It’s Amazing Kids Survived This Wild Mattapoisett Soap Box Derby
Growing up in the '80s, I spent a few years as a Cub Scout. It was fun. I enjoyed earning my badges and getting together with my friends after school, but as I got older and sports commitments became more demanding, I was unable to advance to Boy Scouts.
My first reaction to seeing this old-school video (courtesy of Janet Scott) of the 1970s Mattapoisett Soap Box Derbies was that missing them may have saved my life.
I remember competing in the Pinewood Derby, but that was just about carving a small piece of wood into a model car shape and weighting it to race it on an indoor track. You weren't actually driving the car.
I don't remember the Soap Box Derby being a thing, but I guess I'm getting old when I say it looked like it was pretty dangerous. Watching the video, I couldn't imagine that this would be allowed in 2022, but I was shocked to learn that I was dead wrong.
Apparently, the Tri-Town Cub Scouts are still very much involved with building and racing their own cars, with a Soap Box Derby race taking place as recently as this past October and as close as Marion. Honestly, I'm stunned.
In my defense, the video from the late '70s was pretty aggressive, showing the kids barreling down Ship Street in Mattapoisett without regard for life or limb. While Ship is a very quiet side street that leads down to the water, it has quite a pitch. I'm sure the kids built up quite a speed down it. In fact, in the video, you can see a couple of them smashing into some hay bales at the bottom, but the young boomers survived.
Last year's Soap Box Derby was on Holmes Street in Marion. While Holmes is still an incline, it doesn't seem to have the same level of danger as Mattapoisett's Ship Street.
I've got to hand it to these young Cub Scouts, though. Don't let any of your parents or grandparents try to tell you that your generation isn't tough. You guys didn't let the threat of a skinned knee or elbow stop your fun, and I love every minute of it.