A "Little Rascals" film short had a great influence on me. It was about their Great Soapbox Race that caught my interest this time. We had a steep hill on Leeper street near my house, a perfect racetrack for us kids in the neighborhood. It was a little dangerous with cars turning off Washington Street (US Hwy 65) to Leeper to get to Greenhill's grocery store.
But of course we didn't care, danger was what made it fun. You wouldn't catch us going to school telling the other kids we built a soapbox cart and took turns pushing each other around the block, No Way. Excitement, that's what counted in all things we did! We were the Young Daredevils.
We looked for the right parts (free was key) to build our soapbox cart. We searched high and low for the wheels and boards to make it. Greenhills had wood crates back then and heavy cardboard. Trager's Welding helped with the steering. Bailey's Garage helped with the design. The sawmill just across the railroad tracks had boards strewn about. Also, my little red wagon was not spared.
After it was constructed, we had to paint it and give it another day to dry. We waited till Sunday so the traffic was light on the highway. Back then nothing was open on Sunday and our Leeper street would only have three or four cars all day turning on to it. We pulled the cart to the edge of the highway and looked down to Leeper. It's time for the maiden run and it's a little scary. If you've ever been on Leeper street you would know it's only one block long on either side of Washington street.
I slid my legs into the car and sat down... the excitement grew, for you see we had no brake in our design. Two of my friends gave me a big shove and down the hill I went. With my legs pinned in, I could not put a foot down to stop, I then realized that thinking things through would have been... better.
As I picked up speed the corner was getting close; past readers of this blog may recall my story about the Swann's truck that literally "ditched" all of its ice cream one hot summer day. Again, you might want to revisit that "Gift from Him" for context. The cart would turn... but at this speed things don't work quite the way they are supposed to work.
The ditch was deep and the rest is history; we went on to rebuild--- this time with a brake! We never gave up on any of our endeavors, we just tweaked things a little and went forward. I would put my medal roller skates on and we would pull each other with our bikes. We would even hang on the the cars and let them pull us, talk about vibrating feet when that was done!
When I talk to kids today, I try to instill into then an excitement for learning and experimentation. For some it comes natural, others just need to be encouraged. We all have heard it said that old dogs can't learn new tricks, that's wrong. We even know how to teach new tricks. DB