Baby boomer echoes

by Teresa Zaverl

Who invented the wheel? A Boomer kid might have said the caveman did. At least our cartoons told us that story. All we know is that it was prehistoric.<BR><BR>Whoever invented it made our lives much more enjoyable and easy. <BR><BR>I guess as a kid, who would give a heck of a thought to that. We just knew certain things came equipped with the rolling force.<BR><BR>Our first experience was probably a baby carriage or “buggy.” I would bet most of us don’t remember the experience, but our Boomer Moms do, and that’s the main thing. The buggy gave Ma the freedom to get out of the house while exposing junior to some fresh air. She could run a few errands, stop and chat plus still keep her eyeball on the kid. And if Ma was lucky, some “old timer” might peek into the carriage - congratulating Ma on such a healthy baby, who of course looks just like Dad or “your side of the family.” <BR><BR> During Boomer times, baby buggies lined the streets. Every family had some new member, and if school wasn’t in session you’d see more of the tribe tailing along with Ma and the buggy.<BR><BR>Most moms didn’t drive, so the buggy was the way out. There weren’t car carriers and all the safety devices we see today. If the buggy tilted or took a good bump along the journey, I guess the kid would live and Ma wouldn’t end up with abuse charges.<BR><BR>Our next stage of wheels was the stroller. That was a step up, and some of us might remember riding around in one. Back then, they weren’t padded and hooded, complete with bumpers and carriers. They were standard with a seat for the kid, a little tray, and maybe some beads on the front to occupy the passenger. By then you were old enough to sit up, so an older sibling could push you around the neighborhood. <BR><BR>Our next deal on wheels was the “trike.” By then we were pre-schoolers interested in exploring our environment - and what better way to do it than by triking along. Trikes, back then were heavy duty. They weren’t made of plastic and didn’t generate plastic tire noise around the neighborhood. They had rubber wheels with tread to hold the road. You couldn’t keep pace with the older kids on bikes but you knew your time was coming. First you had to graduate by using training wheels. It was all about that balance thing. <BR><BR>We always heard once you’re able to ride a bike you’ll never forget the process. Training wheels gave us the security of the trike while flight training to a two-wheeler. The funny thing about training wheels was the fact they weren’t always level, so you were half-riding on your own without even knowing it. That’s when Boomer parents got the hint you’re ready for the two-wheeler. <BR><BR>What a sense of accomplishment to take off on your own!<BR><BR>A two-wheeler could get you everywhere you needed to go. And as we grew the size of the bike got larger. That was usually taken care of by inheriting older siblings’ or other relatives’ used goods. <BR><BR>Bikes back then had substance, thick tires and the regular braking system. They didn’t have gears. The pedaler did everything. Need to get up the hill? Just pedal harder to the point you stand up. And if all else failed, walk the vehicle up the hill. <BR><BR>The bike was freedom and we knew the next step was driving a car. Inbetween those two junctures there wasn’t much else in the wheel variety. We didn’t have snowmobiles or four-wheelers to tool around with. Riding a bike in Ely during the winter was obsolete, so we hoofed it. By the time we learned to drive a car, we couldn’t afford one unless you were mechanically inclined and could rig-up some old jalopy. <BR><BR>We learned the family car might be doled to you for certain purposes, but you weren’t the guy paying the insurance and maintenance, so you got the idea you’d better ask before taking off. We were told we could have our own car if we had a job that supported such a necessary luxury.<BR><BR>Guess what? A lot of us remember ditching the bike by age 16 because we thought we looked dumb. <BR><BR>We took up more hoofing and waiting for someone we knew with a jalopy to stuff us all in for a ride. We handed down our bikes to someone younger and waited for the day we’d really have our own “wheels.”