Photo Essay

Little Boys, Big Wheels

Grandma and My Big Wheel with the Hand Brake!

It comes like a tornado. You have no more than a few seconds to move to safety before it's upon you. It rumbles. It roars. A primal fear overtakes you, and, by pure survival instinct, you jump back. You feel the rush of air. The blur of bright yellow and red passes you.

Welcome to Lori's House driveway.


For a while now, I've been documenting childhood. As a father, I want to be able to remember the milestones and the everyday occurrences of my two boys. Camera in hand, I follow.

Sometimes things that seem ordinary become extraordinary with the passing of time. Such is memory.

I love the thrill and sense of adventure that comes with riding a Big Wheel. Not personally, though. I missed the Big Wheel experience by a few decades. I was born in a different country, under different circumstances. Instead, I have lived it through my boys' experience. You see, I share the pure excitement they feel as they devour asphalt on their Big Wheels. Happiness is universal.


I wanted to put together some photographs, so I searched for narratives about people's experiences with Big Wheels. I wanted to appeal to our sense of collective memory. I came across Feeling Retroby Mr. Todd Frye, where I found an immense body of memories about Big Wheels. Mr. Frye was very kind to allow me the use of some of the memories for this photo essay. It wasn't until I pored over all the entries that I realized the true weight of Memory.

There is a strong connection between Memory and Time; stronger still is Memory's connection to place. You will find these connections in the narratives.

I let the memories speak for themselves. I chose a memory to go with each photograph. In reality, that one voice represents a multitude of voices, for the individual narratives are part of a collective memory, a larger story.

I felt it was only right to present the memories in their entirety. No corrections of any type were made. I also kept the date when the memory was added to the Feeling Retro website. Read the narratives in the suggested order, or out of sequence, if you want.

Let the memories speak for themselves.

If perhaps through this essay a Big Wheel memory is awakened from your past, please add it to the many others at Feeling Retro. Tell Todd I say hi.

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—The JPG team

1 response

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper said (2 Jan 2012):

    For the longest time, reading a story such as this one slammed me like an enormous rogue wave fo raw emotion. The most all-consuming of those emotions was bitterness. I was angry at God and good parents and happy children because why them and not me.

    Today I feel much differently. Though you've used the word 'love' only once in your essay, and that in passing, it is not required. It exists in every turn of phrase. You say, "There is a strong connection between Memory and Time; stronger still is Memory's connection to place". Our memories are very different but I thank you that you allow me to live another life vicariously through you words and through your love for your children.

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