The year must have been 1958. It was Christmas. My parents (probably my dad’s idea) gave my brother a luge on wheels. They looked so cool and promised to be loads of fun . . . for boys! In reviewing internet remarks, some people refer to this as a Flexi-Flyer while others call it the Flexy Racer. Doesn’t really matter to me. I’m calling it . . . Lawsuit on Wheels.
Here’s a 1996 online comment from a fellow named Jim Kershner (emphasis mine):
Not only did I have a beloved Flexible Flyer sled, but I was the proud owner of a Flexy Racer, a Flexible Flyer product that was simultaneously the most fun toy on my block and the most dangerous toy on earth.
A Flexy Racer was essentially a Flexible Flyer with rubber wheels. No need for snow; all you needed was a nice steep street and a high tolerance for friction burns. You could steer it like a sled, and it had rudimentary brakes on the front wheels. However, the only reliable stopping method was to veer off onto somebody’s lawn and roll off.
Imagine the thrill of being 8 years old, screaming down the street at 20 miles an hour, six inches from the asphalt, no helmet, no gloves, no long pants. No wonder I loved my Flexy Racer more than any other toy; no wonder they quit making them 30 years ago, no doubt on advice from their lawyers.
Ten years ago on Answers.Yahoo.com (emphasis mine):
Anybody remember the “Flexi-Flyer?” It was a “land-sled” with wheels. You lay prone on the sled with your hands on the steering/brake bars. We had them in San Francisco, with its hills for God’s sake. I think the people who invented them must have hated kids. Really, we had fun until adults realized what they had wrought.
For those of you reading about this innovative contraption for the first time, consider this your introductory snapshot. On that fateful December 25th, I wanted to try out my brother’s new Christmas present. Our home on Mariposa Avenue had a long, steep driveway. Before assuming the prone position on the Flyer, no one so much as thought about giving me a crash course on how to STOP the thing. Nope. Just stood by watching as the Flyer picked up speed by the millisecond on that sloping stretch of asphalt. Less than halfway down . . . at the top of my lungs, I yelled “HOW DO I STOP?” Too late!! After somehow managing to negotiate a sharp, right-hand curve at the bottom of the driveway . . . there was the carport. At the end of the carport was a large piece of plywood standing on end. That’s what mercilessly stopped my momentum with a sickening thud. My face took the brunt of the impact! It wasn’t pretty. I didn’t lose consciousness, but my face was covered with bleeding cuts and scrapes. Basically, I was very messed up—in shock and considerable pain. Quite certain my nose was broken, too. In those days, parents didn’t rush their kids off to ER—they just took me in the house and patched me up. Had this occurred today, they probably would have been locked up for child abuse!
Only recently did it occur to me that this terrible incident could have broken my neck and rendered me a quadriplegic for life! Instead, God chose to protect me from more serious harm and graciously blessed me with more than 60 additional years to experience a full, rewarding life on this planet.
8 Replies to “My early survival story”
My mother gave me the nickname “captain crunch” due to my adventures on steep slopes on anything with wheels.
The most memorable occasion was shortly after the first days of summer. My older brother wasn’t home and his new 10 speed bicycle was calling my name. “I’ll just take it out for a little test ride” came out of my mouth though my brain was concocting a very different scenario.
Up I went to the top of the hill that was our street, Bondy Drive. I’m not sure if I had been egged on by the neighborhood kids or challenged to a race though I know I didn’t win.
At the bottom of that hill going as fast as that bicycle could take me I rounded the corner as best I could and smacked right into a parked car! Over the handlebars I went leaving my brothers brand new 10 speed looking more like an accordion and leaving me unconscious due to hitting the windshield. Adding insult to injury, when I came to and rolled from my stomach I fell the two feet off of the hood onto the ground.
Dear Captain Crunch ~ So thankful you survived that Bondy Drive catastrophe. Don’t know about you, but in my case, it’s not that it wasn’t “cool” to wear a helmet—helmets were not available.
You are one tough woman. You must have eclipsed the boys on the road. I cannot imagine a sled without snow. We had a sled that could be steered, and that was dangerous enough, even on Pennsylvania winter snow. Did you tell Jon before marriage what a wild one he was wooing? Much love and prayerful thoughts. See you Saturday. Genevieve and Dolfi
Oh Genevieve, there was certainly no sense of being tough when I was in agony following that collision. Sleds on icy snow would scare me, too. Since the streets of southern California were snowless (is that even a word?) . . . the alternative was four wheels on the belly of the sled. OH MY!
I remember that thing. After your foray into the fence, there was no way my parents would even consider buying any of us such a weapon of mass destruction, yet they allowed us to make skateboards which pretty much accomplished the same task. Parents always manage to get in the way of logic…ours did and we did with our own.
Hey Chris ~ I wondered whether you remembered this dramatic incident. It’s amazing to me that any of us made it through those precarious years with no helmets, no knee pads, no seatbelts, no sunscreen . . . no nothing! Well, we did have Band-Aids in a few assorted sizes and the tried and tested no sting Bactine!
Finally able to get back to reading your blog. This one was so funny to me because I could imagine where you were going with it that I read it to my Mom. She is 90 now and described a hilly street near where she grew up and she ultimately rented a house on it while raising us. Newby St. is in San Gabriel just off of Valley and sort of follows the wash; it’s steep as streets go for San Gabriel. She said they used to make their own skates and skate down it or make box cars attached to the skates and go flying down. It is a wonder and purely by the Grace of God we are all still here.
Yes, Linda! “Purely by the Grace of God” . . . 100% correct. So thankful you’re mother’s brain is still functioning well so that she can remember her childhood adventures and share them with you. What a blessing❣️