Happy Saturday. Hope you had a great week. Yesterday I accomplished something I have wanted to do for several years. There has always been a reason (no matter how feeble) why I couldn’t do it before now and yesterday turned out to be the day there were no excuses.
A few years ago I was going to lunch with some co-workers (I was a passenger) and we went by this old guy on a three-wheel cycle. He was riding on the side of the road and in the brief glimpse I got of him he seemed to be an older gentleman.
I didn’t think too much about it other than something like, “That’s great at his age he is still riding a bike.” At that time I was also riding about every day and I probably reasoned to myself “this is something you can do for the rest of your life.”
Over a period of time I would see him occasionally all over town on his tricycle. Moving ever so slowly but making stead progress nonetheless. I became more intrigued by him. It really didn’t seem to matter what the weather was. He would be out on his three wheel conveyance always moving at a slow and steady pace.
Then one really cold wintry day I was again a passenger in a friend’s car and we were going to lunch. I remember very clearly how we had talked about maybe it would be better to just go across the street to the hotel as the roads were so bad.
It was bitterly cold (I’m not sure of the temperature) the wind was blowing and it was snowing. When we got out of the car the snow was painful hitting my face so you kind of get the picture, nasty day. On the way back to work traffic was moving very slowly because of the street conditions and we went past this old gentleman on his tricycle going somewhere. I looked closely at him and there was water frozen on the end of his nose and around his eyes but he was still peddling and making progress.
I said to myself I have to find out more about this guy. I asked the friends in the car and no one seemed to know much about him or what his name was. I have seen him a lot over the years. But every time I have seen him something prevented me from getting a picture or stopping to talk with him.
I remember a few weeks ago I went past him and as usual I was late for some meeting or needed to get back to work. I thought well I’ll just take the time and I went around the block and then I couldn’t find him. The next time I wouldn’t have my camera, or the people with me didn’t want to take the time. There was always a reason.
Yesterday I had a breakfast meeting at a local restaurant on the West side of town and when finished I was on my way back to the office. I saw him coming and I went past him, then I said “Today is the day!” I turned around drove past him so I didn’t lose sight of him again got a couple of blocks down the road and waited for him. I was shooting into the sun so I didn’t get a good picture at first but I kept shooting as he went by me.
He said something to me (I couldn’t make it out) but I could tell he wasn’t very happy about me taking his picture. I said “Hi” when he went by and he grunted at me.
I got back in the car sort of proud that I had finally got a shot of him and headed back to the office. But I didn’t feel good about what had just happened. I couldn’t leave it like that, so I did a U-turn and got ahead of him again and pulled off the side of the road, parked, and waited for him to come by.
He came to a stop beside me and I thought for a moment he was going to be combative. I introduced myself to him and told him genuinely how much I admired his spirit and his determination in riding his tricycle every day. He softened. At one point in the conversation he looked up at me and said, “Pretty good for 78 huh?”
We had a good talk although I didn’t understand a lot of what he said. He always talks with his head down and he doesn’t have any teeth so with my impaired hearing I just got bits and pieces of his conversation.
His name is Seward Clampet and he lives in Maquoketa. He is 78 years old and lives on Arcade Street at the top of a pretty steep hill. He usually has to get off his tricycle and push it up the hill but he rides it as far as he can.
We talked for about 10 minutes and he felt good about the conversation and said it was okay that I took his picture. I felt good because I had finally connected with this remarkable man and learned a little about him. I will have more encounters with him as time goes by. I want to learn more about him.
Thanks for stopping by. I didn’t mean to get so windy but this was a story I was excited to tell. Enjoy your weekend and be careful.