Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike” – John F Kennedy
In this season of social distancing, face masks and isolation, a the joyful pleasure of a simple bike ride can do wonders. Here is a reflection on a ride I took some years ago, through eyes that saw the contribution of one of Wichita’s pioneers and whose family later lived in our historic home.
One perfect Kansas day, I had a book to return to the library, so I decided to get my daily exercise by biking to the Wichita Downtown branch. I took my vintage French ten-Speed Motobecane (we do have new things, but like my profile says, we enjoy vintage). It’s just over two miles one away and there are bike routes most of the route.
I have made this trip several times for various reasons. My husband and I usually ride our bikes when we go the the annual Wichita Riverfest. It is much easier than driving, trying to find parking, then walking. I also ride my bike to the gym sometimes, so I am well warmed up when I get there. Today’s ride had another dimension.
Riding into History As A Joyful Pleasure
Since I have been looking into the history of the families for whom our historic home is named, I am seeing buildings and properties in the downtown area with fresh eyes.
Today as I rode past city hall, I thought of Peter Stackman’s tailor shop. Housed in four 1870’s wooden buildings at the address where the city office structure now stands.
As I passed First and Water Streets, now parking lots, I thought of the livery Mr. Stackman owned, where folks “parked” the transportation of the day: horses and buggies.
Riding past houses, many new in his day, I thought about the excitement he must have felt as the city grew around him. I thanked him in my thoughts, realizing that he and people like him are the reason I have my life today.
- dreamed, hoped and invested
- gave time, money and energy into the fabric of this city.
- took risks.
I am grateful they did. Some say the hardships were costly and they were. Peter died at about age 50, of influenza. He left behind a young widow and three children. One son just six-weeks old.
Yet, I am personally reaping some part of the harvest of his risky investment. If only for a pleasant bike ride on a lovely St. Patrick’s Day in Wichita, KS. Thank you Mr. Peter Stackman, for coming to this country.
It might be surprising how the people associated with those familiar spots have impacted your life in some way.
What do you know about the places you pass everyday?