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Best Christmas Ride

Old 12-25-14, 07:40 AM
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Best Christmas Ride

I grew up in western Wisconsin, along side the Mississippi River. In junior high, I had a paper route, seven days per week, 365 days per year. Rather than delivering the local paper, which went to virtually every house, and was foldable and throwable in Norman Rockwell style, I carried the Chicago Trib, NY Times, WS Journal, and Washington Post to the very few folks in my home town that wanted a larger glimpse of the world than the local rag provided. The unfolded papers were to arrive, carefully placed on a front porch or stoop, before 6 a.m. every morning.

That translated into a five mile route on weekdays, to less than 25 homes, and a Sunday-holiday schedule of close to 40 homes over seven miles. On weekdays, all of the papers fit into or on top of the back baskets on my Schwinn five speed. Sunday was a different story. The volume of the Sunday editions made it impossible to carry more than ten at a time, which meant multiple restocking runs.

All of this for a handsome wage of $6 week, plus annual tips that were more often cookies or quarters than they were dollars.

Christmas Day, 1968 or 1969, I can't recall exactly, annual tip day, saw more than a foot of fresh snow on the ground when I bundled up and headed out for the first run. It was heavy, thick stuff, and my thin tired five speed struggled from the start. I went down several times, bogged down consistently, and realized that this was never going to work. I trudged home to trade out the bike for a sled.

Three blocks away from my house, barreling down the snow covered street, I spotted my family's powder blue, fake wood paneled Dodge Polaris station wagon, my mother behind the wheel, a cup of coffee in her hand and smoke from her ever lit Salem filling the passenger compartment with enough carcinogens to lead to a child abuse charge in today's environment.

She skidded to a stop, and in the back were all of the rest of papers that needed to be delivered that day. I unloaded the papers from my Schwinn and tossed it in a snow bank to be retrieved later. For the next hour or so, we slalomed about the town delivering my Christmas run, and were back home before the sun came up and my dad and sisters were awake.

We never told them, because it was a hard and fast rule in my house that my job was my job. It was a good rule, character building and all, but on that occasion, breaking the rule led to my best Christmas ride ever.
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Old 12-25-14, 09:14 AM
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Old 12-25-14, 07:31 PM
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This Xmas and for family reasons I unexpectedly find myself back in Glasgow in Scotland for the first time in 30 years. With my bike in the USA I'm stuck for my morning ride so I set out to persuade my bike tuned legs that running was going to be a good idea. 11 miles of jogging around the city of my childhood later - I was struck by one tradition that has not gone away. Santa clearly brought a lot of new bikes for Xmas this year. The morning was relatively warm - and on every street there was anything from the blade scooter, the "first bike" with training wheels, the upgrades with older kids swooping and swerving on their new mounts and as I ran through the city center - someone on their new road bike.

All had one thing in common. All were initially wobbling around as they mastered their new mounts - at whatever level. And ALL had grim looks of determination on their faces! Took me right back to when I was in the same place over 40 years ago. The smiles as they "got it" were wonderful to see.
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Old 12-25-14, 09:33 PM
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Great story. Sounds like something my mom would have done.
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Old 12-27-14, 09:09 AM
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24 miles in the neighborhood to crack 6400 miles
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