In the summer of 1968, I was chosen to take the inaugural go-cart trip down the newly paved Soball Street hill in Coquitlam. From the dead end at the top, at Gislason. Where that huge boulder used to be. All the way down to Victoria Drive. A distance of about two city blocks…..John was really proud of his newly built soapbox racer. He’d used old 2×4′s, his Dad’s good lawn mower wheels, and lots of big bent nails. It featured a piece of splintered wood to sit on. And a cool rope steering wheel. There were No sidewalls. No roll bars. No racing stripes. And no-where to put your feet. It was basically an old rotten board on loose wheels. A real ground hugger, with only two inches of road clearance. I had no idea why the guys were being nice for a change? And had elected me to go first? But was very excited with the honour. And not one to back down from the challenge, jumped on laughing,,,,. No helmets back then. And no brains. Leaning forward to lessen wind resistance, I quickly picked up considerable speed. When I realized, John hadn’t installed any brakes.! ” Oh NO ! I’m gonna die ! ” Faster and faster I raced down that hill. Out of control. I could hear every blade of grass along the deep ditch on my right whoosh as I zipped past. I could feel the heat of the fresh blacktop. And see the waves of reflected summer sun rising and rippling on the horizon. It was getting stifling sitting next to the road. If I crashed I would be embedded in the hot tar. ” Ahhhhhhh. Help ! ” I was screaming as I passed Leigh School. “How do I stop?” “Why didn’t you go first John?” A blind corner and busy main road loomed ahead at the bottom. I couldn’t see if there were cars coming on Victoria Drive. So as I approached Wilkie Ave. I came up with a plan to save my life. And pulled left on an angle into the gravel along Dogpatch Hall to slow my ride down. What a tremendous noise. Gravel and hot dust flying into an explosion every-where. The wheels blew off in all directions. That soapbox quickly plowed through the parking lot like a downed jet airplane……. Still holding the steering rope for safety, this young daredevil went flying and rolling into a confused dusty heap. I was alive. I wasn’t broken. But my bum hurt. Were any girls watching?…. The guys came running down the hill after me. And John was angry that I broke his race car.
Story Copyright D. A. Payne, 2019. All rights reserved.