Riding Around New Bedford on a Schwinn Stingray
No New Bedford area wonder years kid was complete without a Stingray Bike by Schwinn. Back when kids lived on their bikes in their Pro-Keds, and neighborhoods were full of kids playing outdoors, Schwinn ruled the day.
The world around us changed rapidly in 1968. There was Vietnam, Richard Nixon, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, Apollo 8 circled the moon, and the Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago.
In 1968, Ed Harrington was Mayor of New Bedford, John Volpe was Governor of Massachusetts, New Bedford High School was on County Street, and Downtown New Bedford was the place to be on Thursday night.
To a 10-year-old kid in 1968 New Bedford, life was about playing ball, climbing trees, and racing around on a Schwinn Stingray with your friends. We were aware, albeit only slightly, there were things of greater import occurring around us, such as busing, anti-war protests, and wrist bands and dog tags of the war dead shipped home from Southeast Asia.
We were able to compartmentalize all of that when we were 10, though. We rode our bikes everywhere, and most times without a care in the world. That other stuff was for the grownups to figure out.
My Schwinn Stingray was a blue three-speed bike with high-rise handlebars, an adjustable backrest bar, a bucket-shaped saddle seat (banana seat), and handlebar front and rear brakes. My best friend Steve had a red five-speed. The following year, Peter Fonda rode a Harley-Davidson chopper in Easy Rider. Our bikes quickly became our choppers.
My bike is an "antique" or "vintage" model now. You can find one online, but it will cost you a lot of money. I wish I still had that bike.
Did anyone else cruise the streets of New Bedford on a 1960s Schwinn Stingray bike with high-rise handlebars and a banana seat? What color was your bike? Do you wish you still had it today? Oh, and did you put trading cards in the spokes?