Evel Kneivel--who was heroically rumored in my childhood to have cumulatively broken every bone in his body--has died.
Republicus had the toys.
The motorcycle and rubbery, wire-framed Evel were practically indestructible, and the stunts inevitably evolved into setting up a ramp facing a brick wall a few feet away and revving up the motor 20 times before release.
Amazingly, the toy was none the worse for wear (which only provoked me into finding something that would finally make it say uncle, using stuff like gasoline, matches, and a sledgehammer).
My vainglorious neighbor got really inspired by Evel. Upon his announcement that he intended to perform his very own stunt, we set up a little ramp for him at the edge of a ditch that had a 4-5 foot span while he rode warm-up sprints up and down the driveway on his purple, banana-seated, V-shaped handlebar bicycle.
The main concern was the integrity of the ramp (made of stacked bricks and a wooden board), and this was jumped up and down on, readjusted, and jumped up and down on again to the daredevil's satisfaction.
The other concern was traffic; but once the all-clear signal was given, off the young wannabe went with determination (despite the glint of fear in his eyes).
His dad's driveway was the runway, and he pedalled his way down it as fast as he could, the bike wobbling from side to side as the downward force on the pedals alternated from left to right.
He reached the end of the driveway, quickly crossed the road, hit the makeshift ramp...and he was airborne!
He sailed UP...then descended, and...
... OO! Nice try! His front wheel cleared the chasm but had no shock absorbers so it just jerked then stopped with a thud when it hit the opposite edge head on and the bike with its rider clumsily collapsed in a tangled heap in the ditch.
He rolled over and started to wail. You could see that a small wet spot had formed on his groin from peeing in his pants. His older brother screamed "MY BROTHER! MY BROTHER!" and lumbered over to him waving his arms about while the rest of us just stared, our mouths gaping.
He was fine.
The disillusionment coincided with the dropping off of the Knievel craze.
R.I.P., Evel. Truly an American legend and icon.
(I thank Jack's Shack--http://www.blogger.com/profile/16625864271071630940 --for inspiring this post)