22 October 2015
JAMES BYRON DEAN
By Lee Raskin, Author of James Dean: On The Road To Salinas
Two Wheel Terror
Ten-year old Jimmy's relentlessness was evident to his school friends. He was always pursuing a new and daring project. He made an elevator in the barn's loft, but nearly broke his back when it collapse and sent him hurtling to the floor. Another time Jimmy was imitating a trapeze performer, and fell to the ground breaking his two front teeth. Fortunately, his father, a dental technician, made up a bridge from Jimmy to wear. Jimmy loved to take it out to show off.
Jimmy's cousin, Marcus Winslow, Jr. recalled, "Jimmy liked to explore inside the big barn on our farm. His friend Whitey Rust lived nearby and they'd play 'hide and seek' in the maze of tunnels they built in the hayloft." Jimmy and Whitey also built their version of a soapbox derby racer out of wooden crates with casters nailed into the bottom for wheels. They would race each other down the steel ramps from the hayloft. This was one of the first of many dare devil acts performed by Jimmy.
Jimmy working on his bike, always tried to make it go faster. Photo of James Dean by CMG Worldwide, Inc.
Jimmy loved the sound of motorbikes. One can imagine him fantasizing to become a real speed racer. Jimmy also attached some playing cards to his bicycle's front fender support with wooden clothespins to simulate the sound, 'Brrrrrrmmm' as the spokes made contact with the cards.
Jimmy would get a real motorized bike, a Whizzer, as a present from his Aunt Ortense and Uncle Marcus for his thirteenth birthday.