To the Rescue
Her very favorite adult person
in the family was Aunt Willa; the patient, kind,
understanding adored someone she loved to visit either
at her apartment or at work at the May Company at
Wilshire and Fairfax. She was supervisor of sales on the
Third Floor, Suits and Coats Department; later to be the
head of buying for the company. Any day they would lunch
together in the employee’s cafeteria; a joy.
Her very favorite possession was
her Deluxe Schwinn Cruiser bike given to her by her
stepdad. It was his gift to replace her long ridden
twenty-four inch maroon two wheeler that had followed
her from Myra Street to Select Academy Boarding School,
to the Oxford Apartments, finally at 6440 5th street. It
was her only constant companion for six sorrowful years.
It was birthday present from Aunt Willa and Uncle Jim,
when she was four. She was heartbroken when step-daddy,
without her permission, traded in this old companion.
Poor man, he’s trying to be a good new daddy, there he
stood with this horrid green/white replacement, she is
crying uncontrollably, You took away my friend, I hate
you, I don’t want a new bike, it’s ugly, get my old bike
back!” He couldn’t. Time did heal this wound; that and
his allowing her to design a special paint job, gold
with red and blue pin-stripping, horn and lights. And an
added bonus, a big basket, (her new sister, Joanie would
ride with her in that basket until she was too big then
she rode on the boxed frame or the rack in the back).
Her new bike, like her sister
became an inseparable part of her happiness in her new
uneasy life with step-father.
And came this very special day, lunch with Aunt Willa at
the May Company. She washed, polished her bike; wouldn’t
seem right otherwise not on this exceptional day. Off
she rode, at each corner getting off to walk across the
streets. She knew about bicycle safety.
She rode into the May Company’s
parking lot, placed her bike in the rack, it was the
only one there; pushed open the slick polished glass
doors, went into the store up the escalator to meet her
Aunt Willa. The cafeteria was thrilling. They had a
great lunch; she had spaghetti her favorite, Aunt Willa
had a bowl of soup, a salad and tea. They talked about
home, her sister, school. So open, free, they talked
laughed, they shared. Lunch hour ended. They hugged
kissed and off she went for her ride home.
Down to the bike rack. Empty.
Her bike was gone. She ran, looked all over the parking
lot. It was gone, gone, stolen; hysterically, running
back to find her Aunt Willa. Little could be done except
to calm, to call home, arrange for a ride. She was too
distraught for the walk, tears would not stop.
The evening scene: “Why didn’t
you lock your bike?” “You didn’t buy me a lock. I never
had to lock up my bike. Not anywhere.” Well, that was
the end. She was alone, on foot, no hope for a
replacement in the near future; perhaps not ever at all.
For months she watched for her very distinctively
painted cruiser. Every bike rider was checked out, bike
racks at any location examined, the bike shop on La Brea
visited every time she walked in that direction. And one
day, as she checked out the bikes there for repairs, a
Golden painted bike with red and blue pin-stripping
caught her eye. Could it be? The box over the front
frame was absent, the basket gone, as was the chain
guard, light, horn; bike license missing. She could
identify her bike nevertheless. Under the seat is where
she looked. Yes! It was hers. The bolt and nut that held
the seat in position were scarred. She did that herself,
using a pair of pliers instead of a wrench to loosen the
seat to make it higher. She didn’t know what to do, what
to say. So she ran home. Daddy would know what to do.
He was home. “Daddy, I found my
bike! I know it’s mine; the seat bolt is messed up. It’s
at the bike shop at third and La Brea being fixed.” “Get
into the car.” And they went fast. He looked under the
seat. Shouted to the owner, “That’s my daughter’s stolen
bike; who brought it in, where does he live; I want the
address, now!” To her, “You stay here with your bike,
I’ll be right back.”
wasn’t gone long. He had a signed paper in his hand.
Release of ownership. He told this account: Went to the
address. Found there an elderly man. He had purchased
the bike for $25.00. It had a license. The teenager told
him it was his and he was getting a motorcycle. Where
was the license? He had thrown it away. So, you are
going to be charged with receiving stolen goods. I’ll
file the charges myself and meet you in court. The man
signed the paper relinquishing his illegal possession.
The bike, even stripped down was
hers again. It stayed at the bike shop, repairs needed,
parts replaced, all at no charge by the shop owner. Not
even for the chain lock was there a charge. Daddy was
more the beautifully restored bike was locked tight to
the bike racks, poles and posts that were available. She
had learned about guarding her property, that there were
bad guys out there and a good guy at home.