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In the beginning

I began this life two days before Christmas 1932 in a little two room, rough-cut board house in the Glade Creek community near Ravenscroft Tennesee. Ravenscroft, (no longer an entity), is/was located in a remote region of Putnam county on the Cumberland Plateau. The Glade Creek community was very isolated. The only connection to the outside world was a rough trail created by first wagons, and then cars travelling through the woods. The nearest towns are Sparta, and Crossville. The only vehicle seen for days on end was the mailman's Model A Ford. Electricity and telephones didn't reach Glade Creek until the 1950's.


My mother was descended from the earliest settlers to cross the Cumberland Gap from Virginia into the wilderness of Tennessee. My father was brought as a child to America from Bohemia by my grandparents in 1902. My paternal grandparents and other Bohemian emigrants, obtained hundred acre homestead grants of virgin woodland on the Plateau around 1906. My father and 7 siblings grew up in a two story log house on that homestead. When he was sixteen my father went to work in a local coal mine. In order to obtain schooling beyond the eighth grade my mother attended a boarding school in nearby Pleasant Hill. My parents were married in 1927.

The early years

I was born in the depths of the great economic depression and to find employment, my father moved us around the coal mining regions of Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and eventually Eastern Ohio near Wheeling, West Virginia. My father died in a mine cave-in in 1938. With three boys ages 10, 5, and 6 months, my mother moved to east central Indiana where her parents had settled a year earlier. Until my mother re-married in 1942 we lived at the poverty line in a succession of small Indiana towns.

WW II and the Victory bike

During World War II we lived in Anderson, Indiana where my stepfather worked in General Motor's Delco Remy Plants. It was in Anderson in 1944 that I acquired my first bike, known as a Victory Bike, From an Uncle.

Marriage and the military

After the war in 1948, my parents bought a small farm near Daleville, Indiana where we lived during my first three years of high school. We then moved to DeSoto Indiana where I met my wife in my senior year of high school. We were married in 1953 after I had completed U.S. Army Combat Engineering basic training. Luckily, the Korean war ended two weeks after I completed training. I was assigned to Fort Benning Geogia where we lived until my discharge in March, 1955.

College and IBM

While employed as a machinist in the Army, I became interested in pursuing a career in mechanical engineering. I entered Ball State University located in Muncie Indiana on the G.I. bill in 1956. In 1958 I transferred to Purdue University where I graduated with a B.S. in mechanical engineering in January 1961. It was my good fortune to be hired by the IBM development lab at Endicott, New York. In 1965 I transferred to the Federal Systems Division in nearby Owego, where I worked for twenty five years. I retired in 1991 at the age of 58.

I play with toys again

During my years at IBM we had a son and daughter. I had always been interested in old cars and in the 60's acquired a 1928 lincoln and a 1937 Packard Twelve. In 1977 We acquired our 1969 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 convertible. We were very active in antique and classic car activities for many years. I had also purchased a Triumph motorcycle in 1955. We still own and enjoy these vehicles.

Retirement and re-discovering bicycles

For many of my working years we had often talked of buying an RV and traveling in retirement. Since my retirement in 1991, we have spent winters in Arizona and Florida. We purchased a winter home in Florida in 1998. It was there in 1995 that I became interested in bicycles again. I had not ridden a bike since my children were young but had saved my old 1940's balloon tired bike the kids called "Ol' Boomer". After my first bikeless season in Florida I decided to take Ol' Boomer out of the loft and fix it up. During the summer of 1996 I refurbished and modified Ol' Boomer extensively. The success of the boomer project encouraged me to acquire more bikes. I haunted the local Salvation Army store that summer where I picked up 4 more bikes. I found my first Raleigh a year later in Jupiter, Florida where it had been set out with the trash. Bikes continued to accumulate, some donated by friends, some were found at the curb on trash day, and some were purchased. Following the restoration of Ol' Boomer, I have restored four additional bikes, built one from a frame up, and continued collecting. I now have over fifty complete, operating bikes and several project bikes.

Bikeman and the internet

They call me the "bike man" in our mobile home community in Florida where I repair and tune many bikes each season free of charge. We also ride each week in groups and individually. Summers find us at our home in upstate NY where I usually complete a couple of bike projects each year. To share my bikes and my enthusiasm for all things bicycle, I began creating this Website. I hope you enjoy my bicycles and other vehicles and will sign my guest book with your comments. If you feel inclined, I would appreciate it if those of you with Websites of your own would include a link to my site. I will gladly reciprocate.


Autobiography Page URL = http://members.tripod.com/~fredhaj/autobio.html
E-MAIL ME AT: fredhaj@aol.com
Last revised: 09/29/99