Courtship back then – on a bicycle built for one

In Adelaide in 1947, public transport ground to a halt at midnight. Few people owned cars, so from 12pm onward you either stayed at home, walked or rode a bicycle. 

This created serious courtship problems. If you could not find a young woman to your liking living within easy walking distance of your home, you had no choice but to buy a bicycle. And there was much to be learned about ‘bicycle courtship’.

If you were going to the pictures or a dance, you had to cycle to her home, go to and from the movie or dance by public transport, spend as much time as she and her parents allowed, say goodnight to her at the front gate or on the front veranda, and then ride your bike home.

Read: When laundry day was a serious workout

Occasionally, and for short trips, you might have been lucky enough to find a girl who was prepared  to be ‘dinked’. The young woman sat side-saddle on the cross bar of your bicycle with your arms around her and your hands on the handlebars.

That, in itself, could be quite pleasurable and was a very good way of ‘developing intimacy’ and getting your arms around her.

Unfortunately, the long full skirts and bouffant half-slips of that era made the young woman quite an armful. And you had to avoid, at all costs, getting her dress or  petticoats caught in your bike chain. A torn petticoat ended many promising romances.

Read: Perfect bag for bone saws and beers

Depending on its duration, and the weather, the solitary ride home gave one plenty of time to assess whether the romance was going anywhere and whether you really wanted it to get there anyway.

Perhaps many promising relationships ended during those solitary rides home in the early hours of a winter’s morning. But, then again, those rides must have precipitated many a marriage proposal on the basis that half a comfortable bed is preferable to a long lonely bicycle ride home!

Were you or your parents adept at dinking? Do you know much about your parents’ courtship? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

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