Do You Remember?
"Sam's Bicycle Store Brings Back Memories of
Inner Tubes and Such"
Sam's Bicycle Store used
this blotter as an advertising tool during the days of
pen and ink. Note the phone number Tremont 5151.
Bronx Times Reporter on March 7, 2002)
I recently came across
this blotter advertising Sam's Bicycle Store, which was located
at 1748 Washington Avenue. One of the first things I noticed was
the vintage images thereon and then the four-digit telephone
number. It indicates that bicycles were bought, sold, and
repaired and the small print reads: Baby carriages repaired and
retired. It's an interesting relic from days gone by.
It reminded me of my youth. The Ferry Point Landfill was still
active when I was a youngster and was a great place to scavenge
for bicycle parts. A new fork was priced at about $3.75 but a
used one could be obtained for free at the landfill on almost
any visit. I had a yard full of parts and generally kept two
bicycles: one for cruising and one for racing. The difference
was primarily in the sprockets and chains. The other big
difference would be that the racing bike was stripped of fenders
and other non-essentials.
I often made and repaired bicycles for friends during these days
of simplicity. The age of multi-geared bicycles had not as yet
dawned upon my remote Bronx neighborhood. Bikes were simple
contraptions with the most popular wheel size being a 26. The
largest size was a 28 but they were not readily available.
Since bicycles were simply made in those days, they were
relatively easy to repair or even make with the miscellaneous
parts picked up at the dump. The hardest task was replacing
spokes as the tire, tube and protective lining had to be removed
and after replacing the broken or bent spokes, you had to
re-balance the wheel by rotating it until there was no
noticeable wobbling. It took the keen eye of a youngster to make
sure the rotation was perfect.
The tires all had inner tubes and seemed to get far more flats
than today's bicycle tires and most cyclists kept a repair kit
on hand. I lived near a gas station and often used their
facilities. They had an air pump and a nice large tank of water
to check for the leak location. You simply filled up the tube
with air and rotated it under water until you noticed where the
air bubbles were coming from. Once found, the rubber around the
leak was dried and then roughed up with the raspy cover of the
repair kit. When it was rough enough, glue was put on it with a
cold patch. The patched part of the tube was then placed in a
vise and compressed for a while to assure a good seal.
The gas station was very accommodating and never seemed
to mind my using their equipment. Occasionally I would opt for
a hot patch. The cost was fifteen cents and it was put on much
the same way except that the patch was first heated which was
supposed to assure a tighter seal. This same procedure was used
to repair leaks in the tubes from car tires, which were much
sought after in waterfront communities such as mine. Youngsters
by the dozens would float along the shores of Eastchester Bay
and the Long Island Sound supported by
these inner tubes and most had a colorful patch here and there.
Occasionally some lucky youngster would obtain a tube from a
truck tire, which could serve as a float for a number of
I don't recall there being any bicycle repair shops like Sam's
in my neighborhood. Perhaps the old saying that necessity is the
mother of invention is true. If you didn't have the money to buy
a new bike, what choice was there?
Do You Remember