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One of the most important days of a young boy’s life is the day he graduates to motorized transport. This may be a car or motorcycle or any machine that allows the freedom of mobility. Until that day came for me, I was limited to going only as far as I could walk or pedal. Transportation was limited because I had to stay within the strict bounds of others and I was required to fit into their schedules.  

Several of my friends were using family automobiles or other motorized pieces of machinery purchased by their parents, but I knew that I was going to have to finance this goal on my own from the revenue generated by my three jobs. In the Larsen household there were no free rides, no allowances and no easy money. My older brother had been successful at getting a soft job that allowed him to get a Whizzer Motor Bike. Since he was five years older than me, he graduated to a car and sold his motor bike to a friend because I didn’t have enough money set aside to be able to buy it.

This didn’t flag my enthusiasm to pursue the motor bike goal. I simply took on another job. I worked in maintenance at Sioux Falls College, set pins at the YMCA bowling alley (there were no automatic pin setters in those days), delivered the Sunday Sioux City Journal and took on the monthly cleaning and waxing of the floors of several beauty shops to speed the process of getting the revenue needed to buy the motor bike.

The boy who bought the motor bike from my brother graduated to the family car and wanted to sell it. He was asking $800 for it, which was more than a used, well-worn bike was worth, but I talked him into $600 cash for it. When I rode it home it was a new day of freedom. Suddenly all of my jobs were easier and I was able to take on an additional paper route.

Dick Beatty, my best friend, talked his parents into buying a motor bike for him. Dick’s bike had many new features such as chrome coating on key parts and twist grips for a throttle. Dick always had a full tank of gasoline. I think he accomplished this by siphoning gas out of his parents DeSoto.   

Together we explored not only the city of Sioux Falls, but rode our bikes into the surrounding countryside. My bike looked pretty shabby compared to Dick’s, but having earned the money to buy it on my own was important to me, and I was soon able to do all the maintenance and repairs.

I learned a lot from my new-found mobility. From then on I knew that nothing was impossible if I set firm goals and stayed with them.  I learned that there was added satisfaction in attaining a goal with my own hard labor.

Bob Larsen

Bob Larsen is a retired surgeon whose eclectic career has allowed him to see the world.

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