THE CLASSIC SCHWINN STINGRAY | A LUCKY BOY’S FIRST FAST WHEELS

The Schwinn Stingray- sparking a boy's love affair with wheels.

The Schwinn Stingray- sparking a boy's love affair with wheels.

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If you were lucky enough to grow up without all the crap of today that sucks our kid’s time and energy– video games, the internet, satellite t.v., then you might remember what it was like to ride your bike all day long with your buddies– crafting makeshift ramps, making up crazy stunts and tricks, and just having a honest-to-goodness blast cruising the streets until Mom called you in.  For a lot of us, it was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with wheels.  The Schwinn Sting-Ray was a two-wheeled blacktop beast back then– especially with the on-the-frame gear shift and a fat rear slick.  It was the only bike that mattered– before the BMX madness struck, that is.

I feel sorry for these fat, lazy, spoiled kids of today– wasting away in front of their t.v. screens and computer monitors.  Man– get outside you chubby little brats!  Seriously– do you think kids are better off today?  No friggin’ way.  They wouldn’t last two seconds back in the day.  It’s time to throw all that crap out and lock ‘em outside.  A little road rash would definitely do the buggers good.

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Schwinn Stingray stunts for runts.

Schwinn Stingray-- stunts for runts.

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Vintage Schwinn Stingray catalog color ad.

Vintage Schwinn Stingray Fastback catalog color ad.

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Schwinn Stingray
Schwinn Stingray

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Vintage Schwinn Stingray bicycle ad.

Vintage Schwinn Stingray Manta-Ray & Krates bicycle ad.

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1967 vintage Schwinn Stingray Fastback

1967 vintage Schwinn Stingray Fastback

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Vintage Schwinn summertime fun.

Vintage Schwinn summertime fun.

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Schwinn Stingray with custom handlebars.  Sa-weet!

Schwinn Stingray with custom handlebars. Sa-weet!

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Schwinn Stingray and the plastic people eater- Big Wheel!

Schwinn Stingray and the plastic people eater- Big Wheel!

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Schwinn Stingray Grey Ghost

Schwinn Stingray Grey Ghost

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Schwinn Stingray Fastback

Schwinn Stingray Fastback

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Schwinn Stingray Banana Bomber

Schwinn Stingray Banana Bomber

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84 thoughts on “THE CLASSIC SCHWINN STINGRAY | A LUCKY BOY’S FIRST FAST WHEELS

  1. Pingback: schwinn stingray « repeat press

  2. The “Ray”! I had one. All white w/ a silver banana seat. On it I owned my street. In fact, I felt like I owned the universe. I rode hundreds of miles around the same streets of a small town, and never felt more free.

  3. My first bike as well – blue if I remember correctly. The banana seat was perfectly suited for riding wheelies. Good stuff indeed.

  4. JP,

    I had this bike!! in burgundy. The seat had these nice sparkles! Anyway, the big flaw in the design was the handle bars. If you didn’t land a jump, the handlebars couldn’t handle the weight. I had some pretty bad wrecks on that thing….but I was loyal, I loved her….Great post…Also, not a great seat for young growing boys….Talk soon.
    Lee

    • I think I remember tweaking a set of bars as well. I’m gonna post a couple more pics, one with a crazy set of bars that might bring back memories.

      Best,

      JP

    • The first pic is… well, I got lost in it. I tend to over-think things, so there’s a lot a meaning there for me– pensive, brooding, tweener angst at it’s best.

  5. I have a green metallic fleck Stingray sitting in my basement, got it for 5 bucks at an estate sale.

    • my first one wasa metalflake green with silver sparkle saddle and grips .that was in 72,god i wish i could go back

  6. Amen. Although I came up when the banana seat was falling out of fashion, and it was BMX or get beat up by the neighborhood bully.

    Still, nothing’s more important for kids in the summertime than being bored as hell and having to get creative to fill the hours. It’s easy to forget these days. Many a dirt mound I tore up on my banana-seated Huffy (suck it, bullies), and I wouldn’t trade it for all the iPods in the world.

  7. Too young for it, and if you showed me a picture of one 15 years ago I would laugh at you. But today I think it’s one of the best bicycles ever made and it makes me sad to be young… well… maybe just for a second. I envy you all who can say you had and loved one.

