the lack of Sarah's.
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Old 09-01-08, 12:42 AM   #23
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I'd be happy if we never had any threads like this. Not for the lack of Mikes but for the lack of Sarah's.
+1 quoted for truth
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