Mixsonian Morrs and Barbara Larry

Skateboard Hill

Skates1960's Metal Skates with Key

Skateboards are sophisticated toys these days made with modern wheels and materials. In 1964 we had true "skate boards" which was two words.  We made our skate boards by taking a pair old roller skates, something that most all kids had at the time, separating the front and back wheels and nailing them to a board. With skateboards becoming latest thing, word spread amongst the boys in the neighborhood  that the best place to skateboard was a road called Skateboard Hill. Skateboard hill was a new road with a smooth surface that had just been paved on the north side of Eighth Avenue in a new neighborhood a fifteen minute bike ride from our house. It was perfect for skateboarding being wide, smooth, gentle sloping, about a quarter mile long, no houses on except for a couple being newly built.  I tried the skateboard but found I wasn’t very good on it. Then again, those hard metal wheels on the pavement didn’t make it easy.

Although I didn’t take much to skateboarding, I saw an opportunity for an invention with fun.  My old soapbox derby car sat outside in the back corner of our yard where we had rolled it after my final race in Jacksonville.  It was half covered up with a couple of boards and wasn’t faring too well, a massive black hulk, its wheels sinking into the dirt, filled with leaves, dirt and other Florida critters, green algae growing in spots across it once shinny black body.    It was a massive thing at over six feet long and weighing close to 250 pounds, longer than I was tall and more than twice my weight. It would never see the road again. 


But I had an idea for it to live on in a new form,  as a go cart.  The problem with the soapbox derby car wasn’t only it bulky, but the steering was limited to only a few degrees of turning being designed to only go straight down the hill.  I came up with a new plan, remove the axes and wheels and build a new, lighter, more agile car.  I got piece of 2x8 inch board from the scrap pile at one of the houses being built on Skateboard hill and cut it to about four feet in length and then nailed another piece about sixteen inches in length crosswise in a T shape to make a seat.  I then attached the fixed axel to the back of the car and the front axel to the front with a single bolt though the board and axel so that it could move to steer.  I enlisted my brother and then we tested it, I sat in the seat with my feet on the front axel using my feet to steer while David pushed me up and down the street and then we switched, and I pushed him. It worked quite well and was a lot of fun for the one riding, not so much for the one pushing.  Next phase was to test pulling it with a bike.  I attached a length of rope to the seat post of my bike and the other end to David sitting on the go-cart and proceeded to pull him up and down the street.  It didn’t work quite as well when David was on the bike pulling as he was younger and smaller but that was Okay for the plan was Skateboard Hill. 

So off we went, I on my bike pulling David down the street then another then to the top of Skateboard Hill.  I would be the first to go, after all I built the car and David just had a fun ride with me pulling him to the hill.  I positioned the cart in the center of the road, sat down on the seat, place my feet on either side of the front axel and David gave me a push to get going and off I went down the hill.  It was quite exhilarating, sitting out in the open, the rush of air around me, using my feet to swerve the car back and forth down the hill but there was a slight problem as  the end of the street, how to stop for Fred FlintstoneI didn’t want to continue past the stop sign into the path of an oncoming car.   The only brakes the cart had were the Fred Flintstone style, feet on the pavement, a good thing I had my tennis shoes.  But there was a problem with that, the feet are what steered the car, I had a choice, steering or braking, good design Larry.  With the stop sign approaching it became apparent that braking was more important than steering at this point and so took my feet off the steering and begin to drag them on the pavement coming to a stop twenty feet from the stop sign.  No problem, I thought, that was great.  We pushed the cart back up the hill and spent the couple of hours taking turns going down the hill. David still got the best in the end as I had to tow him home.

Updated: 09-03-2022