    • Nick, I’m only 22 and I had a Stingray as my first bike. Though it was a classic by the time I had one, nevertheless I had one as well. Blue with an off-white (more like grungy white) banana-seat. Unfortunately it was stolen.

  8. Pingback: Jump Into Fun «

  9. I came along at little after the ‘Rays, but my cousin had a rusty red one, with tassels. For me and my friends, it was all about mag spokes and the modern colors of OP shorts and fanny packs. The sentiment was the same though; all we had indoors were Atari consoles and nagging parents. Outside was where the freedom lived. Going to my old neighborhood now, the streets are so quiet I’m not even sure children live there anymore.

  10. thanks tons for the post. it takes me back to a great time. metallic blue, gearshift and slick on the rear. love it. it was all about some cool, 12 year old style. schwinn was the shit.

  11. I had completely forgotten these ads and how wild I was for one of these Sting Rays!!! I finally got one, the gold tone one-speed with a gold metallic fleck seat. After I outgrew that bike I was ruined. Never really wanted another one. Thanks for the GREAT post.

    ML

  12. I had to share it with my brother, we had many fights over who was riding it on any given day. Great pictures, great memories – playing cards and clothes pin!

    Thanks!

  13. I’m incredibly fortunate that my father-in-law let me have his 1969 Stingray (red and chrome, thank you) a few years ago when I was in college. Got the tires fixed and rode it around during my summer courses. Still have it, and ride it around the city sometimes on the weekend–though it’s almost better just to stare at it. Lovely bike, though modern bikes are a much easier ride, as much as I hate to admit it.

    Great post JP, as always.

  14. Wow, I am glad I was a kid when I was. I noticed kids really do not ride bikes all day long like I did. It’s very sad. I think being a kid now days would be boring.

  15. Do you think there will come a time again when kids play outside all day? I regret every day in the summer of ’93 when I skipped sharks & minnows for Sega Genesis.

  16. I’ve had a million bikes but never a Schwinn Sting-Ray. The lookout is now on as an adult but nice ones are costlier than a new Ducati! Okay, slight exaggeration.

  17. That was my first bike! I started a biker gang with my friends called The Rattlers, a name that I got from an episode of Quincy MD in which Quincy goes on a roadtrip and has a run-in with a biker gang called the Rattlers, the leader of which has a skull on his handlebars…Quincy does some of his forensic science on the skull and solves a crime, but what stuck out in my head was the leader of the gang kept saying “check it out…check it out.” I imitated him and to this day I pepper every conversation with “check it out.” The bmx thing killed it – I ditched the banana seat and put a bmx seat on it because I couldn’t afford a real bmx bike. I faked it for a couple years, then got my first ten speed.

  18. Great pictures and commentary.

    Back in the early 70’s I was fortunate enough to own a Schwinn Apple Krate which I put through its paces popping wheelies and jumping for distance over ramps made from cinder blocks and discarded plywood. At 10 years old, nothing felt greater than racing the wind as you rowed the “Stik Shift” through all five gears.

  19. I had a green sting ray as a kid. We used to jump them on makeshift ramps of bricks, a wagon and a piece of 1/4″ plywood. And nobody wore helmets! Our greatest feat was jumping “Snake River Puddle.” A puddle that formed on our street that was over 15 feet long. My neighbor slid sideways for over half of it. We also used to find old Raleigh’s, cut the forks off them and hammer them on the solid forks of the Schwinn to make a chopper. They were a great bike and indestructible.
    About 10 years ago, I used to work on the advertising for Schwinn when they were making a comeback. They were getting their street cred back. My wife found a 3 speed red stingray at a garage sale. $25.00! I still ride it around the neighborhood and get lots of jealous looks. I still feel like a kid.

  20. I had a sting ray, red, coaster brake, single speed with red sparkly seat.

    Awesome bike.

    I sent that bike on a lot of ghost rides down the driveway to see it catapult up in the air when it hit the curb on the opposite side of the street.

  21. Oh my gosh, this site really brings back the memories. I had a blue sting ray with banana seat. It was my pride and joy. Nothing I have acquired since (cars, boats, etc.) can compare to the glee that I felt while riding and jumping on the Ray.

