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Ben Sauter, a character, in his own words

"The Christmas present of long ago"

I was about 10 and Christmas was coming. I wasn't sure about asking for a bike on account of economics. But mother said to me one day: You helped getting the hay in the barns last summer, maybe you should ask for a bike. So I got the Wards catalog out and they had nice bikes. I picked a 26"er really nice. So that's what I got for Christmas.

I had been riding bikes for a long time & thought I was the best rider of all time. So I got on it and rode to a neighbor's house. They were poor and not many toys. There was a cardboard box in their yard and the boy there said I bet you can't ride over that box. O yeah, watch this. I tore into the box but it was so firm that part of it got caught between the front tire and the front fender bending the heck out of the fender. Here I haven't had it a full day and I've messed it up.

In those days the brakes were not on the handlebars. The brake was in the back axle. You stopped by turning the pedals backward. The bike would outcoast the other kids' bikes. And I loved to take the axle apart to see how the brake worked. There were about 20 different parts. How I ever got them back right I'll never know but I did. I rode it to Randallstown Junior High School.

That bike would go.

I decided to teach myself how to ride facing the seat. Not sitting on the seat but sitting on the metal bar and my body between the handlebars. This wasn't easy but I survived and later rode a unicycle. Anything that had wheels, I wanted to make it go.


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Written Dec 20 2011.

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