The Bicycle


I do lament today's throw-away society. So often we acquire a "pretty" and then something happens to mar the pretty and we throw it away. My dad never threw anything away. His shop out back was filled to the brim and the overflow surrounded it like undulating waves hitting the sides of a swimming pool. That's my Dad, fixing a fence outside their little trailer. That's me superimposed. (Those little Brownie cameras were sometimes difficult to use, but my Mom never missed a chance to take some pictures.)

Back to my Dad. He saw potential in everything he looked at. A roll of wire could tie down, hang up or hold together anything. Coca Cola was good for drinking on a hot day and cleaning battery tops. Nails that held boards together for years would hold other boards together if one just pulled them out properly and the boards could build a mighty fine fence and a gate. See?

When I was a kid, I never realized how poor were were. All our things looked brand new. We had a great house and a car and a truck. That's not poor! But what sacrifice did those blessings come?

We didn't see Dad all that much when we were kids. He would eat breakfast with us and then Mom insisted we wait dinner on him. Sometimes we wouldn't eat until 8:00 pm. He worked 6 days a week and Mom worked, too. We didn't know what latch key kids were, but that's what we were. I never heard a single complaint from Dad. When it came time for me and then my sister to go to college, Dad got extra jobs and said, holding out his work worn hands, "As long as I've got these two hands, my daughters will go to college without help from anyone." That wasn't pride. That was determination born from the Great Depression and deep, deep poverty. He never had shoes in the summer and his pockets held a stick called Stick Boy instead of quarters and nickles. He carried around the same 33 cents in his pocket for 6 months. He knew the value of a penny, not just a dollar.

However, we did not have a lot of extras like lavish vacations. We camped at Lake Bruin which is very close to where that picture above was taken at Lake Yucatan. We always had good things, though. Like our bicycles. I never knew until I was an adult that Dad rebuilt and refurbished our first bicycles. Green, mine. Blue, my sister's. Gorgeous, sparking in the sun and looked like racing bikes, so beautiful, in fact that they went missing from behind our house. We never saw them again, but by then we were taking a bus to school and not having to ride our bikes to school. Dad always wanted the best for us, always, which is why he worked such long hours and why he labored over those rusty bikes making them sparkling new again.

The same thing was true about the house he built on Lake Bruin. They didn't have a lot of money, but he labored for 25 years over a house to retire in. Imagine that. The patience that takes.

In the picture below, you can see the biplane he built from scratch. Hours and hours he stretched and schelacked (sp?) the fabric on the wings and body. The Buker (that's supposed to be a u with 2 little dots over it), it was called. It is upside down, not the picture. Dad invented a breather for the fuel system so that the engine would get the fuel even though the plane was not flying right side up. Many airshows and Fly-ins featured this plane and the pilot, Marion Cole. What times we had at those.

The land at Lake Yucatan was sold. The bicycles were stolen. The biplane was sold. The log house at Lake Bruin was sold. Other people enjoy the labors of my father. Oh, but that isn't what is imporant. My father left a much better legacy than money could buy or labor could earn. He instilled in my sister and me a deep and abiding love for our heavenly Father. It was he that brought us to church and lived a life that reflected Jesus. Through him, we understood what a gentle and loving heavenly Father we had. Through his love and servanthood, we understood what God expected of us in our Christian walk. Oh, he wasn't perfect. He had some strange ideas at times. But, my Dad was a wonderful Christian man who always held out a helping hand no matter how few the coins in his pocket because he could always go out to the shop and find something to fix the problem and he always depended on God to guide him, teaching us to do the same.

He lives with the Lord now. How precious the thought that one day I will be with him again, but I am also a bit jealous of where he is. I want to be there, too.
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