By: Michael Lander
|Dr. Billy McCann has had his Shapleigh's Special bicycle for about 72 years now, having purchased|
it in 1945. That was an important year in his life and in the world since that is the year that
brought an end to WWII.
The year was 1945.
It was the year that Billy Westmoreland McCann got his first bicycle and it was the same year that his life forever changed when he also gave his life over to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In 1945, the world was still embroiled in the Second World War, but it was the final year of that worldwide conflict that would, by its end, take the lives of millions and completely change the world in many ways that are still being felt today.
McCann was much too young, at the time, to serve, and so, like most boys then or even now, his mind was on playing and having fun and for him that meant having a bicycle to ride.
“I remember being in our kitchen asking permission from my dad about buying a bike from a boy who lived down the street from us,” McCann recalls.
“I had a little money saved up from birthday gifts and small jobs that I had done. It was not an easy task to convince my dad about getting this, but he finally relented and agreed to it after I told him that this was absolutely the way that I wanted to spend my savings,” McCann said.
“Because of the war, most of the materials that were produced were used for the war effort, and that left very few things like bikes in the market place and so they were in very short supply, which made it even more special to be able to have one,” he said.
This first bike of his was called a “Shapleigh’s Special,” and, as hard it might be to believe, it is a bike that he still has to this very day.
He believes that the bike was produced for a hardware store by the name of Shapleigh, in St. Louis, and that it was made by Westfield Manufacturing, which was also known as Columbia.
“Except for showing its age, the bike is pretty much like it was when I bought it about 72 years ago. The last time that I remember riding it was about 66 years ago. Since then, my parents kept it during all the years while I was in school and while I was in the service and, for the last 50 years or so, it has been at my and my wife’s home,” McCann said.
As his family grew, McCann bought Schwinn bicycles for all of them and he rode one of these as recently as two years ago. And, along with his Shapleigh, he still has the other five bikes that he bought for his family back in the early 1970’s.
Even though he’s had bicycles for the better part of his life, the most important thing to him was the first steps that took place in his walk of faith back in 1945.
“I was attending a church youth week and was sitting in a crowded space, on a folding metal chair, when I felt compelled and moved by the Holy Spirit. I was blocked in, but I pushed my way to the front of the church, knocking over several chairs along my way, to accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior,” McCann said.
|Dr. Billy McCann and his wife, Betty, have been married for over 59 years. This photo of the two of|
them was taken in the cliff side village on southern Italy's Amalfi Coast in October 2016.
“I was surprised at myself for being so bold, but I will never forget how clear it was to me that I needed to enter into the teachings of Jesus and to become a true follower of His. That, for me, was the start of a life-long journey that has meant so much to me and has brought me so much happiness,” McCann said.
Today, Dr. McCann and his wife, Betty, are members of Trinity Baptist Church and have been since the church was established in Cordova in 1994.
“We love our church, our wonderful pastor, Dr. Richard Hipps, and our church family at Trinity,” McCann said.
“Through our pastor’s leadership and his sermons, we are inspired to continually strive to live our lives as Jesus would want us to, to reach out to our local community and to help and to serve the spiritual needs of as many people as we can, and to support local, state, and international missions,” he said.
Dr. McCann said that his faith has played a major role in his life, supporting and guiding him through his career in dentistry, in his and his wife’s 59 years of marriage, and blessing them with many friends of faith, and giving them the chance to be the parents of three wonderful children, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
For Dr. McCann, his whole life really began in the year 1945, and he still has the bike and a faith that has carried him, supported, and forever changed him for the better since then.