Why is the word abandoned so interesting? There often seems to be more to the story when it comes with the word abandoned in it's title. It's just one of those words that makes a story a bit more deep and interesting. If someone tells you that theres a car in a barn thats been there for years, I think, OK, that sounds cool, I'd like to see that, but phrase it like, there's an abandoned car in a barn that's been there for years, and I'm far more interested. I want to go and see it, and I want to go now. Its not even Just cars either, it could be almost anything, buildings, boats, bikes, planes, whatever! Almost anything! I reckon if I heard about an abandoned shoe I'd want to take a look. Well, maybe not a shoe, but you get the idea... Wait, what kind of shoe? Where is it?!
The thing is we like to think of these abandoned items hidden away, deep in heavily wooded areas, in cabins and barns, but so often this is not the case, they can actually be on your doorstep! Or perhaps on somebody elses doorstep...
Such was the case with this Raleigh Chipper. Not abandoned out in the fields, or up in the woods, but would you believe in the middle of a town? On a busy road with houses either side. But did anyone know it was there? I doubt it. I was just nestled in a small playhouse filled with old Tonkas, garden toys, and memories of someones childhood.
I think that that is what possibly makes abandoned items so interesting, it's the story that goes with them? Like who owned this, what were they like, how long ago did they last ride it, and where are they now?
I must admit that I've spent quite a lot of time wondering who the original owner was. I mean the Chipper came out in the early seventies, and being a bit bigger than the Budgie, and marginally smaller than the Tomahawk they were aimed at the 5-8 year old child. Raleigh didn't sell them for very long, and so I'm guessing that it's first owner would be in their late forties, or early fifties now... My age! I wonder if they're still about, what they're doing now, and if they still ride. I guess I'll never know. But it's these questions that makes it intriguing to me. it makes the tale of the abandoned item all the more fascinating.
Further more, who was it's last owner? I'm guessing, like so many bikes my friends and I had as kids, we weren't their first owners. I found out just recently that I never had a brand new bike as a child. My own Raleigh Chopper, that I thought was only ever mine used to belong to somebody else! My Dad bought it second hand, spent evenings working on it, repainting it, and applying new decals to it to make it look like new, so that when I got it on my Birthday I wasn't disappointed with a second hand bike. I wasn't, I had no idea until recently. How do I feel about that? Pretty disappointed actually! Not that it was second hand, but that I no longer have the bike that my Dad put so much time and effort into for me. I wish I'd have known while I still had it, I would've taken better care of it, and would still have it now!
But in the case of this little Raleigh Chipper, I'm guessing that if it was passed on to another child after it's original owner had out grown it, then it's last owner probably out grew it sometime in the eighties. Which puts them in their late thirties or early forties. I wonder if they're still about? Sadly there's no way I'll ever know, but one thing is for sure, this little machine had been loved, cherished, and ridden a lot in its life, you only need to look at the bottom bracket to see that this has been pedalled, and pedalled, and pedalled. Probably by some happy little child, just thrilled with the feeling of freedom, and the sense of adventure as they ride around the street with their friends, back in the more carefree days of the seventies and eighties.
So what will become of it now? Well, sadly at some point it will either be reclaimed by nature, or melted down to become something dull and mundane like a baked bean can, and it's little adventure will be over. Although really, to look at it, it's adventures ended decades ago. I must admit that when I took it out to look at it, I did think about giving it a new home, but what would I do with it in all honesty? I know that no item is irripairable, but I think that with this little Chipper the best thing you could do with it would be to use it as a pattern to recreate a new one. Although it's fair to say that the wheels did still turn, and turn smoothly! I've seen ten year old BMX's seized solid with rust from being left out for a couple of years. Then here's this thing, very rusty, but not siezed at all after being left out for the best part of four decades! They just don't make 'em like they used to.
Anyway, after I'd pulled it out, taken a few, OK a lot of snaps, thought about what I was going to do with it. The idea of a wall ornament hanging in our lounge did cross my mind, but I decided against it because I didn't want to push Mrs Clint over the edge! So, once I'd made a good record of it on my camera, I slid it carefully back into where I found it in the shed. My feeling is that it's heading for the recycled metal skip at some point in it's future, and it's story will be over. But hopefully the memories of the child who owned it, and the adventures they had on it will still linger on in the mind of the adult they've become today.