A couple of months after my eighth birthday mom brought home another little brother. So there we were, an eight year old, a three year old, a one year old and an infant. I’m pretty certain that is why my sister managed to be so elusive for my mother. Our play was required to be quiet and sedate. Not exactly descriptive of my sister. We were in military housing and things had to remain perfect for our exit inspection. They always were. No hand prints and no marks on the walls or floors. Kind of a neat trick. Go outside and play was the constant refrain.
Mom and dad must have somehow managed to afford a shiny new 24” skinny tired bicycle with green fenders for my 8th birthday. I was so surprised and delighted with this vehicle of freedom that I was off riding any of the few spare moments I had.
One afternoon I was inside helping mom with my little brothers when something caught mom’s eye. There were GI’s in the windows of the barracks across the street with frantic looks on their faces.
Mom knew that look. She had seen it before and probably would again. “Where is your sister” she said. I went outside but didn’t see her at first glance. A moment later I saw a flash of green flying by. My three-year-old sister was straddling the lower curve of my bike with her arms outstretched to reach the handlebars and her feet and legs back behind her peddling for all she was worth. I stared just like the GI’s with my mouth and eyes wide as she weaved expertly in and out of the parked cars in front of our building. Then she turned in the other direction and rode back down the side of the street where no cars were parked for some distance, turned, then repeated the pattern between the parked cars.
I was sure she would hit one but somehow, she managed to awkwardly turn the handlebars at just the right moment and keep going. When I finally had the presence of mind to call her name, unable to apply the brakes at that awkward angle, she just jumped off the bike and let it crash-land. Apparently, she had taught herself to ride it while I was in school but hadn’t figured out the braking part yet. All those crash landings would take my bike from shiny new to well-worn to all but destroyed in a matter of months. Somehow she remained unscathed.
So much for my freedom rides. My sister had them now. The odd part was she looked so happy riding that bike and I rarely had time. Nothing was going to slow her down.
From my heart to yours,