My Second Bike
I don’t quite remember when I first learned to ride a bike, but it was in Cross City, Florida and I was probably about six years old. I had been born there, but my parents moved to Tampa when I was about three. My maternal grandmother, her daughter, my Aunt Reid and my two cousins John Weston and Seaborn still lived there. I spent part of most summers in Cross City, a very small town in Dixie County on the Suwannee River — you can’t get any more southern than that.
It seemed to me that John and Seaborn had every toy possible and a few bikes. Seaborn, a year younger than me, got a new bike for his birthday and gave me his old one. When my folks picked me up that summer, I was so excited to have the bike in the trunk of our car. Mind you, it was a boy’s bike and I was determined to make it a girl’s bike. One morning, I took Seaborn’s bike to the local garage up the street from my Tampa home and asked one of the mechanics if they could saw off the straight bar and lower it, so it looked like a girl’s bike. I think they may have even painted it a more girly color and don’t believe they even charged me. I couldn’t understand it, but Seaborn was furious when he saw it. He got over it in time.
My second bike is the real story though. On special Saturdays, my sister, brother and I would be taken to the Palace Theater in downtown Tampa, a real treat for us over the small Seminole Theater near our house. The Palace Theater not only had the Saturday movie matinee, but contests were held, and we were given Sealtest ice cream. One particular contest involved Sealtest cottage cheese. We kids were supposed to complete the sentence: “Why I like Sealtest cottage cheese . . .” I didn’t like cottage cheese, but that didn’t stop me. The next week I wrote on my entry post card: “I like Sealtest cottage cheese because it is so creamy and white and makes my cheeks so rosy and bright.”
I proudly gave it to my mom to mail when she and my older sister went shopping. She forgot to mail it, and she said to my sister, “Oh well, Virginia Kay won’t really know if I mailed it or not.” My sister said, “Let’s just drive by the post office and I’ll run in and mail it.”
They did and I did win! The prize was a blue Columbia bike — the most beautiful bike in the world. I remember waiting on the edge of our yard when the truck appeared with that bike in the back. When the driver unloaded the bike and I jumped on it. I think I can count that as one of the happiest memories of my life.