The Wheel -
Words and music by Henry Dacre - 1892
There is a flower within my heart,
Planted one day by a glancing dart,
Planted by Daisy Bell!
Whether she loves me or loves me not,
Sometimes it's hard to tell;
Yet I am longing to share the lot
Of beautiful Daisy Bell!
Give me your answer do!
I'm half crazy,
All for the love of you!
It won't be a stylish marriage,
I can't afford a carriage,
But you'll look sweet on the seat
Of a bicycle built for two !
We will go "tandem" as man and wife,
Ped'ling away down the road of life,
I and my Daisy Bell!
When the road's dark we can despise
P'liceman and lamps as well;
There are bright lights in the dazzling eyes
Of beautiful Daisy Bell!
I will stand by you in "wheel" or woe,
You'll be the bell(e) which I'll ring, you know!
Sweet little Daisy Bell!
You'll take the lead in each trip we take,
Then if I don't do well;
I will permit you to use the brake,
My beautiful Daisy Bell!
Artist unknown. Ruby Lane
November 12, 1899 An Austrian tourist mailed this early, lithographed postcard to a friend in Vienna, perhaps to remember the warmer days of summer. It is presently being auctioned online as an antique collectible by a Vienna physician. Ruby Lane is a San Francisco-based Internet antique auctioneer.
Most tandem bicycles were built in-line for a captain (driver) and a stoker (passenger), but a few joined men's and women's models side-by-side. Others provided a drop frame up front to accomodate a lady's skirts, but the combination of a woman driver and a man in close proximity to her derriere proved socially and economically unacceptable.
© Copyright 1995 The Edison Institute: Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village
The 1896 Orient Bicycle Company Oriten decacycle is on display at the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village.
Photograph by Charles S. Lillybridge,
Colorado Historical Society. Copyright © 1995-2001 Denver Public Library
Turn-of-the-century riders crossing the South Platte River in Denver.
Music historian David Ewen, writing in American Popular Songs, provides these notes:
"When Dacre, an English popular composer, first came to the United States, he brought with him a bicycle, for which he was charged duty. His friend (the songwriter William Jerome) remarked lightly: 'It's lucky you didn't bring a bicycle built for two, otherwise you'd have to pay double duty.' Dacre was so taken with the phrase 'bicycle built for two' that he decide to use it in a song. That song, Daisy Bell, first became successful in a London music hall, in a performance by Kate Lawrence. Tony Pastor was the first one to sing it in the United States. Its success in America began when Jennie Lindsay brought down the house with it at the Atlantic Gardens on the Bowery early in 1892."
Listen to Daisy Bell is online as a MIDI file.
Bicycles built for two, four and even ten riders were fabricated by the turn of the century. About this time, a five-rider Pacemaker weighing 130 pounds, featuring an 11-foot, 10-inch wheelbase and a 15-inch diameter drive sprocket appeared as a cycling novelty in Portland. The World's Largest Bike is a British tandem that seats as many as 23 riders and claimed the record in 1998.
Tandems are still popular, especially in Oregon where an extensive network of urban bike paths, thousands of miles of back roads and active cycling clubs encourage their use with weekly rides and special charity events. Three Oregon companies build some of the newest tandem designs:
Burley Design Cooperative
See 19th Century Bicycle News for a selected bibliography and historical resources online, or use the links to find other sites of interest.
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