This week, Alan’s Sepia Saturday post called for contraptions – those oddball devices, usually hand-made by eccentric but well-meaning tinkerers in barns or workshops.
We’ve all seen them, even used them. Some of us even still have them, stored in the attic or cellar, maybe, or out in the garage.
This contraption, knocked together by my grandfather, was known affectionately as The Wheel, and was out in the yard in front of our summer home in
. It was, simply, an old wooden wagon wheel,
tipped on its side and secured to an old axle pounded into the ground; every
summer, after it was mounted properly and greased, it would spin around that
post like a merry-go-round. Jaffrey, New
You stepped into the wheel – your legs on either side of a single spoke – and then sat down on the rim, facing the hub. When we were all aboard, we kicked the ground with our feet, hung on for dear life as we went ‘round and ‘round.
We defied common sense and centrifugal force on The Wheel – I remember (when I was older) my hair flinging out behind me as we went around; we’d get going fast, then hook our feet into the spokes, let go and lean out backwards – our parents would shriek in horror! I have a vague memory of my brother standing up on it, although I have no idea if it’s real or imagined!
Amazingly enough, nobody ever got hurt on this thing: you’d need a helmet, elbow pads, knee pads and some kind of body armor to ride it today, and some Federal Safety Office would declare it unsafe, dismantle it, toss it away.
This picture was taken in the late 1940s, when I was three or so. I’m the smallest one, the youngest cousin, that worried-looking blonde girl (front left) with the bare legs hanging down (see those Redball Jet sneakers?); from there, clockwise around The Wheel: our neighbor Peter, my cousin Martha, and a little bit of my brother John, all of whom will grin if they log onto my blog this week.
If I got on The Wheel today, I know I’d last about four revolutions before falling off...or throwing up -- guaranteed!
NOTE: Be sure to take a spin over to http://www.sepiasaturday.blogspot.com to see what other Sepians have found!