Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The tricycle thief (Google-map-walking through a childhood neighbourhood, Part Two)

Our journeys to downtown Edmonton always started with a three-block walk to 124 Street where the buses ran. (According to the current map, there is now a bus stop directly in front of where our house used to stand, probably put there for the seniors in the residence that has taken its place.) It seemed a very long trek to an under-eight-year-old, rife with all sorts of hazards. For example, there was a cantankerous get-off-my-lawn guy who permanently traumatized me by yelling at me when I accidentally stumbled on his carpet-like green.

The walk was usually taken with my mum (although I was on my own when the lawn ogre roared). I remember walking with my dad on one occasion, desperately trying to match his stride which took up three of mine.
View Larger MapMore often though, I ventured to the end of my block and sat on the curb facing east. Warm in the afternoon sun (I certainly didn't do this in the winter), I would thoughtlessly toss ants to their watery grave in the gutter while I waited for the familiar figure to appear in the distance. When the figure returned my frantic wave, it was my cue to run to meet my mother returning from work.

One day a group of young kids on tricycles appeared in silhouette, peddling from the next lane in the next block. Just as suddenly, they vanished, along with the approaching figure of my mum. Baffled, I ran the half-block to where my mother had disappeared, halting to gaze down the deserted back lane. A few minutes later, there was my mother, purse over her shoulder, grimly towing two tricycles.

A few weeks before, my sister and I had received our very first tricycles. Mine was an electric blue, hers a bright green. Both had bright plastic ribbons flowing from the handlebars. They had promptly vanished from our front yard. Not long afterward, I was engaged in my favourite activity of climbing on our wooden white-washed front gate and riding it until it slammed shut with a satisfying click. A posse of about five or six kids trundled by, either riding or clinging to a largish tricycle and a smaller one. The ringleader of this mob was a rather loathsome little girl called Gigi. (With a name like that, I suppose she didn't have a chance.) She jeered: "You can't ride on my bike!"

Being five, I was too distracted by this out-of-left-field insult to notice the details of the trikes. Mama, returning home that summer evening, had recognized the tricycles immediately, despite the miscreants having partially ripped the decorative ribbons from the handlebars to disguise them. She had, after all, spent precious time and money acquiring them. I can only imagine the terror of Gigi and her gang when pursued by my mother who, although by nature a gentle person, could be formidable. She later told me that they abandoned their ill-gotten vehicles in the backyard and ran for the safety of the house. She, of course, pounded on the door and confronted the startled mother.

Once home, Mother covered the white mudguards on the wheels with our address in large letters, and we were strictly required to keep our trikes in the backyard shed. I don't remember seeing much of Gigi after that. No great loss.

(This is my continuation of the exercise suggested by John Reid at his blog Anglo-Celtic Connections.)


SOL's view said...

Uh huh. Yep. For-MID-able! *nods*

Persephone said...

Only one thing worse than messin' with mamas....messing with grandmamas!