Without Training Wheels
by Leslie Sittner

Drive-in movies were new venues in our area in 1952. Mom was fascinated. We went three or four times each week to different ones. We made a bed in the back of the station wagon and after the first movie, my brother and I had to go to sleep.

During intermission there were often drawings for popular items like bicycles. Ticket stubs were drawn to determine the winner. Since we were “four,” we always thought we had a pretty good chance of winning something.

We did. We won a girl’s bike with my brother’s ticket. Since he was too young to use it, the bike was mine. We were secretive about the real winner; my brother was young but had big ears.

Learning to ride required a week’s worth of training wheels. Dad coached. I did fine. They were removed. I was pretty cocky because I’d been taking gymnastic classes; I was strong, flexible, and had good balance. Unfortunately, steering, pedaling, and staying upright simultaneously was elusive without the extra little wheels. I practiced. And practiced. I practiced more. Dad gave up. Mom ran out of band-aids for my many cuts and scrapes.

When my parents suggested I give up and the bike be stored and saved for my brother, I learned very quickly to stay upright, ride straight, turn, and stop. Good psychology.

Now that I was on my own, I was allowed to ride on our suburban street as long a parent was supervising. I thought I was hot stuff. My little brother wasn’t permitted to leave the yard on his tricycle. I thought I was big-sister-hot-stuff.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is me in 1952 with the drive-in bike, a neighbor, and my brother on his tricycle. To this day he doesn’t know the winning ticket was his.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This prompt brought back memories of easy childhood summers. Apparently there was more gender equity in wardrobes in 1952. Nowadays I always wear tops.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Since returning to upstate New York after 25 years in Manhattan, Leslie Sittner has been turning to the written word as a form of self-expression and reflection. She began this journey two years ago and is just finding her voice in different formats. Two of her stories are now available in print in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press, and on-line prose at 101Words. A variety of prose and poetry can also be seen on-line at Silver Birch Press and 50 Word Challenge.