Ever have a sight, sound or smell bring back a lost memory? I love to check out bicycles as I walk or ride along, looking at the different brands, colours and types and thinking about the personalities who ride them. Two weeks ago, one bike made me do a double-take. It was something I hadn’t seen since about 1970. Something I used to stare at for hours; that filled my chest with pride. It was the near forgotten, but immediately familiar again logo of an Eaton’s Glider, soaring gull and all. My first bike was a Glider.
Do you remember your first bike?
Unlike the 3-speed model with the classic Sturmey-Archer thumb shifter that I saw the other week, mine was a 23” coaster, but with similar fenders, seat and striping.
Shopping used to be so much easier before the internet. In the days of catalogue shopping, to order a bike; you picked up the phone; dialed the Eaton’s order line (always answered – by a human); gave them a catalogue number and that weekend, when all your friends were about, the Eaton’s truck would appear on your street to deliver your new bike, assembled, to your door.
Or that’s how it should’ve happened.
The truth is that we took delivery of my green with white fenders Glider (I think the chrome fenders were a feature of the geared models) before the snow melted and its first weeks were spent propped against a basement wall. That’s how I got so familiar with the gliding gull on the front badge – for weeks I could do little else than teeter on the bike and stare at the logo.
I know you’ve heard this a million times, but I really was always the last one picked for sports teams; couldn’t hit a ball, skate or run to save my life. I was picked second-to-last once, when we played the pre-schoolers. With no budget for training wheels, prospects were dim for me learning to ride in a reasonable time.
Benny, a good friend of our family who is now in his 70s and still a very nifty guy, volunteered. I started off ready for it to take hours, if not days. On my second pass I thought I was going a little fast for Ben to keep up and I turned slightly to check on him, but he wasn’t there. I can’t remember ever learning anything, that previously seemed so daunting, so easily. But being a quick learner has its downsides. Unprepared for my early success, Benny hadn’t yet shown me how to stop.
I fell off the bike a lot that first summer. I got the nick-name Sergeant for all the band-aids that neatly lined my knees.
Life changed. I fractioned my school commutes. I didn’t have to run after my cycling friends to keep up. And slamming the always reliable coaster brakes laid a patch a mile long.
The Glider was stolen twice. Once from the side of our house, but the police quickly returned it. The second time, it was gone when I got out of my Cub Scout meeting. After a long search, I made a late-night, non-stop run home from Lawrence to Ellesmere, crying all the way for the loss of my Glider. I never saw it or the soaring gull again.
Until two weeks ago.
My research since shows the Eaton’s Glider to be a coveted classic on the local bike market. But I haven’t seen a coaster. Got any info?
…OR DO YOU HAVE MY FREAKIN’ BIKE?!! ;)
Posted: April 20th, 2010
Author: Stephen Da Cambra
Filed under: Uncategorized
Tags: bicycles, bikes, commutes, cycling | 12 Comments »