Artifact of the Month
Montgomery Ward Hawthorne Bicycle
Donated by Orville Hall Jr.
Orville Hall Jr. grew up in Fayetteville, Arkansas, during the World War II years, a time when "bicycles were impossible to come by." Even so, Orville was determined to have a bike of his own. He mowed lawns for 25 cents and saved his money. He started haunting the Montgomery Ward department store in downtown Fayetteville on delivery day, making himself well-known to the salesman there.
Since there were a limited number of bikes being made at the time and many kids anxious to buy one, Orville had to put his name on a waiting list. Finally in the summer of 1946 the Montgomery Ward salesman allowed Orville to buy a bicycle—the maroon and white Hawthorne model seen in the photo above.
Orville suspects his name was not actually next on the waiting list, but that the salesman was tired of being pestered. Orville paid $27—money he had earned and saved himself—and rode the bike home. (At 25 cents a lawn, that was 108 lawns, including edging.)
All these years later, Orville remembers the day he bought this bike one of his best days ever.
Photo at right: Orville Hall Jr. with his bicycle, Fayetteville, Arkansas, 1946. Orville Hall Jr. Collection (S-2009-60-24)
See Orville's bike in our exhibit, A Boy's Toys, featuring toys from the 1930s and 1940s from the Orville Hall Jr. Collection, on view March 24 through May 2, 2015.