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The Daily



08-15-03: Pedaling off on childhood dream

    NEW BREMEN - After 35 years teaching in New Bremen, Gary Stueve rode away last spring on a very cool Schwinn 1955 Classic chrome and red bike with fat, whitewall tires and a buzzer-type bell. And he'll ride it again Sunday at 1 p.m. as grand marshal of the 2003 Bremenfest parade.
    Stueve, who taught history, is a guy with a lot of stories, particularly about his childhood in Sidney. And there's a story behind the bike, too.
    Once upon a time in the 1950s there was an older kid in little Gary Stueve's neighborhood in Sidney who rode around town on a shiny Schwinn bicycle.
    "Danny was a big guy in our neighborhood and he played the part well. But, it was that bike. I really, really wanted a Schwinn like Danny's, but there just wasn't enough money for me to have one. All I had was a Huffy," Stueve recalled Wednesday during an interview at his home with The Daily Standard.
    This was one of many, many stories the teacher shared with thousands of students during his 35-year career at New Bremen Junior High School.
    "Everybody loves Mr. Stueve and his stories," said Brian Meyer, who with his class buddies Brian Garman and Brett Winner came up with the idea of finding the Schwinn as a retirement gift.
    Following Wednesday afternoon's football practice, the three students spoke with the newspaper as they cooled off in the high school commons area.
    When the idea dawned, there were only about three weeks left in the school year, so the boys had to act fast.
    "When we found it on the Internet, it was exactly what Mr. Stueve had always talked about - the fat wheels, the horn in the panel, the chrome, everything," Meyer said.
    "And then we called the same bike shop in Sidney (Carty's Bike Shop) that was there when he was a kid. And they ordered the bike for us, but first we had to show we could come up with the money," Garman continued.
    In no time at all the boys had a list of 75 students and teachers pledging money toward the bike and the $533 was raised.
    "Carty's found the (new) bike in Michigan. Because there was no way to get it here in time for the assembly (where Stueve was to be honored for his retirement), Mr. and Mrs. Carty drove to Michigan and picked up the bike," Winner chimed in.
    Stueve recalled he had no idea what was coming at the assembly. Several times he returned to his seat only to be called back again.
    "Finally the stage curtains open and there was the bike with several kids polishing it like a pit crew would do. I just couldn't believe it. It was wonderful," Stueve said.
    The three boys recalled their teacher ran right to the stage and jumped up.
    They also reminisced a little about classes with Mr. Stueve.
    "No one likes history, but everybody likes Mr. Stueve. At the beginning of class he'd always have a story, usually about his childhood, that would fit into our class for that day," Meyer said.
    "And he could remember every game he coached and all about it. (Stueve coached various sports for many years.) We'd just name a year and a game, and he remembered the whole thing. I don't know how he did that," Winner said.
    "All his stories and stuff just smoothed us into class. We'd be interested in history before we knew what was happening," Garman added.


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