It had been several months since my dad’s injury. A motorist, enraged by traffic delays, rammed his way through construction barriers and drove his two-ton, luxury automobile into my dad, pushing him for dozens of yards across the highway until my dad was finally able to wrestle himself away from the still-moving car. The maniac screamed at the other construction workers that he would kill them if they did not get out of his way, and then he sped off through the construction zone, scattering equipment and workers alike.
My dad’s legs were seriously injured. His doctor informed him that to continue working would only cause his legs more harm, and even if he quit his job immediately, he might still end up in a wheelchair. So my dad retired, several years earlier than he had planned. But he refused to accept the dire prognosis of life in a wheelchair, and thus he began a program of daily walking to strengthen his legs. To vary the routine, my dad decided to add bicycle riding to his self-imposed exercise regimen. He hoped the combination of walking and biking would help in the rehabilitation of his legs. But, at that time, my dad did not own a bicycle, so he asked me to take him to a bike shop to buy one.
While I don’t remember ever seeing my dad ride a bicycle while I was a child, I know he had a bike when he was a boy growing up back in the 1940’s because of the stories he told. My brothers and I usually heard these stories while we stood and watched as my dad fixed yet another flat bicycle tire for us. When the inner tubes of one of his childhood bikes were holed beyond repair, my dad told us, he made do with large diameter ropes placed in the tires, as there was no money to buy new tubes. When I was older, I learned that keeping his bike in running order, in any manner possible, was a necessity. My dad lived on a southern Ohio farm so far “back in the sticks” that the mailbox was two miles away. Before he had a bike, or if it was not operable, he had to run the four-mile round trip to the mailbox and back. His father, my grandfather, was an alcoholic who imposed a time