All this talk about Big Shark has me thinking. The shop was originally this tiny little place in the U City "Loop". For those that don't know, the Loop used to be a dirty little place with no shortage of crime and pan handlers. I haven't walked up and down it in years so I can't speak to it's current state. We sure used to get some strange characters wandering into the shop. Some of them were pretty damn funny. One of them that comes to mind was a guy that I know TK will recall. In fact, I think that the brash TK actually had a soft spot for this guy. His name.......was Sherman. Sherman was an African American gentleman. He was a pretty big guy from what I remember and he always wore jeans, some type of work boot, a t-shirt, and camouflage jacket. This was Sherman's standard attire even on the hottest of St. Louis days and Sherman was always ripe. Sherman graced us with his presence quite often. His visits were bittersweet. We all enjoyed his company and I don't think that any of us minded working on his bike (always on the house b/c Sherman was poor). What we all cursed at was having to put the bike in the stand. The thing weighed a ton. It was an old cruiser bike with a coaster brake. It had the biggest and heaviest basket possible on the front. In said basket were Sherman's tools of the trade. He was a general handyman that would probably do anything that anyone asked of him if it meant he could get a buck or two. I remember there being a boombox strapped to the basket that was always tuned to Magic 108, bolt cutters, tree pruning tools, and no less than 20' of heavy chain. Hands down...out of all of the bike shop boys, Sherman liked TK the best. He very much cared what TK thought. Another thing that Sherman generally had down in the depths of the basket was......a bottle. Generally it was Ripple. For those that don't know....Ripple is an inexpensive wine with a fairly high alcohol content. Ripple is also known as Blockparty Breakup, Bumwine, Hobo Juice, and Poverty Punch. according to the Urban Dictionary, Ripple was made famous by Fred G. Sanford of Sanford and Son. He had a drink called Champipple (Champagne and Ripple). Anyway...I never took a pull off Sherman's bottle but I'm sure it had to be Mad Dog, Cisco, Night Train or Thunderbird and possibly a mixture of them all. Sherman was never shy about getting his bottle out of the basket while we tried to piece his bike back together but he did try to hide it from TK. He'd stand over in the corner of the store takin' pulls when TK turned his back or left the store for a minute. Sherman would always put his finger up to his lips when he was done and say, "Shhhhhhhhhhh........now don't tell Tim."
I hope Sherman is ok. I don't know that the man had a bad bone in his body.