  22. i am taking my time reading your blogs from before, so i am late on this one.

    i have two guys, 13 and 9…they are complete wiry lil string beans. they have bikes but rarely ride them now in the country. they rode much more in LA. and razor scooters were a big thing in their lives. i think there’s lots of hand held games going on and lots of computer, tons…but i think most of the kids we see are mixing it. tons of skateboarders and biking too. they seem super fit and like they are having a blast!

    also, i think its the parents sitting still and showing the kids that’s how it’s done. i mean, how much time are we spending sitting and typing or surfing or chilling in front of a screen? i got on my 13 years old’s bike and road it around our field to prove to my nine year old he could ride there even if it wasn’t as fun. i didn’t want to get off that bike. it was awesome. i have to get myself a bike now! anyway, we play frisbee, jump on our trampoline, i teach them the yoga i do. who knows which things they will feel nostalgic about and maybe the culture is sort of too diversified to identify…but, there’s still something cool happening in their worlds. it’s just different. i can’t keep judging the ones coming up…they have too many strikes against them i think.

  23. Pingback: SUMMERTIME STREET CRUISIN’ | RETRO CALIFORNIA TWO-WHEELIN’ FUN « The Selvedge Yard

  24. You know they outlawed the gear shift. It was a nutt buster. Mine was metal flake black and was stolen within a week. My dad did everything he could and I got my bike back. I was the happiest kid in the world.

  25. Wow! Wish I had one. Im 13 and all the newer stuff sucks. I have no money also… well you guys are lucky

  26. OK……well — this post is in memory of my brother Andy whose picture I’m looking at right now. In the photo he’s about ten years old and is hosing down his stingray. Yep, his ray was everything. It ruled……………..he spent hours and hours and hours riding it. He even brought it to Arizona with him when he spent some time with me on the Apache reservation in 1978. Yep…….well this love affair started his love of the open road and of course, Andy grew up………..I remember when they were reissued a few years back, the conversation we had and the stories and times we revisited about that ol bike…………..it went on for hours…..well, Andy went on to ride Harleys and on Tuesday he will be buried with a photo of his stingray and Harley. Peace down the Moonlight Mile……………..love you bro

  27. Nice blog with really nice photos. We all have stories, but honestly, the Krates were for rich kids..they cost big bucks in 1969. So, most of us made do with off-brand stingrays like Murrays or Huffys, etc. No gears or handbrakes, but they worked. Especially with T-shirts with rolled up sleeves, a “punk” hangin’ out of your mouth and playing cards in your rear wheel spokes. It was about style. Still is.

  28. Yep, I whole heartedly agree that kids these days don’t know what they are missing. You had to go knock on the door to “talk” to a friend. No cell phones. You rode all day, all over town. You were not overweight. You fell down, you got up. Oh! Baseball cards and spokes ;-) yeah we were cool!

  29. I love these bikes and I still have my ’67 Orange Krate, I spent endless hours about 10 years ago restoring it to mint original condition, just like the day I awoke and saw it next to the Xmas tree. They will bury it with me. It was truly the best present I have ever received and my parents had to sacrifice big time to buy it for me. I don’t know who had the bigger smile on that Xmas morning, me or my folks. It is the only present I really remember how I felt when I saw it.

    • Great story, I can relate to a wonderful Christmas gift. Mine came on a Sunday Christmas and I missed going to church that Christmas day when I was ten years old.

  30. Just bought an orange co chopper edition stingray and am looking for some background info on it. Really nice ride.Please help.

  31. Don’t forget the optional giant extended sissy bar that was so long you could lean back against it just like Peter Fonda. They had great names like “orange crate” “lemon twist” or whatever. Popping a wheelie was the true test of manhood in the fifth grade, in 1970.

