Triumph and Armstrong ride to secret places in Salem

Beautiful weather continued on Saturday which was perfect for a ride acrosss the Salem-Beverly Bridge to show my youngest son some of my favorite places in Salem.
My son rode a sweet new-to-me Triumph three-speed. I couldn’t pass this one up due to the bend in the top cross bar. It was well cared for by it’s previous owner and needed little except air in the tires. What’s also interesting about the Triumph is that it’s got calipers and a weak coaster brake. My son, age 12 is adept at both. He’s been growing so the fit was fairly perfect, although he wasn’t used to the height of the bike. He did a grand job, thought, especially over the bridge which is a bit hairy when walking, never mind riding with the cross wind.
Triumph 3-speed resting on a stone bench
I rode my favorite of my red bike fleet: the Armstrong. It’s a great bike. Another terrific find that needed a lot more work to make it a joy to pedal about. It’s got a steel rack on the back that I occasionally attach a milk crate for carting about my beloved Artie. Poor Artie hasn’t had a bike ride in several months and has been rather dejected of late when he sees me bring out the Armstrong.
We rode to the Salem Athenaeum. It’s a beautiful private library in downtown Salem, full of interesting, eclectic books and loads of historical paintings and artifacts. We are members and I love the place although I have yet to feel comfortable and fully welcomed by the “usual crowd”. I’m certain they are not used our manner of entering through the back garden with old red 3-speeds. Typically members and the public come through the front entrance on Essex Street. The back garden has a lovely, old world feel. It’s peaceful, small benches are placed about and it’s large enough and private enough to feel you’ve travelled back in time and place.
Peaceful library garden
After roaming and perusing the library, we rode down Chestnut Street, one of the most beautiful streets I’ve ever seen. It’s just a short roll down the wide sloping lane to a private but open garden. This is a place I learned of years ago when I was a student at Salem State College in 1982. I had roommates that smoked like chimneys and there were times I couldn’t spend one more moment in the ashtray of our apartment. I would set out on long walks, trying to fill my lungs with clean air. I happened across this small, beautiful park on the short, beautiful Chestnust Street and instantly was transported to my one of my favorite books of all time, The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgeson Burnett. Even the sign at the entrance has an out-of-time feel.

This was not cautionary to me, I had been here years before, often as the only occupant. It was like seeing an old friend. We thought we were the only beings but just as we entered, Charlie and I were immediately greeted by an over-friendly black cat who clearly owned the place. An interesting twist to a little park in Salem.
We stayed a bit and chatted about nothing which is sometimes the best talk of all. Flowers were popping up and there was bird chatter in the trees. When it was time to move on, we hopped back on to the bikes, heading back to Beverly after stopping at an ice cream shop. For Charlie, the beautiful ride on a beautiful day was not the only reward. There must be some ice cream.

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About EF Sweetman

bees, baseball, beverly, ma, culture, manners, society, writing
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