Vol. 13


Hard Work Down the Drain (Almost)

c. 1973; Da Nang, South Vietnam1"Hard Work Down the Drain-Almost" illustration, by Miles Montgomery O'Dwyer: A proud boy standing outside a school points at a bicycle.

In 1973 my dad lived in Vietnam. He was in the seventh grade and needed a bike, but he didn’t have enough money to buy one. My dad had to buy individual parts of a bike and put them together to make a new one.

Every week, my dad would go to the flea market and buy bike parts. He bought pieces like the handlebars, chains, pedals, etc. He gathered up all of the pieces except for the frame, which he had to get from a separate bike store. When he earned enough money to buy the frame, my dad put the receipt and the serial number the frame came with in the hollow seat post. Once he got home, my dad painted the frame a pale blue.

After he put together the bike, my dad rode it to school in the mornings and home from school in the afternoons. One day he came out from the school building and couldn’t find his bike. He looked everywhere, but it was nowhere in sight. When he thought he had lost it or someone had stolen it, he went to the principal’s office to report his missing bike.

When he walked in, the principal was holding my dad’s bike with another boy standing next to him. The boy claimed my dad had stolen his bike and repainted the frame. My dad was very agitated, upset, and confused, because the boy was lying.

Then my dad remembered that he had put the receipt in the seat post. He borrowed a few tools and got it out. He showed the receipt to his principal and finally got his bike back. He rode home, relieved that he remembered where he had put the receipt.

My dad was also very proud that he remembered where he had put the receipt — and that he had even thought of putting it in the seat post in the first place.

Tien Le; North Carolina, USA

Illustrator: Miles Montgomery O’Dwyer; Missouri, USA


1. In 1976 North Vietnam and South Vietnam were merged to form one country: Vietnam.



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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