  32. DOES SCHWINN STILL BUILD THE 60’S AND 70’S STINGRAY AND WHERE. I REMEMBER THE GOOSE NECKS,SCISSY BARS, SLICKS, SOLD FRONT FORKS, BUTTERFLY HANDLE BARS, BANNA SETS.I’M NOT CRAZY ABOUT THE NEW STINGRAYS BUT NICE.I LIVE IN RIVERSIDE CA.AND WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHERE I COULD BUY ONE FOR MY GRAND KIDS.I’M NOT BIG ON THE NEW MODELS BUT NICE.I’M LOOKING AT BMX BIKES WHICH COST AN ARM AND A LEG.MY OLDEST GRANDSON WANTS ONE OF THEM.I RESTORE OLD BIKES FROM TRASH CANS AND GIVE THEM TO THE KIDS AROUND WHERE I LIVE.I HAD TWO THAT WERE STOTEN.KINDA UPSET ME BUT OK WITH IT.HOPE THEY LIKE THEM.THANK YOU JAMES

  33. Oh, yeah!

    I have reminisced about these great things for hours and hours on end. I have sat around and laughed for hours with my friends about ALL the great things we had when we grew up that kids don’t have today. And how we all played outside all day, every day! I had a beautiful golden sparkled stingray – banana seat, sissy bar, didn’t have the gear shift  but it was so cool. A whole gang of us from the neighborhood had stingrays and would spend the entire day riding – those were the days!

    In fact, I wrote a fun book all about growing up in the ‘70s! It covers bike riding, playing kick the can, playing war, having squirt gun fights. And – family vacations, music, cars, toys, TV, etc.

    Keep on truckin’

  34. My brother had one…but not me. I got a cheapo knockoff. It was still cool. I lived in Detroit…not West Bloomfield…so it was okay. All that mattered was that *I* was still cool!

  35. We built our own out of whatever 20″ we could find, a banana seat and ape hanger bars from the Western Auto. Put a 20″ front wheel on my 24″ bike along with the seat and bars off the 20″. With the taller gear ratio and longer pedal arms I could whip the Stingrays on a speed race. Ah, the simpler days. Knew my home town like the back of my hand from riding the bike around it all day, all summer.

  36. remember the wide slicks that came in different colors ? suburbia in the early 70s when all the kids were your age lol.all day long riding bikes till the streetlights came on

  37. I remember that bike being perfectly weighted for wheelies. The banana seat and long handlebars were the key factors in that. The whole design really is genius.

    As for kids today, I can attest, as a father of 3 boys, that they still do all the outside things we did as kids, and still come home with scrapes and cuts from jumping off of homemade ramps. Atari 3600 is now an X-Box, Stingrays are now Mongoose BMX bikes, rollerskates are now rollerblades, and skateboards are far more popular, but the activities don’t change. Same with Legos. Yes, they come in very specific designs, which last about 1 day before the kids rip ‘em apart and make their own creations.

    I think the nostalgia for our youth has turned many of us into the typical curmudgeon going on about “kids these days.”

    Anyway, that’s my rant. Great site!

  38. Great article. Thanks for bringing back the memories of my Sting-Ray. I was so excited on Christmas morning to get my very first bicycle I ran and jumped right on it! Early 70s; no shifter; sissy bars; green, with sparkly green banana seat and sparkly green grips. Training wheels until my brother (who had a red one with a white seat) took them off and made me learn to ride for real.

    And yes, my family had two station wagons (sequentially) with faux wood panels, just like the one in the background of the “stunts for runts” pic. I guess the 70s weren’t all bad after all!

  39. Love your vintage stingray pictures. The action shot is great! I had a Montgomery Ward’s version stingray with green tires. It wasn’t a Schwinn, but I had fun….

    Now I have in my collection a yellow1974 Schwinn Fastback. I’ll put a pic on my website soon.
    Thanks, Joe

  40. i still have my schwinn bikes. I own 5 schwinn stingrays and fastback. I’m 43. and still ride my bikes every weekend. can’t ride anything else.

  41. In ’68 I had a 26 in. Western Auto bike then I saw it @ Norwood Bike and Mower !!!! it was hip and just came out ,the Lemon Peeler got it 2 months later for my birthday, had it for a year then in the 5th grade ,some jerk stole it from my school, Florida Highway Patrol caught the guy 14 miles away and brought my bike back later the same day and parked it inside the school hallway , out side my 6th period class room, road it down the hallway and out the front doors, a good 400ft , didn’t get into trouble!!!!!!! COOL !!!! 6 months later , it’s gone from the front porch, didn’t get it back this time homeowners covered it ,so Dad got me a Orange Crate with the insurance money, 10 years later I sold it to a kid across the street, he moved away , never saw it again, regrets.

