The Old Coot steps into a time machine

Time travel. We can do it! But, it’s a one-way street. We can only go back in time, not ahead. Us old coots do it all the time. It’s amazing how quick I can shoot back 70 years to my seventh birthday party, sitting around the dining room table with a half dozen neighborhood kids playing pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs as a prelude to the cake & ice cream followed by the opening of the presents. That was the year I received a Hop-a-long Cassidy, gun and holster set from my parents. It was something I’d coveted for two years, ever since I saw my first “Hoppy” movie and he became my hero. Now, I could be “Hoppy” in our unending, neighborhood game of “Cowboys and Indians.” 

In my time travel mode, I can then fast forward four weeks, to Christmas, the second highpoint in my seventh year. A two-wheel bicycle was under the tree with my name on the tag. I could retire the giant, three-wheeler that served as my horse, and hop on a two-wheeler, extending my range by several blocks and doubling my speed. It was a used bike, but it made no difference to me; it was red, my favorite color. My sister got a bike too; hers was blue. We had to wait until spring to take them outside and learn to ride. An eternity! Finally, the day came. I will never forget the feeling of horror when I looked back and saw my father half a block away, yelling, “You did it!! You did it!” I had thought he was guiding me along with his hand firmly attached to the back of my seat. I was okay until I realized he wasn’t there; I then immediately crashed to the ground. 

I eventually learned to ride, but it was a slow process. The bike was too big for me. Everything we got in those days was too big. You “grew into” things – clothes, bikes and shoes with newspaper stuffed in the toes. I could balance and ride the bike in a fairly straight line, but I couldn’t get started without my sister’s help, and I couldn’t stop and get off without falling over. She would start me off, and then ride fast to get ahead and catch me as I came to a stop. I eventually learned to do it on my own, using the curb along the road. Now, I’m back to using the curb again, every once in a while, anyhow. I just hope I don’t have to ask my sister to assist me as I slowly revert back to a seven-year-old skill level. I’d much rather get there by time travel. 

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