Where I grew up – Hollywood, Florida – the streets were laid out in grid fashion. At least in my immediate area, the east/west roads were named after presidents and the north/south avenues were numbered. The layout made for nice easy square blocks and one of my favorite memories lies in taking a walk around the block with my dad or parents after dinner. But this retrospective isn’t about that, it’s more about how my dad and I used to ride bikes down the alleys. Here, we don’t have alleys between roads, but we do have grass easements. Down there, the alleys were used by the garbage trucks and we’d use them as safer places to ride bikes away from a lot of cars. Granted, there were dangers involved there too: loose dogs, bike tire hazards. But if the alleys were clear, we could really get going fast. I loved looking into peoples’ backyards and seeing a glimpse of how they lived.
Dad and I would ride on a route of his choosing and many times, we’d go north to Hollywood boulevard, cross over, and get Slurpees from 7-11. He was always a sucker for sweets so it served us both well. In the mid to late 80s, I began bringing my allowance money so I could also buy wrestling trading cards. I remember when I got Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, Brutus ‘the barber’ Beefcake, and my prized possession: The Killer Bees. I don’t know why I loved that tag team so much; maybe the colors. But I loved going and buying one or two packs and collecting the guys I enjoyed watching on TV so much.
The skills my dad taught me about bike/road safety led to me being able to ride alone once I got old enough. In middle school, my friend Jamie’s mom ran a barber shop right near that strip mall where 7-11 was. I would come home from school then ride my bike up there. She and I would go into the 7-11, get these pre-cream cheesed bagels, then go sit in front of the store at the other end of the shopping center and eat. Then we’d watch Mtv and do homework. Good times, good times.
The arrow shows the store that used to be my beloved 7-11.