Nonagenarian Paul King is many things, including…

Paul and Emily King celebrated Paul's 90th birthday with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren - Image (c) JMcCT, 2015
Paul and Emily King celebrated Paul’s 90th birthday with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren – Image (c) JMcCT, 2015

Compiled by The Friends of Paul King for The Bedford Citizen

On the occasion of his ascent to status as a full-fledged nonagenarian, Paul King’s friends and family gathered recently to wish him a happy 90th birthday. Long-time Bedford residents are apt to remember King Cycle, a full-service bike shop that Paul operated out of a vintage farmhouse on Great Road, behind Blue Ribbon Dairy and the Sunoco Station.

In appreciating Paul, it turns out that he is a friend; a craftsman, tinkerer, gardener, chef; a cyclist; a musician; and a pool-playing poet. He is also one of six siblings, 4 of whom are alive today;a former Concord Minuteman who played the fife in the late 1960’s; a distance cyclist who rode his bike to Florida a few times, sleeping under overpasses and throwing his old worn t-shirts away as he biked; a skier, ice skater and canoeist who built a lovely birch bark canoe.

A Friend

“Paul and Emily King go ‘way back on our list of friends, and we got to know them through First Parish, Friends of the Library, Council on Human Relations, and the concurrent friendships of our kids. Emily and Paul and Brown and I still share morning coffee at each other’s homes, and Paul and I do the Globe crossword puzzle, with Emily and Brown chiming in on the more difficult clues.  That makes about 50 years of guessing the hard words!”
– Lois and Brown Pulliam

“Paul’s friendly nature has attracted many congenial friends.  He’s always had a good natured, easily recognizable, deep laugh.  These later years, he laughs aloud, all alone, while reading.

“Paul always enjoyed the company of his friends’ children, even teenagers, and nourished their self esteem with his interest in their conversations.  My Glenn worked summers in his bike shop and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Glenn still laughs about biking to McDonalds every day to fetch a Happy Meal for each of them for lunch.

“Paul just might be McDonald’s most frequent customer, as for many years while living on Hancock, he’s gone there every morning for breakfast and camaraderie with  other every-day male diners.”
– Dot Ellis

The morning crew at McDonald's
Paul’s Pals: The AM Crew at McDonald’s in Bedford

“We MISS YOU, Paul!”
 Charlie Genier, Domenick Torsi, Diane Fiato, Daniel Koen and Bob Latina

A Cyclist

“Paul owned a popular bike shop on The Great Road in Bedford; he tells the story of a guy who entered “Mr. King can I have a dollar? Paul said no the guy responded “you cheap bastard” Paul laughs every time. He also likes to say “where upon” when telling a story after he’s had “one or two.”–  DBK

“When I decided to buy the first new bike I had ever owned, of course I bought it from King Cycle.  That was in 1983.  The 12 speed Fuji touring bike came with drop handle bars, but I prefer to ride upright to view the landscape.  Ever accommodating, Paul easily substituted the more traditional level, turned back handles.  After a few trips where I found some hills a little daunting, Paul came to the rescue by modifying the free wheel gear ratios for “granny” gears. I never needed another bike and I expect to ride it for a few years more.”
– Brown Pulliam

“Paul King has been my go-to bike guy since we moved to Bedford in 1990.  When his shop closed it was a loss but fortunately, he kept his shop open at his house!  What a blessing for those of us addicted to Paul’s practical ways!  Not only did my first commuter bike come from him – a great old yellow upright bike with a basket that I got for my husband initially but then he decided he needed his car at work so I inherited the bike.  It was a real trooper of a bike through the slushy, snowy streets in the winter, and I used it until it virtually rusted away and could not be used.

“Besides being avid bikers year round, Paul and I share the belief that nothing should go to waste.  So when I first found a bike that I thought could be used by someone, I contacted Paul, who spruced it up and then we did a drawing at Bedford Day, and some lucky youngster now had a usable bike.  (Of course I checked with the Police first to make sure the bike was abandoned and not stolen!)  Then Paul began to find bikes or knew people who had bikes they no longer wanted, and he refurbished them and would contact me.  We had residents who could use bikes for commuting or who needed a bike to get to school, and we offered these to kids and adults alike, with helmets donated by the Police Department program funded by Bedford Rotary.  Paul never took a dime for all his labor or spare parts for all these bikes, and I so appreciated his commitment to bicycle use in Bedford.  I imagined that he and I were stealthily adding bike after bike to the mix of traffic in town, and over time, we would solve the excess car problem on the Great Road.

