Old Cycle Returns
Herald Dispatch, January 10, 1966
Written by: Charles Collett
Submitted by: Robert Kingrey
The number of new bicycles delivered by Santa Claus has doubled the attention of motorists in watching out for youthful riders on the streets, and far too many are the riding the wrong-way on one-way streets. Seeing the boys and girls on wheels recalls to senior citizens the bicycle days of long ago.
The newspaper s of the Gay 90s era printed a bicycle column and the notes in that column are very amusing to read today and are in contrast to items found if the paper today about stolen hub caps and two and four-door auto wrecks which usually tell what year the car was made. When I was a kid a bicycle was either a boy’s or girl’s model no matter what year it was manufactured, and in writing about the wheel, the reporters never reported it painted red, black, blue or if it was a “his” or “hers”. Columbia, Crescent, Hartford, Dayton, or what ever make mattered little.
The year of the great Columbian Exposition at Chicago, 1893, the two-wheel bicycle was the wonder of the age. Next to the giant Ferris wheel, there was more talk of the bicycles more than any other exhibition.
The average worker was making a dollar a day, and the better paid jobs like bank clerks, were $40 to $60 a month. The price of a bicycle was almost $100, and there was no easy payment plan, but a few businessmen, doctors and others who could afford them made news. The weekly newspaper told of police ordering HarryMcKay and Joe Rogers, the merchant off the sidewalks with their fast moving machines.
March 16, 1893, Frank Dupuy, who operated a leather store on Railroad Street, now and a part of the building occupied by the Hannan supermarket advertised bicycles for ladies. The general expression was that any lady who thought anything of her reputation would never expose her limbs to the public by riding a bicycle.
July 4, 1894, following a parade, the first bicycle races were held, and a thousand people gathered at Second and Center, the finish line. The race started at Ice Creek Bridge, Coal Grove. Third Street from Pine to Adams Street had just been paved. The newspaper said it was a handlebar race from Pine to the finish line as there were no wagon ruts in the street. John Mayhew was first, Emit Arnold, the druggist, was second, Frank Neekamp, Jr. third. The time was 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Neekamp made it in 17 minutes, so it can be seen that it must have been an exciting race.
On Labor Day, 1894, seven young Irontonians took their bicycles to Portsmouth on the train to race in that city. They were Charles Sloan, Frank Neekamp, Jr., C.A. Bergman, Will Kerr, Will Bay, John Ainsworth and Harry Parker. Neekamp was son of the owner of a big shoe store. Bergman was a clerk at Brumbergclothing store. Kerr was son of the president of the Citizens bank. Bay was son of the noted steamboat captain. Ainsworth was manager of the telephone company. Parker became superintendent of Belfont Furnace. Charles Sloan was salesman at Dupuy bicycle shop for almost half a century and died in Columbus about 8 years ago at the age of 100. He was said to have ridden his bicycle at the age of 95.