Friday, July 20, 2007

Tagged Again

I was tagged last December and said at the time, if you keep multiplying by five people, how long before every blogger on the planet has been tagged.

Here we are some seven months later and I am tagged again by Lisa, a local Charleston, Goddess and Bloggess. This time the number of unknown facts about me is increased to seven.

There has to be limit to unknown facts, because each time I write about them they are no longer unknown. Anyway, here goes. Seven previously unpublished, trivial facts from my life.

The tag called for “Seven Random Facts,” but I think they read better in chronological order.

1.) I lived in the South of England, early in 1944, the months leading up to the Normandy Invasion. I was eight years old. American soldiers were everywhere, taking part in training exercises in nearby fields and woodlands.

In the days that followed each exercise, my friends and I would go out and collect empty brass rifle shell casings. Sometimes we would find live rounds; these were blank shells without the bullet. I seem to remember they had a cardboard plug to hold the powder in.

My friends and I collected these live rounds, opened them and poured the powder into a glass jam jar. We used the powder to make homemade fireworks.

One day the group decided for whatever reason to climb a tree and set off a firework in its branches. They left me at the base of the tree holding the glass jar of gunpowder.

A spark from the firework above fell into the open jar and it ignited immediately. I felt the hot flames in my face, and I threw the jar, whereon it exploded as it hit the ground, glass flying everywhere.

The other kids came down the tree and beat me up, for wasting all their gunpowder.

2.) At age thirteen I got my first brand new bike; a Hercules Roadster with a three-speed hub gear. (Picture left.)

It had dropped handlebars so to me this made it a racing bike. Everything on the bike was steel, even the mudguards. It must have weighed at least 40 lbs.

One weekend my mother took my younger sister and me on a long bus trip to visit relatives. On returning, we discovered my sister had left a sweater behind.

This was not important but I decided to ride my bike over to my Aunt’s house, the following Saturday, to pick up this item of clothing. I did not tell my mother of my plans; I thought I would surprise her.

The round trip was over a 100 miles and all I had to find my way there was a little pocket diary that measured about 3 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches. It contained maps of the whole of England on about five or six tiny pages.

I set out very early in the morning and made it back just before sunset that same day. I proudly walked in with my sister’s sweater; my mother just about had a fit when she realized what I had done. Instead of thanks for my effort, I was severely chastised.

3.) As a teenager all my friends smoked, this was the 1950s and it was the norm to smoke. I never did, because I was serious about my cycling and racing.

Many racing cyclists of that era did smoke, and it was kind of strange when I look back and remember riders collapsing from exhaustion at the side of the road after the finishing sprint in a road race, and the first thing they did was light up a cigarette.

4.) In the early 1960s I worked as a milkman. I would arrive at the dairy at 6:00 a.m. and load up my battery powered electric milk truck. It had a top speed of about 15 mph.

After driving to the start of my round, I would park the truck and carry the bottles of milk by hand to nearby houses, before moving the truck down the road and repeating the process.

The great thing about this job, I was paid for an eight-hour day, but was encouraged to finish earlier. I would memorize the amount of milk for every house so I didn’t need to look at my order book, and I ran the entire round which covered about ten miles.

I would be finished each day by 10:00 a.m. This gave me the rest of the day to ride my bike, and build the occasional bike frame. The only day I worked later was Friday when I had to collect the money and take orders for the following week.

I bought rubber sole “Doc Martin” work boots that were guaranteed for six months, and would wear them out in three, take them back and get a free pair.

5.) When I had my framebuilding business in Worcester, England in the 1970s, a young boy from the neighborhood, aged about eight or nine years old would often stop by on his way home from school, and watch me build frames.

One day he brought his older brother, aged about fourteen, to look at my frames. After studying some finished frames, I had hanging in the shop, the older boy remarked, “They are very good; as good as the ones you can buy at the bike store.”

6.) While working in the Masi shop in California, in the early 1980s I was doing a frame repair. I was replacing the right chainstay on a Masi frame. I had removed the damaged stay and was preparing the frame to receive the new one.

I stabbed my arm on the sharp point on the bottom bracket shell, and hit a main artery. Blood spurted out in a two-foot jet, pulsating to the rhythm of my heartbeat.

I stuck my thumb over the wound and applied pressure, while I was driven to the hospital. On arrival, I was placed in a wheelchair and taken to the emergency room.

I sat there, waited, and waited my thumb still pressed tightly against my arm, afraid to let go, or I would surely bleed to death.

When I finally did see a doctor, I took my thumb away, there was no blood, and I could barely see a puncture wound. The doctor stuck a band-aid on it and charged me fifty bucks. A lot of money back then.

7.) In 1983 I opened my own frameshop in San Marcos, California. It was all work back then trying to get the business off the ground.

The bane of my life was people soliciting and selling all manner of stuff I didn’t need. It got so bad that I would lock the door to the front office.

One day a guy walked in selling Kermit the Frog glove puppets. He had a puppet on each hand, with little red tongues that shot in and out, and immediately when into his sales pitch.

I shouted, “Who the fuck left the front door unlocked.” I walked towards the guy to show him the way out and lock the door behind him.

He must have thought I was about to attack him and he turned to run. The problem was the door had closed behind him, and he couldn’t turn the door knob because he had a Kermit the Frog puppet on each hand.

As I got closer, and closer, he kept glancing back over his shoulder with a look of sheer terror like an animal in the slaughter house.

Just as I reached him, he got the door open and was through the front office and out the front door in a flash. I locked the door behind him and went back to work.

I wonder about this guy. Did he realize he was not really cut out to be a Kermit the Frog puppet salesman, and get a real job?

Maybe after this incident he at least left one hand free to open the door for a quick get away.

There you have it. I am changing the rules set by the Great Bogging Poobah, whoever he might be. I am dropping it back down to five unknown facts, and passing this on to five other bloggers.

If you don’t want to participate, just pretend you didn’t read this. That’s what I am going to do if this comes back around before the end of 2008.

I tag:



Yokota Fritz said...

*slap* Huh..? Hullo? Oh, I've been tagged.

One of my acquaintances in the Bay Area is Ellen Fletcher. She recently related her experiences as an orphaned teen in York near a chocolate factory during WWII.

Five random facts. Let's see what I can come up with. I don't think I have anything to match the Kermit story.

Ed W said...

Whatever are you doing up at 4:41 AM, Dave? I posted a bit about my reading on CycleDog, but I didn't tag 5 others. I'll edit and do it tomorrow, 'cause right now I need a shower. It was 96F here this afternoon, and I'm a bit whiff.

kimbofo said...

I enjoyed reading your facts. Great story about the gunpowder!!

Lisa said...

Thanks was 7 because another Charleston blogger began it on 07/07/07

I should have altered it like you and made it 100 facts. I can read your writing and stories all day long :)