“Thank you, Paul, for being my Bedford Bike Guru all these years and for adding 20 or so bikes to the fleet!”
– Sue Baldauf

A Sailor and Canoeist

“Paul and Emily used to join our bare boat sailing charters off the Maine coast and in the Caribbean and Paul was good at making contact with the locals.  We had anchored overnight in a quiet cove in the Penobscot Bay, and Paul, the first one up in the morning, borrowed the boats dinghy, and went paddling off toward the rocky beach where he encountered a local resident digging clams.  After a short conversation, the Mainer loaned Paul his spare clam rake, and Paul gathered a mess of clams to bring back to our boat.  Noticing that the clammer was digging two clams for every one he got, Paul said “You dig those clams pretty well, are you a professional?” The man answered “Nope, I just do it for a liv’n.”
Brown & Lois Pulliam

“I like to recall an October Monday years ago when both Emily and Brown were at work and Paul and I went to do our grocery shopping first and then to Concord River for a canoe ride.  It was a lovely sunny day, and artists were out painting on shore while leaf-peeping tourists were watching the scene.  It was too good a chance to waste, so I started whistling tunes appropriate to our Native American craft–such as “Indian Love Call” and “I’m an Indian, Too”. Sensational, if confused, response!”
– Lois Pulliam

“Paul taught my kids how to canoe, when we all vacationed on a lake in Ompah, Ontario.  Andy and David “captured” frogs, and Paul helped me cook the legs.”
– Dot Ellis

A Craftsman, Tinkerer, Gardener, Chef

“A bon vivant beyond the bike shop, Paul’s eclectic and irrepressible creativity has led him to make hand-crafted twig furniture, and we proudly own one of his rustic chairs.  Paul has also crafted topiary: two lonely somewhat-scrawny creatures remain in their Hancock Street front yard.

“He is also a self-taught chef, regularly making, among other things, savory soups.  I also recall Paul’s experimentations with layered cocktails, the kind called pousse-café, the Slippery Nipple being a notable example.  With crescent wrench, snips, saws, and spoons, he is a one-of-a-kind Paul-of-all-trades.”
– John Gibbons

“Paul has always been a fixer-upper: he is a supreme repairer, and for many years a dealer of bikes as well as having been a long-time long-distance bike rider on his own.  He could make anything from wonderful garden creations such as his “sculpted shrub dogs” to highly desirable rustic wooden chairs, and even a birch bark canoe.”
– Lois Pulliam

“Among Paul’s accomplishments we need to include “chef extraordinaire.” His hot and sour soup has warmed the belly of many a friend.”
– Dot Bergin

“Paul has always enjoyed cooking, but after retirement, he pretty much became full-time chef at 25 Hancock.  Years before retirement, he helped my son Dave make me a birthday cake, in Paul’s kitchen. (Another example of how much he enjoyed kids.)”

– Dot Ellis

“Paul has made sculpture s out of bushes, snow, vegetables redwood (Easter Island heads) and of course his chairs that many people enjoy across the country.  “And he does crosswords every day and makes his own to share with his brother Don.”
– DBK

 

Paul King, one of the CoA's most ardent pool players - Courtesy image
Paul King, one of the CoA’s most ardent pool players – Courtesy image

A Pool-playing Poet

Paul recently published a pool-player’s plaintive poem in The Bedford Citizen. click to read A Pool Player’s Lament

A Musician

“Paul played the piano, guitar and enjoys singing had many song books. The day they moved he sat on the couch and sang away while the furniture sailed by.  And, he made a harmonium out of wine glasses mounted on a frame for playing one Christmas.”
–  DBK

Paul is also

  • one of six siblings, 4 of whom are alive today.
  • a former Concord Minuteman: in the late sixties, he played the fife
  • a distance cyclist who rode his bike to Florida a few times, sleeping under overpasses and throwing his old worn t-shirts away as he biked.
  • a skier, ice skater and canoeist who built a lovely birch bark canoe.

– DBK

Happy Birthday, Paul
From all of us!

 


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Joel Parks
Joel Parks
7 years ago

Last May when Paul was ready to divest himself of a small trailer-load of specialized bicycle repair tools, I offered to drive him to Bikes-Not-Bombs in Jamaica Plain to donate them. Afterward, a BNB staffer gave us a tour of the office and here is a picture of Paul on a “Bicimaquina” bicycle blender, an example of what one of BNB’s partners in Central America does to create people-powered machinery.

Wise Family
Wise Family
7 years ago

Happy Birthday Uncle Paul!!!

Wonderful piece. Great collection of stories about Paul and Emily. I didn’t see mention of the ‘bouncy bike’ in all the stories. It is one of my fondest memories of visiting Hancock St. as a child. Paul had apparently had the notion to take a normal used kid’s bike and move the wheel axles off-center. The result was a loopy rolling experience at slow speeds, like a boat on the waves, and an hysterical bucking bronco of a ride at a faster pace. Leave it to Paul to blend the science of anharmonic oscillation and the joy of recreating on a bike. The time and thought to custom size and fit each spoke to recenter both wheel axles must have been extraordinary. But when there is something creative, brilliant, and inspiring to be shared with kids or anyone, I don’t believe Paul feels like it is any effort at all. Happy Birthday and thanks from the Pennsylvania nephew and cousins.

Alison G.
Alison G.
7 years ago

Happy 90th Uncle Paul – I remember visiting and you sharing your M&Ms, stories of you biking to Florida, “sparring” with Aunt Emily and allowing us West Coast cousins to go wild in your pool. Thanks for the memories.

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