Remember The Time… We Jumped, Because We Could.


rtt-newThis post is part of the on-going blog hop hosted at The Waiting and Are You Finished Yet. Writers follow the prompt “Remember the time… (new topic each week)”, and share stories from way back when. You can find other stories on either of the host’s pages. Here’s mine:

Long ago, and far far away, I was a child. I know, hard to believe, what with my recent rants about wrinkles, and aging, but I was… once a kid.  As I age, that time in my life moves further and further back in my gray matter, yet takes on an increasingly powerful, almost mythical, place in my memories.  Out of nowhere fragmented memories come to me at any time, and I find myself recalling: a day spent swimming in the marshes with my good friend Julia; riding horses with my friend Kim, downtown and along the old railroad tracks; throwing firecrackers at my brother, and seriously burning the end of a finger, when I foolishly lit one and chased him with it. Brief images of my old bedroom; my dog having puppies; dinner at my grandmother’s house; the sweet moments that seemed ordinary them, come to me… and I am transported.

(If you can imagine these two with red hair and freckles, this is pretty much what we looked like in 1975 –>)

Image: schwinncruisers.com

Image: schwinncruisers.com

Then there are the biggies, the events that transformed and changed my life, even for alittle while. And for a short, sparkling blip of time, I was the only girl member of the Screamin’ Demons Bike Club. I was about eleven years old, maybe twelve, and I rode a bright lime green Schwinn Stingray bike, with a banana seat and classic wide handlebars. I’m not so old that I don’t know that some of my memories are sugar coated. Knowing how things went down in my family, the bike was probably my brothers, or maybe his friend David’s or Chris’, because there’s no way my mom would have bought my sister or I anything other than a very girlish bike. Think pink, or the Raleigh I inherited from my sister.  We were expected to act like girls, and riding Stingrays and racing down dirt tracks was not girlish. The fact that my brother and his buddies let me into their group was a serious feather in my cap, for many years to come.

When I think back, I’m honestly not sure why my younger brother and his friends let me join their merry band in the first place. At best, my brother considered me a nagging older sister, who bossed him around. After my father’s death, when we were ten and eight, my mother took the lead role as dad, and I played the supporting role of Mom. Needless to say, my siblings didn’t always appreciate the position that left them in. Frankly, neither did I; it’s lonely at the top.  All this to say, I have long lost the details that led up to my inclusion in their super “private,” boys only club, but I was. I was the only girl in the Screamin’ Demon’s Bike Club, and that bears repeating.

See, I was a girl... hence the plastic bow barrette

See, I was a girl… hence the plastic bow barrette

We were Mountain Bikers and BMX and thrill seekers, before we knew those things existed.  We didn’t wear helmets; they didn’t exist. We didn’t have shin pads. Our mothers didn’t ask us what we were doing, they were just happy we were outside. Ultimately, we were Even Knievel wannabes, because Evel kicked big time ass; he rocked our world, and we worshipped him. In many ways, I was a Tom Boy, though I always looked the girl I was.  I was a die hard fan of Formula 1 racing (knew the cars and their drivers); Muhammad Ali was my King; OJ Simpson hadn’t killed anyone (yet)– we called him The Juice and watched everything he did; and I was thrilled to get to ride with my brother and his friends. I was smug about it; I felt too kool for school.

We were serious about our adventures and stared death in the eye on the daily.  And laughed. There were wipe outs: stone walls were crashed into, jumps were missed, blood was spilled. I got hurt, but I never let the guys see me cry, lest they kick me out. For that little slice of time, I wanted to be a boy, but was even more excited to be a girl who kept up with the boys. That was then; now that I live in a serious mountain biking part of the country, it’s strange to think that what I was doing then, was exactly what I’m terrified to do now.  My husband comes home bloody and bruised routinely, after a day on Galbraith Mountain, and I cringe and tell him I’d never do that… but I did, all those years ago.

We cleared a path down a steep hill in a deeply wooded lot, across the street from my house, and adjacent to David’s house. Our trail made hairpin turns around trees, went over stumps and dips, and ended near a very old stone wall– if you didn’t crash into it.  We cleared every inch by hand, and took turns racing down, over and over.  Admittedly, the boys did more of that work. It was their idea, not mine. I just got to join along.  I was grateful, and relished my role in their club.

When we weren’t on the dirt trail, we built ramps to jump over, in the middle of a quiet street near my house.  I thought I was one hot shit for jumping just as high as the boys, and they were duly impressed as well. I still remember their faces when I did the highest jump, which they’d cleared as well. They taunted me, and dared me to try it. No doubt they all were waiting to see me fall flat on my face. I didn’t. I cleared the jump and air pumped my victory. In my mind, that jump was twenty feet high, but I know it was about two feet off the ground, and propelled us two and half feet into the air.

When I think back on those times, spent racing our bikes and risking life and limb, what I remember most dearly now, is that my brother and I loved each other then… we were team. He let me be his pal for a while and we shared those adventures together.  Our lives hadn’t gone in the horribly different directions they’ve gone in the forty years since. We were still connected on the deep levels that siblings share. We cared how the other was doing, and we rooted for one another.  We had each other’s backs. That was then, now we rarely speak and we barely know each other. He lives there; I live here. Our lives are as different as two lives can be.  Then, we were on the same team, The Screamin’ Demons… and I was the only girl member.

sc03498862^ We were a family then. We hung out; we went to see the Pilgrims and the Mayflower; we jumped, because we could. And yes, those big collars were very fashionable.

Did you have adventures back in the day? Share them in the comments section. Tell me what you think. Check out Tales From the Motherland, on Facebook and hit the Like, then we can like, be friends.

