Scooters then and now by Susan Grimsdell

There was a wonderful photo in the Christchurch NZ newspaper a week ago.  It showed about a dozen 10-year-old boys in the year 1921 at a primary school in a small Canterbury town, lined up on their home-made wooden scooters, looking deadly serious, several of them with bare feet. 

The picture tells a story about each of those boys and their scooters.  We can be almost certain they had help from a parent or sibling through everything it took to get to the finished scooter.  Planning and designing, scrounging timber from around the neighbourhood, sawing bits to the right length, working out how to attach the wheels, step by step assembling what they need to make it.  One boy had drop handlebars, very cool. 

Imagine the talk in the playground at school, boasting about how far they’d got, getting ideas from each other, but not letting on too much about their progress.   Imagine the family support.  “Oh, let me stay out a bit longer, I’m almost finished putting the wheels on”, and the parents exchanging a little smile – without words, sharing that what they both want more than anything is for their son to make a fabulous scooter and how proud they’ll be when he does.  “OK, but only ten more minutes!” 

Homemade wooden scooter

The problems –  the bit that doesn’t quite fit, but it’s too late  because you’ve already sawn it to  the  wrong length, so drop everything and run  around to the neighbours to ask if they can find just one more piece, “Oh please, just one  bit, can I look in your  shed, please, please?”  Dashing home, and yes, it will fit, “Hey, Dad, can you help me make sure I get it right this time?”

At last, it’s finished.  Racing down the street, hanging on to the handlebars, pushing as fast as you can, Mum calling, “Be careful, not so fast, watch out for the cars, not on the road”, then turning to go back in the house, afraid to look.  

The big day, starting with a photo with all the other boys, lined up.  “Look at the  camera boys, ready?” And they’re off, racing round the playground, yelling, panting, pushing, and at the end, falling on the ground, laughing like maniacs.  Time to compare each other’s creation – “Hey, man, how’d you make those handlebars – Look at those wheels, where’d you get those!” 

Boy with electric scooter

A day to remember, times to remember, people to remember, love, friendship and achievement to remember. 

Another photo, another ten-year-old boy, holding a brand new electric scooter he got for Christmas, wrapped up with a big red bow. 

1921 and 2021, it’s clear to me  which kids got the most fun out of their scooters.  Make it yourself or have it handed to you – no contest. 

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