If you have been on the Internet over the last few years, chances are you have seen this picture.
If you search for ‘the bike in the tree’
on the Internet, you will get a heartbreaking story about a boy who went off to fight in the Great War, but left his bike chained to a tree. The story goes that the boy never returned, and his parents left it as a memorial to him.
Except as often times happens with Internet stories, the story you have heard is a complete fabrication.
And now, the rest of the story…
Perhaps the most glaring problem with the story is the fact that the bike in the tree looks to be a child’s bike. Children were never part of the war effort during World War I.
The Vashon Island Bike Tree’s actual story doesn’t start until 1954.
In 1954, Don Puz’s family was living on Vashon Island, across from Seattle, Washington. The family was undergoing hard times. Don’s father was recently killed in a house fire, leaving his Don’s mom with five children to raise alone.
Residents of the island came together to help the family out. One of the items donated was an old bicycle. As Don put it, he never really cared for the bike. He would later explain the bike had hard rubber tires and skinny little handlebars.
Sometime later, the family moved to a swampier part of Vashon Island. As Don recalled, the kids would catch polliwogs in the swamps near their house. At one point, Don left his bike chained to a tree and forgot about it.
Then, forty years passed.
Eventually Don came to visit his sister who took him out to the new ‘landmark’ on the island. Don immediately recognized his old bike.
Though now, it’s become a major tourist attraction and a site for Internet curiosity, the story of the kid who went off to war and left his bike is just simply not true.
Today, locals are trying to keep the memory of the Vashon Bike Tree alive, since the Internet has made it a tourist attraction.
This should serve as a reminder, the Internet can tell a great story, but if you want the real facts, call a professional.