Friday, August 23, 2013

Life as I Knew it

In Recollection of my First Bicycle - Part 1                     
Written by John David Magee, the son of missionaries John and Doris Magee who served in Nigeria from 1945 – 1978.
Around the summer of 1950, my family was into our first tour at Igede, Ekiti, which was a big adjustment from the previous tour at the Baptist College campus at Iwo. At Iwo, my mode of transportation around the compound between our house and my buddies' residences (Conrad Roberson; Roger Congdon; John Whirley) was on a hobby horse, or similar foot travel. It's just amazing that none of us kids ever encountered the big cobra and mamba snakes that would easily have done us in.

When my folks hauled my brother, Sidney, and me to Igede, we learned what real bush was. I recall our first trip to the old fourteen-acre compound, to the big house that Missionary Donath had built. Nearly two thousand feet above sea level in the hills and rain forest of Ekiti country. This was to be my home for the rest of my days in Nigeria, until I returned home to the States in 1957 at the age of fourteen.

The Humphreys traveled with us that first trip. Rachael Humphreys was my mother's sister. She and her husband, Ed, had arrived in Nigeria after we had returned to the States from Tour number one, so my folks had never met Ed until our return to Nigeria in 1949, soon after; they accompanied us to our new mission station. I recall the first night, mainly because of the tree dogs that barked all over the place, which I had never heard before. They made an incredible sound; one that always sent me under the covers, with chills down my back. From what appeared to be a great distance away, they would begin their routine with a series of snapping-clacking sounds, punctuated at the end by a single bark. This was repeated maybe a dozen times, each time with the snapping sounds getting louder and more and more slow, like a clock winding down, with the bark at the end getting louder each time too. Suddenly, they would break out into this fast, extended series of barks, which would get slower towards the end. This, they repeated seven or eight times, each time slower, and louder, until finally there was a loud single bark, then silence. In all my years in Nigeria I never saw one of these critters, so I always imagined the worst.

My folks managed to provide Sidney and me with basic kid transportation for us to use around the yard, including a pretty nice, red tricycle from Sears; the standard red wagon; and, a little peddle scooter. My mom had a bike, and some of our Nigerian help pushed me around the yard on this adult-sized bike until I gradually gained the sense of balance required for two wheels. Because it was a bike designed for women, I learned how to stand on one of the pedals, and push myself along somewhat like a scooter, thereby learning to coast by myself for short distances. Finally, I was ready for my own bicycle.

I don't remember where my folks got the bike, but probably the city of Ibadan or some similar large shopping place. But I do remember that the bicycle was a black Hercules, just my size, and man, was I excited! 



1 comment:

  1. JD, My first bike was dad's old long frame Raliegh. I had to learn to ride "though the bar" with the bike cocked over to one side and my right leg under the bar.