Riding a Bicycle

Riding a Bicycle – York County (1908)

Until the automobile became ubiquitous, the bicycle was the favored form of mechanical travel in the US.

Improvements in steering, braking, and speed control led to a craze of bicycling beginning in the 180’s.

(Also, the widespread adoption of pneumatic tires, which greatly increased the comfort of the rider.)

Bicycling enthusiasts were among the first citizens to organize and petition local governments for the improvement of roads.

We sometimes forget the wretched condition of unpaved streets and roads at the turn of the twentieth century.

(These groups were, unfortunately, soon surpassed by auto clubs who grew in prominence through the 1920’s).

On October 27, 1908, Katie Decker mailed a postcard to Mattie, Mrs. Dentler, of Wellsville, PA.

Wellsville is a remarkably-preserved 19th-century borough northwest of the city of York, near Gifford Pinchot State Park in York County.

(Most of the Wellsville is within a historic district, one of the best-preserved and conserved towns in Pennsylvania.)

Katie lived in York Springs, the mill town located southwest of the city of York, on the road to Hanover, PA.

The postcard photograph, not colored, was printed in the United States as a souvenir – it appears to be a seaside town, perhaps on the Jersey shore.

Mattie was reminded not to forget Sue’s birthday on the 6th of November.

It is appropriate that the postcard photograph shows young women learning to ride a bike.

Susan B. Anthony noted in 1896 that the bicycle did more for the emancipation of women than any event in recent history.

One hopes that Mrs. Denkler enjoyed the autumn in beautiful Wellsville, that Sue had a happy birthday, and that Katie improved her punctuation.


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