The Khalil Amani Reader

Hip-hop/Spirituality/Freethinking. Speaking for all underdogs!

Those Elusive Childhood Toys…

By Khalil Amani


Thinking back on your childhood—if you were somewhat poor to middle-class like my family, there were things you might’ve longed for, but because you came from a large family—you either settled for lesser kid stuff or went without it altogether. For me, I remember craving two things: Owning a pair of PF Flyers (sneakers) and owning a Schwinn bicycle.


About three years ago I was walking in a Denver, Colorado mall and stumbled upon a pair of PF Flyers peeking at me through the window. I swear to Gawd—my heart skipped a beat! I had buried the childhood memory of those elusive sneakers in the recesses of my long-term memory and all-of-a-sudden those memories of that white kid in the commercial running through the jungle jumping over quicksand and leaping high into the air to avoid the massive snapping jaws of an alligator (or was it a crocodile?) came flooding back. PF Flyers were selling again in the new millennium! I went right in that store and bought a pair. Price was not an issue! I would’ve paid $300 to excise the demons of not having them! Luckily, they were only $49.95.



You’ve gotta understand—back in the 70’s Schwinn was the “Mercedes” (or Cadillac since it was the seventies…) of bicycles. If you owned a Schwinn nobody was effin’ with you!


Most recently, I fulfilled another elusive childhood dream—owning a Schwinn bicycle! I can proudly say that I’m the owner of a 7-speed retro Schwinn.



Coming from a family where there were five of us kids, things like bikes were far and few. I did get a 3-speed English Racer bike for my 7th birthday. Oh man! I used to wash it and shine it up and keep it cool in the garage and sparsely let others ride it.


But by the time I was 10-ish I was longing for that Schwinn 5-speed Sting Ray bike, fully equipped with a “Sissy bar,” banana seat and stick-shift with those fat, treadless back tires like dragsters. Like this one!



All the white kids around the way stunted on us less fortunate ones. They rode down our block rocking PF Flyers and Schwinn bicycles! Part of me wished that I’d been born into a rich white family. They were so blessed by the toy gods.


Not being able to afford a Schwinn, we built bikes that were worthy of “Schwinn-ness”—but they weren’t Schwinns.


42 years later I can ride down the street on my Schwinn like a big kid. So I encourage you to reach back and find the child in you and go buy yourself some of those toys that were denied you because of your family’s financial status. See you on the road!


See me ride!


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