A friend in Illinois shared on Facebook this week that her young son’s bicycle had been stolen from their front yard. Somehow in their busy day they’d neglected to bring the bike into the garage, and her son’s pride and joy disappeared, most likely forever. I felt her pain.
Many years ago our son’s bike was stolen in much the same way. It was a beautiful blue Diamondback that we’d scrimped and saved for in order to give him exactly what he’d asked for that Christmas. And that kid took great care of his bike. Until one afternoon when he didn’t.
I still remember the anger I felt knowing that someone had come into our yard and in just a few minutes stolen something that had taken us months to save for. Our son was heartbroken. Studly Doright, though, was determined to get that bike back.
We thought he was nuts, of course. Dumas, Texas, was a town of about 19,000 back then. Certainly that bike was parked safely in someone’s garage waiting to be painted or sold to some kid in another town.
Then one Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks after the bike had been stolen Studly and I were in his old pickup truck driving home from mowing lawns. We both had full time jobs, but mowing lawns provided extra cash for purchasing extras like new clothes for the kids and bicycles for Christmas. Money was tight back then.
As we neared our home, a kid on an older bicycle turned down our street, and Studly went on point like a bird dog.
“Those are Jason’s wheels,” he said.
He dropped me off at the house and took off after the kid. I’d seen the bike, a run down rusty banana seat affair, but hadn’t paid attention to the wheels. Studly, though, had been vigilant.
He was gone for a couple of hours, but when Studly returned to the house he had three teenaged boys crowded into the cab of his pickup and a tangle of bicycle parts in the back. I watched from the living room window as he supervised the crew in putting Jason’s bike back together. The lecture he gave them as they worked was one part fatherly and another part mafioso. I have no doubt he made them an offer they’d better not refuse.
Our son received a similarly stern lecture when he arrived home that afternoon, with the bottom line being that he’d better not ever leave that bike outside overnight again. As far as I know, he never did and that bike went with us to North Dakota and beyond.
Getting the bike back felt like a small victory during that period of our lives. Not much was going right for our little family at that time, but Studly turned things around. He’s still doing that, just in different ways. I’m pretty lucky to have him.