I “FOUND” my first bike,in a storage basement in Grand central apartments in Bellerose,Queens.A old 28″ balloon tire bike,it was the biggest bike i ever saw! I had to mount it from the stoop,and use my tippy toes to peddle it. I was 7 or 8 then,we were to poor to have our own bikes back then. My brother rode it to the library on Union Tpke,and it was stolen.I still tell the story to my kids,now late twenties,the story about the biggest bike in the world. 1953-1964 QUEENS NY.
i lived in a few places in brooklyn, we lived on lincoln place for a while, then we moved to the projects that were on what used to be ebbets field, over by bedford ave. But my most fondest memories come from when me and my mom lived in prospect heights, on Eastern parkway right across from the brooklyn museum and the botanical gardens. there was a park with a playground in it and a huge circular track around this big ass grass field! i remember it was big enough where the kids had 2 makeshift baseball diamonds on it and there was room for the jamaican and haitian cats to play soccer on it. the track was i guess just a big asphalt walkway but you could ride bikes on it and jog or whatever, the playground had two swingsets on it and 1 sliding board…(not much as far as playground stuff goes) but it had an old parks and recs maintenance house on it that we had two fast pitch stickball courts on, and a “self hit” or slow pitch one in the center of the playground. we did so much stuff… we used to play co-co leavio on bicycles!!! YOU TALK ABOUT AN INTENSE GAME WITH GREAT LANDSCAPE! we had swing races where you get 4 to 5 kids or so on a team, the first kid jumps on…standing up was the best way to do it…up pumped your swing until you were deemed “up” (past a certain height level) then you had to come down and hand off to the next person, this took daring sometimes because the most fearless would jump off the swing while it was up high then the next kid would catch the chain and keep the relay race going!!! those were some of the best times of my life and i will never forget them for as long as i live.
Hi, Jeane: My friends and I used to rent out bikes in that shop when we were twelve and thirteen years old. Right next door to the bicycle shop was a pet store that specialized in pigeons. In my neighborhood (Little Italy), most of the guys were pigeon crazy. Almost every block had a coop or two on it. Back in the late fifties, the rents were so low that landlords really didn’t care what you put on their rooftops– although it was much wiser to seek permission from the landlord before you started building your coop and buying pigeons for it. We had coops on Mott and Prince Street, on Prince and Mulberry Street, on the Bowery and Prince Street, and on Houston and Mott Street. Sometimes, when we were up on the roof during school hours, the truant officer would come up. Then my friends and I would have to scamper six-stories down the fire escape and into the yard to get away from him, laughing all the way. Getting back to the bicycle shop you mentioned in your post. I believe the name of it was “Barbares.” And that it was located across the street from Sara Roosevelt park, a short distance from the corner of Houston St. The owner used to charge us thirty-five cents an hour to ride those old, heavy, hard-to-pedal bicycles that we used to call “trucks.”
I remember double riding my sister on my bike’s handlebars. She’d sit right there on the front of the bike with her feet dangling down. How hard it was to turn with her on there, because of the weight. Also riding with no hands was so cool. When I mastered that, I thought I’d do better and try to ride with no hands and no feet. Needless to say, it didn’t work out so well…
Mom bought me a siren for my bike. It was made of sheetmetal. It was cylindrical, ~5″ in diameter flat on one end and bowl shaped on the other with the impeller shaft sticking out. It attached to one fork with brackets, and there was a chain from the siren to the handle bar. Once riding we would pull the chain which would engage the impeller shaft against the front wheel. THE SOUND WAS GREAT. A real siren just like the large air sirens you see on the front bumper of fire trucks today. As the impeller gained speed the LOUD siren’s pitch would get higher and higher. When you let go of the chain the siren would slowly reduce in pitch and volume. So pull it again, ride faster!! WOW what a sound! OH NO my poor neighbors. I didn’t realize, I was only 10. Sure would like to find a siren for my 10 year old son :’)
You’re talking about the Schwinn “Krate” series. There was an Orange Krate, Apple Krate (Red), and maybe some others. I remember Captain Kangaroo hawking them on his show when I was a kid. They’re highly sought after by collectors today; I’ve heard of some examples selling in the thousands! Me, I had the Ross Apollo 5-speed. It also had a stick shift and banana seat; not as fancy as the Schwinns, but a cool ride. I wish I had it today, although I’d look pretty silly riding it!
I remember in the mid 60’s a line of boys stingray bikes came out with a small wheel in the front, banna seat, sissybar and stick shift. I never had one but they were really cool and came in a variety of colors. The green color bike was named the “Pee Picker”. The yellow color bike was named the “Lemon Peeler”. Does anyone remember what the names of the other color bikes were?
When I was about 11-13, I had a young neighbor who I used to ride on my bike. He’d ride in front (I’m still amazed that we both fit on the tiny little seat) and put his feet up on the bar. I still have the bike, and it has ‘scars’ from where he put his feet, hehe… It was soo funny, he was about 4-6 yeard old, and when we got on the bike, he’d say “yeah, bebbay! I’m on my motorcycle!” and “Let’s rock n roll!” before we’d start riding. I took him to the park and stuff a lot, because I always babysat him. I have to say, it was a LOT quicker riding the bike than trying to get him to keep up on his own bike with training wheels.
Hey, anyone every try to play “chicken” on your bikes? I did, with a friend of mine… We chose our block, a long block, then an intersecting street, then another long block. She went down to one end of one long block, I went down to the opposite end of the second long block. We planned to ride as fast as we could toward each other and ‘meet’ at the intersecting street. Well, no one chickened out. We met right in the center of the intersecting street. Probably luckily for us, our bikes were not exactly head-on, so the front tires came alongside each other, our pedals got caught in the other person’s pedals/wheels, and all of us (people and bikes) fell down. I was unhurt, my friend got her ankle scraped by my pedal. The bikes were perfectly fine… I loved bike riding, we’d ride everywhere and anywhere. I only had one bad accident. It was right before my 8th grade graduation. I was riding and I turned my head to see if a friend of mine was home, swerved, and ran into a short (about 1 ft. tall) wall by the alley I was coming up to. I fell off the bike, the bike fell on top of my head. To make a longish story short, I had 3 stitches in my scalp. Ouch.