I Am, The Bike Rack Generation;
I’m a child of the 70’s and 80’s. Looking back, Reminiscence comes in many forms, sights, sounds, smells definitely laughter. I spent most of my summers playing and inventing games to play, my imagination seemed to have no boundaries or rules except the one; keep inventing games to play. We played for hours daily feeding only on our emotions, and laughter, never wanting the day to end, and never wanting to go home for a bite for fear it might be time to stay home. Our sneaker soles were worn smooth from all the running and sports we would play daily. Our jeans were old and scuffed, and usually worn with holes in the knees from the wipeouts and sliding around all day long.
We played; soccer, football, baseball, street hockey, skateboarding, bmxing and the list goes on and on and on… The sun would set on us playing cops and robbers, hide and seek, tag, red rover, chasing my first crush, and again the list goes on. We rode our bikes and never judged the banana seat in the crowd, we would ride barefoot, short shorts and shaggy hair. Our neighbour would be the guy working on his Camaro with fat mags, bondo on a door, and the sexy tunes of KISS playing on a ghetto blaster in the background with a case of stubbies next to him; but we just kept on playing.
Our winters were spent on the street yelling car and moving nets every 15 minutes followed by a resounding, “game on!” I could still hear those wooden sticks knocking together as we banged shoulders fighting for the ball in our daily street hockey games. We picked teams by throwing our sticks in the middle and one guy would close his eyes and throws sticks to one side or the other. Our tournaments would last for hours, rivalling only some of the greatest and longest playoff games of that era. We were loyal to our teams but more so to each other; I may not see them often but 37 years later I still see the boys hanging out in that parking lot in Dover.
We are the bike rack generation because when we were called out to the racks we showed up, scared but brave, ready to inflict justice to those that wronged us. We left it all on the floor, we got up, dried the tears, dusted ourselves off and shook hands. There was a sort of morbid integrity in the experience. We had to show up. There was enough time to lick our wounds later, there was a game to be played when we got home. Our friends would either taunt us or embrace us after the scuffle, but either way, win, lose, or draw we came out alright. Just pull back that shaggy hair and throw the old Yankee cap back on and keep moving, my momma was waiting with dinner and then I had to get right back outside to play.
There is an admiration to be said for learning what integrity was at such a young age without knowing what the word meant. We grew up, and we brought that integrity to our sports later in high school. We worked hard because we wanted that trophy, we wanted the ribbon; hey, we wanted that girl in the stands. For those that know me would know that I grew up poor in Dover, my parents couldn’t always make it to my games, or tournaments. I used to ride my bike to my local Tae Kwan Do when I was 13 which was in Forest Lawn,those were different times and it was just a different type of game and rich or poor I just wanted to play.
I think I speak for all of those that experienced this era when I say, we are the bike rack generation. If you get anything from this blog, it’ll be that we had integrity, we walked tall, we leaned on each other when needed and we never stopped playing. For those that could afford it we had a neighbourhood Atari or ColecoVision, so why the hell would we stay in when the outdoors were much more enticing? We broke curfews regularly since all that was waiting was a small beating; so what, everyone’s got to take a beating sometime. Those were definitely different times, I come home now and the streets are quiet, the TV’s are on, the play stations are overheating, the bicycles are dusty, and kids have more runners in a closet then Imelda Marcos… with perfect tread on their soles.
I dedicate this blog to those that played with me or those that grew up playing, we played for hours, days, months, and years; I think some may still be playing. I dedicate this blog to the bike rack generation that held no ill will when they were down, rather stood tall the very next day, earning their respect. Now looking back, I don’t envy this generation. Just remember how far your imagination took you. I remember the first girl I kissed, my first fist fight, my first trophy. I remember embracing my friends after a neighbourhood game of football beating the older kids. I’m about to become a father now, and I’m going to teach my son what the bike racks meant to me. What my friends meant to me, and what integrity is, but more importantly I’m going to teach him to play, and to never stop playing everyday for hours on end; I love you little man, and I can’t wait to meet you…
Stay healthy my friends, and keep playing; you’ll be healthy for it…