When I was a kid in the ’50s and ’60s in the Beverly neighborhood on the far southwest side of Chicago, my buddies and I amused ourselves all summer long with the three Bs:
Books for free at the Chicago Public Library, and
Board games like Risk, Monopoly, Clue, and Broadside.
No adult supervision.
No apps, devices, television, telephones or technology to tell us what to do.
We were totally self-directed, and our made-in-Chicago Schwinn bicycles were our booster rockets to adventures both near and far.
We would gather in the morning at 106th and Drew and ride in a big circle and wonder what to do, and then it would hit us all at once: “Bike ridin’!”
Bike ridin’ to Dan Ryan Woods at 87th and Western to ride down the sledding hill and through the woods, and bike ridin’ to the Walker Branch of the Chicago Public Library at 111th and Hoyne to cop a buzz from the likes of Jack London, Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, and James Fenimore Cooper. We fertilized our over-active imaginations with pirates, and wild wolves and deerslayers and rafting down the mighty Mississippi, and we readily transformed our bikes into horses, ships, fighter planes, submarines, dog sleds and just any dad-gum vehicle we wanted to ride at any particular moment.
Bike ridin’, meant a ride to Crescent Park for a game of scratch baseball that saw imaginary runners on first and second, right field closed and pitcher’s hand out.
And not an adult in sight.
Kids today are being helicoptered into mush by hyper parents and chauffeured everywhere when they could be bike ridin’.
Bike ridin’ all the way out to the toboggan slides in the Palos Forest Preserves for a launch to the moon.
I lived to tell you that we all lived to tell about it and we didn’t tell our parents that we had ridden all the way west practically to the Mississippi River just because it was a splendid summer day, and we were boys on bikes with over-active imaginations and not a single mom or dad to stand in our way.
Wow, just the sound of it, makes me want to saddle up and head out on the open road with a wonder wife who knew all about bike ridin’ all over the northwest suburbs with her own pals.
We might be 60-somethings, but when we climb aboard our chargers, we are a couple of kids out for some awesome bike ridin’.