Man, those people at The League have got me going. First there was last week’s discussion of Holy Grails and White Whales, and now we’ve got to write about the most prized possession in our collection(s). Here we go:

“What is the one item in your collection you would save if your house was being swallowed by a sink hole, carried off in a tornado, and then swept away in a flood?”

I’ve gotta say this one was a toughie. I’ve got quite a few collectibles and/or ephemera that I’d be devastated if I were to lose. But rather than ramble on about ’em, let me narrow it down and give you the two runner-ups before showing my most prized possession.

Third Place: My 1969 Sears Screamer

1969 Sears Screamer with custom shifter console installed

Being a sucker for vintage things, in 2010 I had the most random craving for a Classic Schwinn Stingray, especially something like a ’68 Orange Krate, which is freakin’ awesome. But sure enough, 99.99% of the time, those who wanted to get rid of their old Stingray knew what they had, so finding an Orange Krate for a good price was next to impossible.

Then one day I hit up Craigslist on a saved search for “Schwinn Stingray,” and found a listing for a “vintage Sears bike.” Out of curiosity I clicked the link, and found what you see above, for $150. It was love at first sight, and my interest in Stingrays totally folded. In fact, I’ve been interested in everything but Stingrays in the muscle bike genre since, but won’t pass one up if it’s going for cheap!

I saw this bike only a couple of weeks before my birthday, and typically around that time my better half starts asking me what I want. So this time I called out loud from my desk, “Hey babe? I know what I want for my birthday!” She could not believe that I wanted this crazy bike of all things, but yep, it’s what I wanted, and it’s what I got.

It’s a 5-speed muscle bike, and when I bought it, it was missing the shifter console on the frame. My search for a replacement was a whole journey in itself, along whose roads I met a whole bustling underground community of Muscle Bike enthusiasts, whose love for these beasts is absolutely phenomenal! Without them I know I would’ve never found that missing part, and I wouldn’t have known that there truly are some serious collectors out there.

Nevertheless, as much as I love this bike, it was made a little before my time, and my connection to it is much more novelty than it is sentimental. I’d be torn to shreds if I were to lose this bike because it’s super rare, but when I think about it, I’d be worse off if I were to lose my Second Place candidate, which was a legendary icon of my ’80s childhood: My Atari VCS CX2600-A.

Don't let the dusty exterior fool you; I brought this thing back to life after being boxed for at least 15 years. Click the pic to read about it.

As the original owner of this beloved console since 1981 (still remember the price: $139 from Fedco), I can’t even begin to tell you how significant and definitive this is to my existence—from the thousands of after school or late-night hours with eyes burning, trying to beat my high scores, to the countless times of trial and tear-filled torment when my dad would hide the switchbox out of punishment for not having done my chores and/or homework because of my obsession. Yes, my Atari 2600 made me what I am today—a grumpy old 40-something who wags his wrinkly finger and shakes his head in diehard defiance at those who call the Nintendo NES “old school.” Nuh-uh.

So, speaking of old school, there is only one proud possession of mine that barely, just barely tops my Atari. I mean, these two were practically tied for first place, but in the end there could be only one:

My 1980 Mongoose BMX Bike.

1980 mongoose with motomags

Yes, I’d have to say that this Cro-Moly creature is the most prized possession in all of my collected treasures and junk, as it completely captures and embodies the spirit of my coming of age in early ‘80s Los Angeles—one of seemingly endless sunny SoCal summers, listening to AC/DC and REO Speedwagon on The Mighty 690, launching off dirt ramps in the fields with my friends until having to go home for dinner, the miracle of MTV, and, yup, you guessed it, having sleepovers and playing Atari until the joystick bases made permanent indents in our palms. The memories are endless. A cool BMX bike was probably the only thing that mattered before girls—or, rather, girls in Dolphin shorts—came along.

It was the ultimate symbol of freedom and pre-adolescent recklessness; the one thing every kid in my neighborhood longed for, and perhaps the only affordable option, as other brands such as Red Line, Diamondback and Kuwahara were nothing more than wet dreams for kids whose parents just couldn’t understand the price of a well-made, well-built BMX bike. You can read more about this bike here.

The best thing about this bike though, and undeniably the biggest throwback to the decade of rad, is its number plate.

1980 mongoose numberplate

I can’t count how many times I saved up my allowance to head to the local bike shop to buy my favorite prismatic BMX stickers to adorn my bike with. My own BMX bike is long gone, but this baby has the exact same ones I had…and more!

1980 Mongoose numberplate

I go riding with my son at least 3–4 times a week, and this bike gets even more heads turned than my Screamer does, especially from 40-something doods, who, with a knowing smile and confirming nod of the head, know exactly where I’m coming from.

Well, that about does the deed for me. Let’s look at some other League member contributions:

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