Several families were at the Colbert Independence Day festival with children being pulled in “Radio Flyer” red wagons. My brothers and I received one of their wagons for Christmas one year. Contrary to the claims of the company, it didn’t last very long.
That may be because we had a large hill behind our house that had been terraced to control erosion. We quickly found that we could drag the wagon to the top of the hill and ride it back down to the bottom. The ride included dodging rocks and roots, and jumping over the terraces. The wagon was not intended for that!
Before long we managed to tear the axles from under the body of the wagon. But that was OK. One of the things redneck children learn is how to make their own toys out of whatever is available. So we found some scrap wood, rope, big nails and a tin can and constructed a “go cart” using the axles and wheels from the wagon.
A 2 by 6 stud served as the body of the cart. A 2 by 4 was nailed under the back edge with the axle and wheels nailed under that. On the front, we drilled a hole where a large bolt screwed into another 2 by 4 served as the front steering axle. We attached the tin can behind the axle and stood another section of 2 by 4 behind that. Then a straight piece of tree limb was fitted into the can and into a notch in the top of the upright 2 by 4 with a section of rope to hold it in place.
A cross piece was nailed on top of the steering column and a section of rope wrapped around the column about half way up. The ends of the rope were nailed to the front axle out near the wheels. Turning the column would tighten the rope on one side and loosen it on the other. That gave us full steering control.
Next we made a hole in another piece of tree limb and drove a heavy nail through it and into the side of the cart. This was the brakes for our vehicle. Pulling up on the brake would cause the end to dig into the ground slowing us down if we were going too fast.
Another family of boys had received a “Radio Flyer” wagon and borrowed our hill to ride it on. It suffered the same fate as ours. And soon they had their own Go-cart. This of course led to frequent races that resulted in falls and crashes with the expected skinned knees and elbows. The amazing thing is that none of us were ever seriously damaged.
And the medal bodies off the wagons? Our mothers filled them with woods dirt and planted flowers in them.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgaillispie.com/gillispieonline.