By Sue Schools
My first experience with wheels was racing down sidewalks on a tricycle and spilling over bumps along the way. Next came a little red wagon pulled by friends, and of course the wagon tilted over bumps, probably overloaded with my little buddies and maybe a dog or two, squealing all the way.
Balancing on four-wheeled skates was a challenge that resulted in many a bloodied knee and a local amusement park offered bumper cars and roller coaster rides for family fun.
My first bicycle came with training wheels as my father jogged alongside while I found my balance. It was fun to pin playing cards in the wheel spokes and pretend to be riding a motorcycle as the cards slapping the spokes sounded like a motorcycle engine, more or less. Many years later, my bicycle speedster resulted in a traumatic crash which involved wheelchair rides to physical therapy to correct a fractured ankle (ouch!)
Many Friday nights during my teen summers were spent cruising up and down Main Street USA in a sweet yellow convertible checking out all the other teens doing the same thing. The drive-in movies challenged our criminal talents while hiding cohorts in the trunk of the car to avoid paying an extra ten cent charge.
My boyfriend through high school drove a Geo Metro which his father was smart enough to buy for him because it was too small for acrobatic indiscretions when we parked at the lake to watch the submarine races. I tried a motorcycle ride once, but vowed never again!
After a couple of years of college, I donned high heels, a bouffant hairdo and caught a commuter bus into Downtown Dallas to work in a high rise office building. And working as a legal secretary, I spent many years at an IBM Selectric keyboard, while the font wheel spun out words of wisdom for profit and posterity. My first car was a gently used lavender blue Karman Ghia which barely held me and a couple of suitcases when I vacationed westward on the two-lane Route 66 to explore the California coasts.
Because I have always been inclined to travel, there are interspersed memories of a horse-drawn wagon on a dusty Texas trail ride, an electric trolly car ride in picturesque San Francisco, a noisy train ride from Dallas to Chicago in the early 60’s, overhead loop rides above glittering Las Vegas lights, a sometimes lucky roulette wheel and subway rides in fantastique Paris. On a brief jaunt to the Riviera, there was a harrowing zip along the narrow mountain roads as the taxi spirited us from Monte Carlo across the border into Italy (those guys are crazy).
Along the way there were planes … small twin engines that thrilled and bumped along the runways. There were small commuter jets that gave me cause to kiss the ground on successful landings, and later multiple commercial jets with their frustrating time schedules and baggage problems. The jumbo 747 jet has no earthly reason to be able to lift off the ground but feels like a Presidential Suite.
My wheels today include a large van which is designed to tote children, pets and supplies to malls, dentists and veterinarians. The van may not be as exciting as that cute convertible of the past, but it certainly fits my current lifestyle.
Large or small, wheels have sped me down life’s many pathways, and now I also find myself walking cautiously … trying not to spill over the cobblestone bumps.