As the number 8 kid in a family of 9, I rarely got anything new. Most of it was hand-me-downs from one of the older siblings. There were exceptions though; Mom worked at the J.C. Penney store downtown when we were kids and got in on some great deals, and we reaped the windfall from that at Christmas and birthdays.
One notable win for me was the bike I got one year. I don’t remember if it was a birthday or Christmas or what, but it was the coolest bike ever.
It had everything a bike needed for a kid in his early teens; chopper styling, banana seat, racing-style handlebars, red line racing slick on back, 5 speeds — and not just 5 speeds, but 5 speeds with a stick shift! — a parking brake… All I could saw was “Wow!” I was so excited I said it backwards too; “!woW”
Mom saved everything. With the exception of those things that Dad didn’t think we needed to keep and Mom was unable to hide from him. While the bike probably didn’t fare well under Dad’s care during our 1978 move, I’m thankful that the Assembly Instructions and Service Manual for the Model 3-1124A Foremost 20″ Eliminator Mark II – 5 Speed bike remained in Mom’s care. It was one of the things that Mom gave to me years ago. I had it tucked away in some old papers & photos, and came across it again the other day. Brings back loads of memories.
Like the time that Jamie and I hacksawed the forks off a neighbor’s junk bike sitting in the alley, then jammed the fork ends of this bike. The forks came off a 27″ bike, and the only thing holding the forks on was friction. Worked fine while we worked on it and it wasn’t moving. Then I took it for a little ride; things went ok until I hit a bump in the sidewalk. The results were predictable. It amazes me that I didn’t do more damage to my head back then, before anyone even thought of wearing a helmet while riding a bike.
Then there was the time all the neighborhood kids were pretending to be Evel Kneivel with homemade ramps, jumping over other neighborhood kids brave enough to lie on the sidewalk behind the ramp… I don’t remember ever doing well at that, probably because few kids were brave enough to let me jump over them — I wasn’t known for a slim figure or great athletic skills back then, plus this Swinger bike I had probably weighed in at 50 pounds or so. But dang, it was cool.
I wish I could find a color photo of it, but a half hour of Googling didn’t get me anywhere but this close. I think the frame and the seat were yellow, with some psychedelic thing going on with the chainguard. I did learn that that style of bike has come to be known as “musclebikes”, which is both apt and interesting.
If anybody stumbles across this and has a photo of one, please please please drop me a line. Or at least leave a comment.