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The Christmas Present That Wasn’t — And Then It Was

eBay

All I wanted was an Evel Knievel toy.

Once upon a time long, long ago (the ’70s), every boy in America wanted to be Evel Knievel.

Moms in 1970s America worried about a lot, but if they had a son between 8 and 18, they worried about Evel Knievel.

Mr. Knievel made his living wearing a skintight American-themed jumpsuit and cape while driving a motorcycle 100 miles per hour and jumping over buses, cars or anything else he liked.

When I was 11, I wanted an Evel Knievel Super Stunt Cycle with Gyro Launcher for Christmas.

The launcher had a hand crank and you would get the back wheel of the motorcycle spinning and launch it. The Knievel bike and doll would scream away and over a ramp.

I waited months for Christmas and that toy to arrive.

Sure enough, on Christmas Eve (Santa visited us on Christmas Eve, not morning), there it was under the tree. I was beyond excited.

But, wait. “Too dark to play with that now. Wait until morning,” they said.

I was awake most of the night thinking of the impressive stunts I’d do the next morning.

Finally, sunrise.

I made my way outside with my dream toy and loaded it, cranked it, and launched it.

And it broke on the very first launch.

Pieces flew off the back as it landed on the concrete. I sat and stared in disbelief.

Evel was down and he wasn’t getting back up.

It was 1973 and there was no Super Glue.

I spent the rest of the holiday and most of 1974 brooding over my loss.

But the years that have passed have given me perspective. I know now that much more important things were to come later in my life.

Like eBay.

Where I found an Evel Knievel Super Stunt Cycle with Gyro Launcher, mint in the box.

It should be here by Christmas.

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