Growing up in the late 40’s, early 50’s, post-war Australia I regret to say my toys were all home-made and war-related such as tommy guns made from parts of a broken ladder and assembled plastic warplanes of which I must have had fifty or more hanging from cotton threads attached to wires criss-crossing my bedroom.
My favourite toy or possession really was my midsize bike which was just the right size when I got it at about seven but a lot smaller than the other boys bikes as I got older. I hasten to add that that is not me in the image above but the bike looks about the size of mine. I did not have handbrakes though, only a coaster brake in the back wheel activated by pushing back on the pedal. I also had a front and srear mudguards but no gears. The noticeable difference to the big bikes that other kids had was in the handlebars. The bigger bikes were all modelled on racing bikes with curved handles fitted down although it was quite popular in my town for these handlebars to be turned upwards so they were like some sort of moose antlers. In this position it was easier to ride in an upright position rather than having to bend over the bike. I had a halfway solution with my straight handlebar. I could also add a motorbike sound to my pedalling by attaching a piece of folded cardboard to my front spokes with a peg.
I was far more nimble in my little bike, much like a BMX bike these days, which was an advantage when we raced circuits in the old sand pits left over from mining waste. But I just couldn’t match it with the big bikes when it came to speed. An example of this was when a group of us biked out to the cemetery to pick up and follow a re-enactment Cobb and Co coach as it came into town. All the others took off after it and I got further and further behind. When I finally arrived back in town all the welcoming celebrations were well and truly over and the coach had rolled on to the next town. I was exhausted and just a little annoyed that I only had a small bike. But as a grandson of pensioners I was grateful that I at least had a bike to get around on. And looking back, I did love my little bike and it’s differences, it provided me with a lot of pleasure and enjoyment.