When I was young, I dreamed of having my very own stingray bicycle — with the banana seat and high handlebars. My stingray bike would be purple and I’d have streamers hanging from the handlebars and a basket in front of course — and a super tall sissy bar in the back. Every year I’d ask for a stingray bike from Santa and for my birthday. “Puuuulllleeeasssee Mom?”
But Mom and Dad found out I was blind in one eye when I was around five. My brother and I had red scooters which we’d ride down Second Avenue and around the block in San Francisco, but Mom said she didn’t think I should ride a bike because I was blind in one eye.
I was devastated.
So, I decided to borrow other people’s bikes. Most of the six Solis boys who lived up the street had bikes, and I started on a small red bike which one of the younger boys rode. Then Ricky Solis showed up one day with a stingray bike, called the “Kangaroo.” My mouth dropped open and I could hardly contain myself. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
I still remember how I’d bribe the Ricky and his brothers so that I could ride the stingray bikes around. They didn’t have many board games at their house, but we had all of them. So they’d sit on our front porch for hours playing Sorry, Monopoly, Hands Down, Chutes and Ladders and the Game of Life while I’d ride Ricky’s stingray bike all over the neighborhood attempting to make skid marks on the sidewalk by pushing back on the pedals and braking really fast. Feeling the wind against my face as I rode up and down hills was the best feeling ever.
I never got my own stingray bike, but when I was around 11 or 12, Mom got a red balloon-tire cruiser bike that my brother, sister and I were supposed to share. I was sort of excited, but it wasn’t quite the same. I almost forgot about my dream when I got a Royce Union three-speed bike as a teenager, but it’s always been on my mind.
Yesterday I did a crazy thing.
I found a purple Stingray bike on Craigslist. I couldn’t stop staring at the small photo of the bike with its high handlebars and tall sissy bar. It was my dream bike since 1965 when I was eight years old. I was sitting outside with my boyfriend and a couple of his friends when I looked at it via Craigslist on my iPhone. There was a second purple Stingray bike available — a boy’s bike — his and hers.
I texted the number on Craigslist and said, “Hi, is the groovy purple Stingray bike for chicks still available? If so, I’d love to buy it! My name is Mary and I live in South Eugene.”
The guy, whose name was Chuck, answered: “Yes it is. And yes, it is groovy.”
He then called me, and we made arrangements for him to bring the bike over so I could check it out. I showed the picture to Savoy, my boyfriend, and Reena, Robin and Louise.
Reena and Robin said they had Stingrays too. Louise thought the bike would be too small for me and my boyfriend didn’t say much. Maybe he was in shock or something.
So, I put on my mask and met Chuck at the truck. He brought out the purple Stingray with the high sissy bar and it exceeded my expectations. I felt like a kid again. i was so excited.
“Oh look!” I exclaimed.
“You should ride it,” someone said. Well, of course. I got right on the bike. The handlebars were set up kind of forward like in the Easy Rider movie, but I still managed to ride it. No it’s not a fancy bike and doesn’t have gears, and you have to push back on the pedals, but riding that bike even a little made me incredibly happy. I rang the bell on the handlebar too.
It turns out the bike is an actual 1965 model (the year I was eight years old), and Chuck refurbished it and painted it, but it’s the original bike. And now it’s mine! I’m so excited! I don’t have a car yet, but I finally have my purple Stingray bike.
Dreams do come true.