Image Credit: Royalty Free Bicycle Illustrations by Ron Leishman
See previous blog on Mooloo School Days for the background to this story.
Only those who’ve braved those washboard dirt roads between our rural property and the Mooloo school in the late 40’s will comprehend the bone shattering journey as we made our way to school and back home each day. When Eric bought bicycles for his boys in belated recognition neighbour kids had a plan to test the evolutionary theory “Survival of the Fittest,” using his kids to test the hypothesis, he’d no idea the test would mutate, and be shifted to a different method of enquiry.
The feral neighbour children would much rather have jogged us to school that 5 miles each day but they were adaptable. After a couple of days jogging beside us to test the speed of our bicycles on corrugated road they began to look for new means of entertainment. So we were surprised to see them at the front gate one morning with what looked like the illegitimate offspring of a 19th century ‘Penny Farthing” bicycle. These dinosaurs were built for the kind of roads we had in this rural area and skimmed along the top of corrugations effortlessly. Once again the ferals had a weapon designed to leave us gasping for air in their dusty contrails.
But this obvious confirmation of their superior rural knowledge was not enough. Those fertile feral brains came up with a plan to convert our shiny city-slicker bikes into something rural rednecks would be proud to own. They cruised beside us for a couple of days and exhibited an unusual amount of interested benevolence for our well being. Then, when the time was ripe they advanced their nefarious plan. Why should we put out so much effort when we could make our journey mutually much more comfortable? They produced a couple of ropes and solemnly unfolded their plan. They’d tow us on the upward road leading home, and in the mornings we‘d tow them on the downward slope to school.
And to innocent city bred children this seemed like a plan made in heaven. The ferals would do the hard yards on the upward incline, and we’d return the favour on the downward slope to school. Agreement was reached and the deal was sealed with the shaking of hands. I’m here to report it worked very well on our way home that afternoon. Apart from the bone jarring experience of corrugated roads we didn’t arrive home at the top of our mountain that evening with a blood pressure reading of 200 over 160. In fact we were so cheerful our parents were tempted to wonder if we were into some kind of secret mischief and watched us warily.
Next morning we readied ourselves at the top of the mountain and prepared for the comparatively easy job of towing the ferals to school. Ropes were hitched to the back of our bicycles and the front of the feral neighbour children’s bicycles while they whistled a happy tune. We prepared to do our duty, grateful for their magnanimous act in surrendering the downward grade of the journey.
But while we were proceeding at speed on the way a secret signal must have been given, for suddenly brakes were applied simultaneously to the trailing bicycle dinosaurs and we felt the snap of our rear mudguards as they joined the dinosaurs now at rest behind us.
“We must’ve hit a rock?” offered the feral children innocently. We searched their faces for traces of mirth but all they registered was shocked concern. They removed the ropes. “Maybe we shouldn’t do this again!” the eldest one muttered. Innocent as we were we knew we’d been scammed!
Now these ferals were muscular and tall so prudence dictated we shrug it off and add this to our accumulating body of knowledge on how the human race interacts with each other. While in no way equal to these ferals in stature we determined to use our little grey cells as our means of protection from that point on. Darwin was wrong it seems, while by no means the fittest, we survived those years on the farm!
“© Copyright Ian Grice 2011, all rights reserved”