Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Early country roads were unfit for bike adventures

Hattie Page and my dear mom helped me plan my first bicycle adventure; I’d ride to the Pages’ and go with them to the pie supper at Turner School. Then I’d spend the night with my friend, Catherine Page, and Mom would drive down to get my bike and me in the dairy truck the next morning. I would have a bike ride of about six miles, and the two women would be in contact with each other by rural telephones - to be sure everything went as planned. The Pages didn’t have a car, but Mom would come in the dairy truck if I had bike trouble. I started in late afternoon and made good time on the Fulton Gravel Road, but we hadn’t counted on the country roads being so muddy.

During the early part of that summer, I rode my brand-spanking-new, $39.95 Sears and Roebuck girl’s bike to and from the vacation Bible school at First Baptist Church in Columbia. I was almost 10. The "big road" was creek gravel packed by cars, trucks and horse-drawn vehicles and was called the Fulton Gravel because it was the all-weather road between Columbia and Fulton - it was also part of the shortest route between New York City and the West Coast, but almost no cars were driven long-distance in 1924! My bicycle adventure to the Pages’ house would be two or three miles on the big road and more than that on the unnamed country roads. Mom and Hattie Page discussed this and planned to keep in contact with each other by telephone till I was safely at Hattie’s house. The first turn, up a steep rocky hill, was also well traveled. About halfway to the Pages’ I turned left on to a less traveled, unnamed road - now called New Haven Road - that had mud holes that had been made passable for cars with the addition of big boulders or logs.

I pushed the bike by its handlebars while lifting the rear wheel to keep mud from balling up between the back wheel and that beautiful tan-and-cream-colored fender. I stopped often, got a stick and dug the mud out from between the tire and fender. I was unaware that the sun was going down in the west and it would soon be dark. I lifted the bike’s rear wheel by the saddle, and the front wheel was turning, but I was tired, and some strange night noises were getting louder.

Today, almost 80 years later, I’m amazed that fear never entered this event! A strange noise was getting louder, and I assumed it was an owl. No, it was Hattie Page, calling, "Sue, Sue, Sue " What a friend!

In five-buckle overshoes and by the light of the moon, she had come to help me. She held the back wheel out of the mud as I guided the front wheel with the handlebars. Thus we finally arrived at their home - and at the Turner School pie supper. Hattie Page became a special "third party" in my life - next to Mom and Dad.

I’ve traveled this road most of my adult life and have never failed to recall the exact spot where the "owl" seemed to be calling my name.

I’ve traveled thousands of miles by bicycle in this country, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and elsewhere - with full saddlebags - sometimes alone. I believe this childhood experience gave me extra courage. There has not been any occasion when some "Hattie Page" didn’t lift me out of a tight spot.

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