My friend Fr. Jay Finelli asked me to send him some audio about my Christmas traditions and favorite memories.

This little task caused me to remember when I got my very first bicycle, a coveted Schwinn Sting-Ray.  I remember getting this bike about 1967 when we were living in Midland, TX.

It was just like the one shown at the far right of the photo, except that mine was “Campus Green.”  I vividly remember getting this bike because I taught myself how to ride a bike that warm Christmas Day.

My brother Kevin had tried to teach me how to ride a bike before that, but nothing but disaster ensued.  I don’t blame him, but for some reason I just didn’t get it.

We had this old bike from the ’50s with large balloon tires on it.  It had been re-painted and passed down through all the kids.  Kevin would launch me down the sidewalk on this thing and I would invariably crash into a neighbor’s car, or my mom’s rose bushes.  Neither was the preferred outcome.

But on this glorious Christmas Day, when it was about 70 degrees outside, I took my new Sting-Ray out to the street, kicked up the kickstand, climbed aboard, and gave the pedal a mighty push.  I was off down the street like I had known how to ride all my life.

I rode up and down the street a few times, more than a little excited.  I managed to get back to the house, ran inside and made my dad come out and watch, proof that I had finally managed the intricacies of bike riding.

I’ve never looked back.  I love to ride bikes and enjoy the sense of freedom it gives.  I’ve had my share of mishaps, crashes, skinned knees and head cracks since that Christmas, but I wouldn’t trade them.

I kinda wish I had that old Sting-Ray now.  I have no idea what happened to it.    If you happen to see a lonely green Sting-Ray in a pawn shop or garage sale somewhere, let me know…

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