tommy’s big wheel, revisited

Tommy on his Big Wheel, near the Venice playground in December 1974.

Tommy on his Big Wheel, Venice 1974.

If there is one thing that symbolizes the joy, the enthusiasm, the gusto, of Tommy’s early childhood, it would have to be his Big Wheel. Later, this feeling evolved and matured, of course, became more subtle and at the same time kaleidoscopic in its variety and intensity as Tommy’s interests expanded. But at age 5, those more mature enthusiasms were still in the future, and his Big Wheel was where it was at.

It seems appropriate that the very first Big Wheel was produced in the year of Tommy’s birth, 1969. By the time Tommy was old enough to ride one, the Big Wheel had become an indelible fixture in the lives — and eventually the memories — of the (mainly) males of Tommy’s generation, who are now in their forties. Many of these men continue to cultivate a deep nostalgia for this rugged tricycle of their youth. Although it was almost entirely made out of plastic, the Big Wheel was fast, durable, and a lot of fun to ride.

The nostalgic power of the Big Wheel is so strong among Generation X-ers that a company is now producing a version of it for these 40-something adults, the so-called High Roller.

If I close my eyes, I can almost hear the sound of Tommy doing slides and brodies as he raced back and forth on Breeze Ave. and the Boardwalk in the 1970s.

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4 thoughts on “tommy’s big wheel, revisited

  1. Great shot those big wheels looked like a lot of fun. I would have liked to ride one myself, but they came along too late for us. That building in the background is the St. Mark’s Hotel a Venice classic at the corner of Speedway and Windward.. It’s still there although everything else looks pretty different.
    http://www.uncanny.net/~wetzel/vsline.html

    • Thanks for that great link — fascinating historical stuff about Venice and the L.A. rail system that used to exist. I wish they still had it!

  2. I had forgotten the sound of big wheels! Thank you , Greg! I am going to see if I have any big wheel photos of my son’s Early Driving Days and also see if I have any photos of Tommy. I will let you know.

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