Dad and Mom bought each of the twin
girls, Marlene and Darlene, a new Schwinn bicycle for Christmas. They would be
in their teens on their next birthday in March. I knew it was a real stretch
for our parents to buy gifts as expensive as new bicycles, but they did it by
saving up for a year. The bikes were a beautiful light blue color and even had
battery-powered headlights on the front fender.
As for me, I
already had a new Monarch bike that I had purchased with money I made from my
paper route. I used my bike to get back and forth to school and to deliver my
Although I made pretty good money
delivering the newspaper, I figured I could always use a little extra money to
buy neat things I might want. So I started using Marlene's and Darlene's bikes
to rent out for short rides to other kids in our neighborhood. I tried to do it
when the two girls weren't using them, but there were a few times I had to take
them away from the girls when I had clients to whom I had promised rides. I
told the girls that my bike had problems and I needed to use their bike for a
short time. I always kept my bike chained up with a lock so they couldn't know
whether I was being truthful or not. This did not make the girls happy, so they
told Mom on me. Of course she scolded me, but I told her the same story about
my bike having troubles. She seemed to buy the story, although I feel sure she
noticed that my bike was always good for delivering my newspapers at four
o'clock in the afternoon.
My method was to ride the bikes to the
renter's house away from our house, so the girls always thought I was actually
using the bike myself. I tried to be careful and only use one of their bikes at
a time, but there were times I had both of them rented out at the same time.
That was when I had to come up with tall tales in order to confiscate both
bikes at nearly the same time. My fee for renting their bikes was ten cents
each half hour or fifteen cents for an entire hour. Weekends were my busiest
rental times, especially Saturdays.
One day one of my twin sisters (I forget
which one) saw one of my clients on a bike exactly like theirs. They told the
kid they had a bike just like the one he was riding. My side business started
to seriously unravel at that point because that kid told my sister that he
didn't own the bike, he was just renting it from their brother, which was me.
I don't recall all the details now, but
suddenly my lucrative side business hit the skids. Mom went down to talk to the
boy who had the rental bike and he told her he was renting it from me.
That pretty much
ended my extra income potential. Of course Mom was very angry with me and told
Dad what I had been doing with the girls' two rental bikes. Dad was really
upset with me too, but for whatever reason he did not beat me. Maybe it was
because he thought I was too old to get the kind of whippings I had gotten
before. Whatever the reason, I was extremely thankful.
Paul R. Meredith