The Bike

Bike306I’ve known Chris Peterson since the sixth grade. Over the years we had many fine adventures at the house we shared on Boulder St., and later at Tahoe Donner. It was a pleasant surprise when he showed up on my blog recently, since we lost contact with each other over twenty years ago. I’m amazed at the stuff he remembers, like the story he recalled yesterday about my stolen bike in 1965. This is my version of the story.

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13 Responses to The Bike

  1. Chris Peterson says:

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

    But, speaking of politics, which we often do here on your blog; here’s a story of my very first venture into that world.
    It was recess for the three classes in our wing at Hennessy. Mrs. Richards had called us in to class, but before I reached the door, Mr. Taylor, and the other homeroom teacher, asked me to go out on the far field and tell their classes to come in; which I did.

    By the time I got back, studies had begun, and Mrs. Richards informed me that I was late, and would have to stay 15 minutes after school. When I told her what my reason was, she became angered and snapped, “That’ll be 30 minutes!” I said simply, “No, I’m not staying.”

    At that point, red faced, she handed the lesson book off to Bob, who sat next to me, to continue the lesson, and tried to grab me by the ear. We walked in hurried.silence down the hall to Mr. Houser’s office where she demanded that I be given “spats”. I remember staring at the perforated board hanging on his wall as he assured her that he would take care of it.

    Once she had left, he asked me to be seated, then asked, “Are you Bob Peterson’s boy, out on Bitney Springs Road?” I replied yes. He then explained that if my dad gave him a right-of-way through our property, he wouldn’t have to go 5 miles around to get to his, and asked if I’d have my dad give him a call. After that brief talk, he told me to wipe some spit on my eyes, try to look upset, and “keep this between us.” No spats! And when word got out, Winona Jackson once again wanted to go steady with me, and Albert Ali labeled me a “pistol” in gym class.

    And thus, I was unknowingly launched into the grown up world of politics. (Weeks later, Kennedy was shot, and all personal political aspirations were forgotten.)

  2. Chris Peterson says:

    Funny how you picture yourself back then. You were always like a Maynard G. Krebs to me. (Not that I saw myself anything like Dobie Gillis.) I always loved that show, (“Zelda!”), but lost interest in Dwayne Hickman when he and his real-life sibling played brothers on opposite sides of the Civil War in the series that followed. I just couldn’t make the connection between Dobie and a Union soldier.

  3. Chris Peterson says:

    Meanwhile, back in reality, the TPP goes forward. NAFTA on steroids! For all those who still think Obama is a man of the people.

    • Ryan Mount says:

      “Free Trade” always stuck me as a means to outsource labor to periphery (and not so periphery) labor markets. Not about goods. The trading is the one-way giant sucking sound of blue collar, and now white collar jobs out of the country. That is, until labor prices “equalized” and manufacturers could come back to the USA with cheaper costs. Which has happened in some industries.

      If one really wanted to put the brakes on neo-liberal free trade treaties and policies, we should be putting the brakes on things like the expansion of the Long Beach and Oakland ports and other things like the enlarging of the Panama Canal.

      • Chris Peterson says:

        There’s nothing “neo” about any of our trade agreements, or government, anymore. Whether it comes from conservatives or liberals, the last thirty years have been a race to a corporatist state by those who continue to whittle away at our socio-economic fabric under the guise of the ever-evolving “trickle-down” theory. At least the TPP, in it’s unabashed honesty, doesn’t diabolically feign concern for the working man; it’s just a flat out reach for regional corporate imperialism by bypassing the governments of all signators.

        I remember folks worried about Clinton’s “world order” aspirations; this is waaaay beyond that in scope. But if “neo” now means that a politician no longer gives a rat’s patoot about the common man, then your use of the term is spot on.

        This one issue is perhaps Obama’s biggest campaign lie. I know he must be called a liberal to raise money for the (supposed) opposing party, but he is proving to be anything but.

          • Ryan Mount says:

            Sorry, hit the return button too soon.

            Neo-Liberalism is typically “forced” economic Liberalism typically on 3rd world countries. And since the 1980s until now, has been imposed on the 1st world under the guise of free trade, which again is not about goods, but rather labor. It is sold in typical supply-side progressive rhetoric: it will lower the cost of goods.

