Carriage Ride


Gus Stone and one of his cabs.


Gus Stone


Brainerd resident and retired educator, Gus now spends his much of his spare time in his workshop making toys for his seven grandkids. Creating what the kids call “bump-bumps,” he builds pedal-powered and motor-powered cabs inspired by similar carts he saw during his time in Central America. As the holidays approach, Gus talks about the importance of family, especially at this time of year, and how his creations help bring his together.

❖Christmas has always been a special time. It’s a time of family gatherings. It has to be with youngsters and Santa Claus. You’d really be a Scrooge if you didn’t enjoy Christmas. The family comes to our house normally Christmas Eve, so we are one of the first places where they get to actually open presents. They all enjoy each other’s company.

❖I came from a family of 11 kids. I’m the oldest boy; I have two older sisters. Christmas was always a special time. My dad was in the shrubbery business for years and years. My mom and my sisters made wreaths and garlands for a little extra money at Christmas. I still make several wreaths for the youngsters’ teachers and some of the ladies I’ve worked with for several years.

❖We worship with East Ridge Church of Christ and we have a mission program in Central America, mainly in Nicaragua and Panama. We have a medical mission each summer; I’ve done seven or eight of those. In Central America they use these pedi-cabs in the small villages as taxis. I’d always had a bicycle as a youth, so I thought that would be a neat thing for my grandchildren.

❖I think the grandkids know now that they are loved very deeply. The “bumpbump” is a part of the whole thing. It does bring the family together, but the problem is that the original “bumpbumps” will seat three, maybe four, of the little ones. The last one I built is actually a two-seater, so it can seat six. The thing about the traditional “bumpbump” is that they are in the front, up where they can see. There’s no one in front of them, and it goes slow enough that they can see all the dogs and cats and squirrels and whatever’s going on in the neighborhood.

❖My seven grandkids love the “bump-bumps.” They named the cabs that because close to where I live there are some businesses that have speed bumps, so they would go “bump, bump” when we rode over them. They’ve come to expect a ride in it when they come to visit. My youngest we keep during the day, and we are maybe a half a mile from Ace Hardware, so I hear several times a week, “Papa, bump-bump, popcorn.” So we have to go get popcorn.

❖As a grandparent, you get to do the highlights. You don’t have to say no as much as you do to your own. When you have your own children, you can be so stressed about providing for them, making a living and all that, that you don’t enjoy the good times as much. With grandchildren, you sort of get another chance. You get to spend the good times with them, watching them change and grow. There are down times. There are the highs and the lows. When they’re sick it hurts you, and when they are hurt, it hurts you and all that, but they are special and we know that, and we just enjoy them, try to do neat things with them.

❖I retired five or six years ago. I spent 10 years at Boyd- Buchanan. I started a high school athletic program there with football. I spent 10 years as a teacher and coach at Ooltewah High School with football, started the soccer program. I was in administration as assistant principal at Sale Creek High School for seven or eight years, and I retired at Hunter Middle School. I had 40 years of education and enjoyed that. I still have a lot of friends that I have to keep in touch with.

"I suppose I’ve made at least six of these. I started out with just using pedal power but now I’ve gone electric — they are battery operated. The wheels are electric; it’s called a hub motor. With the youngsters and their bicycles, I think I probably have 15 or more hanging from my garage ceiling. I simply cut the front of the bicycle off and make a frame with one-by-one metal tubing with a welder. For the first one I used a 26-inch bike frame. That’s what I saw in Central America. It was simply a box with something you could strap a car seat in. Each one is probably a little improved over the last one."