Unforgettable: Impossible to forget. See also: memorable, red-letter.

The sister, Vee, and I were out back playing on a lovely spring day. I was 9, she was 8 so it was 1964. It would have been the last of May or very first of April, a week before Vee's birthday.

Mom called us into the house in that, "Now you're in trouble!" tone of voice. I figured out when I was older that Dad was in trouble, not us, but at the time, we thought we were slated for death.

We reported in, front and center, promptly. "Yes, Mom, what do you want?" I asked while Vee stood behind me in the cowardly shelter of my body.

"You two girls go right down to your Dad's shop. He wants to talk to you right now!"

Oh, geeze! I looked around at Vee then back to Mom and braved it out. "Why," I asked.

"You'll find out when you get there! Now, get GOING!" she shrilled.

We lit out the back door like our asses were on fire! Once we turned the first corner, where Mom couldn't see us, we slowed down to a slow stroll.

"So what did you do this time" I asked Vee, "and why did you say I did it?"

"I didn't do anything!" she protested. "

"You must have done SOMETHING! IIII didn't do anything!"

"What about saying you were going riding and you went to the library to pay your fines last week?"

"Unless you told, they didn't catch me. Besides, that wasn't wrong!"

"Oh ya? You LIED!!"

"But I didn't do anything BAD! It was GOOD to pay my fines!"

"A whole dollar? That means you had four books FIVE DAYS over due. Mom would KILL you!"

"SHE doesn't KNOW unless YOU told!" I sputtered. "It's probably because you sneaked off to town to buy that necklace when you were supposed to be at Grama's house! I retorted!

"Nope, they were both gone when I did that, unless the little kids squeeled on me."

It went like this the whole five blocks to the shop. By then we had worked ourselves into a state of terror but we couldn't figure out what we had done to be in so much trouble that we had to see Dad while he was at work. Usually they waited till Dad came home to hold court and punish us. This was totally out of our experience and we were just about peeing out pants in fear.

Even around the corner and a block away we could smell the rich scents of oil, gas and grease mixed with exaust fumes that was the unique smell of auto repair shops. We went past the show room and around the corner to the work bay doors. The first one was closed, Dad's was the second one. When we peeked around the corner we saw Dad laying on a dolly under a car that was about 2 feet up on the lift. He was tightening something with the torque wrench.

We went into his bay and walked over by his legs. "Dad? Mom said you wanted to see us." I said bravely. My voice only quavered a little with my tears of fear choking me up.

"Uh huh." We heard from under the car. We stood there, shaking in our shoes, but waiting quietly. We knew better than to interrupt him when he was working.

He must have laid there laughing to himself for a whole 3 minutes. We looked at each other, looked at the big feet by our small ones, looked at the big, round wash sink with the bar you stepped on to make the water fountain out from the center post. We stared at the workbenches and at the other guys standing around working on other cars. We didn't dare move and we both wanted to sit down to protect our rears but didn't dare sit in the grease on the floor there.

Finally, Dad rolled out from under the car with his "sorry but stern" face on. He sat up and then stood up, looming over us.

"Did you make your beds this morning?" he grumumumble. Dad's voice was surprisingly soft and tenor. He was shy and talked fast and quietly. You had to pay attention and listen hard. grumumble is a good word for it.

I looked at Vee, she looked at me. I gave a little nod that told her I had made our bed even though SHE had run right down to breakfast. We faced him and nodded our yes.

"Who cleared the breakfast table?" he queried further.

"It was my turn. I did it," Vee answered while I nodded agreement.

"Are the dishes done and put away?" We looked at each other again. This was weird! Dad never asked us about chores. I spoke up, "It was the little kids turn for dishes. We put them away," I told him.

Right then he gave his biggest, "what a joke I'm pulling" smile and we smiled back in relief. "Then I guess you have both been pretty good today."

We nodded our heads, smiling still, in agreement.

"Well, come on then, I've got something to show you two, " he ordered. He started toward the front of the dealership. We followed right at his heels like two well trained pups. When we got past the car next to the one he was working on there were TWO BLUE GIRLS FULL SIZED BICYCLES!!!

We screeched and screamed and then tried to climb his body going, "OH DADDY! thank you thank you thank you" at the top of our lungs and right in his ears as he pick us up, one in each arm and gave us a squish.

While he had ahold of us he said, "Now look, it's Vee's birthday next week so she gets first pick and I don't want to hear any whining!!"

Well, of course, I thought I should have first pick because I was the oldest and I had waited longest but for a BRAND NEW BIKE I was NOT opening my mouth on that thought. "They're both BEAUTIFUL, Daddy! She can pick first, I don't care!" I lied convincingly.

He gave me an extra squish, "That's my big girl, " he approved and stood us both back on our feet.

Vee never looked a me but ran right to the one with the basket on front. That left me free to run to the plainer one. We were screeching again at each other, "We've got BIKES, we've got bikes!"

Dad was laughing at our joy and I noticed the other mechanics were clumped up and laughing, too. Dad's boss was standing in the door frame in front of us and smiling. I had NEVER seen him smile, he was always very poker faced when I saw him. I smiled up at him, too! We were smiling at everyone!

Now I looked at Vee and she looked back then we screeched again, kicked the stands up and started turning the bikes around toward the door. Dad was blocking our way. "I want you to go home up Pearl Street to Center. When you get to Bridge Street you get OFF and WALK across the street. And you BECAREFUL!! (not a typo in our family)

"We will," we both rang out on cue and we meant it. We didn't want a single scratch on our bikes!

"OK," he said, "go straight home and show your Mom first, then ASK her where you can ride! Got it?"

"OK!, Thank you, Daddy!" we shouted. We walked the bikes forward till the pedals were in the right places, hopped on the pedals and started out the door. Two good pushes and we got our butts in the seats. They were just the right size for us!

We stopped at the door, looked both ways and blasted out of there for home. What a ride! We were giddy with relief that we were not in trouble and riding on cloud nine because now we had our OWN bikes to ride and they were BRAND NEW never been ridden bikes all our own!

We checked, you could ride them with no hands! What great bikes! We got off at the main intersection and walked them over when traffic had cleared. The little girls saw us coming and started clamoring for handlebar rides before we were in the yard. Mom came out and admired the bikes inspite of her ire. She defined our limits and we rode all day. When it was time for dinner we put them up on the porch.

We spent dinner telling the family what all the kids thought about our new bikes and how fast we could go on them. We were impressed with how easy they were to pedal. It was great telling about beating all the kids except Day, who was older and bigger than we were. How the other kids came out and rode with us all afternoon. We said we gave the little kids rides, too.

After dinner was cleaned up we ran to get the bikes out. Jay, Mal and the other Val joined us in circling and criss-crossing our allowed blocks. We heard Mom hollering us in about dusk. No riding after dark, rule three already!

We watched a little TV till bed time. Vee and I could hardly shut up. We talked most of the night about riding to school on Monday. She offered to haul all our books in her basket and I told her thanks. We could hardly sleep. We wouldn't be able to ride again till after church tomorrow so we relived every moment we had ridden today.

I figured out later Mom was angry because Dad spent some of their tax refund with out discussing it with her first but she couldn't stay that way when she saw how happy we were.

What a day! What a joy! We had bikes! Unforgettable.

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