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
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25 Responses to Remember The Time… We Jumped, Because We Could.

  1. Great photo! Love the hair. I was a member of the local (neighborhood) Man from UNCLE squad. We had secret names, passwords and gadgets and created spy adventures in the woods.

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  2. mrscarmichael says:

    I love memories like this. I love the fact you were the one and only girl and I’m sadder that life so often does this to siblings.
    I meant to write one this week but life got in the way.

    Like

    • Thanks! It is sad that life gets in the way, but it does. Try as I have, we have never been what we were then. Close. Thanks for taking the time to visit Tales From the Motherland, and for sharing your thoughts. I hope you’ll check out some other posts, and weigh in. Your time and effort is much appreciated!

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  3. The Waiting says:

    There is something so delicious about being accepted in a group that you’d think you shouldn’t have a place in. Your post made me remember a pack of guys I hung out with for a few months in high school. I was dating one of them, but his friends largely accepted me because I listened to the same music as them and could hold my own in conversations about stuff they were interested in. Haha, it probably didn’t hurt that none of them had girlfriends and were hoping I’d bring some of my friends around, but I am going to keep believing that they actually liked me.

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    • Thanks Emily, I always appreciate your feedback. Those times in our youth when we felt part of something, something special, hold so much more weight as the years go by and we realize the impact they had on us. Really special days, that are long gone, but always emotional touch stones. Thanks for sharing. xo

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  4. Pingback: Remember The Time… We Jumped, Because We Could. | Love All BlogsLove All Blogs

  5. Your writing is so beautiful. Part of me always wanted to be a kid growing up in the 60’s and/or 70’s. This gave me a delicious look at that. Not that riding bikes and being in gangs never happened in any other decade, but there was just something about it that dripped with 1975. I can’t put my finger on it, but I am left with the desire for a banana seat bicycle.

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  6. Mike Lince says:

    Your impeccable imagery brought back memories of the kids on our block clipping playing cards to our bike frames and riding in formation and doing interlaced zigzags down our street. Oh yeah, we were cool! Also, I had freckles just like yours. I think if we would have been seen together people might have taken us for brother and sister if it weren’t for me being so much older than you. 🙂 Mike

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  7. rlwyattcali says:

    Your last paragraph could be written about me and my sister. I won’t write something so presumptuous like ‘there’s still time’…..because I know there isn’t. Btw – I had a Schwinn Banana Peeler. 🙂 Liked the honesty in here…good reminder for me to keep them honest at all cost

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    • Thanks for taking the time to read this post, and share your feedback. I’m sorry that you too have a strained relationship with your sister… not many things harder, and no, not sure it can get better, but thanks for thinking of it. I hope you’ll check out some other posts, and weigh in. Your time is much appreciated!

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  8. etomczyk says:

    Loved your memories. They are not similar to anything that I ever experienced unfortunately, but I did try to provide these type of memory-making times for my kids. I think I succeeded because one of them said the other day that her childhood was magical and the other agreed. I guess we catch happiness where we can and celebrate the times with gratitude which you have done here. Very lovely.

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  9. Just loved your blast from the past. Have been under the radar for a month but I had to visit your site first. Had a Schwinn Stingray with banana seat as well.
    Life changes so many relationships both friends and family. I will never speak with my sister again and neither will mom.
    Again, your tale of childhood, which coincided with my own in time, just drew me in.
    xo

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  10. Marjorie Galleher says:

    DQL, I just read this, saving it in my inbox for quiet moment. Boy does this bring back a lot of memories

    Marjorie

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  11. Valery says:

    Katie’s puppies! ❤
    You made me go dust off the old photo album. My little brother had one of those bikes in 70's gold. I converted my too-girlish bike by switching to a red, white & blue banana seat and those ape-hanger bars. We used to get long, plastic tassles for the handlebar ends – mine were sparkley. The photo is from a neighborhood 4th of July parade up at Cushing, not sure of the year (maybe '71?). Mr. Kneivel must have been very popular then. I survived the road ramp jumping unscathed but I still have an ER scar under my chin from a stunt-gone-wrong. Ooo, that scar was fresh in my 3rd grade photo so… '71 it is. You certainly get those memories going, miss biker chick! I didn't realize you were an off-roader. Wicked cool.
    I miss those old days of sibling cameraderie, too. I will always think of your sibs just as they are in that sweet photo. My minion brother grew to be my best friend for a while. I still crave that special connection. Thanks for taking me back to those days!

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    • Such amazing memories, and yes… I really wish things had turned out differently, Val. I remember having the tassles and sparkles on my bike as well. I always envied your neighborhood for having all those fun parades and block parties. By the time I moved up there, we were too old for that fun.The years they sure do fly…

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  12. Kourtney Heintz says:

    yes, my cousin and I would go on these crazy car rides where the unexpected was expected. One time we got caught off-roading in a gully and a random motor bike rider had to help push us out. 😉 Good times being silly kids.

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  13. Dawn,
    This whole piece could have been about me. Except the part about being a girl. And my brother and I hated each other. But we’re close now. And I rode a Huffy. http://billmcmorrow.com/2013/03/07/a-tale-of-a-boy-and-his-bike/
    We used to build the BMX courses in the woods behind my house. Evel Knievel was pretty much the father that I never had. And I was the son he never wanted. I blame Robby Knievel for that. If he was never born, Evel Knievel would have probably kidnapped me for his own.

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    • Sorry buddy… Evel would have kidnapped me. ‘Cause I was so damned cute, and he’d have recognized the potential of having a girl jumper! I had a feeling this one was up your alley. I guess sometimes you do have to lead a horse to water. 😉

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