William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD
ST LOUIE’S BICYCLE SHOP
I loved the smell of the bicycle shop
When I was a little boy
A bike was a tool for my paper route
Which daily I did employ
The smell of tubes being fixed
The smoke from patch kit glue
New bicycle tyres hung on the wall
And some pictures of world war two
St Louie he owned the bicycle shop
He served overseas with my dad
An ice filled cooler filled with pop
For a nickel a coke could be had
I waited a while till he fixed the chain
He added a link and he fixed the frame
It cost me a dime plus five cents for pop
And I was back in the game!
The Ottawa Citizen on Saturday
Was an extra heavy load
I bent the frame when I hit a hole
On an Ottawa pot holed road
My old CCM was a balloon tyre bike
I rode up the Gatineau to see Josey and Mike
The chain it broke on the one mile hill
Walking home I found a one dollar bill
I remember the calendar of Marilyn Monroe
It hung on the wall near a pot bellied stove
The big lads they whispered about her firm breasts
And they treated my presence as if I was a pest!
I was a short little red headed kid
who came to the shop with my bike
and I didn’t give a fiddler’s fig
about what they did want or did like
St Louie he’s gone and my Dad he’s gone too
Like most of the old guys from WW two
It wasn’t a bad life to run a small shop
Ten cents for a chain link, five cents for a pop!
©Copyright January 29, 2004 by William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD
Author’s Note: ST LOUIE’S BICYCLE SHOP was on Wellington Street just down from St Malachy’s (Now Holy Rosary) and kittie corner to St Francis Church. There was a jewellery shop next store, and a five and dime next to that. I don’t know if the Elemdale Hotel is still across the street and the West End pool hall was upstairs over the five and dime – twig any memories?
My brothers loved the poem and they well remember my dad stopping and talking to St Louie – they remember taking their bikes there to be repaired – finding a one dollar bill in 1948 was like finding a $20.00 bill nowadays – The Rexy theatre had tom mix and Hopalong Cassidy movies for a dime – popcorn was a nickel – coca cola was a nickel.
In earlier years I wrote poems about the Rexy the Elmdale and the Rialto movie houses in Ottawa; while the Rexy and the Elmdale in the West end showed only one movie for a dime, we could walk up Somerset Street to Bank street and then walk south to the Rialto (we called it the rat hole) where they showed 3 movies for a quarter. We would spend all Saturday afternoon at the rat hole – remember there was no such a thing as a TV in a private house in those days (e got our first black and white 17inch Admiral in 1950 or 51?) Coloured TV wasn’t invented as yet.
We have certainly come a long way – wish now that I hadn’t tossed out those poems as they told a good story. Ah well, with moving so much in the Army we travelled across the country many times and packing poorly written poems wasn’t on the agenda. Never mind, it was good training and although I am still writing poorly written poetry I am enjoying it immensely.