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Do You Remember Your First?

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?Sturmey-Archer

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.

GliderbadgeThe 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?


Posted: April 20th, 2010
Filed under: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , | 13 Comments »

13 Comments on “Do You Remember Your First?”

  1. 1 michael holloway said at 9:07 am on April 21st, 2010:

    Ah… that’s a great story.

    My first bike was Red – and the frame was a little too big for the length of my legs. I think I was 9 years old. Having your own bike was a big deal. I waited for what seemed like two life times – I wasn’t ‘old enough’ for a bike. (The indignity!)

    We played cowboys and (native Americans) through the alleyways in Edmonton’s West 34th area; they became our horses and the good guys were whoever *you* were.

    I lost my bike countless times – but also found it countless times – they never seem to wander far. I can still feel the adrenaline associated with both losing, and finding my trusty steed.

    I don’t remember where we lost track of each other, it seems like such a long time ago.

  2. 2 Stephen Da Cambra said at 10:23 pm on April 21st, 2010:

    Michael – Talk about good stories. Sounds like you were living a “Western” out west.

  3. 3 Margot said at 1:51 pm on April 22nd, 2010:

    This post evoked memories of the banana seat…

  4. 4 Joe T. said at 2:05 pm on April 22nd, 2010:

    Yeah… there’s a photo of me somewhere learning to ride on a blue bike (I think it was a Raleigh, but can’t remember) with a banana seat and monkey handlebars. :) I’ve been looking for it to scan.

    My dad soon customized my bike with new seat, handlebars and tires so that it would fit in more with the BMX craze that was everywhere in the early 80s.

  5. 5 Lizz said at 3:49 pm on April 22nd, 2010:

    Great story, Stephen.

    My first bike was neon pink. It cost $110 from Home Hardware – a LOT of money – so I knew I had to take really good care if it.

    At some point I moved up to a blue 10 speed bike – a “boy’s bike” in stark contrast to my neon pink.

    I’d give a lot to be able to find a neon pink bike in my size (I’m tall) now!

  6. 6 Joe T. said at 5:18 pm on April 22nd, 2010:

    Lizz… I don’t know where in Toronto to get one… but I’m sure it’s possible – but online you can find anything. :)

    Pink Cruiser Bike “Maui”
    Pink Cruiser Bike “Tahiti”

  7. 7 Stephen Da Cambra said at 9:38 pm on April 22nd, 2010:

    WOW, I’m so glad everyone has taken the time to share some fun memories.

    Margot – I hope I don’t get too boring, but I figured I’d mention the bikes that followed the Glider in a future post – and one of my favourite things about my second bike was the “psychedelic” banana seat.

    Joe – I searched “monkey handlebars” and the results show that’s the name, but I could have sworn they were called “suicide handlebars”, but the evidence seems less conclusive.

    Lizz – Looks like Joe found a couple nice options for a pink bike – now I’m going to checking all over for neon pink bicycles – I’ll keep you posted!

  8. 8 Lizz said at 12:24 am on April 23rd, 2010:

    That’s awesome. Thanks guys!

  9. 9 cFletch said at 6:33 am on April 23rd, 2010:

    My first was a Blue Angel, with the white banana seat. I have a lot of fond memories of that bike.

    A quick search for photos netted this:

  10. 10 Weekly Wrap-Up: BikeSharing, University Avenue Bikelanes and More! | Biking Toronto said at 8:38 am on April 23rd, 2010:

    [...] Do You Always Remember Your First? [...]

  11. 11 Todd Tyrtle said at 1:49 pm on April 23rd, 2010:

    This one was what I had:

    1975 Schwinn Pixie – red, just like this one. 16″ wheels and hollow tires that you didn’t need to inflate. I rode it for a few years and after much hard braking, actually wore a hole in the back tire.

    Next one after that was a BMX bike whose manufacture I can’t recall – this would’ve been about 1980. By the mid 80′s I got my first “real” ten speed and at about age 15 rode the 60 km to my grandmother’s house. When I got my drivers license (about the same time as I got my 1964 Chevrolet Bel Air) I abandoned bikes for about 20 years with the exception of a summer playing with a mountain bike. Glad I rediscovered them back in 2007!

  12. 12 Laura said at 6:15 am on August 11th, 2011:

    I have a blue and white T Eaton Deluxe Glider with coaster brakes. I was given it in 1977 by a lady who bought it in 1940. I used to ride it but not in years, the tires are more than a little past their prime. Love the ride of that bike.
    Original balloon tires, all the logos are intact, just needs a little cleanup. It has the mount for the original basket but the basket is missing. So is the tire pump. Love to find those.
    So now it is safely displayed in my office.

  13. 13 Rick T said at 2:53 pm on October 23rd, 2013:

    I dearly recall my Glider coaster bike, I was about 8 or 9 when I got it for my birthday. It was metallic red and as you say you could really lay a patch of rubber with the brakes, in fact I wore a hole in my rear tire that way.

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