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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Cool bike

Cool bike

My brother's cool bike with banana seat, sissy bar, hand brakes and either a 3 or 5 speed transmission. Sometime in 1969.

Coolest bike around!

I had a Mohawk version of this bike in sparkle blue that my dad got for me at the Emporium in San Jose for my birthday around 1973. Alas, my mom left the garage door open while she drove me to school one day and my beloved bike was stolen. I wanted nothing more than a bike with a "stick shift." Best present ever!

My sweet ride

All the boys in our neighborhood made choppers. I can't think of one that didn;t and that would have been in the late 60s, early 70s. I myself had a sweet purple Stingray with banana seat and ape bars, loved that bike, I lived on it. I cried so hard the day it was stolen from in front of W.T. Grant's. I had gotten it for my 13th birthday the summer before.

It's a Hawthorne

Sold by Montgomery Ward. About half the price of a Schwinn Sting-Ray Krate.

Schwinn Lemon Peeler

If I'm not mistaken, this was a Schwinn "Lemon Peeler" Stingray -- it came only in this color, with the sissy-bar and the stick shift. My friend Tim got one for his birthday in 1969, and he was the envy of the entire neighborhood!

The seat doesn't look correct.. but otherwise, you could tell by the chain guard on the other side if it was indeed a "Lemon Peeler." I'd give my eye-teeth to have one now!!

True that but

That's not a Schwinn Crate -- swept back handlebars, no derailleur and frame geometry are all wrong. But I will still you my 8 track player for it!

Best Bike Ever

Schwinn Stingrays were the muscle cars of the kid world at the time this photo was taken. The model pictured would have represented the top of the line with handbrakes and stickshift-style gear selector. Stingrays were perfectly designed for kids, being very nimble, comfortable to ride, and sturdy as hell. And of course cool to look at. Very, very cool.

Gender Norms

I also have fond memories of Schwinn banana-seat Sting-Ray bicycles such as this. I was totally jealous of the neighborhood boy "Clifton" who had a similar bike. Until this post, I had completely forgotten the term "sissy bar."

On a related meme (and not to knock your brother), I am totally struck by the transitory nature of gender norms. While I am sure this was the height of "cool fashion" at the time, by today's standards the hair style, knit tank top, and fringe shorts all are currently exclusive to the realm of feminine fashion. I think its a testament to how quick we are to judge and assume certain styles are intrinsically indicative of gender. So much of what we perceive as gender is truly a social construct.

Cool shorts

Love the fringe.

Boy, does this photo bring back memories

I had a bike exactly like that (in the late 60s as well) except it was blue. Pretty sure this was a three-speed, mine was.

My older brother and I spent many a summer afternoon mowing lawns in the neighborhood so we could 'customize' our bikes with sissy bars, bananna seats, battery operated headlamps and horns, high-rise handlebars, and last but not least, we sawed the forks off our old, worn-out bicycles, slid the forks of our new bicycle into them good and snug, and bingo-bango, we had a "chopper"!

Good times.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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