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  1. #1
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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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.
    Mike

  2. #2
    You Know!? For Kids! jsharr's Avatar
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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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    Quote Originally Posted by colorider View Post
    Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.

  3. #3
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Nice Story. Would be great to see a pic of Sarah, and one of her bike.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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  4. #4
    Gaeilgeoir fearfeasog's Avatar
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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!
    d'Arte Board--a miscelleny of new art culture and commentary from 6 smarmy artists. click thru the image--

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  5. #5
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    Beautiful story, thank you.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Cannondaler's Avatar
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    Very cool story. Definitely post some pics if you can.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    In my old age I am becoming very sentimental. That is a great story, thank's for sharing.
    Surly Pacer

  8. #8
    Wilma!! Randallissimo's Avatar
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    You are definitely adding to your karma account. Beautiful.

  9. #9
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    What a great story. It'll be great to see some pictures of the bike.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  10. #10
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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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.
    Mike

  11. #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.

  12. #12
    "Purgatory Central" Wino Ryder's Avatar
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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.



    ~ "I like the way the brake cables come out of the top of the levers and loop around to the brake calipers!...I like those downtube shifters too!...No no no, don't take 'em off, don't take 'em off,...leave 'em on, leave 'em on! - Thats right baby!!

    ~BF - Steel Club Member #00051

  13. #13
    Recreation Ecologist
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    Here's to guys like Mike, and to fewer people like Sarah (taken before their time).

  14. #14
    Member CraigVM62's Avatar
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    Wonderful Story

    Quote Originally Posted by ScrubJ View Post
    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.

  15. #15
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    What a truly great thing to do!

    Makes ya feel pretty good, doesn't it!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike View Post
    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.

  17. #17
    ٩๏̯͡๏)۶ Luke52's Avatar
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    That's a beautiful thing you're doing

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigVM62 View Post
    So I was not the only one ..... one of those stories that touches your heart.
    Nope, I'm an old softie.

    Wonderful, beautiful story.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Bikedued's Avatar
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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
    "Whale. Oil. Beef. Hooked!" The Rumjacks

  20. #20
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigVM62 View Post
    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.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by HopliteGrad View Post
    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.

  22. #22
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyhokie View Post
    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.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  23. #23
    Recreation Ecologist
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    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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