Original writings by Adrienne Nater

To the Rescue

Her very favorite adult person in the family was Aunt Willa; the patient, kind, understanding adored someone she loved to visit either at her apartment or at work at the May Company at Wilshire and Fairfax. She was supervisor of sales on the Third Floor, Suits and Coats Department; later to be the head of buying for the company. Any day they would lunch together in the employee’s cafeteria; a joy.

Her very favorite possession was her Deluxe Schwinn Cruiser bike given to her by her stepdad. It was his gift to replace her long ridden twenty-four inch maroon two wheeler that had followed her from Myra Street to Select Academy Boarding School, to the Oxford Apartments, finally at 6440 5th street. It was her only constant companion for six sorrowful years. It was birthday present from Aunt Willa and Uncle Jim, when she was four. She was heartbroken when step-daddy, without her permission, traded in this old companion. Poor man, he’s trying to be a good new daddy, there he stood with this horrid green/white replacement, she is crying uncontrollably, You took away my friend, I hate you, I don’t want a new bike, it’s ugly, get my old bike back!” He couldn’t. Time did heal this wound; that and his allowing her to design a special paint job, gold with red and blue pin-stripping, horn and lights. And an added bonus, a big basket, (her new sister, Joanie would ride with her in that basket until she was too big then she rode on the boxed frame or the rack in the back).

Her new bike, like her sister became an inseparable part of her happiness in her new uneasy life with step-father.
And came this very special day, lunch with Aunt Willa at the May Company. She washed, polished her bike; wouldn’t seem right otherwise not on this exceptional day. Off she rode, at each corner getting off to walk across the streets. She knew about bicycle safety.

She rode into the May Company’s parking lot, placed her bike in the rack, it was the only one there; pushed open the slick polished glass doors, went into the store up the escalator to meet her Aunt Willa. The cafeteria was thrilling. They had a great lunch; she had spaghetti her favorite, Aunt Willa had a bowl of soup, a salad and tea. They talked about home, her sister, school. So open, free, they talked laughed, they shared. Lunch hour ended. They hugged kissed and off she went for her ride home.

Down to the bike rack. Empty. Her bike was gone. She ran, looked all over the parking lot. It was gone, gone, stolen; hysterically, running back to find her Aunt Willa. Little could be done except to calm, to call home, arrange for a ride. She was too distraught for the walk, tears would not stop.

The evening scene: “Why didn’t you lock your bike?” “You didn’t buy me a lock. I never had to lock up my bike. Not anywhere.” Well, that was the end. She was alone, on foot, no hope for a replacement in the near future; perhaps not ever at all. For months she watched for her very distinctively painted cruiser. Every bike rider was checked out, bike racks at any location examined, the bike shop on La Brea visited every time she walked in that direction. And one day, as she checked out the bikes there for repairs, a Golden painted bike with red and blue pin-stripping caught her eye. Could it be? The box over the front frame was absent, the basket gone, as was the chain guard, light, horn; bike license missing. She could identify her bike nevertheless. Under the seat is where she looked. Yes! It was hers. The bolt and nut that held the seat in position were scarred. She did that herself, using a pair of pliers instead of a wrench to loosen the seat to make it higher. She didn’t know what to do, what to say. So she ran home. Daddy would know what to do.

He was home. “Daddy, I found my bike! I know it’s mine; the seat bolt is messed up. It’s at the bike shop at third and La Brea being fixed.” “Get into the car.” And they went fast. He looked under the seat. Shouted to the owner, “That’s my daughter’s stolen bike; who brought it in, where does he live; I want the address, now!” To her, “You stay here with your bike, I’ll be right back.”

He wasn’t gone long. He had a signed paper in his hand. Release of ownership. He told this account: Went to the address. Found there an elderly man. He had purchased the bike for $25.00. It had a license. The teenager told him it was his and he was getting a motorcycle. Where was the license? He had thrown it away. So, you are going to be charged with receiving stolen goods. I’ll file the charges myself and meet you in court. The man signed the paper relinquishing his illegal possession.

The bike, even stripped down was hers again. It stayed at the bike shop, repairs needed, parts replaced, all at no charge by the shop owner. Not even for the chain lock was there a charge. Daddy was very convincing.

Forever more the beautifully restored bike was locked tight to the bike racks, poles and posts that were available. She had learned about guarding her property, that there were bad guys out there and a good guy at home.