            I was in RC Willey this past weekend, against my better judgement for the record, and a sales person actually was using neo-liberal trade to close the sale on an unsuspecting couple. He said, “20 years ago, this bed would have cost 3X as much if it were made in the United States.”

            I do not like the wordsmithing of the term, per se, but I like how it challenges our understanding of it. Every President, including our current one, is a proponent of such “neo-liberal” practices.


          • Chris Peterson says:

            As the wiki definition goes on to say;

            “The term neoliberal is now used mainly by those who are critical of legislative initiatives that push for free trade, deregulation, enhanced privatization, and an overall reduction in government control of the economy.”

            The term seems to be in an ever-lasting state of flux.

  4. steve cottrell says:


    Here’s my bicycle/paper route story…

    Got a paper route in the summer between 7th and 8th grades, (Humboldt Times), so my dad bought a dandy new bike for me to use. We lived in Arcata and my route was through the hilly section of town where Humboldt State College (now University) is located. It meant getting up about 4:30 a.m., rolling the papers, (with wax paper if it was raining or wet), filling my two-sided newspaper bag and climbing on the bike to take care of my 80 or so customers.

    Maybe 2-3 months after I received the new bicycle, I wrecked and broke it and didn’t have the guts to tell my dad, so each morning I would leave the house by rattling the bike (gently) against the side of the house so that my mom and dad, if awake, knew I was off on my early-morning route. Then I’d push the bike a few feet, ditch it behind a neighbor’s hedge and do the route in a walk/jog that took about the same time as it did when the bike was working.

    When I was finished delivering newspapers, I’d retrieve my broken bicycle from behind the neighbor’s hedge and push it back home, careful to gently rattle the thing as I set it back in place against the rear of the house. (Guess they never noticed that I didn’t ride it after school or on weekends?)

    I kept that route through the 8th grade, and walked/jogged it for the final several months, and never did tell my dad that the bicycle he bought me was broken and used only as a prop. Hoofing it each early morning kept me in good shape for sports, but I always felt guilty that I couldn’t muster the courage to tell my dad how I wrecked the new bicycle and why I kept hiding it behind the neighbor’s hedge each morning. Wish he were alive today so I could confess my deceit.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      Ok, I’ll admit I never had a newspaper route. But one day, when my older brother was sick, I offered to make his rounds, which I knew from riding with him often. My bike was also broken, so I used his, which was way too big for me. After prepping all the papers, and stuffing the bags, I was off.

      The first leg of the journey took me up a very steep hill, and I remember standing on the peddles, and pushing down as hard as possible while pulling on the handlebars to make way. That’s when the chain slipped, and I found myself in unbelievable pain, rolling backwards with my feet dangling and just barely touching the ground, as I slid into the ditch alongside the road.

      I eventually got up and completed the route, and was on the homeward part of the trip, when I decided that I could at least coast down the hill to our home. And I was nearly there, standing proudly once again on the peddles, empty bags flapping in the wind, when the loose chain grabbed at something and caught, sending me head over tea kettle onto the pavement.

      I declined the opportunity to take the route when he offered it a year later.

      • Chris Peterson says:

        Does anyone remember the flexi-flyers with the little wheels? They only sold them for a brief while because they were so dangerous, but they were like a sled for the pavement. You could take a turn so fast that you had to drag your shoes to stay on.

        Just wonderin’. (Wow, had to answer the math question twice. Think I need a nap.)

        • rl crabb says:

          While we’re toolin’ down memory lane, if you grew up in Nevada County in the ’60’s, you might recall those scary black planes that used to zoom over town every once in awhile. I remember the first time I saw an SR71 Blackbird flying over me at treetop level. It scared the bejesus out of me. They were classified for many years, so the government would never cop to their existence, leaving us locals bewildered until they came out of the closet years later.
          The Blackbird was retired some years ago, but there is a new model in the works. Wonder if we’ll be seeing these babies buzzing around Beale in the near future…

  5. PeteK says:

    BAHAHA! Love the stories! How fortunate you two are to have remained close friends since the 6th grade. I have stayed close with a friend since freshman year of high school and we have endless stories as well. Good for you guys…keep em coming!

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