1950 Memories of Suburban Adventures

Pedal Tractor Peril

www.etsy.com Fasten your safety belts!

Fasten your safety belts!

Kids, and certain adults, have a knack for turning the most innocent object into a hazardous peril.

For example, a carrot morphing into a maiming cudgel (David was guilty of this transaction), or a simple crayon jammed into a little nose (my nine year younger sister Susan tried this). My specialty was turning our pedal tractor into a precursor of the 1983 possessed-car movie, Christine.

Our parents bought David and me a pedal tractor, a toy that is safe if used in the right hands. David had the right hands, but I did not.

The edge of my grandparent’s side yard contained a small, but steep hill going down into a field. My brother sat on the tractor, holding his feet away from the pedals. I stood on the back with one foot and pushed off with the other. After coasting to a stop, we dragged the thing back up the hill, and rode over and again.

“Mary, David, time to come home,” called Mom.

We hurried for one last record-breaking run. With David astride the tractor at the top of the steepest part of the hill, I backed up, ran as fast as I could, and jumped onto the back. I knocked David forward, causing him to sharply turn the wheel, and making the tractor roll end over end. He wasn’t hurt too badly, but cried because the situation called for it. I howled because the axel rubbed my ankle raw. I still have a scar. I’d show you, but it doesn’t photograph well.

Gently hugging David

Gently hugging David

The danger from our pedal tractor wasn’t over. We brought it to Bochi’s house. She didn’t have grassy hills; she had a sidewalk–a true luxury to rural kids. Thick slabs of sidewalk slate met, buckling together like colliding plate tectonics, with patches of two or three smooth joints. Much superior to bumpy grass-covered ground.

We were allowed to ride as far as the corner, one house away. As usual, David pedaled, and I pushed from behind to speed us up. Three older boys, aged seven or eight, were kitty-corner to us. We attracted their attention, and one shouted over a derogatory remark about our tractor.

From the safety of our corner, I yelled a retort that Dad taught us, “Your mother wears combat boots.”

David and I laughed.

“You won’t think you’re so funny when we come over there!”

“You pooped in your pants, and it stinks,” I shot back.

They jay-walked over to our corner.

I high-tailed it to the safety of Bochi’s front porch and looked back to see where David was. He didn’t pedal fast enough.

The boys surrounded the tractor, shoving and hitting David. I screamed at them to stop and screamed for Mom inside. She came running out, the boys ran off, and David cried while slowly pedaling the rest of the way back with Mom at his side. I was scolded for leaving him behind.

Lesson learned: On the one hand, I was a traitor and the worst sister in the world. On the other hand, he who hesitates is lost.

Related posts: Exposed/Carrot Attack


Now it’s your turn: Do you have a pedal tractor or pedal car memory?


© Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures, 2012 forward. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Morguie says:

    Certainly, but the peddle cars belonged to our sitter lady who kept us at her house after school in the afternoons. They had a huge paved driveway in the backyard of their property. I don’t recall details…just that there were at least 4 of us squabbling and bickering over the various toys and usually there’d be someone bawling and we’d all have to come in. Now, after seeing what those toys, restored are fetching on the collectors’ markets, I start bawling all over again. 😉

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Wow, CJ, you got to peddle on real blacktop? And to think they now fetch as much as some cars cost back then. I wonder what we should be stockpiling up that’s going to be worth a mint later on? Maybe the old handheld Game Boy systems?

  2. Aunt Beulah says:

    It’s a wonder that siblings survive one another. The ending that you wrote to this story is priceless.

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