Bratty brothers and rusty bikes pedal to disaster

It was the early fall of 1946. I was 11 years old. It got dark early because we had shifted to regular time much sooner than we do now.

My sister, Shirlee, and I had returned to the little farm in West Farmington where we had stayed with the Moss family in the summer of 1945. It was Saturday night, and my parents, who had brought us, were eager to play cards with the elder Mosses and another couple.

Betty and Ronnie Moss were happy to see us. Ronnie’s sister Betty and my sister were quick to walk to the center of that little town to meet up with Shirlee’s acquaintances from that summer.

Ronnie and I, being more than five years younger than our sisters, wanted to meet up with Betty and Shirlee’s friends, even though we (their little bratty brothers) knew we wouldn’t be greeted too cordially.

Ronnie showed me two rusty old bikes that had been stored in a shed. They were a mess but seemed to be rideable. He warned me that the coaster brake on my ride was pretty bad.

So off we went.

We found Betty and Shirlee’s friends sitting on a front porch on Fourth Street. They hooted and hollered at us as we rode by — something like, “Stay away, you little brats!” Perhaps we weren’t welcome? We circled around the block and rode past again — only this time much faster.

The street went downhill to the main road (Main) and I needed to slow down. No brakes!

I was rapidly approaching Main and picking up speed. I could hear a car coming from my left but I simply couldn’t stop or even slow down. I tried to avoid the oncoming car by turning to the left as tightly as possible, but now I was looking right into the headlights of that car. I continued to turn, but, Kuhblam!

I hit the right rear fender and about knocked it off. I could feel my right knee taking most of the impact and I was down. I hopped up from the roadway as the driver got out and came my way. That junky old bike was totally ruined.

Meanwhile, my sister and her gang heard the screeching tires and the thud as I hit the car. My sister said, “I hope that’s my little brother!” (Her explanation of her comment was that it was in jest.)

The man’s wife and kids got out of the car and my sister’s gang quickly gathered while I kept limping around in circles.

Apparently, someone had called the Moss household, and all those card players were quickly on the scene.

After it was ascertained that I wasn’t too badly hurt, I was quickly bundled into Mom and Dad’s car and wound up spending the rest of the evening on the Mosses’ couch as the card game went on. My knee swelled up to what seemed to be the size of a football and I missed a few days of school.

X-rays didn’t show any particular damage, and the driver of that car had insurance that got Ronnie a new Shelby bike.

That should be the end of the story. But my knee used to ache quite a bit after long walks or running — or it just plain hurt whenever it felt like it. As a grown up, I kept getting shots in that knee, then arthroscopic surgery, then, finally, knee replacement.

My knee’s all better now, even though sometimes TSA gives me a hard time when I’m trying to board an airliner.

My sister? She’s still around. I’ve decided to believe her when she tells me that her remark was in jest.

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at columns@tribtoday.com

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