Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cereal, Oldies and Bicycle Plates

Today I heard a song on the oldies station that I love. Part of the chorus goes like this, "Naa-na-na-na...naa-na-na-na..hey, hey, hey-Good-bye!"

Why do I love this song? It's not my quintessential bad-break-up song, no. It simply reminds me of Honeycomb bicycle plates.

There was a magical summer once in my childhood when my siblings and I ate enormous quantities of Honeycomb cereal, listened to oldies tunes on the radio, and collected bicycle plates with the fifty states on them. These marvelous plates were prizes we extracted from the boxes of Honeycomb. And I hope you believe me when I say this...the licence plates were made of metal. Honest to goodness, not one part of them was plastic. And they came from a cereal box!

We loved those sturdy bicycle plates with their pretty pictures of the different states. We wanted to collect them all, and we were desperate for two in particular: Tennessee and Idaho. Well, of course Tennessee. But we longed for the Idaho plate because all our little seen relatives lived there, and it was the state where Mom and Dad had grown up and found each other before leaving shortly after my birth. As I remember we got lots of Connecticut and Colorado plates but never did get the two we most hoped for.

I have a vague memory of the bikes for which the plates were destined. My sisters Vinca and Annie had matching Strawberry Shortcake bikes. And my brother Nate also had his bike at that time, I believe-a surprise gift which came home in the trunk of Dad's car for his only boy. I never had my own "ride", but I was content to wait, rubbing my hands together in eager anticipation of the day when I would inherit one of the beautiful red and white Strawberry Shortcakes. Of course, when Vinca finally did outgrow hers, it fell to her to teach me to ride it. The only lesson I remember was my last and might have been my first, too: Vinca pushed me hard down the hill of the driveway. I remember the exhilarated terror with which I tried to steer toward the curve of the lane without hitting the mailbox. The bike and I made it, and so did the bicycle plate. Well, of course it did. It was metal.

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