  42. I have a 70 era red sting Ray 3 sp. All original except for tha back tire, anyone know what was originally one there?? What’s a fastback ?

  43. Us Brits had an equivalent, a Raleigh Chopper, originals are going for high prices but Raleigh have re-released it.

  44. I had a “Slick Chic” Schwinn sting ray when I was ten, it came under the Christmas tree. I loved, riding my bike, it was the best bike in the neighborhood. It was stolen while in the care of my neice, my mom cried when she found out about it.

  45. If your handle bars broke it probably wasn’t a Schwinn, like the ‘Vintage Schwinn summertime fun’ picture, not Schwinns/Schwinn Quality. I just got a re-pop 2004 Pea Picker to match my original 1970 Orange Krate, 1970 Lemon Peeler (coaster) and clone 1969 Apple Krate I put together. Very active collector forum at
    http://www.schwinnbike.com/usa/eng/forums/
    Look up a 2006 Schwinn Spoiler, an attempt at an adult chopper, I have one and the seat kills my ass.

  46. Pingback: ULTIMATE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL ON WHEELS | THE 1970’s VAN CUSTOMIZATION CRAZE « The Selvedge Yard

  47. I picked up a real stingray ten years or so ago from a second hand shop…Ex wife asked why I bought a kids bike…I said for our kid(a person from the future) Now he rides it. There’s a pic on my blog.
    cheers, I dig the selvedge by the way!

  48. I have an old pic from Christmas 1976 with me sitting on my Bicentennial Edition Stingray 5 speed. I still have the bike in storage with big plans to restore it if I can ever find the decals and the seat.

  49. We would go and buy parts, handle bars, banana seats, etc, when we saved up cash. Then go to the garage and “customize” our normal bikes. Great stuff.

  50. I still have my husbands Vintage Stingray bike. When we married I used to ride it when we would go bike riding and I will have to say it was a work out. Kids today have it way to easy, but it was fun and I loved it. He is no longer with us and I could never part with it.

  51. 1970 Deluxe Stingray first bike. Thanks, Dad. Slow out of the gate but the fastest in the neighborhood. Metallic blue with matching blue seat and baseball cards attached to the spokes.

  52. I think it was this stingray vignette that originally led me to theselvedgeyard a year or so ago. I had a yellow stingray as a boy, and that bike led me down the path of bikes, cars and motorcycles that I’m still on today.

    I started thinking that maybe I could share this thing from my childhood with my kids, a son, 7, and a daughter, 10.

    Today, after a year of craigslist perusal, I completed my set of family schwinns with the purchase of a blue metallic schwinn stingray for my son. ( His desired color choice) Along the way, I picked up 20″ and 24″ schwinn unicycles for my wife, and a lady stingray for my daughter. I have a early 50s vintage schwinn ‘D’ frame that I ride regularly.

    The build quality on all these old schwinn bikes is superbe. Yes, they are heavy, but they all work as good as new after a generation or two of use. The frames are strong, the chrome plating is thick and the paint is really well done. Even the rubber is original on several of these bikes.

    They are genuine Americana, and I treasure them like my Lionel train set.

    In my dreams, America will regain some of this manufacturing acumen someday. Until then, thanks for a great website.

    -jeffrey

    • DEAR JEFF, DID YOU GET THE BLUE SCHWINN IN FT. MYERS, FL. FROM A MAN NAMED DON ?????? PLEASE ADVISE…. THANKS FRED

      • Hey, Fred, I just went back to the selvedgeyard and saw your post. Sorry for the late reply.

        I’m in Santa Barbara, California, but I found the bike on craigslist in Denver. Fortunately, I have a friend there who is just crazy enough to do favors like go and look at 40 year old bikes, buy them and ship them for friends!

        I still see ‘em around, but don’t dally! People are really starting to snap up these original Schwinns.

