Monday, December 3, 2007
Passing of an Icon
As a child of the 70's, I can say that my friends and I often ended up setting up ramps made from bricks and boards on the sidewalks. We'd then get on our bikes, pedal as fast as we could, roll up that ramp and jump our bikes - hoping for a solid landing on two tires or, at the very least, to land on the softer grass rather than the cement. Why did we do it?
Two words: Evel Knievel.
This motorcycle daredevil was the stuff of dreams for ten year old boys in the mid-70's. His jumps on television - be they buses or canyons - were spectacles. Back in the day when TV consisted of three networks and little else, you couldn't miss them.
And, it was more than just watching the stunts. We had the toys - the stunt cylces that were powered by reving up a big plastic crank motor, and an action figure clad in the familiar white jumpsuit and helmet, adorned with blue and red stars. The image brought up that of America and super-heroes. And when he did interviews, the guy seemed tough as nails. I guess he had to be, given how many bones he broke over the years for stunts that didn't work as well as expected. Still, he seemed tough - Clint Eastwood "Dirty Harry" tough or any kind of John Wayne character tough.
By today's standards, folks would label him crazy or a kook. But back in the 70's, to us ten-year old boys, he was cool.