Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

New friend shares love of bicycles and clay

As Chub and I entered the youth hostel, I rolled my bike to the registration desk, and Chub followed with our luggage. A young woman came with an outstretched hand, saying, "You’re Sue, and we’re looking forward to hearing about your bicycle tour." I introduced Chub, and she said, "A Kansas City woman will be coming soon to talk with you about this kind of bike. No one sells these in Kansas City." Priscilla Wood arrived asking questions as she came in the door.

Priscilla Wood, with persistent back pain, was advised to ride a bike. She rode her three speed, but the pain was unbearable! The doctor said, "Oh, no! I meant a bike with a firm saddle. You’ll ride in a forward position, and your weight will be borne by handlebars and pedals as well as by the saddle."

He described one like my 10-speed French Peugeot and said, "The youth hostel has a speaker who will bring her bike this weekend." Priscilla and I had a short visit while Chub put up projector and screen. My slides were about the recent adventure, alone, in Hawaii, Samoa and New Zealand.

The next weekend Priscilla and Herb drove to Columbia and bought a Peugeot like mine from our son, Walt, who adjusted it for perfect fit and explained about the gearing, pedaling and other details of European road bikes. Two weeks later they were back with two sons buying bikes like their mother’s. Later they came to outfit Herb and their two growing girls. Priscilla’s back was much better.

That fall the Woods family hauled bikes to Columbia and rode with Boonslick Bicycle Club on a trip to Fulton and back.

I learned that Priscilla was an artist, a potter and sculptor and that her daughter, Judy, had won a girls’ bike race in Kansas City on her new Peugeot. I now called her PW. Suddenly Herb’s work took him to Washington, D.C., and they were buying a small home on seven acres near Lorton, Va. Janet can have her horse, and Judy can keep in shape for bicycle racing. That was sad news but we kept in touch.

In February 1974, I mentioned to Priscilla that my daughter Nancy and I were going to England for two weeks to buy antiques and visit friends. "We’ll rent a car for most of the time, but we’re also taking bikes. Do you want to go, too?" She was eager! I want to visit the Leach Potteries and spend a week with the friends Herb met during World War II. That invitation led to my being welcome at three famous potteries.

Priscilla made an appointment for us to tour the workshops of the late Bernard Leach at St. Ives. Huge clouds of black smoke rolled as we approached; they were firing the four-chamber, wood-burning climbing kiln. What a thrill!

Priscilla bought a remaining "Leach Rabbit" plate made and signed by the master. We found Michael Leach and his wife eager to show Americans their workshop and visit about American pottery. David Leach was making a large pot by throwing two wet pieces and, while we watched, joining one to the top of the other for a lovely tall jar. John Leach was pulling handles and attaching them to his father’s large steins. One evening we saw a documentary film of the famous Bernard.

I came home eager to get on with my retirement because I was positive that clay and bicycling were in my future, and so was my friend, Priscilla Wood.

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