        -jeffrey

  53. Wow – I remember that my Dad took me to the base PX (Chanute Air Force Base, Rantoul, IL — the base no longer exists, either) and I got to pick out my birthday bike: the Campus Green fastback — Charger was the name on the chain guard. The “racing slick” fat back tire had a red pin stripe. I rode that thing from 1968 (or was it ’69? ’70?) until I was a senior in high school. Still miss it – the bike, the feeling of total freedom, all day riding around the neighborhood. And of all the times we moved (being a milt. brat) I always had that bike… that almost magical bike…

  54. 1976, I was 12, got a red and chrome 5 speed Fastback Stingray,……

    ……..rode it everywhere, crashed it…..

    It was stored for 32 years, now undergoing restoration…………..

    Best present I ever got……….ecstatic to still have it!!!!!!

  55. I love these pics. I have the 1970 fast back 5 speed in campus green. Have had it since 95 still in near perfect shape. It gets lots of attention. I bought it in Chicago in 95 along with a sting ray coaster in red. I am keeping it for ever might give it to my son when I die.

  56. My sister had the Sting Ray and it had blue tires…Yep, blue skid marks! I never saw or heard of another like it.

  57. I have a Schwinn Stingray Hollywood that was my first bike! It is purple with the white banana seat with purple flowers on it. It is sitting in my garage as I write this, and I have the original receipt for it – my dad paid $60 for it on Christmas Eve in 1970 – I was 7 years old. He put $20 down, and paid the rest later. Pretty cool!

  58. I had a Schwinn Orange Krate. The best wheels I ever had. What fantastic times we all had in the early 70’s.

  59. In Canada Schwinns were rare, but I had the CCM equivalent… the Mustang. It was my second bike, metallic yellow-gold with matching metallic banana seat. I fitted a huge long sissy bar on it. I loved the nut-buster shifter! It was the coolest part! It’s a shame that modern reproductions of classics such as the Stingray and Chopper are gelded. Modern kids have no idea what they are missing, I will have to make sure my 3yr old grows up right… outside.

  60. well im only 14 so i dont know what it was like but i cant say ive never had a shwinn stingray because i have, 2 in fact but they are the low rider chopper version but they still feel good to ride:]

  61. Thanks for the great website … found it in my searches for a Schwinn Fastback like I had in the mid 70’s. The picture of the beat up green Fastback with the white banana seat is a spitting image of the bike I had as a kid … I really would like to pick up another one … I keep kicking myself for not getting a pair of those I saw at a bike shop about 10 yrs ago, I didn’t realize how hard they would be to find. The shop actually had a ‘twin’ Fastback tandem hanging up which I don’t recall seeing back in the day, but it looked totally original and was going for $3,500.

    I still can’t get over how much that green bike looks like the one I had, scratches, beat up white seat and all. I remember always having problems with the banana seat falling through the supports by the back wheel when I would give friends rides. Some friends had the chopper style Stingray with the ‘shock’ on banana seat and small front tire that I was always envious of … but I loved my bike, got stolen a couple times and remember going to the police station with my mom to reclaim it after they would find it trashed in the woods, but a little TLC always got it back into running condition.

    The posts on this site are great … really takes me back, love all the old muscle cars and motorcycles from the 70’s. I wasn’t able to drive yet back then, but remember when the long gas lines started and then all the American cars losing their greatness … in the 80’s it was the old enduro motorcycles from the 70’s that I would manage to get running and run ‘em till they died in the woods … when I got my license I moved on to the old Jeeps from the day which were a blast and how disappointed I was with the cars from the 80’s. My folks had a few Oldsmobiles, Cutlass and 98, the emissions bogged them down so much, they could barely breath, let alone spin the tires (I vaguely recall the car dying on a family trip once because the catalytic converter completely clogged the exhaust). Then I remember how much I disliked the ‘Wrangler’ when it first came out and longing for the old style. The new 4 doors have me intrigued and although I moved on from Jeeps a long time ago, one of those may be able to bring me back in time and be able to take my kids with me.

    I agree with your posts about the kids today and wish my kids had more open spaces to go explore on their own where I wouldn’t have to worry about some psycho nabbing them. At the same time, I love technology and all the great advances we’ve made in computer technology and gadgets … the Wii compared to the Atari from the 80’s … great progress, just miss that sense of freedom as a kid … and the search for a telephone booth when in dire straits.

    Thanks for the memories … !

    EVB

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