As far back as Dave Nugent can remember, he has had a love for bicycles.
“When I was a little kid, I never bought a bicycle. I always got one out of the trash and fixed it up,” he said.
Now 79-years-old, he has fixed more bicycles than he can count.
Nestled in a plat of single-family, ranch homes in Brookville, he easily had 300 bicycles the day News Center 7′s James Brown stopped by for a visit. He had each children’s bicycle lined up in rows in his backyard.
“All of them are free,” Nugent said as he tinkered with a bicycle needing new gears.
“Let me try this one,” he said as he worked to find the right-sized wrench to remove the rusted gears from the 21-speed bicycle’s handlebars.
When asked if he was obsessed with bicycles, Nugent said “I might be. I don’t know. It keeps me busy.”
Watching Nugent fix the bicycle, his eyes were wide open behind his wire-rimmed glasses. As he used a tool to cut the rusted gear wire, the other repaired bicycles distracted him as they sat parked in racks in his 10′ by 15′ foot shed he called his workshop.
“This is a Roadmaster,” he said as he pointed to his right. “That’s a Huffy … then you go into a Mongoose.”
Nugent said he gave away over 3,000 bikes last year.
Nugent has been fixing bicycles and giving them away going on six years. He finds them in the trash, others he buys, or people donate. He started tinkering after his wife, Rosemary died.
“When she passed away, it was like a big part of my life was gone. I had nobody to take care of, I had nobody. And I think that is when I started working on bikes because it kept me busy. It kept me out of trouble,” he said.
Once a month, he rolls bikes into his front yard for his give-a-way. On March 26, 2022, Nugget gave away 300 bicycles. And while it was cold and windy, bundled up boys and girls scurried from bike-to-bike trying to find just the right fit. As they rode or pushed their prized possession off the grass, Nugent lost track of how many times children said, “thank you.” And then there were the parents who shook his hand and gave him hugs. Nugent said, “I get so much joy seeing the smiles on kids’ faces when they come get their bicycle.”
“I have no idea how much money I have spent —thousands — but some people have also made donations, and that helps.”
He went on to say he gets social security and that helps pay for things.
“I just really enjoy it,” he said.
Surrounded by thousands of bike parts, Nugent gave Brown a tutorial on getting the most life out of his bike’s gears.
“You know what else you can do? Put WD-40 in there every year so your gears don’t hang up,” he said.
But what “hung up” Nugent for a moment was when Brown asked, if he thought he was “Making a Difference?”
Nugent paused a bit then said, “if me doing this, when I pass away, or get too old to move around , there’s going to be one little kid who says what happened to that old man who fixed bikes and gave me one and helped me out? And you know what, memories, they mean a lot.”
Dave Nugent did not need to answer that question. Brown knew the answer the moment he pulled up to Nugent’s house and saw a yard full of bicycles ready and waiting for the next round of girls and boys.
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