Walking Frida around the neighborhood, I passed a home in the process of puking out the current tenant and her things. I was told she had lived there for 40 years. Melancholy, to be sure. A dumpster filled the single car drive. Memories to be lost for the tenant, but when I see a dumpster I think treasure. What to do? In the interest of living simply, I try hard to limit what I bring home. It should be easy to pass by in the light of the circumstances, but apparently that mental light bulb needs to be replaced.
Our home in Omaha home was plenty big, affording us more than ample space for treasure. Moving all that stuff to Albany wasn’t easy (even after we rented a dumpster), so I made a pledge to remove something from our new home each time I brought something in. That pledge was honored not one second. This walk with Frida would surely include another lapse, as four balloon tire bicycles rested on kick stands in front of the dumpster. I spoke to the son who granted permission to take any or all of the bicycles, as he intended to place them at the curb with a free sign later in the day.
Albany is wonderful that way. The curb on trash night is where we share treasure with neighbors. People have no concern that good and even not so good items will end up in the landfill, as items of any measurable value are gone within minutes. Junk dealers troll in pick ups starting at 5:00 or so. When I can’t resist the pull, I troll on foot. I pretend I need to give Frida a second walk, but I fool no one.
Hardly a trash night passes without some must have item popping up on a nearby curb. My best find to date was a Marantz receiver. Found it on a curb as many as ten blocks from home. In a flash, Frida’s leash was in one hand and the 30 pound receiver under the other arm. Sharp corners all around added to the discomfort. I’d make it a block or so and have to switch arms. Not knowing whether the receiver would work made the work of carrying the hunk more difficult. Got home and plugged it in. Lights! As it warmed, the smell of hot dust and stale cigarette smoke was its first offering. I added speakers and an ipod and, voila, it was fully functional. I cleaned the volume pot with some magic spray from Radio Shack and it is a delight to this day. Still defreshens the air each time it warms up. Joys beyond joys.
Victories aside, what to do about the present opportunity? Because I asked the son about bicycles, in plural, he assumed I wanted all four. I thought I might, and told him I would walk one home at a time. Again, it was about ten blocks. I walked Frida home and the time helped me see I didn’t want four bicycles, or even to find homes for them. I rode a bicycle back and pulled the oldest bicycle back alongside on its flat tires as I pedaled. Felt bad about the other lonely bicycles so I mentioned the reminders to folks as I made my way home. The Goodrich I selected weighed a ton and rolled poorly, but I think I made the right decision.
Despite my penchant for collecting multiples of other bicycle types, my relationship with balloon tire bicycles has been one of serial monogamy. Prior to the newest find, we have owned two balloon tire bicycles. First was a Rollfast I pulled out of the garbage in NYC. Step through frame and one inch pitch chain. I added tires and grips and rode it around NYC for a couple of years. Will always remember pedaling it over some bridge, maybe the Brooklyn Bridge, and looking back at the city. I felt like a time traveling hero. At the end of my years in NYC, I rode the Rollfast around Washington Square Park with a for sale sign. In under an hour a young couple bought it for $40. We still miss it.
The second was a Western Flyer. I bought that one at an antique store in Omaha and brought it to Albany. It also sported a one inch pitch chain and a step through frame, but it retained the metal gas tank and rack that are too often removed. We never rode it much, as we owned so many other bicycles. Balloon tire bicycles are fun to ride, but we rarely selected the Western Flyer over another in a line up of light weight racers, fancy tourers and high end mountain bicycles. Lacey did ride it up and over the hills of Omaha one 4th of July years ago. It was hot, the hills steep and the bike heavy. She made it home, but had nothing left, least of which a good mood. I tried to resurrect interest in it by reconfiguring it for bicycle polo. This was before I had ever so much as watched a video of the game on youtube. I had no idea that a balloon tire bicycle has no business entering the polo fray. Needless to say, the Western Flyer didn’t see duty in that potentially bicycle eating game. Sadly, the Western Flyer flew out of our driveway at our last garage sale.
Less than a year later, this Goodrich is in our home. Initial research suggests it may have been built by Schwinn for Goodrich. The original paint under the fenders is a beautiful blue. Paint on top of that was applied thickly with a brush.
When a bicycle project comes my way, I usually dive right in and don’t stop until finished. This is the first time I remembered to take pictures before the sprucing. At the mid point, anyway. Is that a New Departure coaster brake hub or a wooly mammoth? Time and degreaser will tell.
When I picked up the Goodrich, I remember saying to myself it would make a fun winter project. As if I could let it sit for months. I should be pedaling next week. I see myself rolling on the Goodrich to get coffee or a beer down the street. More to come!