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< Echoes of Memory

Goodbye, Bicycle


By Esther R Starobin

With an inward sigh of relief, I handed the bike over to Cristina. It was a beautiful bike, hardly used, with ten gears. I really had tried to master the gears, but I walked it to the top of my street because I couldn’t make it up the hill peddling. I was assured by my daughter and son-in-law that if I changed gears, I would be able to. Well, maybe they could but I just couldn’t remember how to change the gears or what direction to change them. It had been my retirement gift from them. Very thoughtful, I supposed.

I had ridden bikes most of my earlier life. In England it was our most frequent mode of transportation. We would ride into Norwich to shop or visit. When Alan worked on farms in the summer, Aunty Dot and I would ride out into the country to bring Alan lunch and to visit awhile. Of course, these were good solid old-fashioned bikes without a bunch of gears.

When I first arrived in the USA, I didn’t have a bike; but when I went to college, I acquired one. Again it was a good sturdy bike with a large basket. I used the bike to ride to my classes on the campus. At the time, I lived with my sister and brother-in-law and their young son, Aaron. I often popped Aaron into the basket and took him for a ride. I remember one time we went to the farm and saw a mother pig with her babies. She took an instant dislike to us and started toward us. I never peddled so fast in my life to get us to safety. Eventually, I rode my bike to the school where I was student teaching. I often had a large pile of books and papers to fill the basket.

So, you can see I was truly a very competent bike rider for most of my life. I’m not the most mechanically adept person and this new bike really confused me. I wanted to be able to use it to ride in the lovely park not far from our home. The more I tried to master the bike, the more frustrated I became.

Relief came, but in a strange way. Timm Lochmann, son of the historian from Adelsheim, came to the University of Maryland as a postdoc. His wife, Cristina, accompanied him. We spent a lot of time together during this time. One day, Timm mentioned he was looking for a bike for Cristina. I almost jumped for joy. I told the two they could have my bike. They accepted immediately but insisted on paying for it. My bike, lock and all, went to live with someone who could really appreciate it. I haven’t been on a bike since.

© 2022, Esther Rosenfeld Starobin. The text, images, and audio and video clips on this website are available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws.

Tags:   esther rosenfeld starobinechoes of memory, volume 14life after the holocaustbelongings


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