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Bert Aldrich And His Bicycle

Francis Lyman Aldrich, Jr., Bert’s (half) nephew shown in the previous photo, had a funny story to tell about his Uncle Bert and his bicycle.  Frank’s mother, Josie (Herrick) Aldrich had just finished cleaning her house and it was neat as a pin.  They had a quaint little kerosene cook stove in their kitchen, with two wicks and isinglass on each side.  You could turn it down quite low to simmer a good pot of soup.  Aunt Josie put a chicken in the pot an turned it up on high to get it started while she finished up a few chores.  She intended to turn it back on low before they took a streetcar to De Pere to visit Grandma Esther Aldrich and her son Bert.  When they got there, they were sitting in Grandma Aldrich’s parlor talking and having a fine visit when Josie started telling them about the good chicken they were going to have for supper that night--and suddenly she gasped! “Chicken!” she said.  “My goodness! Bert!  Get on your bicycle and get down to Green Bay right away!  I left the chicken boiling on the stove!”  She gave him the keys to get in and he peddled his bike as fast as he could go for the five miles to Green Bay.  When he got there he found a thick layer of black soot all over the ceiling and it was hanging down from all the curtains.  Their beautiful chicken was burned to a crisp and that greasy soot was all over the house.  When Josie and Frank got there, what a mess they had!  Poor Josie was just sick about it.  All of that cleaning to do, all over again, and they didn’t have their nice chicken supper, either.

ABOVE:  Charles Wilbur (Bert) Aldrich is the young man on the left, doing a balancing stunt with his friends.  Note the strange handlebars on his bike.  Also notice the old “Ah-ooo-ga” horn, probably off some old car.  They used to make a terrible racket.  Those old horns were loud enough to wake up the dead and scare any nearby horses into the next county as well.  The bikes had wire-spoke wheels but hard tires--not very good for a comfortable ride.  Three of the four boys have white shirts and ties which was standard dress, even for casual wear.  Bert looks pretty dapper in his vest and cap.  They all look like they’re having a great time cutting up together, doing acrobatic tricks on their bikes.


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