11 June 2020
This story is about a bike ride I took in Fort Wayne in 1995. Why would I do that? How did I get there?
In 1946 Arthur Beal married Jeanne Barress. They took up residence in Uniontown Ohio.
305 W Maple St in Uniontown OH home of the newlyweds, Art and Jeanne Beal.
They had two lovely daughters, Charlotte and Elizabeth (Betsy).
Photo circa 1951
Around 1953 (when I was one year old) they bought a lot and had a ranch style house built which was soon to be 157 Dawn Drive. Later two lots were added and they were used for an expansive vegetable garden often tended by Jeanne's father, Juddson Barress.
In the back of the house was a large flat yard. The front yard sloped gently down to Dawn Avenue at the top of a small rise.
The adjacent property was open field and the young Beal girls would delight in hearing the call of the bobwhite quail.
The soon to be new home of Art, Jeanne, Charlotte and Betsy Beal.
The Dream Home and Dream Car
When Betsy and I started dating in 1980 the day finally came when I was to Meet The Parents. By 1980 the house at Dawn Avenue was nicely nestled into a mature landscape of shrubs and shade trees including some large Shingle Oaks in the back lot. The garden plot was now grassed in.
By the front door was a large European Ash tree and a Moraine Locust was close by. The front yard was bordered with a nicely made split rail fence. To me this was the epitome of middle class suburbia, something I was totally unfamiliar with and had only seen pictures of in magazines or on TV. Think "Leave it to Beaver".
Suburban Bliss at Dawn Avenue.
I was welcomed warmly by Art and Jeanne on that day. We relaxed in the yard with a cold beer and then had a nice dinner. Art was a recently retired white collar worker with Goodyear Tire and Rubber where he was a purchasing agent. Jean was a full time house wife and went about her job with pride and professionalism and love. The house was nicely furnished and laid out and Jeanne's decorating enhanced the understated beauty of the interior. I loved that house and always looked forward to visiting.
About 1989 after nearly 40 years of pleasant living at the house on Dawn Avenue Art and Jeanne made the decision to move to Fort Wayne Indiana where daughter Charlotte was living in the nearby farming community of Harlan and raising two kids on her own. Art and Jeanne wanted to be near the grand kids and also be there to help out.
When Art and Jeanne got to Fort Wayne they moved into a middle class apartment complex called "Canterbury Green".
Canterbury Green - Art and Jeanne's new home in Fort Wayne
My oh my, what a change in scenery that was. No more open expanse of well treed greensward or quiet evenings in suburbia in tiny Uniontown. Welcome to the Big City.
Besides occasional visits with Art and Jeanne on the weekends, we always spent every Christmas with them in Uniontown and then Fort Wayne when they moved. This was something we did for many years.
1995 was a bit different in that we went to Fort Wayne for Thanksgiving to celebrate both holidays. And that is how I ended up on a bicycle ride in Fort Wayne.
25 November 1995 - Thanksgiving Day
Report From Fort Wayne
Here I am in glorious Fort Wayne Indiana celebrating (some might say enduring) a combined Thanksgiving/Christmas event with Betsy and her family. Yesterday we had the traditional gorge at Char and Joe's place (Betsy's sister and her husband) who live about 15 miles north east of Fort Wayne
In order to get some much need exercise I decided to ride my Bike Friday to the feast site.
I hit the road at about 10:15am under mostly sunny skies and a temperature of about 25 degrees. I had not done any cold weather cycling other than an 8 mile jaunt in Canaan Valley so I was not sure how I would hold up and by now I had not been on my bike for over a month and I could certainly tell it.
Although the terrain is nearly flat it still seemed a bit of a struggle to get up to my desired cruising speed of 18mph but I finally managed it.
Initially my face and ears felt like they were burning from the wind chill but I eventually warmed up. This was followed by a tingling in my feet as they slowly went numb. I knew this was going to happen but felt the ride would be short enough that it wouldn't matter. What I hadn't counted on was a burning sensation and eventual numbing of my crotch. I had thought about putting on a second layer before leaving the in-laws but had decided not to. Now I regretted it because the feeling slowly turned from discomfort to pain.
Fearful of possible damage to my manhood (or at least what is left of it after being with an insatiable vixen for 17 years) I tried to think of some way of protecting myself from the breeze whistling through my tights and I finally came up with a plan.
I pulled off to the side of the road, unzipped my rack pack and found what I was looking for - my neoprene skull cap I had brought just in case I needed it. Well I needed it but not where I thought I would. After a quick look around to nearby houses for prying eyes, I nestled the family jewels into the skull cap.
Now feeling assured that I would not arrive at my destination in need of a cool water bath, I hopped back in the saddle and was cruising once again. The additional protection was doing its job. Although I didn't feel exactly warm, the pain was subsiding.
As you might expect, the county side around Fart Wayne is mostly suburban close in, but the seemingly endless rows of ranch style homes finally give back the land to the many farms that make up the mosaic one sees from the air.
Holidays are work days like any other if you depend on the land to fill the table with all the traditional excesses that Thanksgiving and Christmas have become associated with so it was no surprise to me that I saw more than one farmer on top of his tractor still working at getting a late crop in from the field. One sight I was not used to seeing was an Amish man and his team of horses plowing a roadside field. The furrows looked deep and the soil looked like heavy dark chocolate. I thought about the strength that must be in those horses in order for them to turn over furrow after furrow until the job was done.
As I peddled on I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. Looking to the left I saw to my surprise a chain-link fence corral with about a dozen large ostrich and at least a dozen or more younger birds. Until then I had no idea these birds could tolerate below freezing temperatures. Seems like a strange thing to come across in northern Indiana.
Shortly I began to recognize the terrain and knew I was within a few miles of my destination. The landmarks that I always use for the turnoff to Char's house are the large silos of a hog farm she has the great good fortune of living next to. I pulled into the gravel drive, now frozen solid from the recent colds snap, and checked my cyclometer. I had made it in an hour flat with an average speed of 15.4mph.
I think I like this flat land biking!
~~~~~~~~~~ BONUS Photo ~~~~~~~~~~
This shot was taken on Friday, September 28th, 2007 at the Critical Mass Ride in San Francisco. The bike is my Bike Friday I mention above. At the time Betsy and I both had these high performance custom made folding bikes which packed into a hard shell Samsonite suitcase. Unfortunately a few days later the bike was stolen while parked at a bike rack in front of the Main Branch of the SF Public Library. Stupidly I had used a cheap cable lock which was easily cut.
I had ridden the bike from where I was staying in the Potrero Hill neighborhood down to Library to join Don Herron on one of his Dashiell Hammett Tours. After gumshoeing around for most of the afternoon with Don and several other tour participants Don wrapped the tour up and I headed back to the Library to hop on my bike and ride back up to Potrero Hill. As I turned there corner I was greeted with an empty bike rack. All that remained of my Bike Friday was the cut cable lock laying there on the sidewalk.
Imagine how I felt. And on top of that I had to trudge the 2 miles back up to Pot Hill through a rather dodgy neighborhood. Ugh...
Critical Mass is a form of direct action in which people meet at a set location and time and travel as a group through their neighbourhoods on bikes. The idea is for people to group together to make it safe for each other to ride bicycles through their streets, based on the old mantra: there's safety in numbers. A Critical Mass is a traffic jam on bikes – though often cheerier. Where usually motor vehicles have right of way, taking space away from those who want to walk or cycle, during a Critical Mass bikes take the priority and the space back from the motor traffic.
The event originated in 1992 in San Francisco (typically held on the last Friday of every month); by the end of 2003, the event was being held in over 300 cities around the world.
That's all folks!