An evocative object: pedal car

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Powerhouse Museum object 85/2580-94. Finlayson Toy Collection, purchased 1985.

Powerhouse Museum object 85/2580-94. Finlayson Toy Collection, purchased 1985.

When the author of this blog’s first ‘evocative object’ post asked me to think about what object from the Museum’s collection evoked strong emotions, a few childhood memories flashed through my mind – my first football with its strong smell of fresh leather and my first cricket bat, which I associate with another strong smell, linseed oil – but if I had to choose the earliest special thing from my early childhood it would have to be my pedal car.

I spent my childhood in Beaumaris, a southern suburb of Melbourne. In the late 1950s and early 1960s it was a quiet little spot with asphalt roads , concrete paths and gutters slowly being built on the sandy soil. I inherited my pedal car from my older cousins who no doubt had given it a good workout. Even though it wasn’t brand new I must have been proud of it, especially as toys and other personal possessions were few and far between.

Paul in his pedal car. Photo courtesy of Paul Wilson.

Paul in his pedal car. Photo courtesy of Paul Wilson.

It was also the first time that I had some control over how I moved around under my own steam other than by walking or running. But in saying that I was probably only able to drive it around our front and back yards, so my universe was limited.

From the pedal car I graduated to a three-wheel trike, another hand-me-down from my cousins, on which I could tear up and down the footpath outside our house, and then on my seventh birthday I was given a brand new two-wheel red Malvern Star bike. Maybe there were training wheels in those days, but I can’t remember them. On the day of my birthday party I can vividly recall trying to ride around our back yard while all the other kids watched, falling off the bike and getting back on until suddenly my brain connected with my body and I could negotiate the whole backyard without falling off, albeit in a slightly wobbly fashion. Phew!

From then on I was able to ride my bike to school or around my suburb, so my personal world had expanded even further. Many years on I have received great enjoyment from watching my daughter experience the joy of movement on trikes and two wheelers. Most of us have memories involving pedal power, and I would be interested to hear about yours.

Written by Paul Wilson, Archivist