Knoxville — Donnie Rodgers purchased a red bicycle for $50 from a Knoxville hardware store in 1967. Little did he know that he and the bike would become a part of the town's history.
Rodgers, 87, became known for riding the bicycle to work. He still works at the same bank he began working for on Jan. 21, 1947.
"I rode it up to the square a lot of times," Rodgers said. Oftentimes, he rode the bike to work because he lives close to the bank. It was easy to ride home for lunch or meet his old friend, Junior Briggs.
The bike was always parked in the same place as well. There were at least four times it was stolen over the years, and each time it was found at a school. Rodgers laughed as he recalled that, "no one ever knew how it got there."
On Monday, Dec. 2, he said goodbye to the bike for good, when he donated it to the Marion County Historical Society Museum.
"It's been a good bike," Rodgers said. "My family thinks it's time to get rid of it."
Rodgers knew at some point, he and the bike would have to part ways. He was never sure to whom to give it.
Years ago, Elsie Kemp told him she wanted to put it in the museum, because Rodgers and the bike had become staples of downtown for so many years. When Rodgers was ready to say goodbye to the bike, he remembered Kemp's request.
"I just thought it would be a nice thing," Kemp said of bringing the bike into the museum.
Though the bike now belongs to the museum, Rodgers was told he could come out to ride it when he wanted to.
"I had a lot of fun with (the bike)," Rodgers said. "We had a lot of rides."