I had lunch with Ed and Harry this week, sharing memories of growing up in Grandin Court, as we did some planning for the Rec Center Reunion party on November 2. The talk got around to adventures we had involving bikes. Mostly, they were stories of treks to Salem, Starkey, school, and southeast Roanoke.
One memory sticks in my mind: Ed had a good bike with a big saddle, and strong legs. He rode that bike to Salem to see Ms. Althea Peel, fifth grade teacher at Virginia Heights Elementary school. Ms. Peel called his mother and Ed got heat when he got home. (More stories later about Ms. Peel and her 1937 Chevy.)
That wasn’t the only bike ride to Salem. On one excursion, Ed and I rode his bike to the truck by-pass on old Rt.11 that goes by what is now the Salem Civic Center grounds. At that time, it was a farmer’s field of corn. We went out Lee Highway past Roberts pool, crossed the N&W railroad tracks, the Virginian tracks, and almost to Lakeside amusement park, with me riding on the seat, and Ed doing the pumping. We gathered all the corn silk we could hold, and made smokes when we got back, using toilet paper to roll the silk. I suspect Ed was pretty tired by then.
We rode to Starkey a few times, out Brambleton Ave to Merriman Road to the old Starkey Post Office. There was a small school house there across the road from a small country store. The old school house is still there. Coming back, we went past what is now Tanglewood Mall, and back across Ogden Road to Colonial Ave, across Wright Road to Brambleton, and back home to Montvale. Lots of hills between here and there.
Today, the vehicle traffic makes such rides very dangerous, and especially so for kids. Heck, its even dangerous in a car today. And we had no helmets, no gears to shift, and big soft balloon tires.
Harry had a few biking tales to share as well, and I will gather those for another telling.
Dottie related stories of bike parades at the Center with playing cards pinned to the spokes with clothes pins for the motor sounds. The bikes were decorated with bunting, crepe paper streamers, flags and balloons. I remember kazoo bands and dish-pan drums that marched along with the bike parade. There may have been a baton twirler in there, too.
Send your adventure tales for the common good, and I’ll put them up here. In the meantime, keep on cranking.