July 7, 2009

An Independence Day Groundpound Surprise.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:35 pm

I took an Independence Day groundpound. I was enjoying the gorgeous weather when I noticed that several streets, each leading to one of the main streets, were blocked off, much as the town does when there is to be parade. I rounded the corner on the main street and saw people sitting at the curb on folding chairs, as if waiting for a parade to begin. What made this different were the bales of hay straw (Jerry taught me the difference a while back) that lined both curbs and along the center line on the street.

Bales of straw all over the place? Not something one sees every day – or ever, for that matter in these parts. I figured, ”Horses … gotta be horses somewhere” Stupid, I know, but I really didn’t know what to make of it – farookin’ straw bales? I got around to asking one of the peeps sitting in a chair by the curb.

“Yo, what’s goin’ on?”

Not a man of many words, he replied, “Soapbox Derby.”

Wow, I hadn’t seen one of those since I was of single digit age. I stood by the finish line (in front of more bails of hay straw, which were there to stop a runaway soapbox) and shot a cell phone picture of the track.

I continued walking toward the starting line and stopped long enough to snap pictures of the vehicles and the drivers in the waiting area.

It looked as if it might be a little while before the races actually started, so I continued on with the groundpound, hoping that on the return trip I might get to see a race or two.

As luck would have it, on my return trip, I saw the first race of the day go off. It was a girl driver versus a boy driver. The girl appeared to be winning, but about halfway down the hill, the boy caught and passed her. Once across the finish line, the boy applied his brakes, but the girl must have been so intent on racing that she either forgot to engage the brake or her brakes failed. In any event, she and her “car” went zooming full speed into two of the hay straw bales at the end of the track. KaaaahBLAMM!!!

I was worried that kid was hurt, when I saw the bales go flying. As it turns out, her mom ran to her, and she was OK. There were a few tears, but that was because she lost the race, not because she crashed or because she was hurt.

Given the state of the economy, the rogue nations talking nukes and the toxic politics of the day, a soapbox derby was a rare and most welcome find – especially on America’s holiday.

Here are the cell phone photos.

Here’s the track. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so much hay straw in one place.

Here are some of the “cars.”

Here are some of the drivers preparing to rock. Unfortunately someone got in front of the “camera.” After all, I was on a groundpound, not a photo mission.

It was pretty cool.


  1. I finally decided to write a comment on your blog. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your posts.

    Comment by Eric Lee — July 7, 2009 @ 8:02 pm

  2. Never saw so much straw?
    I remember tossing many, many bales on the back of a truck in the fields at mom and dad’s farm every summer.
    Hundreds and hundreds. and those suckers are heavy!

    Comment by Jean — July 7, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

  3. Awesome! Just another wonderful but sadly rare bit of Americana for the holiday. Thanks for sharing the pics!

    Comment by jck — July 7, 2009 @ 9:37 pm

  4. How fun! And yes, rare.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Joan of Argghh! — July 7, 2009 @ 10:05 pm

  5. And it was just one of those bales that threw my ass off of the hay wagon and screwed up my backside. Farookin’ straw.

    Still I’m very proud of you for knowing the difference between straw and hay. Who knew there would be a pop quiz in Jersey!

    Comment by Jerry in Indiana — July 8, 2009 @ 12:37 am

  6. I wasn’t aware that the late great state of New Jersey would allow youngsters to do something so dangerous. Or so much fun! Good to see there’s still some life to live in NJ.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by joated — July 8, 2009 @ 7:17 am

  7. I thought everyone knew the difference between hay and straw…I just can’t imagine anyone stupid enough to try to sip a soda with hay…

    Comment by GUYK — July 8, 2009 @ 7:28 am

  8. Good pictures. You are now a pinball wizard of the cell phones, Cat

    Comment by Catfish — July 8, 2009 @ 7:58 am

  9. Oh that is very cool… the unexpectedly delightful. I love it!

    Comment by Teresa — July 8, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

  10. That’s cool. Would you believe I live 50 miles from Akron and have never seen a soapbox derby race in person. I’m so deprived.

    I have, however, seen the Goodyear blimp fly over the Vatican. Yes, THAT Vatican.
    (Not sure why I thought of this reading your post. Unless it’s the Akron connection.)

    Comment by Dan O — July 9, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

  11. How cool! I think we need to block off more streets and have soapbox derbies more often. We’d definitely be better neighbors and our kids might actually recall who we are (instead of the blobs occasionally guest starring in their lives).

    Comment by Da Goddess — July 13, 2009 @ 7:12 am

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