The pile of rubber and metal had long turned to junk.
Joel Strait had walked past it for a spell; weeks had turned to month’s even years.
Strait knew the owner and that the owner had little use of the bike.
And she was a beauty, Strait thought, under all the rust and shrubbery growing around her.
A Western Flyer, which had not been produced since 1998, and, Strait said, he couldn’t remember all the decades that had evaporated since Western Auto even had a storefront in Port St. Joe.
To the owner, the bike indeed meant nothing.
“I maybe rode that thing two times,” Leonard Costin said with a laugh when asked about the bike in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly.
Costin had purchased the bike five or so years ago to ride from his office at the airport he then owned and his home in close proximity.
Never was it for him, he said.
“Joe Leavins had one and I bought one, for $50 I think,” Costin said, adding with a laugh that it did indeed just end up on the ground, collecting, well, not dust.
Strait had an idea.
“It has grass growing around it and I had seen it there for months,” Strait said. “I decided to pull it out of the weeds.”
What he hoped to do was assist his grandson, Brady Smith, son of Jill and Chad Smith, who visits regularly from Tallahassee.
Brady recreates with several local boys who are relatives but when it came to riding a bike, Brady was often left wheel-less.
Grandad was going to change that.
“I dismantled the whole thing and sanded and painted each piece individually,” Strait said.
The bike itself, Strait said, was in decent shape, the chain worked well after a little oiling and the tires, with inner tubes, were good to ride.
The color theme was a natural for Brady, 13, a football player and huge University of Florida fan, Strait said.
“His dad took him to a game (in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville) and he met so many people who couldn’t remember any of them when he got home,” Strait said with the trademark glint in his eye.
So, orange-and-blue was the scheme and a local store pointed Strait in the proper director for UF Gator decals which now adorn the bike.
The bike, Strait said, would be going to Brady the next time he visited, which Strait believed would be this month, and estimated Brady had a good two or three years before the “bike” phase would pass.
“But isn’t she a beauty,” Strait said, putting shoes to pedals and riding away.